Any regular readers will have probably realised by now that I do love to set myself regular running challenges; be that a new PB or a virtual event. Having just recently ticked off both my Six Pack Revolution fitness training and my Garmin Coach 5 km improvers plan, I was feeling somewhat bereft and without direction. Fortunately I stumbled upon what initially seemed like a slightly crazy idea but soon grew on me, running 100 km in seven days as part of the Centurion One Community Easter event.
Centurion are more well known for their much-loved series of ultra races including the Thames Path 100 miler – normally so far out of my league that I had never contemplated running an event with them before. However, circumstances of the past year have prompted them to put on a set of more accessible virtual events as part of the One Community series, where you can choose a target distance of up to 100 miles, but crucially for me, have a full 7 days to complete the distance. I opted for the 100 km in 7 days target, which would be the furthest I had ever run in a week. My normal weekly distance is more like 30-35 km, (although I have reached 80 km or so during the peak of marathon training) so this would surely be the push I was looking for!
The first couple of days I was keen to get some good distances under my belt, so kicked off Good Friday with a half-marathon distance run followed by a peaceful trip to Epping Forest the next day. On Easter Sunday I ran a fast 10 km for my Share the Love medal, and had a bit of fun drawing some Strava art in the afternoon.
Day 4, and it was time to earn my finishers T-shirt! In a nice twist this year, Centurion had teamed up with the guys over at Rerun Clothing to offer something a bit different. Instead of sending out yet another new T-shirt, which lets face it, often just end up sitting in a drawer; participants are sent an unwanted recycled mystery T-shirt donated from another event. Your challenge is then to run an interpretation of that event. I watched nervously as the mystery shirts were revealed, hoping not to have to run a marathon! Luckily, my assigned T-shirt was just about perfect: the “Bridge to Bridge 14km Thames Marathon”. In homage, I headed off to the Thames Path on Easter Monday with my friend Alistair for a 14km run along the riverfront. At times the headwind was so strong it felt like running into a wall, so I was incredibly grateful for the company to get me through the run.
By Day 5 and 6 it was time to go back to work after the long weekend. I covered the bulk of my daily distance on my lunch break, enjoying the excuse to explore sections of local forests or the lakes in a nearby park. My feet were starting to feel the strain of the increased mileage by now, so I took it slow and steady, swapping pavements for the softer trails wherever possible.
The final day came around and my hard work over the weekend meant I had just 7km left to cover in the evening with a trip to Tottenham marshes in the fading sunlight. The week was finished and I was looking forward to a rest!
My key learnings from the week:
- Know your limits! The 100 km target was just the perfect distance for me, my highest ever weekly distance, but not so far that I would break myself in the process. Try to resist the temptation to overstretch yourself with crazy targets that your body isn’t ready for, and make sure that you are going into any event sufficiently prepared and trained.
- Look after your feet! Whilst totaling 100 km was ultimately achievable for me, I did find the lack of rest start to take its toll on my feet after pushing it a bit too hard with a fast 10 km on day 3. Subsequent runs I had to take it much easier, dropping the pace and switching to my most cushioned shoes to make sure I wouldn’t do any actual damage.
- Don’t leave it too late! I’m definitely a morning person, and much preferred to get my daily miles ticked off as early as possible. On the days when I had been at work and already ran at lunchtime, it was quite a struggle to head back out the door again in the evening to top up the distance. Unfortunately during the working day, it just wasn’t possible to fit the whole daily distance into my lunch break so doubling up the running was my best option. If I did an event like this again I might swap some of those evening runs for early morning ones instead.
- It is time consuming! There’s no getting around it, I am not a super speedy runner so all this running will inevitably take time. I had to plan my week accordingly to fit it all around my other commitments of family life and work. Whereas it may have been easier to spend the whole Easter weekend out running, that doesn’t really work when you have small children to look after. For a one-week challenge this was fine, but I don’t think I could cope with this grueling timetable long term!
- I have gained a huge respect for Ultra runners! To me, it feels inconceivable how some people are able to run huge weekly distances week in, week out, or indeed complete these 100 mile events in one go. These kind of distances are way out of my current reach, and this week has given me a little insight into the incredible strength and fitness needed.
It just remains for me to say thank you to Centurion for putting on such a fun event and allowing me to rub shoulders with the cool Ultra-runners in the community group. I would love to come back if you put on another event like this in the future and who knows, I might just try the 100 mile option next time! Check out the video below for my highlights of the week and to see some of the lovely places I am fortunate enough to run around.