With the season drawing to a close and the dark nights closing in, my motivation always seems to disappear around this time of year. Races are few and far between, the weather turns colder and it just seems more difficult to force myself out of the door… Until I discovered Virtual Running.
One thing that has had a positive impact on my mindset is the Awesome! Virtual 100 Mile Monthly Challenge. The idea is to attempt to run 100 miles in a month (or a 2 person team running 50 miles each) then provide evidence of your achievement before they send out your medal.
The challenge medal is optional and costs £12 which I think is very reasonable considering you get 28-31 days of running motivation, 100+ miles, a high quality bespoke medal every month posted out to you and the support of a vibrant Facebook and Twitter community. I really can’t comment highly enough about the medals, they’re better than 99% of any race medals you will ever receive!
The challenge means an average of around 3.33 miles per day over the course of a month on a regular 30 day month. The February challenge is obviously the trickiest of the year!
I first attempted an Awesome! virtual running challenge in December 2015 in an attempt to keep the weight off over the festive period and compared to my lowly December 2014 mileage of 14.1 miles I managed an amazing 107.8 miles, including a Christmas Day parkrun and a Half Marathon training run on the 27th! I managed to run on 20 of the 31 possible days and it had the desired effect. No weight gain and winter fitness at an all time high!
I decided to continue the good work into January with their ‘Jantastic’ themed medal, and again I managed to just reach the target with 100.4 miles. This time only running on 16 of the 31 days but clocking up longer runs when I did run. On the 10th I completed my longest ever run at that point of 14.4 miles and on my Birthday decided a Half Marathon training run was in order!
I’d attribute my excellent form in 2016 down to those 2 months of training. I smashed every PB at every distance during the season and despite not completing any more Virtual challenges I still hit 105 miles in June and an amazing 138 miles in July before 92.5 miles in August. I was flying and my weight was down to an all time adult low of 12st when I took on my first marathon last October.
I’ve since spent much of 2017 recovering my fitness and form after Marathonitis broke me. I’ve slowly got somewhere close to my best from last year despite carrying nearly an extra stone in weight. This is what prompted my to try the Awesome! Challenge again this September. My highest monthly mileage in 2017 was just 75 miles so some improvement was needed to reach the target, but again, once I was in the flow, I was taking every opportunity to get out on the road.
In amongst two 10 Mile races and a 10K during September, I managed to run on 20 of the 30 possible days and clocked up 111.3 miles. It is no coincidence that a have broken both my 10 Mile and 5K PB’s this month and I look forward to more virtual running and medals over the Winter!