There are no zombies in this story, and it’s not the end of the world, but something momentous did happen exactly 28 days ago.
Nearing the end of my journey through the AdventRunning challenge I was starting to find it particularly tough, especially knowing I was going back home for Christmas and would need to switch up my well established running routine. Most people hate going on the same run every-day, but for some reason I quite like it. I like pushing myself past all the same postboxes, traffic lights or shop windows…trying to get a better pace each time.
I landed back in Manchester only 5 days away from completing Advent Running but needed to get used to some new and unfamiliar routes in order to complete it.
It was a funny thing only being 5 days away from completing it. You know you’ve come so far and you’re not going to give in, but you can also feel those last 5 days are going to be really difficult. Catching up with friends and family meant loads of boozing, late nights…combined with pretty bad weather every bloody day, it meant it was going to be hard to find the time and motivation to fit 6km runs in each day.
The morning of 22nd Dec I woke up to find my biggest #adventrunning challenge yet. I had made plans to meet my best mate, the first time I had seen her in months. All I wanted to do was stay sat in her cosy, warm flat with a bottle of vino and scoff our way through copious amounts of Christmassy goodness. However there was something looming over me, I needed to fit in my 30 minute run. This was the moment I came closest to just giving it all up. The rain was lashing down the whole day and that was another reason to stay warm indoors.
But then the guilt kicked in. My partner in crime and Advent Running reminded me that we were supposed to be meeting with the SWRD Crew.
As soon as I dropped my stuff off in the basement of Soup Kitchen I went to the toilets and had to have a little word with myself. I came out to find a bunch of very friendly runners all warming up and chatting. Even though it was my first time meeting the crew it wasn’t intimidating one bit. Instead of going round awkwardly introducing ourselves what I loved about this group of people was that you simply just got on with it; we all just started running. Very normal. Very Natural. Very Northern. Home.
The rain was pouring down. Temperatures dropping. The silent togetherness of the crew creating something special. Everyone had different paces but it was cool, there was no rush, just good vibes and an unspoken teamwork for a traditionally solitary sport.
Our first stop was Jutland Hill. When this was announced it filled me with fear. The thought of walking up that beast of an incline, unable to run was the first challenge I had to face about coming out with the crew. I couldn’t have been more wrong though, It was ace. Everyone was encouraging each other, willing each other to reach the top and to come back down so that the next person could set off. Relay style. Honestly not being used to running up hills living in Amsterdam this was tough but it was a good tough. Rewarding, refreshing and energizing.
We proceeded on towards Greengate to carry on doing some more fun relay type routes, I got the chance to get to know everyone a bit more during this drill. I chatted to the regulars of this solid crew and after a while it made start to miss living in Manchester. Every person I met and got talking to was super friendly. It was kind of weird because it was as if I had been running with them before, like I knew them already.
We continued to run through train stations, up car parks, around the GMEX, up and down Jutland again. I began to realise something. Theres something about running with a crew that is pretty special. I still don’t know exactly what it was, but I know I came away that night feeling welcome, inspired and most of all grateful that it pushed me to want to finish Advent Running and to reach for goals even bigger in 2015.
28 days later I’m still running strong, inspired by my brief session with SWRD one rainy night in Manchester