by Paul Halford |



On the Lakeland Trails Hawkshead Challenge last April, I was making great pace heading down to Windermere. On a rocky, narrow path, I was overtaking other runners and feeling pretty good. Then boom! I don’t know what happened, but one minute I was flying down the path and the next I was lying on the ground, very battered and bruised and with one of my fingers in an ‘interesting’ state.

Thankfully, a doctor and a nurse were just behind me on the track and they helped patch me up and, with my son and daughter-in-law (fellow #Run1000milers Dave and Lina), they helped me make my way to the road. Industrial-strength painkillers and a blue-light drive to Lancaster followed. There I was patched up, my hand given some elaborate embroidery before I was given a bed on the wards so I could be observed. Six months later, I’m still having physio on my hand and I’m still suffering from a loss of confidence when running downhill.

So why am I telling you this? At first sight, it might seem as though there is nothing positive about this running lark. Well, I don’t advocate falling over, but then again it is one of the risks we face when we run on rough ground. Most of us will fall over from time to time, mine was just worse than usual. The thing is, the #Run1000miles challenge and the support of the #Run1000miles Facebook group have been really important in keeping me going.

It would have been dead easy to forget about running, to spend more time pottering around my garden (it needs it!) or watching sport on TV rather than doing anything myself. However, the messages of sympathy and encouragement that I received really helped rouse me from the danger of lethargy. Not only that, but I’d committed myself to run 1000 miles in the year and I wasn’t about to give up just a third of the way in. Making a commitment like this may seem trivial, but when you are in need of a bit of self-motivation, it really helps.

A few days after the accident, at my local hospital, I asked the specialist treating me whether it was okay for me to run. He replied that I really shouldn’t, but as runner himself he knew that I would anyway. Laughingly, he suggested that I should run on the hills with my hands above my head to avoid fluid build-up in my hands. I ignored that advice, but two weeks after my fall, I joined a bunch of other #Run1000Miles runners on the Derwentwater Dawdle. I wasn’t fast and I was a bit nervous, but I was out on the hills again.

My summer season didn’t go as planned. Nerves and discouragement kicked in and I pulled out of one event and neglected my training and diet. However, the twin forces of the challenge itself and the wonderful #Run1000milers were always there to make sure that I got out of the door often enough. Despite everything, I’ve completed a couple of ultras this year and, while my mileage is much less than I hoped it would be, I hit the 1000 miles last weekend.

I have a T-shirt with the slogan “Running might kill me, but at least I’ll have lived”. Things don’t always go as smoothly as one would like; I really wish that I hadn’t fallen on that slope, but stuff does happen. The #Run1000Miles challenge means that I was able to make the best of unfortunate circumstances and I am very grateful for that.

I think back to a Saturday morning in September; my lungs were burning and my legs were aching, when the trig point on the top of Wolf Stones just off the Pennine Way came into sight. I jogged across the top, with my dog at my heels and flopped down on the grass on the summit. I couldn’t see another person, but the Dales and Pendle felt close enough to touch. It was a moment of pure joy. Not only that, but I had eight more miles to go and it was all easy downhill. My accident in April could have robbed me of moments like this, but thanks to the #Run1000Miles target and the Facebook group, it didn’t and I am blessed.

#Run1000Miles is sponsored by Montane, Inov-8 and Sportsshoes. Click here for details of how to sign up free for this great challenge.

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