Lessons from 400 kilometres in 20 weeks

Runners are bloody annoying.

Actually, allow me to revise that statement. People who run are bloody annoying… to us non-runners.

“They” are so infuriating with their social media posts about split times, half marathon PBs, quality time spent pre-6am with their athletic kids and conversations about the latest pair of Asics Gel.

Give us a fucking break.

We get it OK, you actually enjoy running. You choose to do it. You just love it. While some of us do not, in fact we don’t even get how you can.

Well, coming off the back of my stellar effort of 10,000 push-ups in 100 days, I set myself a new exercise challenge following government announcements of further COVID-19 restrictions.

If you can’t beat them join them, at least for another period of forced isolation.

I am committing to doing 20 kilometres per week for 20 weeks.

The financial commitment to taking-up running is as low as you can get, it is essentially zero dollars up front and zero dollars per week. However, I admit that I did make two purchases to kick-start my new undertaking.

My sister gave me the hot tip that she scored a pair of full mens athletic tights for her husband, my brother-in-law from the Asics outlet store for just $25 so I pounced on that. And while I was there I was chatting to them about the special needs of heavier men with wide feet, if you know you know.

The financial commitment to taking-up running is as low as you can get, it is essentially zero dollars up front and zero dollars per week

After some impressive sales training implementation I walked out with a killer pair of GT 1000, the last extra-wide pair in stock, and thus they were 60% off, so they set me back another $80, but they are lovely…

Downunder Dad getting involved with the Asics love (Photo by Downunder Dad)

Oh no, is it happening? Am I turning into one of those runners? Worse still, am I the worst type, one who has yet to even go jogging?! Hahaha, shit where were we?

Now is time to insert the disclaimer, here goes. I am not running all 20 kilometres each week, I am not even jogging them all. Brisk walking is included, and most of the sessions will be a combination of run-walk-run-walk, especially during the early weeks. And if you are a “runner” and you have a problem with this then you can fuck right off. I make the rules.

There is going to be so much sweat.

However, although walking is included, only the dedicated kilometres will be counted. In other words, I need to be appropriately dressed, kid free and most likely in podcast-listening mode. It only counts if I am by myself.

Generally speaking I am breaking things down similarly to the push-ups challenge. In the same way I divided up my 100 push-ups per day over the course of three or four separate sessions, I am doing the same thing over the course of each 20 kilometre week.

With some half-assed stetching, no knowledge of form or concept and a mountain of enthusiasm I started my new goal.

Downunder Dad was churning through the miles, one week at a time (Photo by Leandro Boogalu on Pexels.com)

The first week went well. Despite being the middle of a frosty Melbourne winter, on three isolated occasions I gracefully put on my new manly tights, proudly strapped up my pristine Asics Gel and got out there. Some of the gear, no idea.

I got some good puffing happening, like the sort of rapid breathing that stings your lungs. To the point where I believe people passing by would have wondered if I was OK. I leaned into the discomfort and kept on trucking, most of the time.

During the first week, Monday to Sunday I completed three sessions of six to seven kilometres each. And the challenge felt good, it seemed difficult yet achievable. I was keen and already 5% done.

Mrs DD gave me a call on the Friday afternoon of the second week and said she was taking the kids to the local pier after school for some exercise of their own. I agreed to meet her there on foot. It was approximately two kilometres, and all down hill. So I put on my superhero costume and hit the bricks.

…I agreed to meet her there on foot. It was approximately two kilometres, and all down hill. So I put on my superhero costume and hit the bricks…

For the first time in decades I ran one mile without stopping, that’s 1,600m to those millenials reading this. And if the real runners of my readers have made it this far they are surely tuning out now. One mile is not a big deal, unless you haven’t managed it in twenty years!

I was feeling good. I trotted along the concrete paths and road crossings to get to the picturesque waterfront, the rewarding part of the journey. It was a clear, crisp afternoon and most notably it was a Friday. Exciting times.

As I turned along the exercise track, with the sound of waves gently lapping the shore now heard in conjunction with my podcast of choice, in the distance I could see my family.

My heart was full. I was grateful in that moment.

Admittedly I was spent, I needed to downgrade my lacklustre jogging into an exacerbated walk for the final stage, I knew I was not going to make it all the way to their location.

As my aged and tired legs pulled up and decreased their rhythm, I felt a painful tweak in my lower right calf. In fact, initially I felt it in the front of my 41-year-old leg as though related to my shin.

Immediately I went from proud, pumped and being excited for the weekend to being reduced to a pathetic old-man hobble. Still with 500-metres left to traverse.

Some five minutes later Mrs DD saw the despair plastered across my face and instantly asked “what have you done?”

My heart was full. I was grateful in that moment.

I then did what any grown man would do in my situation, I spent the next three days sooking. I was miserable to be around, I wasted the entire weekend feeling sorry for myself and drinking more and earlier than I normally would. I was deflated.

So how good is running? Pure joy.

Looking back on my failed challenge and understandable injury I can recognise that I did manage to drag myself out of the hole I was in mentally. But I needed help. I saw an Osteopath (I traumatised my Soleus muscle which hides behind my ample Gastronemius), did a shitload of stretches and sessions on the foam roller. Had a follow up phone call once stage-4 COVID restrcitions were announced and have been nursing myself back to health ever-so-slowly. So slowly.

Anyone who has hurt their calf knows, it is a gradual and annoying recovery.

…I traumatised my Soleus muscle which hides behind my ample Gastronemius…

I do not know if I will ever try a running challenge again, I mean who wants to be one of those people anyway? Am I right?

Fuck it I thought, I’ll redo the push-ups. Currently on day 26.

(Main Photo by Fabio Comparelli on Unsplash)


Downunder Dad: Independent, Aussie and Personal undefined


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