So this month I decided to take part in the Ashmei March On challenge. It’s a fairly simply idea – the premise is to run at least a mile or cycle at least five miles every day through March, and if you managed to achieve that feat you’d qualify for a whopping 35% discount on their great kit.
Now I’m not normally one for extolling the virtues of ‘run streaking’ for no defined purpose. For one thing running every day isn’t necessary for you to enjoy your running, and if you’re training for a specific goal taking a complete day off from any activity is a great benefit to your training.
However I have really good memories of taking part in Ashmei’s Govember – basically the same thing but last November. I say good – I was struggling from some sort of lower back injury, so even those minimum one mile runs hurt, but it helped me get over it, kick start my training, and be able to be in the form that I am now. Back during Govember I was struggling to run, and now during March On I’m adding the final flourishes to a crack at getting my marathon PB even further below the three hour mark.
So with that in mind I wasn’t going to do anything silly. I was obviously going to be getting a lot of miles in for the final weeks of marathon training, and on the days I would normally take as rest days I would head out for a solitary mile. So rather than regale you with tales of all of the miles I ran, I thought I would share the times when even getting that mile in was tough.
1. The aborted long run mile
So on the fourth day of the challenge I was planning on getting up super early before work and getting in a twenty-three mile long run – because I was getting a train on the Friday evening for a Saturday down south, and then flying off on holiday on my normal long run day of Sunday. Unfortunately when I woke up the snow had settled pretty deep, and for once I made the wise decision not to go out and risk the ankles.
This meant a few things – firstly that the day’s run changed into a quick out the door mile after I got home rather than the longest distance run I cover in marathon training, that my packing for travelling on the Friday evening became more manic, and that my long run (as I am obsessed with completing the mileage) moved over to the next week for a 100 mile epic.
2. The 48 hour day (but can you still squeeze in a mile)
Travelling on holiday to Iceland on the Sunday (the sixth day of the challenge) involved a pretty epically long day. On the Saturday I was up and out of the house to start travelling down to Ashmei HQ before seven, fitting in a run around the Chilterns, and then once I was back at Leeds in the evening a little run commute back to Headingley.
The next stage of our journey was a taxi at one-ish on Sunday morning to Leeds station, for a bus replacement service to Manchester airport, and then napping in the airport before our early morning flight. The plan for the Sunday was to get off the plane, go to the Blue Lagoon, head over to our hotel in Reykjavik, and then go to see the Northern Lights, getting back at midnight-ish. So I just about had time to fit in an incredibly tired one miler after arriving at the hotel, in a new city in completely unknown weather conditions – cue putting on every layer I had on me!
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Might be on holiday, but no excuse not to run! Just a teeny mile to test out the weather in Iceland and some lovely new @ashmei_sportswear kit fit for the conditions☃, and to get the daily minimum mile in for the #ashmei #marchon challenge🏃🏼. . Got to Iceland this morning, headed off straight to the blue lagoon, and hopefully seeing the Northern Lights tonight! #ashmeiambassador
3. The (two) beer(s) mile
So my manager at work was leaving during the third week of March, and her final day was on the Thursday. I’d received an email about leaving drinks after work and agreed to go, so the plan was rather than doing my one miler on my normal rest day of Friday I’d do it before work on the Thursday and move Thursday’s run to the Friday.
That was until I got to work on the Wednesday (the sixteenth day of the challenge) and realised the leaving drinks were that evening. This meant that after having two pints at the leaving drinks, I still had to fit in my mile for the challenge after I got back. That was one of the more interesting miles of the week.
Finishing off the challenge was a bit easier – sure I had the challenges of the 100 mile training week, and the tough week after that with the fatigue, but my final one mile run was non-eventful, and then on the final day I was up nice and early to finish up a five miler in the early spring sunshine as I was at an event in the evening.
So what did I learn about running during the March On challenge?
1. Fitting in runs is really difficult: The challenge of running every day is actually harder than I thought. I run big mile weeks pretty consistently when training for big races so I thought this would be easy, but throughout the challenge little things kept on popping up (for example, the beer mile) which made it a challenge to even fit in a run that might last fifteen minutes from getting changed into running gear to getting changed out at the other end.
2. Fitting in runs is really easy: It also taught me that fitting in a short run, even if you are really time poor, is easier than you think. With my epic weekend of travelling from Leeds to Hertfordshire to Leeds to Manchester to Iceland, I could have thought that these were exceptional circumstances which would have stopped me from fitting in any sort of running, but I still managed to fit in a mile.
3. Any activity is worthwhile: Through this you’ll have seen I’m a stickler for following my plan and doing the sessions I’ve written down, even if I move them. However I also wouldn’t have been able to get through the challenge without having that flexibility to be able to move sessions around and replace the longest run of a training block on one day with the shortest run I’d record. This also made me realise that for those who are just setting out on starting running and building up their fitness from a minimal base level (as I was once) just having the consistency of getting out for a one mile run a couple of times a week is a great place to start, and shouldn’t be taken for granted.
So now it’s time to wait for my next pay cheque and decide what to use my discount for on the Ashmei shop!