Stephen Coyle

One Shoesworth of Running

When starting out with a new hobby, I like coming to milestones and looking back on my progress. Often these are just arbitrary dates, like one year in, but in this case a worn-out pair of runners seems like as good a time as any. I went for my first run on 27 April 2020. It was near the start (or as I had thought at the time, the end) of Lockdown, and came at a point where I was probably the least fit I'd ever been in my life.

324 days later I've run a total of about 750km. I started off with two- or three-kilometre runs a couple of times a week, at first very early in the morning around a 200-metre loop of footpath near my house. I worked my way up to five-kilometre runs over the first few weeks, then felt confident enough to run a 5k route through town by the middle of the summer. As I find with a lot of new hobbies, after the initial feeling of success I got a bit less diligent; I was managing one or two runs a week by the end of the July, and by September I was letting weeks go by without running at all. On 27 September, conveniently yet coincidentally 100 days before 1 January, I went for a run in the evening. Then did the same thing on the 28th. And when I realised keeping that up would get me to a total of 500km by the new year, I decided I wanted to do just that.

The sense of progression I felt during this period was great. My 5k record had been around 32 minutes at the beginning, and was about 22 minutes by the end. I missed my first day during October, and decided to try running a 10k the next day to maintain my average. By November I'd run four 10ks in a single week, and over the remainder of the time my best time fell from 56 minutes to 48. In December I managed a new distance record, stopping at just over 16km or 10 miles.

I reduced my intensity a little in January—running in icy wind had lost its charm around the 501st kilometre—then took a two week break in February to recover from some leg pain I didn't want to exacerbate. In March I returned to my aim of 5k per day and have kept going since.