I like to run, it’s my exercise, my escape. I’ve tried gym programs, had weights at home, stuff like that but I’ve never gotten into it like running.
Growing up I played field hockey so I’ve always had decent cardio fitness and would sometimes go for a run around the block for some extra training. Then, about 6 years ago my wife started a fitness program and go into running so I joined in and she introduced me to an event she’d learnt about, parkrun. For those unfamiliar with parkrun it’s a free, timed 5km event that happens every weekend in parks all around the world (it originated in England). It’s not a race, the only person you’re trying to beat is yourself. When you finish your run, or walk, you scan your barcode and get a time for the day.
So parkrun is part of mine and my wife’s weekly ritual, we get up on Saturday morning and head to our local parkrun and run it (now we run it pushing a pram). When we’re traveling over a weekend we’ll try and find a parkrun that one of us can get to; like the time I was in Copenhagen on a family holiday and left my wife and kids at our Airbnb while I cycled ~7km to a random park to do parkrun (and then had to cycle back)!
By and large, this was my exercise, occasionally I’d sign up for a half marathon and thus increase my running distance and frequency (but never as much as I probably should have and that’d annoy my wife when I’d “just run it” in a decent time anyway 😛) but then I’d taper off again.
Coming into 2019 I decided I wanted to put a bit more effort into my running. Over the years I’ve run I’ve talked to different people about goals and one that’s come up is the 1,000km goal, running 1,000km in 12 months. So I decided a distance goal would be what I wanted for 2019 but given that in 2018 I’d only done a touch over 400km 1,000km seemed a bit ambitious, thus I settled on a more obtainable goal of 750km.
Even still, 750km seems like a lot of distance to cover in a year until you start breaking it down. To do it you need to run 15km per week, over 50 weeks, leaving 2 weeks for illness/injury/travelling/etc.
Now it’s starting to look obtainable. I already run 5km per week at parkrun and at the end of 2018 I’d rejoined some friends I use to run with for a weekly Wednesday that alternates between intervals or hills which nets 8km or 7km, depending on the week. Conservatively I’m already at 12km for the week so if I run to my nearest parkrun, which is 3km away, that’s 15km for the week done!
After a few weeks I was feeling good and 2 runs a week no longer felt like “enough”, I was itching for another run and to increase my distance.
At this point I was averaging around the 17km per week as I figured it’d be better to bank a few km’s in case I got injured but I started to think that maybe 1,000km was possible.
Ok, back to the maths. To do 1,000km you need to run 20km per week average (leaving the same 2-week buffer) which would mean that I’d have to start running more than 20km to make up for the deficit I already had. I started to push 23km - 25km per week by throwing in an extra run or two.
And then, on the 21st December, I jogged to parkrun so that when I hit the 4km mark I’d tick over 1,000km for 2019 (I’d needed to do 7km for the day I wanted to make sure I didn’t track a short course on the run)! I ended up finishing 2019 doing 1,023km across 164 runs in a total of 79.5 hours (according to Strava, and if it’s not on Strava, it didn’t count).
Milestones, Pace and Injury
This is the most I’ve run in a year by few hundred km’s and over double what I’d done the year prior so it was a bit of a learning experience and it did also result in me being able to achieve a few milestones.
I finally beat my PB at my home parkrun, a PB that’d stood for about 5 years, by finally getting sub-20 minutes again (19:50 to be exact)! I also managed to get sub-20 at 5 other parkrun’s in 2019 (ok, one was New Years Day, but it totally counts), with a 5km PB now sitting at 19:30. I’m still pretty shocked at this and it’s going to be hard-pressed to top that many PB’s in a year again.
I also got back into doing some races. With the arrival of our kids and a shift in priorities doing races was something that I’d dropped. It didn’t bother me that much, the last few times I’d done half marathons I’d not trained properly and ended up injured during the run and just slogging out the last ~5km which isn’t fun. But with my body feeling good and my running being consistent I picked a goal that I’d had for a while, sub-60 minutes City2Surf.
If you’re unfamiliar with City2Surf it’s a 14km run from Sydney’s CBD out to Bondi Beach and it’s Australia’s largest fun run with over 80,000 attendees. It’s a notoriously tough course and not just because of Heartbreak Hill (an approximately 2km uphill). I’ve run the event in the past, but not since our eldest was born, so my PB of 62:30 was 5 years ago. But now I’m training properly and I should be in a good place to tackle it.
About 6 weeks out from the event I started to up my hill training and subsequently overloaded one of my achilles tendons and I was struggling to walk. After a few weeks of physio and slowly getting back into it I was able to start doing some hill work again but nowhere near what I was wanting to tackle and several weeks late. But, entry was paid for and damnit I was going to run.
Day of the run I went in with a game plan, an idea on how I’d tackle the run to try and get my sub-60 minute time but it would be tough. Coming over the crest of Heartbreak Hill and knowing I was only halfway through I was spent. Mentally I resided to the fact that I wouldn’t do it but I was determined to not be slower than the last time I ran! Coming through the last few km’s I’d stopped looking at my watch, I could no longer do the maths to work out what time I’d need to hit each km to make it, but we were running downhill so I just went for it (cracking out a 3:40 min/km 13th km!) finishing in 59:23. I was destroyed as a result of it though, it was about 3 days before it stopped hurting to walk and I ended up with gastro (which sucks when it hurts to walk) but I think that was more from sheer exhaustion than anything.
All in all, it was a good year, I hit my stretch goal, did 3 races, ruined 1 pair of shoes, had minimal injuries and got a bit faster overall.
What I found was most helpful for this was being consistent in my running. Sure, there were mornings in winter where it was dark and cold but I was still out with some friends running by the light of head torches; there were nights where I hadn’t had much sleep due to sick kids, but I still dragged myself out of bed to run, complaining the whole time; there were days where my body was stiff but I’d use the run to shake it off.
I’ll aim for the 1,000km again in 2020, I’m not ready to go beyond that… Yet. 😉