It somehow feels quite clear to me that everything that happened from those first foggy miles on November 1st right up until Christmas was Chapter One of this adventure. And – just as when you’re reading an actual book there will often be a phrase or a page or a paragraph that makes something shift imperceptibly inside you and you have to take a moment to lay the book on the table, remove your glasses and catch your breath again before moving onto the next chapter – I think I needed some time to be able to sit and mull things over. I’m almost glad of my limping leg for forcing me to take that time out before moving on to Chapter Two.
But now, I’m back. I’ve been running again for three days and have finally made it past Looe, third time lucky. I’m so happy to be here, excited again by the cliffs and the coast and the Cornish air, the fudge and the local ales and the crab sandwiches. How quickly the weather changes, turning from bright sunshine to blackened, hail-throwing clouds in a matter of seconds. Running and scrambling and embracing the fact my feet probably are probably going to wet for the best part of the next year.
(n.) an unusual and exciting or daring experience
By that definition, Chapter One was definitely an adventure, physically, mentally and emotionally. A lot happened and I learnt a lot too. And, as a result of those learnings, there are some adjustments I’m making as I head into Chapter Two.
1) Scale back and slow down.
During the first few weeks, I was averaging 12 to 15 miles per day, mixing it up with some shorter and some longer runs. I was really enjoying myself. It was a challenge, but a good one. There was time left at the end of the day to explore in daylight rather than just eating, sleeping and setting off again. As I moved towards back-to-back 20 mile days, things started to crumble a bit. It’s hard to admit but I think it’s just too soon, for my head as much as my legs. I’d rather be running for another year and enjoy it all than another 8 months and be miserable.
2) Run up some bloody hills!
For me, running up hills is Type 2 fun, painful while it’s happening but glorious in retrospect. Walking up hills, on the other hand, is pretty much Type None fun; it’s hideous whilst you’re doing it and accompanied by only a fraction of the sense of achievement afterwards. I used to be okay at hill running, probably because I made myself do it, then I stopped and now I’m useless. I hereby vow to run up at least one monster hill every day.
3) Eat better.
We all know that one of the main incentives to exercise is that you get to eat more and, personally, eating is my favourite hobby. However, more shouldn’t automatically mean worse, something that I used to know but seem to have lost all sight of lately. More should mean more energy, more nutrients, more of the good stuff, not just more cake, chocolate and chips. I can’t really expect my body to go through hell for 10+ months fuelled on junk. Trail Cook are kindly providing me with some healthier high energy snacks to keep me going which is a great starting block.
4) Differentiate between running problems and other problems.
It’s easy to directly link every single not-great-thing in your life to whatever it is you’re doing right then. However, I’m trying to remember that whilst those days when I’m a bit grumpy and a bit tired and a bit sad aren’t the most fun, I also had those days sometimes in pre-adventure life. It isn’t necessarily running’s fault and stopping running probably isn’t going to solve those issues. During my December downtime, I finally got around to sorting something out that had been making me quite unhappy for quite a long time and feel considerably better for doing so. I apologise, running; you’ve got enough on your plate dealing with my request to get from A to B every day, without shouldering the blame for everything else in my life too.
5) Write more.
I’ve been a lot more motivated to write things down over the past few weeks, both to share and just for myself, and I really want to keep that up. Crafting messy thoughts into coherent sentences makes me feel infinitely better and I know I’ll be glad of it in months/years/decades to come when I inevitably can’t remember all of the things that in the present I’m sure I will.
If you enjoyed reading this and you’re feeling generous, it would mean the world to me if you would consider sparing a few pennies for my chosen charities Yound Minds and Beyond Food. You can do so by donating here – http://www.virginmoneygiving.com/runthecoast