Re-Learning to Dig Deep!


My third run this week (Sunday) celebrated the 66th day of the year. I know this because I marked it in my diary at the start of 2016 following recent research by European Journal of Social Psychology, which suggests that it takes 66 days to embed a habit. So for anyone of you that started a new years resolution, have you kept it up for the full 66 days? If so well done you should be onto a winner!

I certainly feel that getting out to run twice a week is now just part of my normal routine.

10km Run No. 17 – Southend Sunrise Run 

Distance: 10km (from 12.09km)

Time:  48min, 21 secs

Location: Southend

Vast majority of my runs have been at night, with one or two at lunch. There is something about early morning runs in the miserable winter weather that just doesn’t appeal. However, I do know from running in Shanghai in 2011 that early morning runs can set you up perfectly for the day. In the recent, snow, hail, rain and wind I have deliberately avoided them!

Today was different, I was in Southend with work and by the coast and so had to get a run in! I rose early and headed out under darkness jumping on a train (in shorts and t-shirt) and collected a few more awkward stares by early morning commuters. It was COLD but I made my way through the centre to the pier just in time to hit a surprisingly glorious sunrise.
For 2 calming km’s I ran sleepishly into the sunrise drawn into the warmth with the sun on my face, dancing through nautical silhouettes, and skipping alongside charming beach huts, whilst imagining, dreamingly, myself holidaying in sunnier climates.
A few km in and I had to turn and head back and that’s when I woke up and realised another schoolboy error with the planning. I had a 6km run into a fierce howling wind. I went from running 4:10 minute kms to 5:30 minute kms. I dug deep, gritted my teeth, clenched my fists, tucked my head in and ploughed through but it was tiring and my legs felt heavy all over again!
Then bizarrely, I had another romanticised notion that I cannot run beach side without actually running along the beach. So I climbed down and pounded my way along the pebbly sandy shores. It was around the same time that my stomach started to churn and I started to regret eating the packet of chocolate covered hobnobs the night before. Have you ever tried to run on gravel, against the wind? Even the smallest barriers I would have skipped over as a kid felt like a military assault course. You can entertain a run with wild and wonderful thoughts, today’s one was ‘am I getting old or am I just deluded’. Possibly both.
I had to dig real deep, with the wind fighting against me. It was possibly the hardest run for effort to date. Even finishing the 400 meter snow storm climb couldn’t compare.
On the flip side, with the run complete, the early morning endorphins pumping around the body, sweet memories of a glorious sunrise and a sense of adventure, along with a delightful sense of achievement, the rest of the day was a good one!

10km Run No. 18 – Belfast Titanic 10k 

Distance: 10km

Time:  45min, 10 secs

Location: Belfast, N.Ireland

Just two days later I found myself in Belfast delivering Agile training and celebrating the launch of a new entrepreneurial spark start-up hatchery. There is something addictive about running that 66 days in has not just become habit but it has entered my blood stream and dominates my system. Interestingly, I’m just at the stage where it actually feels like an addiction. Every day I actually WANT to run, I almost NEED to run.

I hit the streets and found the river quickly. I was going off memory from a quick glance at google maps the night before but managed to make my way around the river, across the correct bridge, and onto the Titanic Trail.
I lapped the old Titanic dry dock and Titanic museum and headed back, crossing through the city centre, looping the city hall and finding my way back to the river to complete a few shuttle runs (sprints). At some stage I would like to improve and challenge my pace so I thought I had better mix up my running style, as opposed to just focus on 10k runs outright.
Belfast City Hall 10km

10km Run No. 19 – Down by the River Race 

Distance: 10km

Time:  40min, 29 secs

Location: Cambuslang Rugby Club

When the weekend came I joined as a last minute sign up to the ‘Down by the river race’ with Cambuslang harriers running club. This day happened to be stunning, and as all the inter-competing local running clubs gathered in their team outfits the excitement started to build. I took a selfie at the starting line but could feel the tension as one of the more serious runs to date.

down by the river run_glasgow_10km_megameterrun
The gun fired and we were off, making our way to a different part of the river Clyde. The first km let the serious athletes stretch out in front but I ran it in 3:46, getting carried away with the crowd. I deliberately slowed (tortoise and the hare and all that) and tried to enjoy the crowd and the river scenery. The second km whizzed by in 4:08 and the third in 4:09, caught up in the excitement I started to contemplate my sub 40mins 2016 target. How close could I get? The race crowd definitely helped to push me on, so did running in that Southend wind… it could only have made me stronger!!
I smashed another 3:53 km. This was my fastest pace this year but my breathing was already struggling. Once again I had to dig deep, so I focussed on the breathing… In 1..2..3, Out 1…2…3, and slowed down to a 4:12 pace for kms 5-8 in order to survive the distance.
With 2kms left I was loving it, but I was in pain and having to work real hard at the same time. There’s something sadistic about pushing yourself with fitness of this nature. Despite the pain my inner voice kicked in again and I told myself under strict terms there was less than 2km left, 2 is such a small number, I had to finish strong!


Just as I had done back at km 3 fear kicked in, if I pushed it too much I wouldn’t make it, when do I make the move, when do I start the sprint finish? I looked around me the other runners were not budging from this pace so I picked up my heavy feet and started to shift a move. I overtook a few chaps ahead and crossed the line with an official time of 40:29, (average pace 4:03 per km) my fastest this year!


This ones for the runners, but also all those challenging to stretch yourself in one life interest or another. Find your inner strength, dig deep and push yourself.


Give an interest time, embed a habit, find yourself a passion.
Happy Running!
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Full Timings, stats and running maps linked from my Results Page

5 thoughts on “Re-Learning to Dig Deep!

  1. All I can hear in my head as I read this is Shaun T from the Insanity videos yelling “Dig Deeper”! It’s clearly working for you, and fab that you’re fitting in some great sight seeing along the way. Keep it up Paul!


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