Winter Gales, Horizontal Rain and an Advent Challenge

I’d not entered any races since the Rivington Trail marathon at the end of October last year, not due to any specific planning, I’d just not entered any and then the call went up, the Maddogs are massing once more at the start of February, will you be ready? Time to enter the first race of 2015, the third time we’ll have joined the throng to run along (and back) the sea front at Southport.

So, what to do for the next few months? The weather turned a little breezy, in fact this past December and January the wind has been consistently gale force for most of the UK, so much so it’s been impossible for Wendy to get out on her bike which has been a slight issue as she’s training for a Duathlon but that’s for another day, what was I to do during December?

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I did the usual in the run up to the Christmas period, parkruns at Cuerden Valley, mid week runs with the Chorley SRC (Sweatshop Running Community) including a very colourful Christmas fancy dress and the odd trail run on Sunday’s with the muddier members of SRC and then, browsing through the time stealing phenomena that is Facebook I spotted it, an image with the intriguing title of #adventrunning.

“That looks interesting” I thought, the challenge was to run every day during Advent (1st – 24th December). Why the hell not I thought, forgetting for a moment that I’d just run a fast Parkrun at Cuerden Valley the day before and a trail run that morning of almost 10 miles. The plan, all be it a very vague plan, was to run local loops during the following weeks of approximately 5-8km meeting up with the SRC crew on Wednesday nights and doing the 5km parkruns on Saturdays.

And then the weather got involved…

The wind during December in Lancashire was brutal, some evenings I was running in horizontal hail but no matter, as I was staying local I was guaranteed a warm shower as soon as the run finished and strangely enough, the worse the weather got the more I enjoyed the feeling of getting out there and doing one more day. I ran down a few roads I’d not been down since being my childhood, many, many years ago and as Christmas approached I witnessed a change as the dark uninviting homes and streets changed into their festive ‘clothes’ as lights and decorations of all types and colours adorned their exteriors. Christmas was approaching and no matter how bad Decembers weather was going to get, it was time to party.

All was going well, I’d stuck with it and the end was in sight and then I did it… I spotted that if I could run an extra 100km before the end of the year I’d have run over 1000 miles (forgive the mixing of imperial and metric measurements). It was too tempting so my next run, a Sunday, I ran almost a half marathon distance local trail round the river bank exposed to more brutal wind. It all seemed well until that afternoon, I didn’t think I’d done any harm pushing the distance, after all, I’d run that distance, and route many times before, but the effort of staying upright and punching into the headwind had wrecked my lower back (and butt) on the left side and the following morning although I managed a short run it was very painful and the hour long drive to work made it worse, so much so that I could hardly walk the 200m from the car to the office.

I was two days short of my challenge but I had to call it off. I was a bit annoyed with myself as I know if I’d had kept the distance low I’d have done it but the temptation to try and get my first 1000 mile year was too much. Another lesson learned the hard way but a couple of visits to the physiotherapist sorted me out and confirmed no ‘proper’ damage done so I rested during the festive break and ate and drank too much under the excuse of ‘resting my injury’.

I’ll do it next year though, the #adventrunning challenge will be completed, assuming that is I can just curb my own stupidity…

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