So, Marcothon 2014 and RunEveryDayDecember events are over. These are the first of such events I’ve entered, where you join a virtual community chasing a common goal – in this case to run every day in the month of December 2014 – and I have thoroughly enjoyed the experience. In the case of Marcothon 2014, named after Marco Consani – winner of the 2014 Lakeland 100 race, you must run a minimum of 3 miles each and every day in December (or 25 minutes for the faster set). No treadmills and no indoor substitutes such as stairs! REDD is mentored by Tony Allen and who leads by clocking up impressive mileage every day and regularly supports the online community.
Both communities have active Facebook groups and Marcothon keeps track of entrants via Strava, which means you need to record your run accurately and upload the data afterwards (or enter the details manually). In fact these groups have provided a real sense of ‘community’ with timely messages of support from unfamiliar names who some become virtual running buddies.
The execution of the task of running a minimum of three miles every day involves around 40 minutes of exercise – that’s all. But the mental effort required to step out into the cold air, or the teeming rain, can be quite challenging, especially after a long day at work often bookended by cycling 8 miles each way.
Yet this is one of the major deliverables of the project – to get you to overcome this hurdle and get out there; just as if it was a checkpoint on an Ultra where you had spent too much time resting and refuelling and needed to get back out on the trail. And to do this repeatedly until it becomes a mantra.
This is what Ultrarunning is all about – going beyond the usual. Mind over matter. Reading bodily signs and coaxing more out of a tired and flagging set of limbs. Resisting all temptation to nod-off on the sofa, or lie-in that extra hour.
I started December with a mild case of Plantar Fasciitis picked-up during checkpoint duty on the Lakeland 100 this year but which was taking an age to heal. The advice gleaned from the ‘literature’ (i.e. various online forums) seemed split between running through the injury or resting. I thought to try running steadily, without straining the PF unduly, and judge how that worked. Apart from one day where I was exceedingly tired, and the foot hurt mightily, this approach paid off and I am finishing the month feeling a good deal better (but not yet fully cured).
Memorable moments include running by the River Dee at night, in total darkness and silence, and splashing through the pounding rain and deciding as I was already so wet I may as well add a few extra miles. I noticed that the time between breathers grew longer and that my average pace quickened as the days passed. The month finished on icy tracks in Sherwood Forest, slipping my way through the final miles.
In the end I ran 304 km over those 31 days, and I can honestly say I would not have done so without the support and encouragement of my virtual friends. I now look forward to entering other such challenges and pushing myself even further. Well done colleagues!