It took about a month before I fully admitted my 3000 miles challenge to myself, but nevertheless I as committed from the start. Committed to recording my miles that is, rather than to anything special to achieve them. Even though 3000 miles is a long way, 12 months is a long time too, right?
I had been accepted to join a volunteer project team for Cricket Without Boundaries and I was going to be asking people to donate to support the work that they do in HIV prevention, cricket development and generally promoting the wider benefits of sport to encourage positive behaviour changes in sub-Saharan Africa. In order to do this, I needed something big enough to inspire and interest people to encourage them to consider donating.
To punctuate my journey (3000 miles was my target because it roughly correlates to the distance between London and an unspecified point in sub-Saharan Africa) and to act as a hook for fundraising I entered some events, but the majority of my miles were achieved going about my daily business.
These are some highlights:
The Fox Ultra: 60km of trails around Guildford in the Surrey Hills. The furthest distance I’ve ever run.
Snowdonia Trail Half Marathon: what it says on the tin – if only I’d read the tin before signing up – running up a mountain but fortuitously in glorious sunshine.
parkrun: a constant in my calendar every week whether trying to run fast, deliberately running slow, in fancy dress or as a celebration.
Uganda: I took my running abroad this year training in both France and Spain but my highlight was running with a backdrop of the Rwenzori mountains.
Walking into town – discovering new routes and using it to create some headspace in my day
My traditional “Twixtmas” exploration of the local countryside led me to finding the stone circle and some new running routes for next year.
A meandering exploration of the footpaths and bridle paths in the Surrey Hills – my first off-road cycling adventure and one of my longest cycle rides ever.
What I’ve learnt:
I’m not a cyclist. I had anticipated that I would become a hardy, all-weather cyclist but it turns out that I remain a fair weather rider. I’ve developed an appreciation for my two-wheeled steed, but I like having my feet on the ground.
Our bodies are fragile. I succumbed to a back injury making any sort of movement limited for three weeks. I can do more to care for and nurture my body, but there’s always going to be a time when limits are reached and you have to stop.
Conflicting goals can make things harder, even when they seem to support each other. I had my miles to do but I also wanted to train for specific events. These do not necessarily go together. For me, less is more for optimal performance.
Being outside is good. Even when I didn’t want to, I would try to do 1 mile knowing this would take me at longest 20 minutes, at quickest 8 minutes. No matter the time of day or the weather I always felt better for this.
I’m looking forward to not counting my miles, to being able to enjoy the activity when and where I want to do it.
I want to commit to outside everyday – ideally an hour – if I can
I want to get back to other activities – you may find me back on the cricket pitch, or out on horseback. There will probably be less running and more exploring.
And what of my volunteering effort? I have raised a little over £1000 which is valuable funding for local Ambassadors to sustain the effort and support other local coaches in using cricket to reinforce messages about HIV prevention.
I’m continuing to help CWB with information for new volunteers. If you’re interested in volunteering – do get in touch, I would love to help you decide to do it. I can’t tell you what you’ll learn and experience but it will be positive for you, for the children you coach and in making the world a better place.
My fundraising page will be open for a short while longer, so if you would like to support CWB it’s an easy way to do it. I would like to thank my friends and family who have supported me through donations and through keeping me motivated for my challenge. Thank you also to my running and cycling buddies who have helped me get out the door and make things fun.
The final stats:
Total mileage: 2316
Total miles running: 1024
Total miles walking: 729
Total miles cycling: 563