There are many words that could be used to describe 2020, some more expletive than others, but one that seems fitting, it's been an 'adventure'. There have been big highs, and dark lows, but it remained unpredictable and required everyone to find a new part of themselves that many were unaware even existed, and just like an adventure, we have all come into 2021 stronger than before.
Even though the year as a whole was an adventure, we however, could plan or take on no such thing. We could not travel, or even plan our next challenge, and without having that big goal to give our day-to-day purpose, we drifted slightly.
After months of broken routine, random workouts and bike rides, we decided in December to set ourselves a challenge. One tough enough that it would likely end in failure. We landed on the idea of a Christmas Dash. From the 1st to the 25th December, we would run everyday, letting the date dictate the distance in kilometers. On the 5th we would run 5km, the 12th, 12km, all the way up to a 25km run on Christmas morning. We floated the idea with a few friends who are avid runners. 'Not a chance' was the response.
Before we divulge the details and outcomes, it's worth us giving some context around our experience in running. In a word, limited. Neither of us have ever been fans of running, it hurts, it's boring, it's raining. In our 2017 expedition to Patagonia, we ran a 60km ultra run through the mountains and ice fields on the Huemul Circuit (READ IT HERE), we battled for 17 hours, but much of it was scrambling, rather than conventional running, and we were bed-bound for two days after. More recently, we decided to take on a marathon across London without training (Marathon Podcast here), which broke us beyond belief, and resulted in stress fractures and two-weeks of limping (no exaggeration). Other than that, we are novices, and as an estimate we would run a 5km distance every 3-4 weeks in the summer months.
On the 1st December, the challenge begun. We put the idea out on our social channels, and challenged people to get involved as much as they could. We were determined for at least one person to feel inspired to move and exercise, to help in a small way with the mental strains of lockdowns and quarantines. We also wanted to make a positive difference to a great cause, we decided on a US based environmental non-profit called OneTreePlanted, and asked people to donate a fiver to plant five trees in the fight against climate change.
As you can imagine, the rest of this story is quite repetitive. We ran, a lot. The first week was fine, the short distances, short time requirements and fresh bodies made it quite enjoyable, but at our first milestone, the 10th December, things started to change.
From this point on, we were moving outside our comfort zone. Neither of were used to running these distances, let alone back-to-back, and the compound effect of the days really started to add up. In the first 10 days, we ran 55km, but the second 10 days would see us total 148km. Our bodies were beginning to deteriorate. Calves as tight as violin strings, sore knees and feet, and the weather was particularly British. Most of the time, we found ourselves running in pouring rain and freezing winds, and due to work commitments, often in the dark. What was surprising though, was that the tough conditions actually drove us on. On many occasions, when the rain was torrential, we knew that we were probably the only two people stupid enough to head out for a run, we were in different locations, miles apart, but knowing that the other was battling through the km's, gave us a huge lift.
As we hit the 21st December, we truly entered the business end of the challenge. This is where most runners had predicted we would fail. Four back-to-back runs of a half-marathon and more was no small task, especially when bolted on to 210km in 20 days. By this point, we had some niggles. A bad case of Plantar Fasciitis, a dodgy knee and achilles, and some usual aches and pains. There were points when we both considered our chances of success to be slight at best. These four days were a mental and physical battle. The sheer length of time it was taking to complete the distances was hard to compute, and balancing the injuries and body preservation was a constant thought. With much pain, moaning and swearing we ticked off those runs, one-by-one, a step at a time.
At 6am on Christmas morning, we were both sat in the dark, lacing up our trainers. The final 25km felt different, it would be the final run, it was the first time in almost a month we knew we would wake up the following day and could stay in bed, which was a boost for morale. As we set off on our respective routes, the attrition of the previous 24 runs truly revealed themselves. We are convinced that our bodies knew this was the final push to the finish, because the wheels truly fell off. At -2 degrees C, running through the dark, abandoned streets was a battle. Each step became agony, and the final 15km was more of a hobble than a run, but we pushed on, slowly. As our watches ticked over to 25.0km, we stopped abruptly, not willing to take another step extra. We showered, changed, and ate our bodyweight in food.
A couple of weeks on from Christmas, and as we look forward into 2021, we feel we gained some interesting lessons from that challenge in December. Running, which we were never fond of, became something we found purpose in. Our key learning's are as follows:
Our goal as The Tempest Two is to inspire and motivate people to realise their true potential. We look to push ourselves in new and exciting ways, not only for our own benefit, but to hopefully help one person to leave their comfort zone and explore the unknown. We ourselves were incredibly inspired by those who took part in the challenge, and cannot thank them enough. If you know of friends or relatives who are finding it tough, give them a call, set a challenge together, and help each other through it. We as people are not designed to do things alone, so don't feel like have to.