First up, I need to come clean: I am a terrible runner.
I know this might seem strange from someone who spends most of their spare time training for and competing in triathlons, but it is really not my thing. I am not looking for sympathy here, nor going to try the hidden brag ‘I just get so tired after the 25th kilometer…’
Part of it is genetic, I am just not the right size to be able to run like an elegant gazelle (more of a charging hippo…) and have previously mentioned how I remember coming last in a school cross country race, a small event which has nonetheless played its part in my challenges of recent years.
The other aspect is that I have the multi-sport athlete’s curse of preferring to train in my stronger events. By this I mean that while many coaches advocate spending the most time on your weakest event, on the basis that it will bring the biggest gains and ensure a balanced race, I find it hard to get motivated to run and tend to focus on the bike and swim legs.
Despite this, I do actually do a fair bit of running, more so than ever at the moment given the races I have entered and distances I need to cover for this Challenge. The fact is that as tough as I find it, there is no hiding from the run in a triathlon, as you can swim and ride as fast as you like, but if you want to cross the line it is going to be on foot (it is a long way to crawl anyway…)
It was around this time last year that I realised how much work I needed to put in, and this led to me entering the Birmingham Half Marathon – something I would have found hilarious a year or so before. As a result I had to start putting down some serious mileage, and whilst it did not necessarily make me like running any more, I did manage to prove to myself I could do it.
The second half marathon I did was this year at the end of the Avenger, and if I thought the first was tough this was in a different league… So it is with a bit of trepidation that I am back preparing again for the Birmingham half again, wondering if my body is still up to it. I did manage to get in my first long run in a good few months yesterday, but judging by the feeling in my knees and quads at the moment some more practice is definitely required.
The problem is, I have a bit of a dilemma. Whilst I know the right thing to do is spend the next month really focusing on my running, I also have the challenge to think of. This is similar to the issue I had earlier in the year with swimming, in that whilst I can top out at a whole 3 km per hour in the water, I can cover 30 km on the bike in the same time, or in this case, somewhere in-between at an average speed of 10 km on foot. I still have another 1000 km to cover in the next three months, so of the three have a guess which is the easiest way to make this?
The solution therefore is going to have to be the same. Whereas with swimming I decided that every 1 km covered would count at 5 km towards the challenge (otherwise I would never bother getting wet) so from now on (for at least the next month anyway) every kilometer I cover on the run will count as 3 km for the Chile Challenge. For the mathematically challenged this means a 10 km run = 30 km for the challenge.
So starting retrospectively I am going to count yesterday’s 16 km run (oh my poor legs, etc) as 48 km towards the total. Hopefully this little extra bit of motivation will get me through the next month or so, and not only help me cover more distance, but actually improve my weakest area and get me through the race!