Run Every Day in December…
Club Members Run Every Day in December by Natalie Hawkrigg
Five of our club members completed a run everyday challenge (RED) through the months of December and October, and following them on facebook I became really interested in the idea. I have heard about RED in the past, and understood it to come from Ron Hill, who advocated running everyday as the way to stay fit and healthy for life. I had also been in awe of John Myatt our ‘International’ club member (currently lives in Bahrain) who has run every day now for more than 5 years, and also John Horne who RED for 3 years some years back. So I decided to start my own RED challenge for the month of January to see what it felt like. I was curious, but also a bit sceptical. January is also the time that I start gearing up my fell training for the racing season ahead, so I didn’t want to compromise that in anyway. I had heard that the risks of injury are higher, that recovery time is lost, and also that there is a temptation to run shorter distances hence loosing pace and stamina.
Andrew Martindale from the club ran up High Pike every day for a whole month – a very impressive amount of ascent, descent and dedication, especially considering he is train driver and working very odd shifts. Andrew had jokingly challenged me to run up Carrock Fell everyday, and after a 4 day stint over the Christmas break I did consider continuing this, but it felt logistally impossible with my long intense days at work during the week, and trying to find the right balance being a busy working mum of 3 young children. So I decided to accept the challenge of ‘giving up the challenge’ of going up Carrock everyday quite quickly!.
Then I had a eureka moment after speaking to Kathy Batty and Claire Guest who explained that with RED you don’t have to run that far everyday but you have to achieve at least 1 mile, well that was more like it! But just one mile? What’s the point in getting out of bed early for just 1 mile!? But the seed was sowed in my mind now, so something had to be done. I decided I would devise a 1 mile cross country ciruit just outside my house, and I would need to run it twice, aiming to beat my time on the second lap, make it worth it as a speed training session! I would do this on my working days (3), getting up early to achieve it, what ever the weather and in the dark. On my days off (4), I would run my longer runs as per my normal training pattern. Now, Day 12 in and it’s going OK, but the jury is still out.
PS – My husband says that it should be a ‘SED’ challenge, but there is definitely no time for that!
Here is what our club member’s thought of RED when they did it in December and October 2016:
Andrew Martindale – Run Every Day in December
For the past couple of years, I had involved myself in Run Every Day ‘RED’ in December, primarily as a means of maintaining some degree of interest in running throughout the Winter period when it was generally much easier to be a couch surfer. The idea is to run a minimum of 1 mile a day consecutively throughout the month of December, although this can also be said of each and every month of the year, and even keeping the ‘streak’ going as long as you desire.
In 2014 I think I tried and failed miserably due to sheer laziness, work and family commitments and quite possibly injuries, so in 2015 I decided to give it another go and try and go a little further, as you do! My RED challenge for 2015, which is purely a personal challenge, was to push a little further, so I decided to cycle, indoors on my rollers for 30 minutes followed straight away by a 30-minute run, a ‘brick session’ of sorts. The main reason was to build a degree of core strength and fitness in anticipation of London Marathon 2016, as the training schedule for this would start first week of January.
The 2015 challenge started quite well, doing the cycle first, 30 minutes on my fixie on the rollers equated to roughly 11-12 miles, the it was a quick change ‘transition’ into my running kit and then straight out to do my 30-minute run. My reason to do it this way was so as to reduce my running time and more importantly to have my legs nicely warmed up before running as I was struggling with quite bad knee pain and having to wear two knee braces to run. Yes, I know the easiest thing would be not to run at all and allow sufficient time for my injuries to recover, but I had London to work towards.
Not long into this challenge Storm Desmond came along and threw a spanner into the works! My career involves quite a lot of shift work, starting and finishing at all times of the night and day and with various shift lengths too, this can be really helpful sometimes and other times the absolute opposite. Desmond’s involvement in my RED challenge last year saw me cycling and running at ALL times of the night and day, sometimes trying to wait the bugger out and even running at 23:30 at night just to ensure that a run wasn’t missed, the lengths we go to are amazing ‘stupid’ at times, and there is no sane reason as to why one would even consider doing such things other than to keep the streak going.
Desmond came and went, the cycle and runs carried on throughout December 2015 and the challenge was completed, then the London Marathon training started….
Needless to say, the knee issues were more of a problem than I first feared, being a runner who loves the fells the 2016 fell running season started all too soon and there are fell races which you just can’t say no to. High Cup Nick is an absolutely wonderful early season race from Dufton, near Appleby, up onto the Pennine Way via a beautiful horseshoe valley and a steep scramble up ‘The Nick’ followed by a very fast and at times technical run down. It was that run down that finally put paid to my hopes of even making the start line of London 2016, I had an absolutely brilliant run and flew down from the top finishing in quite a good time, but more damage had been done and reluctantly after a few more weeks of very painful road running I had to pull out of London and defer my place for a year.
Every cloud has a silver lining, so I put all my efforts into mainly doing long walks on the fells and very slow jogging with the occasional slow run every now and again, just to try and maintain some degree of fitness and stay healthy. Eventually the knee pain reduced to a level that I could bear and I continued with the hill walking at a quicker pace. Some very long days in the fells, with ridiculous amounts of ascent and descent followed, recces of various legs of The BGR too plus some other long distance events and challenges during the year.
Back to my RED challenge of 2016. After last year, it was now a case of what should I do this year, if indeed anything, I had London 2017 to train for again, but didn’t much fancy repeating the previous years RED days. I had been walking quite a lot on the local fells with Logan, my Labrador, as it’s only a 15-minute drive from home when it suddenly dawned on me,
“I know what I’ll do Logan, I’ll do High Pike every day in December!”
Logan looked at me with doubt in his eyes, for he knew that if I was going to climb High Pike every day, then he probably would be too…
1st December 2016 Fellside carpark, Robert was roped in as Logan had a note from his mother, so couldn’t come, we walked up the reverse of the Fellside fellrace route, jogged and ran where we could and after 2 miles were at the summit. Couple of photos quickly taken and then down onto the Lingy Hut mine track, sharp left, then back down towards Nether Row, then followed the lower path back to the car, 6.3 miles, first day done. The next day I did the run up from Nether Row, again 2 miles straight up, straight over again and then back down, 5.1 miles that’s two done…
For the first few days it carried on much the same, but the Nether Row ascent soon became the route of choice, basically it was dead on 2 miles ascent to the top roughly taking just under 30 minutes, followed by a much much faster descent of just over 3 miles in 20 to 30 minutes depending on conditions and company. I had quite sore calf muscles for a few days after the first week, but that only lasted 4 or 5 days, otherwise I was holding up quite well and enjoying the challenge.
Now, the first 6 days of December were REST days for me, I wasn’t at work, so the runs had been done in daylight and when the weather was favourable. I was now back to working shifts and it was inevitable that there would be some very early mornings and late evening runs taking place with headtorch etc. I always wore my race vest, this contained all the kit I would require if the conditions worsened, or if I got into difficulty, having done quite a few ultra-marathons it had come common practice to wear this at all times on the fells.
Christmas was fast approaching and I was rostered to work Christmas Day and Boxing Day, this was another hurdle to overcome, meaning an early run on Christmas day before the festivities, Christmas dinner and then work, followed by a later run on Boxing Day.
The weather had been kind throughout December it didn’t really cause any problems at all, the snow in November had gone, the temperatures meant a few runs with shorts on and there was very little in the way of wind, rain or clag. Storm Barbara reared her ugly head on about the 23rd December, for the following few days we were blow uphill, downhill, across the blooming hill and to a standstill at times, she was hard work, but I still carried on. The odd night that the clag was quite bad it was really bad, on two occasions Dobo and I virtually missed the cairn by no more than a few feet before realising our mistake and backtracking, when your watch says 2 miles and you can’t see what you know is there, then it’s claggy!
The final few days were an absolute blur really, I mixed the routes up quite a bit, with Fellside route, Calebreak route, Nether Row route and a very early morning Keswick to Caldbeck in what was probably the worst clag I have been in in the dark, Dobo must have accompanied me about 15 times, Robert 3 or 4 and Logan about 20 times in all. I even managed to persuade Amanda, a friend from Carlisle, to come along for one as well.
31st December, the last run was just Logan and me, it had to be really as he had been there for most of them, he had suffered as I had too with a slight injury to his right forefoot, but a few days off and he was right as rain. We had both lost a few lb’s in weight over the month too, but extra food for us both sorted that quickly enough. Other than just general tiredness from lack of proper recovery during the month my only issue was a rolled ankle on the very last day!
The stats for the month were; 196.9 miles covered and 41867ft climbed over 31 consecutive days using various routes up and down High Pike, the shortest run was 5 miles and the longest was 14 miles, I got wet approximately 4 times, frozen about 3 times and blown to a standstill about 5 times. Oh, and about 700 miles in the car getting to and from High Pike!
The whole experience has been much better than I thought it would have been, yes, I’ve been up High Pike 31 times in 31 days, but each and every day was different. I saw beautiful sunrises, stunning scenery and saw the Northern Fells first thing in the morning and last thing at night, we even witnessed a gyrocopter crash. At times I was totally alone in the darkness and other times had friends and dogs for company, met and chatted to total strangers, although there is no such thing as a total stranger on the fells.
Due to my personal challenge, I don’t think there is anything negative about what I undertook, even the hard days were only hard for 30 minutes or so.
Here we are again, it’s January 2017 now, my marathon training has already started and I’m looking forward to London 2017, my knees are still causing bother, but not as bad as they were this time last year. Physically, I feel stronger following my RED challenge, mentally definitely stronger too, as I pushed myself to carry on and see it through to the end. Hopefully I can now train better and smarter for the challenges that I have ahead of me this year, London Marathon good for age is my priority, but my fell running will continue too. I have a couple of Ultra Marathons later in the year and I’m sure there are other events that will pop up and take my fancy.
Would I do this again? Nope, been there, done it, no t-shirt, but lots of good memories. Who knows what RED 2017 will bring, it really depends on where I am at the end of this year and what challenges 2018 throws up, but as I will be in my 50th year I’m sure there is something out there waiting for me to do….
Claire Guest – Run Every Day October
I decided to take up a Run Everyday Challenge after seeing it on FaceBook and Strava. I don’t
drink much or smoke and can’t grow a beard for the other month challenges, but I do run. Ronhill is King of the run streak with over 20 years what could be hard about just October?
The minimum amount should be 1 mile. I decided to just use this as a rest day or an emergency if life was just busy. I have a little 3k run round the farm that the kids and dogs can all do. So the weather thankfully stayed good for most of October which was great.
All things set off pretty well, putting my running kit on in the morning and walking the kids to the school bus and setting straight off was a good tactic. I hate taking my kit off with out having been out. Even just putting it on under my normal clothes means I have to run.
Weekends are tricky so Sunday nights with my head light became a date night round Bank End 7k.
Making tea for my family and then leaving them while I run is not very sociable but they seemed to enjoy the race of finishing before I got home. Squeezing a quick run in at lunch time made me get organised and just go instead of finding other jobs to do.
The half term holidays proved the hardest part. 1 of my boys can be encouraged to run with me and loved beating me uphill. During October I also did 2 cross country races. It was hard not to have a rest day on the Friday before which I would normally do and the next day as recovery. RED certainly improved my fitness. I can now run all the way up High Pike. In total I did 258km and 26 Fells. I really enjoyed it but I am sure that Gem loved it more. She is a running machine and makes great company.
Washing. Be prepared. It’s going to be an extra challenge to wash and dry all that kit and get shoes dry overnight. Whilst I do have a few sets, weather seems to determine what you need. Putting wet shoes on is horrid for the first 5 minutes.
Kathy Batty – Run Every Day December and January!
I tend to eat an awful lot of mince pies and Christmas cake throughout December and so I see RED as damage limitation 🙂
I ran a minimum of one mile throughout the whole of December. In fact, I haven’t stopped yet and I’m on day 43 – planning to stop once completing day 50. I tried to get on the fells and trails as often as I could
Had to be a lot more organised in order to squeeze in runs on particularly busy days.
Working 4 days and having 3 girls means time is precious. A lot of my runs had to be done after work in the dark which was a bit daunting initially!
I always feel better after a run but sometimes getting out the door is difficult, especially when you’ve had a long day at work and the weather’s miserable.
Remember if you do it, to have easy run days where you go at a very comfortable pace and do lots of stretching!
Tristan Reid – Run Every Day December
Why did you decide to do a RED challenge?
It seemed like a good challenge and definitely a way to offset the mince pies! Maybe a bit of peer pressure too…!
What did you do on your RED challenge? For how long etc?
I ran every day in December a minimum of 1 mile (though managing at least 5k for the first 25 days). This included parkruns, road runs, trail runs and of course fell runs.
What did you have to change/do differently in your life order to make it happen?
Not much really, just making sure I had at least ten minutes spare each day or night for my run.
What did you find challenging?
Motivation after a long day for sure. Also trying not to over do it…..
What benefits do you think you got out of it?
My fitness has definitely improved during the course of the month.
What in your opinion were the negatives?
Potential for injury was always a worry. Having to wash running kit every day was a bit of a bind!
What effect do you think it has had on your running performance?
As previously mentioned, my fitness definately improved because of the challenge. My average pace for example has steadily increased.
What would you say to others contemplating doing the challenge?
Do it, but don’t over do it!
Tristan continued his running streak into January (finishing it at 42 days) and Kathleen is still going….