Pride always comes before a fail*

* I thought I should try updating our idioms for the YouTube generation.

Best laid plans, eh?

You make them. You do your best to stick to them. Then something comes along and turns it all upside down.

Within the words of this post, I had originally planned to give you all a witty summary of the first 20 days of the 5×50 challenge; sparkling prose describing the many and varied pitfalls heroically avoided and calamities neatly sidestepped. I had hoped to provide an erudite insight into the daily challenges all 5×50 participants are facing. And overcoming.

Trouble is though, I’ve rather been undone by those pitfalls, those calamities.

So this is, instead, a more cautionary tale of not getting ahead of yourself. Of not counting chickens before they’ve hatched (although you can if you wish, it’s a free country after all).

It all started so well. As the clocks went forward, thousands of people across the country (and many from outside of the UK) stepped out to run, walk or cycle their first 5 kilometres of the challenge. Over the first week I ran, I played 5-a-side football, I swam and I walked. Mrs Running Buffet and I braved the winds of Dartmoor to enjoy a fantastic walk in the early April sunshine, easily notching up 5kms without really thinking about it.

Dartmoor Tors

In the shelter of the tors, and just to remind us that spring wasn’t really that well advanced despite the sunshine, we found a collection of icicles. Slowly dripping, these icy fingers were holding out against the onrushing spring, clinging to the rocky shadows.

Clinging to the shadows

Their icy fingers


By the middle of the second week, I was feeling pleased with myself. Staging the 2013 challenge in the spring, rather than the autumn, was a great idea. The promise of better things to come was making it easier to get out and exercise. The long slide into winter did tend to get you down a bit during the 50 days of the 2012 challenge, finishing as the clocks went back as opposed to starting when the clocks leaped forward. This was much better.

Then came the fall. A metaphorical one, but a fall nonetheless. Long days in the office happen sometimes. Travelling to other offices around the country: that happens too. I had several of those days during the 2012 challenge and, whilst they weren’t the easiest, I had coped. This time, I didn’t.

Leaving our Bristol office at about 5:30, I slowly crawled out of the city. An accident somewhere had caused all of the roads to snarl up. Eventually reaching the motorway, I could point the car southwards and…







You get the idea.

Just after 9:15 I stumbled through the door. An hour and a half’s journey had taken the best part of four hours. With an early start that morning, not to mention one of those days where you actually have to concentrate in the office (they do happen occasionally), on top of a bruising journey home and I was in no fit state to do anything. I ate my tea (it was a salad, so the fact that I was several hours later than planned hadn’t ruined that) and got into bed. No 5×50 for me that day.

But before you get too sorry for me (what’s that, you weren’t? Oh!) then please spare a thought for the poor people in the accident that caused the traffic jam. Their Thursday was certainly significantly worse than mine. What was an inconvenience to me may well have had lasting consequences for them.

But falling just gives you the chance to get back up again. Doesn’t it? Certainly you can type something along those lines into Google (I know I just did) and you will get back hundreds, if not thousands, of inspirational quotes telling you just that. In all honesty, I was just a bit annoyed that I had been undone so early in the challenge. Annoyance: the emotion of champions!

Distant Ashburton

Looking down at Ashburton from one of my cycle routes

Taking the advice of the 5×50 team, I aimed to claw back those lost kilometres over a number of days, rather than trying to double my distance the very next day. With an extra 2.67kms already in the bank from a longer-than-strictly-necessary bike ride the day before, I added an extra half a kilometre to my tally from a cycle ride, another half by running that same route and, by adding an extra loop to the end of one of my normal 5km runs, I extended that route by an additional 1.48kms.

That adds up to 5.29kms. I may have missed a day, but I had caught up again. I was back on track!

Nothing could stop me now!

Unless, that is, the most innocuous of injuries should occur. Which it did. Almost three years ago, in the spring of 2010, I had a successful double hernia repair. On occasions since then, these repairs will twinge. And it’s the most annoying of injuries. For the majority of the time I will be fine, but if I bend at the wrong angle or turn in the wrong way, a shooting pain will fire through the repair and send me wincing and muttering (and, yes, swearing) as I seek to find a position that doesn’t hurt.

No sooner had I atoned for my missing day, then I was struck by one of these mysterious twinges. On and off throughout the last week, I have been attacked by sudden and short-lived pain that has, nonetheless, prevented me from doing any sort of exercise. It is getting better, but it’s a mighty pain in the neck. Figuratively, not literally.

And so I am back off the 5×50 wagon once more. This time I do not hold out much hope of being able to catch up. I am being left behind.

But I will cope. I plan to rejoin the latter half of the challenge and, no, I won’t have completed 50 days in a row, but I will have done what I could. In this week especially, it is hard to feel sorry for myself when faced with these mild annoyances. So many people have had it so very much worse. The tragic end to the Boston marathon has created challenges that I can barely comprehend. Death and loss and destruction. Across Iraq this week, 55 people have been killed in a series of bomb attacks. Countless more have been injured.

We all hope never to have to face those sorts of challenges. And our thoughts go out to those who are facing them right now. It rather puts all of our little annoyances into perspective, doesn’t it?


3 thoughts on “Pride always comes before a fail*

  1. Wise words, Running Buffet. There are many ‘less fortunate’, as they say.

    5×50 is about getting into the habit of exercise, establishing a state of mind, so if there are days when you genuinely can’t, it’s ok. Get right back in there when you can.

  2. Pingback: Why I am not a Janathon-er | Running Buffet

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