Why I am (probably) no longer running 1000 miles

December 15, 2019

At the start of every year I set myself a range of goals, some of them are always sport related. This year the running ones were:

  • Run a sub 30 min 5k
  • Run a sub 1 hour 10k
  • Run Great South Run (10 miles) in less than 2 hours
  • Run 500k across the course of the year

In context they were fairly ambitious – I hadn’t come close to any of the times, and the furthest distance I had run in a calendar year was 325k. Nevertheless in about May I soon realised I was crushing all of the goals and so reset them to sub 25 mins for the 5k, sub 55 mins for the 10k, sub 90 mins for the Great South Run, and sub 2 hours for a half. At this point I didn’t up the annual mileage goal but at some point in September that became 1000 miles (or 1609k for those of you who work in kilometres).

Mappledurham 10 miler in December

2019 was also the year I fell in love with running, in a big way. I finally managed to make all the piece fit together and suddenly it was exciting to see the efforts of my hard work pay off. And then it wasn’t so fun any more…

I became so desperate to hit the 1000 miles I forgot what running for fun felt like. I missed the sub 2 hour half marathon goal twice over; once because I had missed weeks of training due to a sprained ankle, and the second time because I was fatigued and over-training. So I’m giving myself permission to quit the goal for the following reasons:

  1. I want running to be fun. The joy I felt at Mappledurham, and at various other races over the year is like no other. When I stop chasing finish times and simply run because I can, it’s much more enjoyable. Running is my sanctuary and I am ruining it for myself.
  2. My body is spent. Not only have I managed to run nearly 4 times the distance I did last year I also managed a 100 mile cycle (plus the training for it), a two mile swim (with much less training than I should have done), a 40 mile skate (I think it was near 46 by the time I stopped, my toe nail is still in the process of healing from that one). Right now I am struggling to get out of bed in the morning, let alone run.
  3. I am getting progressively worse at running. I am over training and missing goals. A quick google of ‘overtraining syndrome’ pretty much sums up where I am at. I need to give my body some time to recover so that I can regain the speeds I know I can hit.
  4. I have a marathon to train for. Right now I risk messing up a longer term goal for the sake of reaching a cumulative distance I probably won’t remember in 10 years time. I would much rather finish the marathon strong, than hit 1000 miles this year.
  5. It’s not good for my mind or my body. Sport is something which is supposed to make me feel good. Given I have also been pretty unwell this year after my disordered eating became even more disordered than it has been for many many years I am pulling back before this becomes equally obsessive and problematic.

Do I feel sad? You bet. I have spent most of the day sulking, but the hard choices are often the right ones and I plan to spend the last few days of the year doing long runs with friends, trying to get a buddy to sub 30 mins at parkrun, and generally putting the joy back into running. I am walking away with several of the goals smashed, and a clearer sense of what I want to work on next year. I am not completely giving up, I still plan to see how close to 1000 miles I can get (I’m currently at 886 miles), and if I find a second wind over the next few days who knows what will happen, but for once I am not going to kick myself if I don’t reach it. Besides, I need a goal for 2020….