#4FOUR24 – a 24 hour Adventure
How it all began
There I was with a weekend alone at home stretching before me. I’d wanted to head to the hills for an adventure but I had things I had to do so I stayed home. Work, and a few chores. The car was booked in for new tyres and as the bicycle shop is just around the corner from there I thought I’d take it for a service at the same time. Nothing more exciting than that on the horizon.
Then, I looked in an online group I’ve recently joined and I saw the following, posted by George Anderson the night before.
Did I fancy joining him ‘virtually for this one’? Yes, why not? I typed my reply with the caveat that I would be on the treadmill for the 10pm and 2am runs instead of running outside. And then I posted it on my Facebook feed for the world to see – there was no backing out after that!
I headed out to do my chores. As I was driving I thought ahead to the Adventure I had let myself in for. The idea of a few 4 mile runs had seemed pretty achievable, but then I had a thought, “When will I sleep?”. I typically run four miles in around 44-48 minutes. So if I run at 10pm, finish at 10:45pm realistically I won’t be asleep until 11pm, and I’ll be needing to get out of bed at 1:45am for the next run. Which is…a maximum three hours of sleep.
And anyone who knows me will say that I’m not good on reduced sleep!
Oh well, I’ve committed myself now. I’ll just go with it and see what happens.
Run 1 – 6pm Saturday
I had my kit on in plenty of time and thought about where to run my first four miles. My knees are not so keen on lots of tarmac so I opted for the disused railway line. It’s about a mile there, then I could run a mile out, a mile back and the final mile home.
It was lovely. I had the railway line to myself apart from one cyclist. After the sunny afternoon a beautiful light filtered through the leafy canopy of trees. I was almost sorry to turn around when I did. It takes me a couple of miles to really relax into a run and it dawned on me then how hard this challenge could be. I’ll have that uncomfortable, slightly painful first two miles to deal with six times over!
I got back to the front door having completed 4.02 miles in 44:08 minutes and triumphantly posted the screenshot as proof of completion. “One down, five more to go”.
Run 2 – 10pm Saturday
I had dinner, watched some TV and then the alarm went off on my phone. 15 minutes until run time. I got changed into a fresh set of kit and headed to my treadmill. It’s an old one. I remember wondering if I would get my monies worth when I gave up my gym membership and spent £400 on it nearly 20 years ago. At £20 a year it’s done pretty well! But it isn’t as cushioned as the more expensive ones, making it hard work at times. Recently I’ve been run/walking on it rather than full runs because it can stutter and threaten to throw me off the back from time to time.
I set Spotify to play a mix of Kip Moore songs while I was running, and started it going. I did end up running most of it, only slowing to walking pace to grab a drink of water…but it was hard work, much harder than outdoors.
The red lights flashed to acknowledge the end of four miles. Second run done in 50:43 minutes. “Slower than I would have liked but this isn’t too bad afterall”. I still wasn’t feeling great so I grabbed a Nakd bar to eat as I headed upstairs for a quick shower (after posting my screenshot of course). I got into bed at 11:15pm with the alarm set for 1:45am.
Run 3 – 2am Sunday
I rolled out of bed and headed to the bathroom, feeling slightly nauseous. Got the third set of kit on and headed downstairs to the treadmill. I picked another Spotify soundtrack (I can’t actually remember which one), and set the treadmill going. My heart sank. My knees and hips were really complaining. I still felt nauseous and I was hot, so hot. I didn’t want to open a window because I wanted the music on so I kept going.
My mouth was dry…that was it! I was dehydrated. After the 10pm run I’d only downed a small glass of water, then hadn’t had any more before getting going on Run 3. I slowed the treadmill down and sank half a litre of water before carrying on running. Every now and again I had another short slow down and drank some more. I did start to feel a little better and vowed to keep drinking for the rest of the challenge. I think it’s fair to say that this was the worst run of them all.
After 51:21 minutes the red lights again flashed to say I had finished my four miles. Screenshot posted, I downed a glass of water and headed back to bed.
Run 4 – 6am Sunday
The 5:45am alarm went off and I could easily have rolled over and gone back to sleep. I’d had some really vivid and weird dreams so wasn’t feeling rested at all. But then I thought about my online posts and how disappointing it would be to say I’d given up. So on went the kit (from Run 2, it had been hung up to dry and was a bit stinky but I wasn’t going to see anyone really at that time of the morning, was I?). I headed downstairs for a glass of water and left the house.
This time I had chosen an out and back route which was all on tarmac. I wasn’t sure who I might meet at that time of the morning on the railway line so decided to give that route a miss. It proved to be a good call. Once my knees had woken up (about half a mile in – at least they were consistent) I felt pretty fresh and was enjoying the cool, fresh morning air. There wasn’t a breath of wind and it looked like it would be a lovely sunny day.
The route goes ever so slightly downhill after three quarters of a mile. Not enough that you’d notice if you were walking, but enough to nudge my pace up a little and I got into a nice rhythm. I reached my turnaround point and headed back, still enjoying the run and feeling as though having got through the night runs, this challenge could actually be achievable.
Proof that this was a good run – 3.99 miles in 43:02 minutes
I grabbed some breakfast (yoghurt, fruit and granola with a cup or two of tea), then went back to bed.
Run 5 – 10am Sunday
I woke up and stretched my legs out. Owww! My hips and knees were all telling me that I’d be running a lot more than usual and were begging me to stop. But I hadn’t felt great at the start of any of these runs (except perhaps the first) and I’d come around eventually. And remember how good the 6am run felt? On went the kit once more, glass of water downed, out the door I went.
I choose the same route as I’d done last time. It had been enjoyable so it was clearly the one to go for. I was bobbing along, waiting for the half mile mark for my knees (and hips this time) to wake up when I realised how hungry I was. My breakfast had been a big, big bowl so I should have been okay. Oh, but I’d been burning 400 calories on each run, maybe I needed more.
I had lots of negativity in my head as I tried to keep up the pace versus Run 4. Willing myself to go faster, then telling myself it really wouldn’t matter if I walked. It went backwards and forwards in my mind as I ran. I tried a few “You are amazing!”, and “You’ve got this!” affirmations but I’ll be honest, they didn’t really do anything to help.
I started to do the sums – my watch in km and my target in miles. What was my pace in minutes per km? How did that calculate to minutes per mile? How many minutes were left? Then I tied myself up in knots by doing the 1.6x conversion the wrong way and thinking I was running 8 minute miles – I guess I was pretty tired.
It wasn’t a bad time in the end – 3.98 miles in 44:12 minutes so only a minute or so slower than the previous run, and only one run left to go.
I had avocado on toast but couldn’t smash the avo properly because I was too tired (!) then I dozed on the settee for an hour or so.
Run 6 – 2pm Sunday
The runs were coming around very quickly. The alarm had woken me from a really deep sleep and I was a bit disorientated at first. I had to go upstairs to put my kit on and my knees and hips did not like the stairs.
Water drunk, ready to go. Where to this time though? The tarmac route had let me down at 10am, but other options had hills in them and I couldn’t face them. So I chose the disused railway again. Starting and ending with the same route felt like a good idea.
This was absolutely the hardest of all the runs when I set off. I think I was probably shuffling more than running. It was absolutely a combination of general tiredness and seized up joints after their three hours of rest. I only got a quarter of a mile down the road when someone asked me how far I was going. “Four miles” I replied. “Well, this is mile 20 to 24. I’m running 4 miles every 4 hours for 24 hours and this is my last lot”. He looked really puzzled but wished me luck. The temptation to stop and chat some more was there, but I turned and kept going. If I stopped I might never start again.
I deliberately took a slightly different route to the railway line than yesterday so that I couldn’t compare this run with the first. There were more dog walkers at this time of day, and a few families with children on bicycles. I must have looked rough, or completely stank, because they all gave me plenty of room to get by. I got a stone in my shoe just before the turnaround point and spent a few minutes deciding whether to stop and get it out or carry on and try to ignore it. No, it had to go.
I’d realised just before this run that I’d been aiming at 6.4km per run but the 6am and 10am ones had come up a bit short of the full four miles because of the conversion and rounding and what have you. So I picked my turnaround point to be at 3.25km and hoped it would be enough to edge me over the full 24 miles. I hadn’t come this far to miss out by 0.01 miles!
I thought the last two miles of the challenge, being two miles heading home with no more running to be done afterwards, would be the best. A bouncy, triumphant run to the end. The honest truth is that there was no bounce to it at all, more a willing to just get there and finish. Those negative voices in my head were still urging me to walk, and I had to balance them out with the knowledge that even though I was tired, it wasn’t getting worse as I ran so I may as well keep running to get to the end more quickly.
I got there. 4.04 miles in 49:05 minutes, and yes that took me to 24.03 miles overall.
So what did I learn?
- I don’t drink enough – on a regular daily basis, or when I exercise. But it did make me feel a whole lot better when I did drink.
- My knees might complain, but I can’t let them stop me doing anything. If the ache isn’t getting worse, keep going because it might just get better.
- You don’t have to have an intricate plan for everything. I jumped into this challenge with just eight hours notice and even then didn’t really do any planning. Planning might have helped – a water bottle I can drink from while I run would have been a good idea, as well as having better food in the house, and more clean kit to hand, but I still completed it without any of this.
- Those negative voices! They’re pesky things. I mostly managed to drown them out but I’d like to learn more about how best to deal with them – perhaps reading The Chimp Paradox might help with this?
- I don’t train hard enough. With the 6.5 miles I ran on Friday night, and the 2.5 miles I walked on Saturday morning, I covered 33 miles this weekend. I would never have put three 11 mile days in my training plan, thinking it too much.
- This is a great way to test your stamina. Running tired with tired limbs really puts everything to the test. Yes I could go out and run a straight 12 miles and probably feel as tired, maybe more so. But knowing you’ll stop in x miles time versus knowing you’re heading out to do the same all over again really tests you.
- Even if it feels tough at the time, when you’re finished and you look back on what you’ve achieved, it’s well worth the effort.
The next day
After the few hours of broken sleep (I think I ended up getting about seven hours in total, but in really small chunks) I found it hard to get to sleep on Sunday night. I couldn’t get comfortable no matter which way I lay or how much I stretched. But I did sleep in the end of course. I woke a couple of times in the night and had to shuffle around and stretch again to get comfortable. So when the alarm went off at 5:45am I really struggled to get out of bed.
Going downstairs I could feel my hamstrings and thighs muscles were tight, and anything that hinted at a squat (getting my salad out of the fridge for example) was accompanied by an “oooh” in the way an 80 year old sounds when they collapse into an armchair.
I made sure I got up from my desk at least once each hour so I haven’t seized up completely but secretly those aches – they’re just a reminder of my achievement. Of how I CAN do madcap things, without having to traipse halfway across the country to do it.
Okay so I didn’t get all of my work done, or the gardening, or the housework but that can all wait.
What will next weekend bring?…
If you’re looking for a challenge of your own head to the Challenges tab on our website and see what we’ve got going on. Or if you’d rather, get in touch and tell us what you’d like to do – we can put a bespoke Adventure together just for you and/or your group.