As a qualified research scientist, I’m skilled in examining evidence, and determining it’s importance, to either support or refute a hypothesis. I am wondering what evidence led me to the conclusion that I could run 16 miles, across West Yorkshire moorland, with incessant rainfall from above, and a continual stream of rainwater run-off underfoot?
There was certainly no evidence to be found in my fitness levels, recent training or preparations (a weekend of Saturday beer drinking, and Sunday wine drinking). Yet here I was, 8am on a grim Monday morning, just outside Haworth, getting ready to run/walk/probably crawl a bit, 16 miles, in training for the Haworth Hobble – now only 6 weeks away!
Ok so there was one tiny shred of evidence I could do this. It’s exactly the kind of ridiculous thing I’ve done before. Like the time I decided to cycle 52 miles to Whitby and found myself along a rocky section of the Cleveland Way (a walker’s route) on a road bike. Or the time I decided the perfect training for a half ironman would be…….to do a half ironman. Yes the evidence points to one thing. If I’m crazy enough to attempt it, I might just be crazy enough to pull it off!
The first part of the running was very hard: uphill, muddy, huge pools of water to navigate, a side wind of rainfall smacking me in the face! To my mind this meant only one thing, “if I can get through this part it’s certain to get easier!”, and it did, sort of. To be honest I walked those uphill sections, as well as some flat sections, and a lot of steep downhills. But the aim was a 15 mins a mile pace overall, so this was fine. When I had some grip and the gradient was under 5%, I could break into a run. Occasionally I would stuff my mouth with jelly babies (6 is the optimum to avoid risk of choking), and this would keep me going for another 40 minutes of steady plodding.
My Dad, an experienced long distance runner, kept me company, and managed to walk alongside me as I ran, without making it look like he was taking the mick (an excellent skill!). Probably the most fun parts were those downhills which were just gentle, and stable enough to get a good jog going. These paths were also doubling up as temporary rivers, but hey you can’t have everything! Less than 5 hours and more than 17 miles later, with very wet feet, we were back at the cars. Mission complete! Who’s crazy now?…..oh yes that’s probably still me.
I was very pleased with my training run. It feels like I’m on track and I’m cautiously optimistic that conditions will be much better the day of the event. My ambitions may seem a little up in the clouds sometimes compared to my ability levels, but isn’t that the joy of challenging yourself? That extra push can take you to places you never expected to reach, and if you’re lucky enough to reach your goal the success (and the jelly babies) taste even sweeter.
Diane Brown is a Writer and Wellbeing Coach, currently in training for the Haworth Hobble. To find out more go to www.fitbee.co.uk