Another month has passed and I am still running well. I have been able to stick to the plan, with every run successfully completed. Distances have begun to climb nicely, with the mid week run up to 12km this week. I enjoy being a runner that can bash out 12km mid-week without really batting an eye, very routine. I remember when 12km felt like a long long run, not really that long ago either.

A lot of runners have been filling a race-shaped void in their lives by doing so-called virtual runs, essentially paying for the privilege of running round the usual streets/trails, but with the promise of a medal and maybe some swag at the end. I can understand the attraction, after a fashion, the sense of shared endeavour, involvement in something larger than themselves, but mostly I have been sniffy about it, seems like a waste of money. This month, however, I succumbed, signing up to a virtual ultra, the Offa’s Dyke Challenge, run by the same crowd that look after the Jurassic Coast Challenge that I’m signed up to do in May next year. It was £12.50 to take part and the idea was to run as far up Offa’s Dyke as you can during the month of November. I reckoned my planned running would get me about half way. In the end my total was 151km for the month, just exceeding the 140-something that was needed for the half distance. Honestly, at no point did I have any sense of running up the Welsh Border, so I’m still not sure I see the point. One cool thing was that they had a tracking map which you could hook up to Strava. I could see my progress and where other random runners were (many of them far ahead of me!). I should get a medal in the post at some point, I will chuck it in the drawer with the others!

I’ve been mixing my runs up, doing some on roads, some on trails. This has meant I’ve been able to take some little-used trail shoes out for a spin. I also bought some new trail shoes, Asics Gel FujiTrabucos. There is some logic to this, my other two pairs of trail shoes are for light trails, summer shoes really, neither has much in the way of grip. The Fujis, on the other hand, are pretty rugged. They’ve supposedly been designed with long trail runs in mind. I like Asics, I’ve used Asics road shoes more or less since I started running in 2016. They seem to suit my feet. The Fujis are also comfortable, and the grip looks pretty nobbly, I think they’ll be perfect for the muddy, slippery conditions I can expect in the Green Boy next March. Or even this coming Sunday….

Now that we are out of lockdown, I am looking forward to an actual race! With other people! In real life! This coming Sunday is the Mapledurham 10, a 10 mile mixed terrain event a few miles north of Reading. It’s very local to me and I’m quite familiar with the route having run or cycled most of it before, some of it many, many times. If it rains later in the week it will get quite muddy. The race number came in the post earlier in the week, I’m really looking forward to it. I doubt I’ll be very fast, but it’ll definitely be fun to get a bit muddy and to race a little bit with the folks around me.

In other news, I’ve taken on a running and strength coach, all remote. Coach Bea took my existing running plan and added some spice in the form of speedwork – strides, pick-ups, fartlek, tempos, the usual suspects. Since coming back from injury my running has all been at super easy pace so it has been fun to run at a faster pace from time to time. She has also given me some strength routines, all intended to improve my running endurance. I was faffing about a bit myself but I’m finding it useful to have some structure, as well as some guidance on form. It’s early days, but her remit is to turn me into an injury-resistance endurance machine!

I am seriously contemplating registering for a 100 mile event next October. And when I say contemplating, I really mean I’ve decided. This in spite of the fact that I am firmly of the opinion that 100 miles is a distance best tackled in a motor vehicle, it’s kind of bonkers to volunteer to run it. The event in question is run by Centurion, the Autumn 100, or A100 as it’s more commonly known. I’m intrigued as it is local to me. In fact, at it’s point of closest approach, the final leg will be a mere 2km from home, as the crow flies. The race is based in Goring, a 15 minute drive up the road. The race consists of 4 out-and-back legs in 4 different directions, using the Ridgeway and the Thames Path which cross in Goring. If it’s bonkers to try to run 100 miles anyway, then it’s even more bonkers when you’ve never run even marathon distance. I have several ultras planned in the first half of next year, so those ought to be good preparation, but what if I hate running that long once I try it? I gather I could pull out of A100 up to 4 weeks in advance and get 70% of my money back, so I’m effectively putting 30% down as a non-refundable deposit. That seems less bonkers, right? In any case, registration hasn’t opened yet and I gather it sells out fast, so I may not get a spot. Eek.

I think that’s all for now, I’ll be back in a month or so for another update.

Run well and stay safe!