At the back end of last year, I set myself a completely arbitrary running challenge. In 2014, I will run 600 miles. I wrote it down, and I handed it in to my running club with the other members' targets and goals for the year: run a marathon, run the Robin Hood half in less than two hours, complete 5km without stopping to walk.... that kind of thing.
There wasn't any great science behind it, and I very nearly wrote out a target of 500 miles before deciding that wasn't stretching enough. 600 miles is 50 miles a month, and that seemed stretching but achievable.... not least because I'd spent much of 2013 being injured and was suddenly very aware of my apparently growing physical frailty, perhaps down to my multiple sclerosis.
I was unable to run more than a few miles a week between March and June because of a problem with my ITB, and I'm still not really able to go much further than about seven miles without really starting to hurt myself as my hip, knee, calf muscles, ankle and foot all start to complain. So, yeah. 600 miles, why not?
When I got home, I had a look at my running stats on Runkeeper.
2013 471.3 miles
2012 666.7 (this was my first full year at running club, I think)
2010 262.5 (well, we spent 9 months travelling the world)
Injuries permitting, 600 ought to be do-able. 50 miles a month. The stats tell me that the most I've ever done in single month was 94.5 miles in August 2011.... goodness knows what I was thinking then, as I generally clock in around 40. Another 10 miles a month, body allowing? Why not?
I went out on a 4 mile run this evening. That's not really very far, and I didn't really run it very fast. My body felt tired and I had sore ankles and weak feeling arms and shoulders. Physically, I wasn't feeling great. Running is a funny thing, though. Mentally, I felt absolutely fantastic. That run took me to 253 miles for the year. A third of the way through the year, and I'm 42% of the way towards my target. I'm having physio on my ankle and I'm waking up in the night with muscle spasms in my calves, but I'm still running and tonight, I felt great. I might be stubborn to the point of stupidity, but it's being able to flog myself like this that makes me feel alive.
Runkeeper have just emailed me to inform me that April 2014 saw the quickest average pace in my running since I started tracking in 2008. I'm forty years old and I have multiple sclerosis, but I'm not dead yet.
Oh, and I entered the ballot for the 2015 London Marathon too....