And so we’ve finished the third week of #AdventRunning, I cannot believe I have now been running (and occasionally swimming) for 21 consecutive days. I am definitely struggling with the exhausting nature of it all now, but what was quite nice was a comment I received towards the end of this week from someone who is a very fast runner;  ‘I did a second run in consecutive days this morning and I found it really tough. Well done for keeping going.’ – to hear that someone who I really admire has struggled to run on two consecutive days makes my achievement of 21 days feel quite great. Especially as I was really starting to beat myself up over how tough I’m finding it and how slow I’m getting. I guess in the end, it doesn’t really matter how slow you go as long as you just don’t stop.

Day 15 – This run was particularly tough – it was really short as that was all I could manage and I felt incredibly disappointed that I wasn’t kicking off week 3 with more energy and enthusiasm. Again, I was still ill and suffering with what felt like extreme fatigue, so I guess I should be proud that I actually managed to get out at all.

Day 16 – This day was a bit better. I managed to run longer than the previous day and my time wasn’t too disappointing. I found myself overheating a lot though, which is something I’ve really struggled with throughout the month of December as it has not been that cold at all.

Day 17 – This run was great. I had spent all day feeling ridiculously ill and honestly wasn’t sure whether this would be the day that I quit #AdventRunning, but I held on and decided to wear shorts whilst out that evening. I’m fairly certain it’s the shorts that made this run so magic as there was no overheating and as soon as my feet hit the pavement I felt like a weight had been lifted. I bumped into a fellow runner half way through my run, also in shorts, who I decided to use as a pacer. He was slow, but had compression socks on so I’m guessing he’s probably a hardcore distance runner. What I noticed about him though was that even though he was slow, he seemed to be so in control of what he was doing – he wasn’t slow because he was unfit or struggling, it genuinely looked like he knew how to pace himself and enjoy the run. So after running past him I decided to learn from his style and slowed my pace right down so I could still hear his footsteps just behind me for the rest of my run until I had to turn off up my hill, and I felt like that was the night I learnt a lot about myself and how I need to start listening to and respecting my body, rather than just forcing it to go full throttle all the time.

Day 18 – This was my last day at work before breaking up for Christmas, and leaving the office at 1pm meant I was fairly confident all of my future #AdventRunning would be done in daylight, sans headtorch. Unfortunately life escaped me that afternoon, which was productive, but meant I didn’t put my running kit on until early evening when it was unfortunately dark. It was an okay run, nothing special and I felt like the past three weeks were catching up with me. I was also extremely exhausted from a busy term at work and I think the mental exhaustion was really weighing me down.

Day 19 – After meeting a friend for a rather healthy breakfast, I went home and slept until about 5pm. I literally had nothing left in me, and yet…you guessed it…I somehow found the strength to put my running kit on early evening and headed back outside in the dark, again. So far my aim to run in daylight was being sabotaged by my tiredness at every opportunity. I clearly needed the rest though so c’est la vie.

Day 20 – Finally, I managed to get out running in the daylight. After making healthy wholemeal waffles with blueberries for brunch, I sent my husband off to winterize our boat whilst I took myself off for a clifftop run. My legs felt like lead and my lungs felt on poor form. The only thing that got me through this run was the fact that I was proud of myself for making it through twenty days of running. There were also lots of people out walking as it was a really mild day so I received a few cheerful ‘good mornings’ which always gives me a boost.

Day 21 – This was a brilliant day for #AdventRunning. My childhood best friend came to visit my new house and we had decided that we’d go for a run as soon as she arrived (before the predicted 40mph winds hit) and then have brunch at a local healthy eating place. We ran along the cliffs with the wind behind us, which was really exhilarating and just so much fun, and then ran along the seafront on the way back into town with a super strong and challenging headwind. I absolutely loved running with a friend though and found it incredibly motivating. I also found out that I was one of the winners for Day 13 of Advent Running with the prize being a pair of Adidas Trail Shoes. I’m ridiculously excited to receive my trail shoes as there are lots of off-road routes near to where I live and it’s something I have always wanted to do more of. That gave me a good boost to see through the next four days of #AdventRunning.

Lessons learnt this week: Running when you’re ill and exhausted, both physically and mentally, is just so tough – when I first started #AdventRunning it was under the assumption that I only needed to run 100K during those 25 days and therefore wouldn’t have to run everyday if I didn’t want to. Unfortunately I am the type of person who gets really addicted to exercise and as shameful as it is to say, I often feel the need to push my body to breaking point. This week I definitely met my breaking point but somehow managed to keep going. There have been days this week when I really should have taken a rest day, but I couldn’t let myself do that. That being said, now that I have had a weekend where I’ve been able to catch up on sleep I do feel much better in myself and know that I have what it takes to finish #AdventRunning and exceed my 100K.  But I really am looking forward to implementing my post-adventrunning exercise routine which will consist of running three times a week, swimming twice a week and then a cycle at the weekends until it’s safe enough to start cycling to work from Easter onwards.

Distance Target: At the end of week 3 I am at 97.6% of my distance target, which just seems unfathomable to me (although my geeky spreadsheet confirms that this is accurate). This means I have 2.4K left to run between now and Christmas day – needless to say I am going to smash that target on day 22, despite the fact that 50mph winds are forecast for the entire day. Literally there will be no respite tomorrow so even though it is such a short distance, it’ll probably be one of my toughest runs yet – but I really cannot wait to tackle it so that I can spend the last few days of #AdventRunning enjoying myself, hopefully. I feel like I have been so consumed by all this running that actually December has flown past so quickly and I haven’t had much time to feel festive, because really and truly all I have cared about is trying to fit my running in amongst my other commitments. No regrets whatsoever, though.

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