Our Stories



– “The little things can make such a difference”

By: Mandy Waldon

#REDjanuary (aka Run Every Day January) is a nationwide initiative that encourages people of all abilities to get active every day during January to beat the blues away. The #REDjanuary challenge is something I have seen many other runners complete over the years, but I was never brave enough to try …the fear of failure (of course) holding me back.

2020 was a year like no other we had ever known thanks to Covid-19, so I was thinking why not start 2021 with a challenge I had never tackled before? I decided that the minimum distance would be a mile, I wanted to be realistic and give myself the best chance of completing. I was not going to try and get sponsorship for the challenge but instead decided I would raise awareness of the amazing charity ‘Sport in Mind’ who #REDjanuary had partnered with this year for its official charity. The Hares had raised money for the charity a few years ago so I was aware of the fantastic work they were doing in supporting people through being active in sport with mental health issues.

So with this ethos in mind I decided I would try and run with as many different people as possible to provide opportunities to connect with club members, friends, family which felt even more important due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the restrictions we had been experiencing in our lives for the past nine months. I wanted to check in on people and give people a chance to check in with me …very simple. However I didn’t actually ‘sign up’ for #REDjanuary in my mind until Day 2….

Read on!

Day 1 New Year’s Day

6.67 miles

…I ran with my husband Chris, it was cold and frosty, a beautiful morning for a run and a chance to run on harder ground. No major after effects of a raucous NYE so felt really comfortable. Would I go public with my challenge? I needed another 24 hours to think about it!

Day 2

5.27 miles / 11.94 total

So I announced my plan on Facebook – it was now out there. I felt uncertainty and nervousness …would anyone want to run with me!?

I had a lovely run with Hilary in the extremely wet and muddy conditions! We discussed trail shoes, Hilary was about to get her first pair and the conditions were certainly appropriate… actually football boots may have been a better solution.

Day 3

4.74 miles / 16.68 total

Run with my sister Claire! A founder member of the Hungerford Hares Club, we had not run together for a very long time. Claire has pretty much given up running due to longstanding Achilles issues, but her workplace had organised a similar #REDjanuary challenge – not necessarily to run everyday but to do something active and she was definitely up for the challenge. It was great to run with her again.

Day 4 Solo Run – Reading

5.69 miles / 22.37 total

Looking back at this now it seems weird – I did a run in Reading near Prospect Park whilst my son Sid did football training. Wow this was just before the lockdown was announced. The last time really I have driven anywhere that far in recent months. I was chuffed with my pace – but a bit of a boring run along the A4 to Calcot and back. I remember how fast traffic was and reflected how lucky I was to live somewhere quieter.

Day 5 Solo run

3.37 miles / 25.74 total

Total Lockdown again

Day 6 Hill Reps and flying 30s with Geoff

4.65 miles / 30.39 total

Really good to see Geoff, it felt like it had been ages. We discussed my lack of motivation to do specific training such as hills/sprints so Geoff did what he always does best and made me motivated again with a commitment from me to try this once a week! Geoff is such a good coach, I cannot emphasise enough how his knowledge and coaching skills will improve your running… just need to open your mind to it.

Day 7 Run after work with my Twin Sis Nicky

4.41 miles / 34.8 total

It is lovely to have the option to do this, with my sister living near the hospital, obviously due to the new restrictions again and non-essential travel being banned this was still allowed. So important for family contact and I do feel grateful I could see her as I know so many people who have not been able to see family for far too long. Also it was nice to do a new route and someone else to lead!

Day 8

3.28 miles / 38.08 total

Run with Chris again my husband, one of the positives in lockdown has been this… no gym open and Chris working from home has made it happen.

Day 9

2.16 miles / 40.24 total

Run with Sid, my youngest son after lots of persuading, the thing is though once he is out he loves it! Went and had a look at the new houses being built… I miss already the natural landscape that I used to see coming through on the footpath from Priory road.

Day 10

11.35 miles / 51.59 total

so a run over to Kintbury to meet up with Victoria and a new route round a section of Kintbury that I hadn’t done, really nice to catch up with Victoria. Lots to discuss…. lots on self-care – the importance of getting out, family and staying connected.

Day 11

3.23 miles / 54.82 total

Solo on the common doing zig zag hills – a top tip from Geoff, one I will continue I hope – the best strength training for runners.

Day 12

4.82 miles / 59.64 total

My fastest run in January with my brother-in-law Phil. I would never have arranged a run with Phil if it wasn’t for the restrictions in place and of course my #REDjanuary challenge – so this was such a positive. Phil is a fast runner and it was good to push out of my comfort zone. Great to catch up with Phil and hear about my niece and nephew.

Day 13

5.73 miles / 65.37 total

Morning run with Moshe… ha,ha so Moshe chose the route and was looking for somewhere less muddy. Needless to say he could not have chosen a more muddy route! Managed not to fall over which was a bonus and good to check in with Moshe and hear how life in lockdown is for him and his family.

Day 14

4.19 miles / 69.56 total

Hares classic hills… solo. I was still listening to the voice of Geoff and motivating myself! I bumped into Caroline and Mary-Anne on the way back which was so lovely for a 5-minute download with them. Work is tough but I always feel so much better after a run.

Day 15

4.09 miles / 73.65 total

Evening run with hubby. Ok so legs feeling it and particularly left hip-feels tight. Struggled with my pace as normally push it when I run with Chris… not tonight but still great to get out. Just hope the miles I am building in my legs are not going to cause an injury with my hip.

Day 16 Hump day!!

4.27 miles / 77.92 total

Over halfway now. Wet and muddy run with Hilary before work.

So Hilary had her new trail trainers on. Not sure if they made any difference in the conditions but she was really chuffed with them. I like the look of these…recommended by Andy due to the wide toe box. I am definitely going to look into these for my next pair. Nice to get out early before work, it kind of makes me feel indestructible and ready for anything work will throw at me.

Day 17

5.50 miles / 83.42 total

Again an early run with Andy before work, 7am and we were so lucky to catch the early morning sunshine. So lovely felt like we haven’t seen the sunshine for ages. We did the Harey 8 route round the stud farm which I hadn’t done for some time. Home in time to see the kids before work, the smugness of getting out early for a run is priceless!

Day 18

2.79 miles / 86.21 total

…a family affair with Flynn and Chris. So Flynn thinks he cannot run, but he can! He did so well and as any parent of a teenager will know this sort of time together is so incredible, they are away from their screens and outside in fresh air.

Day 19

4.16 miles / 90.37 total

A lovely run with Kathyrn. She was also doing #REDjanuary and responded to my plea on FB, which was so lovely as we have never run together before. Her son is really good mates with my son Sid, so we have known each other for quite some time. Lovely to catch up with all things to do with the boys and the challenges that the lockdown has brought. We agreed we would definitely run again together…

Day 20

4.13 miles / 94.5 total

Solo run quite literally as the weather was horrendous, in my photo on the common there was literally no one about! Legs feeling quite lethargic, left hip feeling tight but I did not feel it was getting any worse. Concentrated on my cadence but noticing my pace really slipping. Have definitely got in the routine of this daily run but noticed I am neglecting some of my strength work.

Day 21 with Geoff ..Sun was shining

3.91 miles / 98.41 total

We did some hills which could count as my strength training I suppose! I felt good… until after the hills then felt like I had literally nothing left to give at all. I was giving myself a hard time about this in my head, felt I had to apologise to Geoff about it. When I have run with others who think they are slower than me they always apologise and worry about slowing me up-despite my reassurance. Now I was doing it to Geoff. I wasn’t feeling strong mentally, work was incredibly busy, home life feeling difficult (as with everyone else) so I know why I was beating myself up. Geoff sent me text later he said don’t worry, we all have times when we feel like that and it’s just important to appreciate being out on a sunny morning-which is of course is so right!

Day 22 Run with Nicky (my sister) after work

4.62 miles / 103.03 total

So I finished work late again, went to get changed in the staff changing room and pulled out my trainers except one of them was Chris’s! In my haste to get out of the door that morning I had picked up his right trainer instead of mine. Not only that but literally the heavens had opened and it was hail storming! I refused to cancel my run with Nicky, I so needed to get some fresh air and I knew I would feel better after a catch up with her. It was a lopsided run but at least I hadn’t got 2 left or 2 right trainers… always try and look on the positive side! We mainly talked about work (she works at Basingstoke Hospital) and the kids… we commented on the amount of cars on the road – sometimes it was hard to hear each other – where were they all going we discussed… ok it was Friday night but this was a lockdown?

Day 23 with Kerri

5.11 miles / 108.14 total

Lovely to run in the daylight and catch up with Kerri. We did the short Standen route but took a loop round the new houses being built near Kerri. It was good to hear how Kerri and her family were coping with the lockdown, we also talked about our new arrival, our black lab puppy and how excited we were. When I got back to Kerri’s house it was nice to have a quick chat with her husband and her son Zack. Again just seeing people, finding opportunities to connect made me feel happy.

Day 24 Morning run with Wilf in the snow!!

3.57 miles / 111.71 total

It was just so majestic to see the landscape covered in snow, we literally woke up and saw the huge snowflakes coming down and very quickly it settled.
I was meant to be running with Lauren but we thought better of it due to the condition on the roads. Wilf reluctantly but eventually agreed to be her stand in. Yes he went in shorts?!! It was so lovely – how these little things can make such a difference never cease to amaze me. It was great to see so many kids (and adults) on the common with their sledges.
Then I was lucky to run with Flynn too – he had been set the challenge of a 1km time trial to be done each week, so we mapped out a course on the triangle field for him to do 3-4 times a week with the aim of improving his time. His football coach had set the challenge along with long arch bridges and the long jumps …planning to do this with Flynn for a bit of variety and encouragement.

Day 25 Lunch run with Caroline in the gorgeous sun

6.27 miles / 117.98 total

It was so lovely to still see some remanence of the snow from the day before – we did the lovely loop up to New Hayward Farm then across to Chilton Foliate then back towards Caroline’s house in Eddington.

It was fab catching up… lots of puppy talk again… must stop monopolising the conversation!

Day 26 Managed a mile… just…

1.03 miles / 119.01 total

Too busy at work, I had to cancel my run with Simon. Thought I would fail at this point. Even a mile was nice to get some fresh air after the day I’d had :).

Day 27

1.17 miles / 120.18 total

Just a mile again tonight #crazysadbusywork. Had to cancel my run with Lauren

Day 28 Wet muddy Run with Claire

5.52 miles / 125.7 total

Snowdrops are out!! Brian commented on how nice it was to see Claire out running again and I so agree, I think she has caught the running bug again… do you think I can persuade her to reignite her Run Leader status again?!

Day 29 Morning run in the rain

4.31 miles / 130.01 total

Special day as Lyra our puppy arrived! So exciting…..

Day 30 afternoon run in the wet and mud!

2.24 / 132.25 total

Mud had definitely been a common theme this month! So after a bit of a disturbed night with Lyra I just about managed 2 miles!!

Day 31 Lovely Run with Esther

6.05 miles / 138.3 total

Last day!! Small section was a footpath that I had not done for about 15 years so that was really nice… lovely to catch up with Esther, been too long. Small section was a stream rather than a footpath… and then I took a tumble-had to make the last day memorable of course! No damage done except some impressive bruising!!

So I completed #REDjanuary running 138.3 miles in total! I felt quite emotional about finishing as it had been my one consistent through a fairly turbulent month. My plan of running with as many people as possible meant I ran with 15 different people, some more than once and I only ran on my own 9 times. My longest run was 11.35 miles and my shortest 1.03 miles, with some new routes along the way and new people which is great.

I would definitely do it again, it certainly made the month go quicker and gave me a focus and a reason to get out for some fresh air even on some of the darkest and difficult days. It is so good to talk and boost your mental health through sport, a massive thank you to all of you who joined me and encouraged me along the way.

#REDjanuary 2021 138.3 total miles