Time for the latest bi-weekly debate from the Run With An Idea bloggers. Run With An Idea topics so far have been The Olympics One Year On: Did We ‘Inspire A Generation’?, Would You Ever Pay £50 ($75) For A 10k Race? and Juice Cleanses – Healthy or Hype? and you can find out more about this project at http://runwithanideadebates.blogspot.co.uk/.
Do Real Runners Walk?
These are questions that I am sure have been asked many times and by many people (mainly runners), but can you still call yourself a runner if you take walk breaks? and can you say you ran a race even if you walked parts of it?
When Did I Become A Runner?
I think a good place to start when considering such questions is when I decided I had become a runner. Was it when I finished my first race? No, in fact it was before I had even taken my first step in a training run. I know this might sound a little strange, but for me I become a runner the minute I made the decision to sign up to the 2012 Great South Run. At that point I didn’t run at all, but that decision is when I switched my mindset and committed to run my first race. That commitment is what made me a runner, not being able to complete a mile in any specific time. In fact, when I first started training I would run a short distance, then walk a bit (so that I could breathe again), run a bit more, walk a bit more, etc. With time the walking reduced and running increased until eventually I could run a good distance without having to walk.
A Mile is Still A Mile
So far this year I have completed over 1,400 miles on my 2,013 miles in 2013 challenge. Every mile counts, regardless of how quick or slow it was completed. The current men’s world record for a full marathon (26.2 miles) is 2 hours 3 minutes and 38 seconds and was set by Patrick Makau from Kenya on 25 September 2011. I am pretty sure he didn’t take a walk break when setting this, but if he had would it be any less of an achievement? I had a short walk during the Edinburgh Marathon which still annoys me as I can’t help thinking it is the reason I finished in 4:03 instead of being sub 4 hours, but again, is a 4:03 marathon less of an achievement than being able to run the same distance in just over half the time? Could Patrick Makau have kept going for another 2 hours?
Walking Definitely Beats DNF!
If taking walk breaks are the only way to finish a run then I guess I am in favour of them as walking definitely beats the dreaded DNF (Did Not Finish). I guess the other way I could look at my walk during the Edinburgh Marathon is that perhaps it helped me freshen my body to get me to the finish. Would I still have the finishers medal and t-shirt if I hadn’t taken that break?
One thing that annoys me in races though is when walkers are holding up the course (creating traffic) for faster runners. Almost all races ask that walkers and slower runners keep to the left, yet during the British 10k I found a large groups of walkers hand in hand and blocking the entire course. It may have been a Sunday stroll for them, but for me and many others aiming for a target finish time inconsiderate walkers are a menace. So please, if you are walking in a race, move to the sides (preferably the left) so that runners can pass you.
The Medal and Result Say Finisher
I guess the key point is that the medals and results say finisher, and nothing more. If you use your own legs to finish the race, you still finished regardless of the time taken and regardless of if you walked some bits. Before I started thinking about what I was going to write in this post I was probably in the anti-walking camp. In my short running career I’ve felt that when I walk I am letting myself down and “not really running”. As I have thought about this more and written this blog post my opinion has changed, or maybe I have just accepted what I already know – it is finishing that counts.
There are races of distances way beyond the marathon, ultra marathons of 50 miles, 100 miles and more. I challenge anyone to complete one of these without slowing to a walk or even stopping completely for a break at some point.
Last week I took part in the Isle of Wight half-marathon and towards the end had such bad cramp in my left foot I had no choice but to stop, remove my shoe and massage my foot. Then I had a problem – I couldn’t get the shoe back on! What did I do? Did I quit? Hell no, I removed my other shoe and finished the race in my socks. Maybe part of this is a competitive streak in me, not competitive in terms of trying to win the race, but competing with myself to prove anything is possible. A year ago I hadn’t yet run my first race. If you’d told me then I would be running through the streets of the Isle of Wight in socks and sprinting for the finish line to ensure I finished in under 2 hours less than a year later I would have laughed in your face and told you you were mistaking me for someone else! Times change and ultimately finish times don’t matter as much as finishing does.
2013 Miles in 2013
This year I am trying to complete 2013 miles self-powered miles. It is has been 10 years since my cousin’s son Adam lost his fight with Cystic Fibrosis. Adam was just 18 years old when when he lost his lifelong battle with CF, the UK’s most common life-threatening inherited disease. Despite spending large parts of his short life in hospital Adam never once complained, not even of a headache and was determined to make the most of everyday.
My 2013 miles in 2013 challenge is in aid of the Cystic Fibrosis Trust as I have been surprised since I started fundraising for the CF Trust just how many people are unaware of this disease and so I hope my efforts will not just raise money, but also awareness of the UK’s most most common life-threatening inherited disease.
The first person to commit to sponsoring my 2013 mile challenge has committed to 1p per mile (£20.13 in total) and this got me thinking. I am hoping that as many as possible of those reading this will commit to do the same and the best thing is, if each person does this on a “pay as you go” type approach all you will need to part with is approx £2 just after each pay day. In January I completed 205.9 miles, in February I completed a further 200.9 miles, in March I completed 185.7 miles, in April I completed 192.1 miles, in May I completed 168 miles, in June I completed 145 miles and in June I completed 210.1 miles. If you can please spare £13.07 to help the Cystic Fibrosis Trust it will be greatly appreciated.
The easiest way to give your sponsorship is to visit my Just Giving page: http://www.justgiving.com/2012-AYearWithoutBeer-CF.
2013 Miles in 2013 – The rules
The rules for my 2013 miles in 2013 challenge are quite simple:
- All miles must be completely self powered (no motors, sails, etc)
- I must be able to evidence all miles, either via GPS or with a picture of any static gym equipment
To complete my 2013 miles I will be running, cycling, rowing and who knows, I might even try a few other self powered methods along the way.