A year of running: 2016

Inspired by Mark Zuckerberg’s post about his personal challenge to run a mile a day in 2016 I wanted to give a try to do the same. For me running is the least unpleasant type of exercise and running outdoors can be really enjoying, especially in London’s great parks. I am not fond of running on treadmills (which turns out to have been used as a torture device in the past) and it requires more willpower than outdoor running. Here I would like to describe how a year of running went for me in 2016.

From around mid-2014 to Sept 2015 I was running non-regularly up to 5K (here and further the default measurement unit is km unless otherwise is specified) in Korea and Uzbekistan. 5K was my limit at that time, or at least I thought so. After arriving at London on Sept 2015 I was amazed at huge parks and I started running in one of them, in Regent’s Park in my early days in London. Once a friend of mine challenged me to do 10K, and it turned out that it was not that hard, and it was just mental block that prevented me going over 5K. After that I started doing 10K regularly until the end of 2015 when I felt discomfort on my knees. And after trying a few more such runs that discomfort turned into painful feeling and I decided to see a doctor before continuing my running practice. “Thanks” to NHS (National Health System in the UK) it took over 3 months from going to GP to seeing a doctor in the hospital (GP -> x-ray -> GP -> referral to hospital -> wait …. -> hospital) and by that time I saw a doctor knee problems went away.

Basically I started a year of running in April 2016 when I recovered from knee injury, so I had to catch up a lot. As you can see below there were empty bars on Feb and Mar, and most of Jan of 2016:

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Monthly running distances

I ran around 10K once a week (every weekend) and with that pace by Sept 2016 I found that I had to run over 20K to reach the goal of running 365 miles a year. To accommodate 10K more each week I had to either run 20K in a weekend day or run another 10K during week days both of which were not possible at that moment. Then I had to face the reality and changed the goal of running 365 miles a year to 365 km a year which was more realistic.

At some point I became comfortable running 10Ks and I wanted to try increasing the distance. On some days I tried 13K to 15K and found that it is still possible to do that. Then I wanted to challenge myself and signed up for a half-marathon (21K) that was about to happen on November.

Half-marathon, as expected, was a lot harder than my regular distances. I participated in Grand Union Canal Half-Marathon which stretched along the canal as the name suggests. The scenery along the canal was beautiful, the area was far from city life, and it was a pleasant day (sunny, +10C), i.e. it had everything to make the run enjoyable. The first 10 to 15K was really enjoyable and passed with ease. The good thing about running in such kind of events as opposed to running alone or just with a friend is that you feel adrenaline and a sense of competition (in a good way) that makes you run faster than usual pace. In every 5K there was a table with glasses of water, which was very convenient. And by 15K I start feeling energy drain and the checkpoint at 15K had a bowl of jelly. Having some jelly gave necessary glucose, the energy I needed to complete the rest of the distance. The last 2-3K were the hardest, you know you are close but still some distance left. And there was a relief and a sense of accomplishment when I reached the finish line. The pleasant part was that for every participant crossing the finish line there was a person shouting his/her name via loudspeaker.

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Beautiful scenery

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Medal as a nice reminder of accomplishment

Running is a good way to explore new places and whenever I travelled somewhere I did some running there. There was a interesting moment when I went for running in Seattle. I checked in the map in which direction I would run and followed that path. And it turned out that some part of the path lies through steep lands where it was hard to just climb and running up was not physically possible. So the map only shows direction but not elevation which is very crucial for estimating running distance.

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Warsaw, Poland

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Ossa, Poland

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Paris

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London

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Nukus, Uzbekistan

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Palo Alto, CA

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Seattle, WA

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Seoul, Korea

Finally on December 26th I ran 13+ km in Seoul and that completed my 365km in a year. Here is the graph showing cumulative running distance per year:screen-shot-2017-01-03-at-12-04-48-am

In 2017 I would like to try a few more half-marathon and then prepare for full marathon. Hopefully my knees will not object to these plans.

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