Running 2020 miles in 2020

At the start of 2020, I had a simple running goal – to complete 500 competitive miles of running for my sister’s charity, GRiT. I had plenty of events lined up, from the Ultra Tour of Arran in early April to the Ultra Tour of Edinburgh in October. By the end of March, I’d managed a total mileage of 312, with only 81.3 miles completed in March after a bout of suspected Covid-19. Then came lockdown, and event cancellation after event cancellation followed. Suddenly I could run for the simple love of running again, as I wrote about for Vivination in May after achieving a 45-day run streak. I kicked off June with a 4am marathon on a stunning late spring morning, part of a 70-mile week to complete The Virtual Wall. 

Then, with the prospect of the lockdown easing and some sort of normality returning over the summer, I knew I needed a new goal to keep my running going and build on the progress I’d made during the first lockdown. Thus, on June 23rd, a new streak began.

I had two simple rules:

  1. A minimum of 5k per day was required; and
  2. Only injury would stop me – not a lack of willpower, and certainly not a hangover.

Day 6 was a lovely 50k to get me going, and by the end of July, I’d reached 1,000 miles for the year. At that point, I started to think 2,000 miles might be within reach if I stayed injury-free and kept the streak going. I started “Jeffing” during easy days, which became the streak equivalent of rest days – normally twice a week. Jeffing is named after Jeff Galloway – his website is worth a visit if you want to increase your mileage and your pace at the same time.

I managed to keep the streak going throughout my 40th birthday celebrations in September and October which, because of social restrictions, actually meant extended festivities with a small number of people each time. A canal barge weekend was when the streak was most at risk, but I referred myself back to rule 2 and somehow managed the double whammy of completing a 10k and not being sick.

Since then it’s been fairly plain sailing – a monthly record mileage of 220.8 miles in November set me up for a relatively easy December, and from Boxing Day to New Year’s Eve I’ve done just 5k a day to take me to an appropriate milestone of 2,020 miles for the year. The streak now stands at 192 days and I feel in good shape. In total, I’ve had 305 active days during 2020 for that total of 2,020 miles at an average pace of 7:56 a mile. 

My main takeaways from the streak have been:

  1. It’s important to know your body – you can’t push every run hard;
  2. Keep it interesting – mix up the distances, mix up your routes (as far as lockdown restrictions allow) and try and have at least a loosely defined goal for every run;
  3. Some days will be enjoyable and you just want to keep going; some days you don’t even want to get started and they’re the ones that are important when it comes to mental resilience;
  4. Getting the right equipment is absolutely vital both for avoiding injury and increasing enjoyment. The right trainers are a critical and worthwhile investment to keeping niggles down to a minimum, decent running socks can help prevent annoying blisters, and a proper waterproof jacket can keep the rain away.

So what does 2021 have in store for me? I’ll aim to keep the streak going until my charity events are confirmed, at which point I’ll look at specific training schedules for each one. An ambitious goal is to do 2,500 miles in total, but that may depend on whether my 6am commute resumes at any point in the year. I also must focus on building my core strength, something I neglect far too often. And lastly, but certainly not least of the things I’m looking forward to, I’ll also be mentoring and cajoling my cousins through to, hopefully, their first ultramarathon in August. 

Whatever your goal is for 2021, we at Vivi Nation would love to hear from you and join in the community. Go well!