Today I ran my 931st kilometre of 2020. On January 1st I set myself the challenge of running 1,000k in a year and I’m still on target.
That works out at just under 20k a week – usually comprising four 5ks – which feels to me like quite an achievement. I started the year imagining I’d do most of it on the treadmill but what with gyms closed for part of the year most of the runs have been outside.
I jog pretty much the same circular route to and from my house a few times a week knowing exactly where the kilometre splits occur. Sometimes I run the route with Mrs Jones, sometimes on my own when I more often than not wear my airpods listening to the same playlist.
It’s been in all weathers which, in truth, makes very little difference unless it’s slippy. The mulched Autumn leaves are the biggest hazard right now, before long it’ll be ice.
When I begin my runs I’m never totally confident I’ll get to the finish without stopping – though I never have this year – so I start slowly and gradually up my pace, looking out for all the little urban landmarks on the way.
There’s an initial residential stretch of upmarket houses that runs alongside a fairly busy road where I often wonder what the people in their queuing cars think as they see my now familiar ponderous gait coming into view.
Then I cross a road begrudgingly slowing down for the turning cars, pass a Texaco garage, a little Tesco convenience store then take a sharp left and here I know I’ve run the first quarter of my 5k.
This next road is more down than uphill and it takes me past some down-at-heel council semis, involves weaving in and out of parked cars and then past a neat new-build terraced development that replaced a derelict wasteland eyesore.
Then I power past an industrial estate, ease by the town’s railway station before I come to a big Tescos. At this point I know I’ve broken the back of the run as I am over half-way. I lope under a railway bridge, past a dry cleaners, a charity shop and then a newly opened Greggs.
I always remember the day it finally reopened well after the first lockdown ended and the joy I felt at the irresistible smell of fried bacon and fresh bread. A little devil inside me tells me I should stop here, give in to temptation and gorge myself on Britain’s favourite breakfast.
Perhaps I’ll do that when I get to 1,000k on December 31st. From here there’s a short run through a park before the the long uphill trudge towards home. It’s all non-descript housing before a dirty red post-box comes into sight and you know there’s not far to go.
Finally I break into as near to a sprint as I can manage before I glide past the bus stop and head towards the telegraph pole of dreams which means my run is over for another day.
Along with the occasional parkrun at the beginning of the year, a fair sprinkling of treadmill runs and a 10k just as Covid was kicking off this is how and where I’ve spent two hours of every week this year.
When I think about the route, it’s surprisingly varied with different types of housing, an urban park and lots of retail.
Next year I’m hoping to get back to parkrun and set some new fitness challenges but for now I know I’ve got just under 14 5ks to go in 25 days and, if I do it and I will barring injury, I’ll have achieved at least one of my goals for 2020.