The 30km Challenge

You can tell I have too much time on my hands. I have decided to set myself a gruelling challenge just to give myself something to do for the week. Or is it that there is so much that will imminently require doing, but which can’t be done at the moment, that I need something that will knacker me out and take my mind off the looming Stuff? I don’t know. All I know is that this week I’ve set myself a 30km jogging challenge and an equally challenging mandate to blog about it daily. If you hate reading about running, this is your opportunity to tune out for a week until I’m writing about paperwork, visas, and travelling again. I saw that yawn, you at the back!

30km in a full week doesn’t sound too bad, I hear some of you say, and, Haile Gebrselassie, you would be right. However, for the rest of us mortals who jog for ‘fun’, it is a not inconsiderable distance. I started jogging 8 years ago after shaking an avid aversion (my beanpole ex-boyfriend and I used to take joy in shouting, “You’re going to die too,” after joggers who passed us in the street, from our snug cocoons of early-twenties effortless beauty) and it quickly became apparent that without this regular form of exercise I was doomed to realise my full, doughnut-shaped potential by the age of 30. Or possibly 26. Living in Lima, a city where it is too dangerous on the roads to cycle much (and I also worked 40km from home, not handy cycling distance) and where gym memberships cost almost as much as my rent, jogging has proved the best way to keep the tasty Peruvian cuisine from going straight to my spare-tyre. Add in that a ten-minute jog from my flat and I hit the malecón – a beautifully landscaped clifftop view of the Pacific ocean, and conditions are perfect for a grudging amateur jogger.

Back to the introduction explaining why I am throwing a random week of blogging about running at you when I’d never even mentioned this hobby here before. I took up running to participate in a 5k Race for Life at Aintree Racecourse for my mum’s 50th. Most people throw a party; she decided to make all her female friends and relatives run 5k around a horse-racing course in the rain. And she wonders why both of her daughters now live at the farthest ends of the earth they could find. I jest, as, despite initial misgivings, after running my first race in the Liverpool drizzle I discovered it was actually brilliant and entered the Manchester 10km, which was even better. Then I found a number of friends with similar waistline preoccupations with whom to share regular evening and weekend trots around the block, and things just snowballed from there. The acme of my dedication to my new hobby was a 49 minute 10km, a speed I have never bested, although deep down I still harbour a desire to attempt a 105 minute half marathon.

Probably the thing that most firmly embedded running as a regular feature of my weekly routine was heartbreak in 2007 when the aforementioned beanpole ex-boyfriend and myself parted ways. Bereft and full of all that adrenaline, anger, angst, desolation etc etc which accompanies the sudden and unexpected onset of freedom, I found that a quick run around the local park burned off a lot of extraneous negative emotion and actually made me feel good. This also meant on the days when a run wasn’t sufficient I could drown my sorrows in a vat of Guinness and cake without having to worry about the consequences (well, as long as we are ignoring consequences like cirrhosis of the liver).

Coming up to date, I have managed to maintain a light jogging schedule of two or three jogs a week along the pretty malecón whilst working. My regular route is just over 4km, and the parts that involve major roads are happily along the tree-lined avenues of Miraflores. Once every few weeks I run a slightly longer route of just over 5km which takes in more of the beautiful ocean view. Since finishing work, I’ve been able to jog more regularly and vary the route, so I’ve averaged around 15km a week. 30km is a significant increase. However, I optimistically feel that it is perfectly do-able now that my days are my own; and here’s how I intend to do it: I’m going to run the longer route (5.29km to be precise) on five days. The first was today, and I recorded a personal best time (for here in Lima) of 28 minutes and 43 seconds, passing 5km at 27:15. Tomorrow I’m going to repeat it, but without the turbo-charge. On Tuesday, I’m going to repeat it again and put on some speed, but not too much. On Wednesday, by way of a mid-challenge break, I’m going to take a leisurely return to the 4km route. Thursday will be one more leisurely circuit of the longer route, and on Friday the challenge will finish with a final 5.29km dash in an attempt to match or better today’s pace-setting time.

A supplementary challenge that I’ve also set, but which is definitely too boring to blog about in detail, is to drink 3 litres of water a day. The bottled water lobby are going to love me (it’s debatable whether Lima tap water is undrinkable or not, but I tend to avoid it given the lack of solid, incontrovertible evidence either way) and I’m aware the science of water drinking is also a target of much controversy, but damn, that stuff sure sees off a thirst and keeps you feeling virtuous!

So here goes – cue Chariots of Fire, Eye of the Tiger or, more realistically, the Benny Hill theme tune. Tune in tomorrow for news on Day 2 of the 30km Challenge.

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Early retired and happy person
    Oct 21, 2013 @ 04:27:55

    Good luck with the challenge. You forgot our second run and our first 10k which was a cross-country in driving rain and thunder and where we got soaked to the skin and had mud up to the top of our heads!

    Like

    Reply

    • Pieces of 8
      Oct 21, 2013 @ 12:03:03

      I definitely haven’t forgotten them! And I certainly remember that the £12 pair of running shoes I swore I would replace after that slog through the mud lasted me a further 5 years, contrary to all good running-shoe advice.

      Like

      Reply

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