”You have to know what sparks the light in you so you can illuminate the world”
Lesson No 1: Listen to Oprah!
Ok, so I didn’t have to run that far to take Oprah’s advice, but it was an important lesson for me. To be the best I can be and to have the biggest impact whilst I’m on this planet I need to know what sparks the light in me. Only then can I truly illuminate those around me to have the most positive impact. I had a lot of time to ponder this as I ran to work.
This challenge showed me that my body and my mind is suited to this. Its shown me how much more alive I feel, even with all the positives and negatives, the pain is worth it. But I want to be in nature, I longed for the forests and I hated the tarmac. I love the way this has inspired people already and I want to continue to inspire people so that they find what it is within them that makes them feel alive. To inspire people with the confidence to believe they can achieve their dreams. You can achieve your dreams!
That is my purpose.
It has shown me that I don’t want to spend a couple of years running around the world as fast as I can on tarmac. I am going to Run the World experiencing the places, the people and the cultures as I travel. Running in beautiful places, taking in the energy from the beauty of nature and inspiring people as I go.
This was Chapter 1, Chapter 2 will pick up where I stopped, at the office in Essen. I will continue through Germany and on through the rest of Europe. I’m expecting to do this early in the New Year. For now it is rest and focus on catching up with my friends, family and my wonderful dogs Pluto and Cosmo.
Lesson No 2: Train on the terrain you will be running on!
I’m a trail runner not a road runner, I planned the run along cycle paths, assuming I could pick up the footpath along the Rhine. In reality, it became rapidly apparent that there were few tow paths along this section of the Rhine and the journey was mostly along tarmac or concrete cycle paths at least 100m from the River. It was 95% Road!
Lesson No 3: Minimise weight, then minimise again! Definitely train with weight.
I used the same Raidlight Olmo bag I’d used for MDS, and tried to keep the weight below 6kg without water, but with food, clothes and essentials. It increased to 8kg with cold/wet wether clothing and to make matters worse I hadn’t trained with a weighted bag since April. My legs and back suffered badly. After day 2 I ditched half off my bag weight (all the items in the first pic below) including poles which were not much use on the tarmac.
Lesson No 4: Be prepared for unpredictable weather
A torrential downpour started just before I left the airport in Amsterdam. It was horrific, wind and driving rain, it was so bad I had to laugh. I realised that my decision to take my new Inov8 showerproof Ultra Vest instead of my waterproof jacket would be a challenge. I really suffered as I was cold and wet through for 8hrs. Only saved by warming up in the evening with my Hagloff down jacket which I wore to bed.
Lesson No 5: Never underestimate the power of positive thinking.
Day 2 was the hardest day with another almost 60k to go and my legs hurting badly from shin splints due to weight and tarmac. I reduced to a walk before half way and was almost ready to give up. I allowed myself to get dragged down in negative thoughts about pain and weather and tarmac and stomach ache and sickness. My grandkids messages cheered me up and I turned myself around running all the way for the last 30k. The pain went once I got back running as the endorphins and chemicals surged around my body to kill the pain. When I felt like I did on the left, I told myself I felt like I did on the right. I often ran through pain with a fake smile and singing, soon it became reality.
Lesson No 6: Deal with issues don’t cover them up with pain killers
My physio, has confirmed I was on my way to a stress fracture, or possibly two in my tibia. But because I dealt with the problem by reducing my bag weight, taping my sins, running on grass verges as much as possible, focusing on my running form and taking magnesium I not only avoided it, but I stopped the bleed and by the end my legs were absolutely fine.
I have no blisters, no muscle aches and no pain anywhere. But I was lucky and I also intercepted quickly. I’ve learnt my lesson and will be taking note of lessons 2 and 3 from now on.
Lesson No 7: Enjoy It! Positives and Negatives
Sometimes you just have to embrace it, the pain the journey and just get over it and move on, literally! Once I did that I really started to enjoy it and spent most of the last half of the journey planning my Run around the World, whereas the first half was lost in Why am I here?
We are here for a short time, choose to spend it doing what you enjoy and take the positives and negatives, together they make it a great experience.