Well, it was a week ago when I started my journey from Gatwick to Orlando, Florida, running all the way. Ok, not literally but when I decided to run the 4350 miles of the flightpath we took when we went on our amazing Destination Dreams wish trip with Caudwell Children.
In the last week I have run 46 miles. This is less than half the number of miles I need to run per week to achieve this goal. I knew I wanted to do something with the Gatwick to Orlando mileage but didn't know what.I initially planned to run the 4350 miles over two years, finishing in December 2018 when I hope to return to Florida as a volunteer on the trip but over this weekend I decided it will be a much bigger, tougher and better challenge to run all these miles this year, through 2017. This will make it more interesting to other runners and the public, better increasing awareness of Caudwell Children and, I hope, raising more money. It will make it a more intense, but more focused challenge for me and a more focused project to write about as I share my experiences in becoming an ultra distance runner and map onto this journey my story of mum to an incredible little boy who just happens to have a life limiting and life threatening condition. As a writer I always find that running helps me to come up and structure my ideas. I often think I should run with a voice recorder as I do tend to forget some of my ideas by the time I get home (my phone is with me but delivering my music or audio book). As I think on the run I have kind of developed this project on the run which means it has developed over the last week, and still is developing... I more organised person would have planned it all out for months at least and built themselves up to the weekly mileage needed before embarking on such a venture but I have always been more impulsive... Impulsive but stubbornly determined and I WILL do this! In any case, we only went to Florida at the end of last year and it kind of felt neat to start on January 1st. Over the coming weeks this challenge is writing itself in just that way but it kind of adds to the adventure… I am going to blog daily from now on so do follow my journey as it works itself out, along with my musings along the way,
Tomorrow, I’m going to contact Virgin Atlantic to ask if they will support this project and if they can provide me with a detailed flight path map so I can track where I am along my virtual journey. I don’t know how many miles it takes for a jumbo jet to reach cruising altitude but I’m feeling at the stage seconds after take off when it has probably only travelled a mile or two. I am feeling strong in my running and, although daunted, confident that I can do this but at the bottom of a huge, steep learning curve about ‘ultra long distance running’ and nowhere near my ‘cruising altitude’ of the weekly mileage I will need to achieve if I am going to run 4350 miles in a year. It is important to increase gradually at the start of a challenge like this to avoid injury and then step back to a lower mileage week every 3 or 4. I will be taking one rest day most weeks to allow my muscles to recover from the longest workouts.
What have I learned about distance running this week?
1. Never run a long run in a brand new pair of running shoes (I didn’t do this honest… I so did!) Break them in gradually before not after the blisters! They were so comfy though….
2. I should be taking vitamin D (at twice the recommended average dose) and calcium supplements.
3. I need to eat a shed load of food but the right kind of food - mainly vegetable based and lots of protein.
4. The best ever recovery drink is soya milk strawberry nesquilk with a handful of frozen strawberries, a handful of oats, a measure of rice protein powder and a big spoonful of crunchy whole nut peanut butter (I will share some of my recipes in the near future including this one).
5. The best post run lunch is an avocado spread onto two pieces of wholemeal toast and topped with a poached egg, served with a cup of tea in the biggest mug possible (I think I need to source a suitable post run mug) and followed with some fruit, a little naughty treat like a mini mince pie (for a week or two before I finish the packs I bought in the post Christmas sale), a mini cake or a little piece of chocolate and big cup of coffee (not quite the same boat of a cup as the tea).
6. The best pre run breakfast is porridge with a handful of chai seeds and dark brown sugar (bog standard cheap and cheerful porridge oats are just as quick in the microwave as the more expensive sachets that claim to be faster!) and a not too large cup of coffee (or you need the loo about 4 miles in)
7. The best on the run snack is a few pieces of dark chocolate with a handful of almonds and brazil nuts (preferably the chocolate and nuts all at the same time) and the health food shop kind of liquorice which I happen to have left over from being given again in Florida which is kind of cool. I used to run with gels but I forgot them on today’s long run and had to raid my ‘emergency rations for a moment when you need a treat for a bit of motivation). I also learned that I can munch and run at the same time when I am running as slowly. This is all good news as a bag of nuts and chocolate drops is a lot cheaper than a big box of gels!
8. I need to run most of these miles nice and slowly to finish this challenge without any injuries. It’s a very freeing feeling to throw away any thoughts of personal bests and just run to explore and have adventures
And talking of adventures, I decided on my run today that it is going to be one heck of a boring year if I just run 4350 miles of rings around my house. If I am going to dedicate a year to this it needs to be packed full of fun and adventure so I have been dreaming up lots of ways to make it so, such as entering events and races (but running them at the usual slow pace not for a pb), taking myself off and running in new places, maybe even for some weekends away, running to visit friends I hardly ever see, running everywhere I usually take public transport (all within reason of course) and, I hope, organising to run with some runners across the country.