This time last week I embarked on a mission to mark the end of Ben Smith’s mind-blowing and amazing 401 Challenge. The idea was to run either 10k, a half-marathon or the full 26.2 miles over the course of the next seven days.
Perhaps foolhardily I choose to do the full marathon option. On paper it wasn’t a sensible decision, I needed to run 26 miles in the space of a week when I’d only managed 34 during September, half that in August, barely over 20 in both June and July, and a paltry Baker’s Dozen in May.
And after the total and utter disaster of last Sunday’s run, a seven-miler to kick off the challenge, there were times I’d wondered just what the hell I’d taken on.
But, slowly, during the course of the week I got stronger and stronger. I’d gone out on four separate occasions doing two or three miles or so at a time to leave me with eight miles to do today to complete the total.
I’d been training doing eight minute running segments all week but, for today’s run, I decided to drop that back to four minutes at a time, followed by 90 seconds walking, just so I could get the distance in.
I bloody well smashed it! Knocked it out of the park!
Deciding to start at the top of the Antrim Road, I ran down the hill then turned to go back up again but felt so good that I did this, back and forth, up and down, for the first three miles. I was delighted with how my legs responded with the inclines, they usually give me so much trouble but not today. I powered my way up them.
Bored with that I then decided to head on down the road, then off towards Tesco’s, down to the old Town Hall and then turned back, down the Larne Road and back up Queen Street towards home …. and all the while maintaining the 4/1.5 splits, more or less, save stopping for traffic and so on.
For 5k I was four minutes faster than last Sunday, at 10k I was eight minutes quicker and my average pace per mile for the entire run improved by a massive 1 minute 11 seconds.
I felt quite strong throughout and, based on today, would be reasonably confident of giving a decent account of myself in Portsmouth in a couple of weeks.
In many ways, today was a rehearsal for the Great South Run. I ran with my new flipbelt for the first time just to see how I’d get on with it and, apart from one or twice, it felt perfectly comfortable and I was barely aware of wearing it.
Also, instead of listening to music, I decided to try listening to podcasts for the entirety of the run. It was unusual but, at the same time, kept me interested and distracted which possibly contributed to the success of the entire run.
So that’s the 401 Challenge completed:-
Sunday 2nd October – 7 miles
Tuesday 4th October – 2.1 miles
Wednesday 5th October – 3.7 miles
Friday 7th October – 2.1 miles
Saturday 8th October – 3.3 miles
Sunday 9th October – 8 miles
Now my focus turns to Portsmouth, although at the minute I’ve no real plan in mind. Do I push on for nine miles before then or just do a series of regular shorter runs in order to keep my legs ticking over? No doubt I’ll come up with something but, for today, I’ll bask in the glory of having completed the 401 Challenge.