In 2017 I got out of the comfort zone, like other-side-of-the-universe-far out of my comfort zone. As you might have read in this blog post, I started running when I moved to the UK in 2014. But just going for runs didn’t really feel very motivating – at least not in the same way as trying to finish the Start To Run programme or trying to get to 10 km (and trying not to fall in the Birmingham canals while doing so).
So I needed a new goal. But hey, why pick one goal if you can have three?! Right?! So this is what I set as my 2017 goals/nightmares:
- St. Basils Walk in June: a walk challenge for charity in a different gorgeous part of countryside every year. There is a short (6-7 miles / 10-11 km), medium (12-14 miles / 20-22 km) and long (22-26 miles / 35-41 km) route. Guess which one we did?
- Birmingham Black Country Half Marathon in July: run 13.11 miles (21.1 km) from Wolverhampton to Birmingham. Funny enough this was the only challenge out of the three I enthusiastically signed up for and dragged other people into doing it with me.
- Tough Mudder North West in September: 10 miles (16 km), 20+ obstacles on the muddiest course in the UK. I shivered my way through it, because of the cold and from being absolutely terrified.
St. Basils Walk – the long route (if you hadn’t guessed)
After the persistent heatwave that was the summer of 2018 it didn’t feel like the summer of 2017 was quite a normal one. But I can assure you, there was ONE DAY where the mere idea of walking made you sweat. Walking 25 miles in 30 degrees heat DID NOT feel like it was worth the effort, if it weren’t for the fact that St. Basils is a charity working with homeless young people or young people at risk of becoming homeless. So well worth the effort indeed.
The 2017 edition took place in the Cotswolds and took us through and around this idyllic corner of the English countryside. We made it to the finish line in just under 12 hours. The pain in my feet was very real, but I made it thanks to our wonderful team.
Birmingham Black Country Half Marathon
Four months of training, three runs a week. Through the rain, the cold, and the occasional sunshine. But almost always along the Birmingham canals, toward Wolverhampton, and back, like I would on the actual day of the race. I peer pressured my friends Kylie and Danielle (and Danielle’s husband) to run with me, and had my other half waiting at the finish line with beers and Greggs sausage rolls.
It wasn’t easy, but the hardest part was the training in my opinion. To go out again and again when it was cold and rainy, when I was tired or hungry, or when I just really really really didn’t want to. But those four months did prepare me for race day, both mentally and physically. My farthest run during training was 18 km, and so on race day the last three km were the hardest ones. But I made it, in 2h 25min, and I’m well proud of that!
I used the half marathon training plan on Runkeeper, which used to be free but now I think need to upgrade to access it. That’s a shame, but I would definitely recommend finding a training plan that suits you, adapt it to your needs and STICK TO IT. I don’t think I would have made it without a training plan.
Tough Mudder North West
My other half and several of my friends had done Tough Mudder before and I had supported and encouraged them from the muddy sidelines. This time however I decided to join them. I had trained for and covered the distance with the half marathon, so that shouldn’t be the problem. Every other aspect about it on the other hand…
So in order to get over, under, through or around the 20+ obstacles I had to train every other muscle above the hips that hadn’t been trained in like… ever. After a few weeks of trying out random exercises I found the Body Boss programme – through YouTuber (Lose it with) Elie. It’s a twelve week programme and I only had 8 weeks to go until D-Day, but my main thought was that every/any extra exercise would make the course that tiny bit easier. It became my mantra for the days to come.
It was one of the coldest editions of Tough Mudder North West and muddy as hell. Ice baths, rotating obstacles in the water, ‘Mud Mile’ (speaks for itself methinks), it just kept on coming. The weather was so bad they even had to close the last two obstacles – ‘Everest’ (also speaks for itself) and the one where you get electrocuted. Yeah. Not too sad about that to be honest. Big thanks for the team to make sure everyone made it across the finish line! And we raised just over £750 for charity Contact the Elderly, the only UK charity solely dedicated to tackling loneliness and social isolation among older people.
I’ll tell you what my 2018 goals were/are soon! What are your goals when it comes to physical challenges?
If you are into running you might want to check out this post about the two races I did in 2018 or this post on marathon training. If obstacle courses are more your cup of tea then I’d recommend you to read this post about us doing Tough Mudder Yorkshire in 2019.