Weeks of Training : 8
Miles Covered: 307
Elevation Gain: 8,851 ft
So, almost two months has passed since I sat in the Greyhound pub in Derby and somewhat rashly made one of the biggest decisions of my life (so far). Be it because of Aleks’ inspirational talk, or just a result of convenient timing (most probably a combination of both), that evening I entered the pub as a broken kayaker and left as someone convinced she could run the length of an entire country. A pretty big country too.
But, strangely, that’s not even where it ended up. After a few days of consideration, and a look at the map, I realised that if I were to just run the Norway section, I would end up halfway down Norway, not something that sits well with my slightly OCD tendencies. There was the initial consideration of running Norway and Sweden – a route which appeared slightly more complete. However, upon realising that Denmark was also part of Scandinavia (I know, Masters in Geography, I’m sorry..), and that this section was only 8 days extra running, I suddenly knew that Norway was out and Scandinavia was in. I didn’t quite feel ready to announce this to Aleks yet, but had definitely made up my own mind.
I should get back to the fact here, that at this point, I definitely wouldn’t have considered myself to be a runner. I think the furthest I had ever ran before this point was 16 km (much to the displeasure of my kayak coaches at the time). I also probably only ran about 15 km a week, max. You can hopefully now understand my reluctance to break the news to the person I would be running with – perhaps I should get a few miles under my belt first…
So, despite my complete novice state as a runner, here I was, mind firmly set on running over 3000 km in around 77 days. All I needed to do now, was start training. How do you do that? You run.
Two weeks after that evening, having realised I was 100% about taking on the challenge (though still under the Norwegian guise), I was given a training program. The basic idea was to run, every day (with the exception of Mondays) between (what was then) now and the departure date. For me this was it, a set of instructions, a few miles every day (I think on average now it is around 9 a day), all I had to do was follow it. Sounds easy eh?
I think in all honesty, the mileage isn’t too bad, the early mornings/drawn out evenings were part of my previous training routine and the intensity was actually lower than what I was used to. What I had failed to realise prior to running so many miles, however, was how many parts of your legs you have that can hurt!! Having been a swimmer and kayaker for most of my life, my legs have arguably been neglected, with my arms doing the majority of the work.
However now, this had completely been changed, and my legs have experienced a bit of a shock! I can honestly say, since starting running, there is not one part, of either of my legs, which hasn’t experienced some form of niggle. The best (worst) part…? When you speak to runners, they generally just agree and go – yep everyone gets that!! I have suddenly realised that I’ve become part of a community of mad people. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great, and I’ve met some fab people, but sometimes part of you does have to wonder!
So, you may be asking yourself, why do you keep doing it if it is causing you so much pain?! Well I can honestly say, running has done so much more for me in a positive way than could be offset by a few niggles. I’ve gone from loathing the sport to loving the sport in a matter of weeks and it all comes down to one simple change in approach.
Prior to this ‘adventure’ (for want of a better word), I was convinced that sport was all about going fast, pushing your body and getting PB’s. Now however, I’ve come to love running for the beautiful thing it really is – just a tool for getting out and exploring! Anyone, I really mean anyone, can get out there and do it, in their own time, for as long or as far as they want. It’s not about keeping fit, burning calories, looking good or any of that stuff (though that’s always a welcome bonus), it’s about getting outside, in your own head space, and taking time to really appreciate what’s out there.
And on that rather deep note, I think it is time for my ramblings to come to an end! Hopefully, this has given you an insight into where the training has taken me so far, and maybe given you a little push to try it out yourself!