When I first decided to run 100km in January, my only intended goal (other than to cover the distance, obviously) was to raise money and awareness for Crohn’s and Colitis UK. IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease) can drastically impact somebody’s life. It’s not curable and the symptoms can be extremely debilitating. There’s so much research that needs to be done in to the disease and also the sufferers often need a lot of support both mentally and physically. I’ve wanted to do something for a while to raise money for this cause that’s really close to my heart and running 100km in a month (which is probably further than I’ve run in total in the last 6-7 years) seemed like an excellent place to start, naturally.
When I initially decided to do the challenge, I told my good friend Vanessa and she told me I was crazy but kindly put together a six week training plan to get me up to a solid 5km distance before I started my first run. I then brought the challenge forward by a month and only ended up training for 2 weeks… Ness was less than impressed but very supportive of this decision (haha love u).
At first I thought that it was going to be possibly the most idiotic decision I’d ever made. During my extremely short training period I injured my foot and spent much of the time panicking that I was never, ever going to complete the challenge. Like, what if people sponsored me and then I couldn’t do it?! My hips could barely handle the only run (at a sum total of 2km) I’d done in the last six months, so why was I even attempting this? But I put on my (really old and slightly disgusting) running trainers and took a whack at it anyway…
1st January, 2021, hungover as fuck, I set out on my first 5km run. With every single step I thought my head was going to explode (thanks to the mega hangover) and about 3km in I had to stop and try very hard not to throw up on the side of the road. When I got home I was very good and did my extensive stretching routine, a bit of yoga, and then watched 6 episodes of Bridgeton and didn’t move from the sofa for the rest of the day.
Day 2 I set out on another run. This time the sun was shining, it was above 0 degrees and I smashed out another 5km. I took my time on this run and completed it in an almost embarrassingly long time but it felt so good to be out and about and running my little legs off. Also, I couldn’t quite believe I’d just run two 5kms on two consecutive days and I wasn’t ~completely~ exhausted (just a little bit).
Day 3 and the motivation was low. I posted a cute boomerang on my Instagram stories for some motivation and validation (obviously) and some of my lovely pals replied and told me to get on with it. So I did. I ran just over 4km. My total reached 14.99km on my Apple Fitness app and I’ve never been more irritated with anything in my life.
Day 4 and I had my first rest day. I wanted to make sure I didn’t have any kms to cover on my first day back at work at the Christmas break, solid decision from yours truly, many thanks to previous me for that one.
Day 5 and I got up at what felt like the crack of dawn to run before work. Winter is pretty depressing when you’re leaving the house at 8.30am for a run and it feels like 5am because there is no warmth and no light anywhere to be seen. But I managed it. I did my stretches just in time for my morning team call. I was feeling good.
Day 6 another rest day – my ‘coach’ aka best pal Ness told me I was to do some workouts but I was so exhausted that I swapped the resistance bands for a nice tub of Ben n Jerrys. Another excellent decision on my part.
Day 7, another run. Not much else to note other than I was pretty over the moon to have reached the 25km mark in a week!!! Woop!
Day 8, another rest day. Less ice cream this time but still no workout (sorry Ness).
Day 9, I smashed it out the park and ran 6.3km like some sort of bloody miracle. The furthest I’d ever run before in my life. I felt on top of the world. I literally couldn’t believe that me and my stupid old woman hips could run so far and still be able to walk the next day!!!! The sense of achievement was real.
Day 10, I came crashing back down to earth… with a poor 2.6km and a very painful foot. My training injury appeared to have come back, in the ~other~ foot because that makes sense?? I called my mum half way round my route to pick me up and spent the afternoon on the sofa sulking, panicking and icing. I’d started to raise quite a lot of money and was feeling the pressure.
Day 11, everyone told me I was, under no circumstances, to run because I needed to rest my injury. So obviously I listened to absolutely nobody and went for a run anyway. I would usually suggest that this makes me a bit of a dickhead but my foot was absolutely fine thanks and I was just relieved to be back on track.
Day 12, I ignored the rest advice and ran again (obviously).
Day 13, I took the rest day I was meant to take a few days before.
Day 14, 15, 16 and 17 I ran every. single. day. I was just so ~into it~ I was like ‘look at me gooooooo’ I took screenshots of my runs and sent them to my honorary PT/coach/cheerleader Ness (she’s not a PT by the way she just took it upon herself to help me with this because she loves exercise and she loves me x).
On the 17th, I actually ran SEVEN whole kms in one go. It took me 50 minutes. and I got VERY muddy. But I felt so incredibly impressed with myself. Little Kath with her little legs running some real distance (ok fine no marathons here but 7km is pretty far you gotta give me that!!).
The day by day is getting a bit boring for everyone now (as was my Instagram content and I think I lost a few followers this month lol) so basically this was my next 4 runs… I, for some bizarre reason, didn’t quite make it up to the 5km mark once haha, it’s like my body was just a bit like ‘nah’. I ran 4.93km, 4.95km, 4.95km, 4.99km, 3.06km, 4.98km (in that order). Clearly my route was JUST short of that 5km mark… But I was, evidently, in the spirit of things and running my little legs off every day.
I got into the routine of doing it during my lunch break and it was the best addition to my day. Half an hour (ok slightly longer because I’m slow but let’s pretend) outside moving my little legs to make sure I covered the distance I needed to. The donations started pouring in and I felt more and more motivated.
On the 29th, I set out on a morning run (something I had only done twice before I figured out the lunch time window was preferable temperature wise). I had 7km left to run and I intended to split it up into two runs (because clearly my 7km was a little fluke and I was much more comfortable at the 4km mark). I had 45 minutes until my first meeting of the day. Plenty of time to run for half an hour, stretch and sit down at my laptop feeling a little sweaty (but working from home means that this, my friends, is not a problem). Roughly half way through my run and I randomly decided to that maybe I should just go for it and do the whole 7kms.
This was an exceptionally stupid decision.
The last 7km I had run took me 50 minutes on a Sunday, in the sunshine, after an excellent breakfast.
For my final run of the challenge, I ran 7km (5 minutes quicker than my last 7km) and made it back JUST in time to sit at my desk and take my first call of the day. Actually, when I stopped my watch it said I needed to run 0.05kms still so I set off back down the road again once I’d ended the run haha, ya girl was not going to end on 99.95kms!!!
I then literally couldn’t walk for 24 hours because I didn’t stretch properly and my achilles was completely *fucked* (told you it was stupid).
But…I’d completed this enormous challenge with two days to spare!!
After my work call I got my mum to take a photo of my holding up my trainers to post on the ‘gram to show everyone I’d ACTUALLY done it (obviously). I was flooded with messages of congratulations and more importantly donations. I’ve now passed the £1500 mark and I couldn’t be more chuffed with that. In a time when everyone is struggling and dealing with their own things, the generosity was genuinely overwhelming. I *definitely* cried a few times.
And aside from the obvious achievements and milestones I passed (running 100km and raising £1500) this challenge taught me a few things…
The first being that I can literally do anything I put my mind to (or so it feels that way). I made excuses about why I couldn’t run for literally years. I do have a lot of problems with my joints, that is a real issue BUT with the right physio and a bit of attention to how my legs are feeling, this clearly didn’t stop me completing the challenge. So, I intend to put this energy behind other things in my life that I’ve been telling myself I can’t do.
Running wise I learnt that a good skrillex remix will make you run 1.2x faster, yoga is your friend and an orange hat makes you feel cool even if you don’t look it.
Also running wise, I finally learnt that exercise really ~is~ good for my mental health (I know, who have thought it). I really hated reading this because I kinda really hated exercise, except from running and spin class, both of which hurt my hips a lot and therefore kinda made me pretend to hate exercise. Hate is a strong word and I did DO exercise before, I wasn’t a sloth, but I’ve never been a particularly exercise-orientated person. Am I making sense? Anyway, to state the obvious, the pandemic sucks. I feel stressed, anxious and angry a lot of the time, you know like the whole world, but this challenge helped clear my foggy head so many times. Literally yesterday during my lunchtime run (because guys I am still running, I know I know I’m a ~runner~ now, it feels virtuous) I figured out the solution to a problem/concern that I was struggling to work through. As I said, I used to hate reading that exercise would make me feel better mentally because I resented it but genuinely I now can’t ~stop doing it~ because it has made me feel so good.
And I guess the last thing is that I have grown so much and I’m so bloody proud of myself. The last year has been such a challenge for me, I’ve had to do a lot of healing and without the option to be surrounded by my friends and distract myself constantly, it’s been really really rough at times. But I’m so god damn grateful for everything I’ve learnt and everything I have achieved. The running challenge feels so emblematic of that for me. It’s not necessarily the distance or the amount raised (although these are both exceptional obviously) but more just the whole ‘I decided to do this and I did it’ kind of energy.
I was asked the other day what I considered to be my biggest achievement and actually, aside from the obvious things like my degree, I think that the way I’ve handled everything this past year and how now I’m literally the happiest and healthiest version of myself I’ve probably ever been is arguably my biggest achievement to date.
So, I say to you my friends… you are stronger than you think. You can do it. And don’t try and run 7km in 45 minutes before a meeting to complete a challenge you have two more days to complete.
By the way you can still donate to my challenge here if you’d like.
And to learn more about Crohn’s and Colitis UK and the amazing work they do, click here.