Me, getting beaten by a duck

January Running Distance Challenge


n a fit of post-Christmas lardiness, I was grubbing about on Strava looking for a challenge that would make me feel good about myself while requiring no extra effort (something like “5k over 30 days” or “100 metres and a sit down”), and wondering whether I could be bothered to run 10k at some point, when I saw the January challenge:

How far can you run this month?

“Oooh!” I thought, “ideal — I can test out my shin and see how far it will go, and get a trophy for doing whatever’s comfortable.” Cushy yet gratifying.

I should not be allowed “oooh” moments on the internet. Not EVER.

When I clicked on it, I discovered that you get a trophy for running over 200 km in January.

Over 200 km

45.2 km (28 miles) a week.

I let that sink in.

200 km isn’t a lot for some people, but I’m not a pro athlete, or marathon-runner, or any kind of “proper runner” — I’m a little round woman who likes hill-walking. I had no plans to run 7 km a day for 28 days in a row because my shin would crack again, and anyway I’m too busy.

Plus, if I rest even one day in four, I have to run 9.5 km/day for the whole month which is just stupidity on a stick.

I started on Day 4 by trying to run the whole 200 km to get it over with: I managed 16 km. By day 5, my dog’s hiding from me, my kids laugh when they see me coming, and I’m walking like a duck. (Bear in mind, last time I raced a duck, the duck won.)

Don’t ever let me do this again.



(Against theoretical target of 200/31 = 6.5 km every day.)

  1. Jan: 0 km. Blithely unaware.
  2. Jan: 0 km. Still no clue.
  3. Jan: 2.1 km (2 km total). Blissfully innocent little dog walk.
  4. Jan: 16.3 km (18 km total). Start challenge and instantly panic. Try to run 200 km, manage just 16. Swam.
  5. Jan: 9.3 km (27 km). Too stubborn to give up on 3rd run, not quite sure how this is going to pan out.
  6. Jan: 1.1 km (28 km) + 5.2 km (33 km). I have a very sore toe, due to using non-Injinji socks.
  7. Jan: REST DAY. The how-not-to-get-shin-splints learning curve.
  8. Jan: 1.6 km (35 km) + 7.2 km (42 km).
  9. Jan: 1.6 km (44 km). So, I worked ridiculously hard today and did not stop all evening and did not have time to run. Slightly disastrous but we will cope. Swam.
  10. Jan: 10.1 km (54 km). Had exactly 2 hours’ sleep last night. Nothing says “I fancy running 21 km catch-up” like grey-faced exhaustion. If I run 24 km over the weekend I’ll be back on track. Ew.
  11. Jan: 8.3 km (62 km) and 3.7 km (66 km). Theoretical target: 71.5 km. Park run and warm down, and dog walk with tired kids (slow): letting routines carry me through, saves thinking.
  12. Jan: 10.3 km (77 km). Theoretical target 78 km. Woke up with a sore throat, hating this whole thing, but was rescued by lovely son and dog who ran 10 km with me, along the beach path in the evening winter sun. Swam.
  13. Jan: 7.0 km (84 km). Ten-hour working day and kids in bed and at 11pm I’m staring out at the dark. So anyway, I’ve done 83.96 km, and the theoretical target is 84.5 km, so I’m almost caught up and in a couple of days I’ll be half way. The mileages look really tiny on here but I am finding this an actual challenge. Sure, some of my friends can run this far in one day, but I never have.
  14. Jan: REST DAY, I guess. My kid was sick. Not leaving the house.
  15. Jan: Worked 13 hours, ran 8.1 km (92 km). Horrible.
  16. Jan: 8.2 km (100 km). Celebrated the halfway milestone in style: at exactly 100 km, I stood on the pavement while a woman ran over my foot with her buggy, then I fell off the pavement and got run over by a bike.
  17. Jan: 6.6 km (107 km). Just got to do it all again now, I guess: 93 km to do; 6.7 km/day for 14 days.
  18. Jan: Got up early to take my child running. Child did not want to go running. I don’t want to go running. I should go running. Gaaaah. I hate running. Ran 0.49 km  to car park, then 2.69 km with kid and dog (all tired and coldy) and finally 5.0 km to make up mileage (115 km done: 85 km left, 13 days to do).
  19. Jan. This is scary: yesterday my shin hurt. I know this pain and I should rest before it swells or cracks again, but I have just 12 days left and no time to recoup lost miles (one missed day means a 13 km the following day, or several 10 kms etc – too much). I’ll just have to be careful, with much stretching. SO, today I’ve devised a series of  flat 1 km intervals that I can do in pairs throughout the day: hardly any pressure on the legs, but all the miles. We’ll see. So: 2.1 km + 2.0 km + 2.1 km + 2.1 km + then 1 km with kids who yelled and got angry and fell in the mud (124 km).
  20. Plod, plod, plod-plod-plod… plod

    Jan. Stinking cold and stomach bug. So this all just got a bit harder. (Still 124 km; 76 km to go. 47.5 miles.)
  21. Jan. 3.7 km (128 km). I am ill. I feel horrible. I look like a badly-aged Bilbo Baggins. I’m too unwell to run but if I don’t, future-me will have a 19.5 km backlog. Can’t run, can’t not. My dog hates me. I hate me. Ten days to go.
  22. Jan. 5.1 km + 8.3 km (141 km).
  23. Jan. 8.3 km (150 km). Total challenge in theory: 200 km/31 days = 6.45 km/day. Done so far (from 3 Jan): 150 km/21 days = 7.14 km/day. Remaining challenge: 50 km/8 days = 6.25 km/day. Swam.
  24. Jan. 11.1 km (161 km). Dog and me, Friday chill.
  25. Jan. 17.5 km (178 km). Ran to Porthleven for a doughnut, then ran back for a chocolate croissant.
  26. Jan.  Swam. 
  27. Jan. 6.0 km (184 km).
  28. Jan. 16.6 km (201 km). Finished off with a night run: 10 miles of hill reps.
10 miles of hill reps and done

OK, so… I ran 200 km in 26 days and,

it turns out,

I don’t really care

(although I guess it’s nice that my shin’s OK).

But really, that was boring — so very, very boring — and, well, horrible.


I prefer mountains.

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