R.E.D January, it doesn't take long to type, but boy does it make for a long month!
Several members of Trawden AC and the progression sessions, along with a good number of Pendle parkrunners, have been taking part in Run Every Day January. And I applaud each and every one of them because I know how tough it is.
A fellow Humbug posted something about the challenge on Facebook. It is a challenge run to support Mind, the mental health charity. I signed up thinking it would be a blast as it is such a long time since I did any "streak" running. All that is required to fulfil the mission is a run every day, just a mile, that'll do it. Where's the problem?
Problems? Several. Old age, living on the side of a hill (I hate hills), snow, hail, sleet...oh, and the obvious fact that the challenge starts on 1st January with a 99% chance that I won't be able to prize myself out of bed, never mind actually do any running!
But the T-shirt arrived in time and I joined the challenge with three friends so that we could egg each other on. In my head I set myself a target of 100 miles, but I actually work in kilometres so I needed 161 of them. Why work in kilometres? The numbers are bigger!
New Year's Day dawned, although I wasn't really aware of said occurrence due to a face full of Prosecco, beer and red wine the night before. I managed to lever myself out of bed in time to force feed myself some pie and peas in the local pub, washed down with a lovely drop of Coca Cola (other brands are available) before heading off to watch the footie at The Turf.
I hadn't really planned when the run was going to take place. And then, for reasons best known to someone else but not me, I tried to run home from the match. In a full winter coat, jeans and "normal" shoes I managed just over two kilometres of it and then gave in. Bit of a cheat, maybe, but the challenge was underway.
The day after came the first real run and from my house it involved battling up Kings Causeway on a 5K loop. I hate hills, but this route featured several times during the month as it is fairly well lit.
Day 3 and as I hate running uphill so much I decided to vary the previous day's route by adding Reedley Road in as well. Ouch!
Short on time for the next two days, I made quick visits to the track at Seedhill and then did a Pendle parkrun tail run. The first week ended with one of my favourite walks being turned into a run. From home it was downhill all the way for the first couple of kilometres and then hit Rowley Lake, on to Worsthorne, across to Roggerham and then up to the top of Harle Syke. I may have mentioned that I hate hills, this one has an elevation gain of about 230 metres, so I decided not to do it again as I finished the first week with 42km racked up.
The second week settled into a routine of either track running or the Kings Causeway nonsense and ended with the East Lancashire Hospice 10K where I was delighted with a first-race-of-the-year time of 53:32. The second week totalled 49 kilometres and the 100 mile target looked straightforward enough.
Week three started with a day at work and a 6pm meeting, meaning there was just time for a 5K blast around Seedhill in between the two. Then came the snow and Tuesday's run totalled just about 2.5K as I gave in to the slippery pavements and decided not to risk any broken bones. Wednesday and Thursday were monotonous loops around streets brightened, literally, by the ability to annoy my neighbours with the brightest headtorch I have ever owned.
Friday was a longer track run than normal, Saturday was parkrun and on Sunday, for reasons I still haven't fathomed, I took on the Rowley, Worsthorne, Roggerham loop with visibility down to about 20 metres on the top road as a sleet storm decided to unleash itself on me. Another 42k week and it looked like I could take it easy for the rest of the month!
In fact I took it so easy that week 4 included my longest run of the month, 12.65km, another 10K run, a whinge-a-thon around Pendle parkrun as my tailrunners job was stolen from me and I had to try and run it "properly", and three more Kings Causeway loops. Just so you don't think I missed a day, there was another trip to Seedhill - involving a little celebratory skip when I passed 100 miles for the month - as well.
The final three days of the challenge started with a flying visit to Seedhill, a Kings Causeway loop and a 31st January 10K around Seedhill to round things off. Mission accomplished: 203km in the bag and a great feeling of accomplishment as I joined almost 30,000 other runners around the country in taking on, and completing, the challenge.
I usually spend some of my training time on a treadmill. Not seen one all month, probably never see one again now.
The 203km is comfortably(!) the most distance I have covered in a month since first entering the world of Garmin ownership. It was never really about speed and never really about distance, it was all about lacing the Hokas and getting on with it.
I ran up Kings Causeway eight times, but I still don't like hills. I completed about 220 laps of Seedhill and, the East Lancs Hospice race and parkruns apart, I did all of it by myself.
There is deeply divided opinion about "streak" running. Runners of my age and ability are meant to run no more than five out of each seven days. Even Mo Farah gets a day off once a fortnight. My legs were aching horribly two weeks in, but by the end of the month my last two runs were my quickest 10K at Seedhill and my quickest Kings Causeway loop.
Will I do it again? Yes, but let's hope it's something more sensible like R.E.D May or even one of the months with only 30 days in it!
Has it made me a better runner? Who knows, only time will tell, but I have to say that the East Lancs Hospice race is the third quickest 10K I have run under race conditions since joining this wonderful club.
How long will the streak continue? I have actually no idea. I am writing this on 1st February, but by the time it actually makes the website I might have retired from streak running and started to go back to four out of seven with a parkrun chucked in as an extra.
As a club I know we are supporting Paul Brown's exceptional Brathay mission and also the Rossendale and Pendle Mountain Rescue Team this year. But if you have a couple of quid to spare and think that the efforts of all the club's R.E.D January runners are worthy of support, there are many stories better than mine out there, I'm sure, follow the link: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/john-lee21