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Running 1,000 miles in 160 days

Despite being in my 62nd year on the planet and having completed my 1,000km in 100 days (eight days early) friends were asking what next?  I had thought about aiming for 1,000 miles in 150 days in doing so, beating my previous 10km a day average. However I had also promised my aging body, aching legs and poor feet a week off from running.  In reality I gave myself a day off and soon was back running, but it wasn’t going to be nearly every day, I was running for me, to keep fit and keep the weight I had lost off.  In the 13 days following the 1,000km I ran on just 5 days averaging just over 7 miles (11.2km) a day. Then on 31 July I decided to see how many more miles I could run before the weather changed and the mornings got colder and darker in October. 1,000miles in 150 days looked a tad ambitious. 170 days (end September) was attainable with an average of 9.5km a day with 325 miles left to run at that time.

However, in July, as the UK lockdown was lifted, I managed to persue my other passion, sea angling on a charter boat, my first trip being 26 June costing double the usual £50, due to silly Covid virus restrictions on how many could be taken "safely".  I had also been trying to make contact with a local fisherman who I had seen launching his dingy from the beach, on my early morning run along the sea wall. It looked like he could be fishing for bass commercially with rod and line. I managed to have a chat early one morning and I said that if he took me fishing for free, I would double his catch and he can have all the fish I caught. I never realised it would become a twice weekly opportunity to catch big bass. From the end of July to end September, I had eight days fishing with Jim catching him a total of 86 bass. Interspersed with this, I also had a further three days fishing on charter boat. I couldn’t in all honesty refuse a sea fishing trip (especially a free trip and with a nailed on guarantee to catch big bass) so running would have to come second, whilst weather permitted my fishing trips.

So I "lost" a total of 11 days over 1,000 mile challenge to fishing, meaning I needed to run more miles each day to make up the missed days. I also visited my mother (88) one day a week too, also reducing the number of available running days and further increasing the daily mileage required on run days.

It was a strange experience running throughout a pandemic on a public footpath. On numerous occasions people would turn their backs as I ran past, incorrectly assuming I had the virus and would infect them even though we were all in the open air on the seafront with a breeze. On a few occasions couples even jumped over the sea wall or scattered onto the beach to avoid any close contact. It actually became hilarious at times and I had nicknames for some of them, for example "Mr & Mrs Poeface", an unsmiling, unfriendly couple who refused to even return a "good morning" on a sunny morning, let alone make a donation to my fundraising for Children with Cancer UK during the 1,000km.

There were the odd days when I became aware I couldn't smell the sea or seaweed to be precise. That lovely, low-tide aroma being my running fuel. However sooner or later I would smell the reassuring waft of dog mess on the air, realising that, for today at least, I had not caught the dreaded Covid virus. This was soon followed by a quick check of the bottom of my running shoes to be sure I hadn't stepped in any!

I thought it would be good to try something different and do a 'Jason Bourne' on West Wittering beach at low water. My first attempt was to run south along the beach to Bracklesham. However, I ended up nearly in Selsey, a 14km run. I found that I got wet feet very quickly and even tried bare foot running but the sand ripples were too hard.

On my next beach run I went north with the intention of reaching Itchenor. The beach was much drier in this direction, if a little soft in places. This was my longest run to date - 14 miles!  In the main, I found the people walking and walking their dogs noticeably more friendly than those I see daily on my usual route. On one occasion, the leader of a group of walkers kindly opened a gate for me and shouted "runner coming" and they all stood forming a guard of honour, cheering and applauding me as I ran through. I duly obliged by waving both hands in the air like I had just finished (and won) a marathon. In fact I was so taken aback by the adulation; I end up going the wrong way and had to re pass the walkers again, with much the same reaction!

I finally completed my 1,000 miles (1,609.5km) in 160 days which maintained my 10km target per calendar day average. So between 14 April and 20 September 2020 I ran 1,000 miles in 124 running days with an average weekly distance of 42 miles, burning a total of 125,305 calories throughout.

I have continued my running, now aiming for an impossible 2,000 miles in a calendar year. Impossible this year at least, due to the worsening weather and reduced daylight hours. My run along the east beach is no longer pleasant as we experience high winds which not only make it a battle, but further reduce the temperature and deposit beach stones on my route. I have now changed to running three quarters of my circuit on roads (which have the benefit of street lighting but the drawback of traffic fumes.) I am also not one for running in the rain. As of 30 December 2020, I have ran a total of 1,340 miles (2,157km) in 168 running days (261 calendar days) burning a total of 167,620 calories and averaging 8 miles (13km) per run.

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