Well as of February 2013, I am I am now a V45 runner. Which has got me thinking about the last 3 years of running and more importantly what comes next. I became a runner after entering my first fell race called the Chevy Chase . Prior to that I had mainly been a mountain biker for fun at weekends and the occasional jogger. I was over weight and under trained for that race and it was hard work dragging my fat ass around that course. The course and the people running it inspired me though and decided I wanted to try this race again. I did a little more training for race the next year and did a little better. The death of my father in law made me look at life that year and decide what was important. Losing weight and getting fitter was starting to take on more importance after the loss of John.
So I decided to enter Kielder trail marathon in 2011, I followed a beginners training plan and did the minimum to get by. As this was a trail marathon I started to do more of my training off road. Running on the trails was a real eye opener for me. It was entering my first Ultra that seemed to get me fired up to train properly. I think that the training during the winter of 2011 are what started a real thing for running! The off road training for the Ultra, made training seem less of a chore and I really started to enjoy running. It was also a great excuse to go and run in some lovely places.
Last year was full of some amazing highlights for me completing my first 50 mile and 100km Ultras. Running sub 3 hours for a marathon. The sub 3 was a run where I managed to beat my expected A goal time by over 10 minutes and PB by over 30 minutes! It was also great to have Jo and friends there to cheer me on. Completing my first 50 miler was a great feeling and so was finishing my first 100km. The 100km turned into a slog fest and has made seriously question my motivation for entering these very long runs. I also had a cold for the 2012 Chevy Chase so decided not to run. The event had to be routed due to bad weather so it would not have counted as a year to mark progression on the course time. I also won my first ever race :) The Northumberland Coastal marathon put on by the splendid North East Maraton Club was a fabulous course I ended up leaving Birtley Athletics and then Sunderland Strollers Running Club as trying to balance club nights, races and training etc was just not working for me. Running is a very individual thing for me. Both Birtley and Strollers are excellent clubs, having set sessions on set nights at set times, was just not working for me(or my family) and I would end up wasting time trying to constantly re-jiggle my training around club nights and events. I do still train with the Strollers on a Monday night at Penshaw when I can make it.
As for 2013. Well I started writing this article in January and it is now March. So my blogging is falling behind a bit! I have managed to keep up with my training over the winter. I am playing with my training and despite running the grand total of 2 trail marathons and 1 road marathon I am now following one of the plans from Advanced Marathoning (Peter Pfitzinger and Scott Douglas) to take part in the Marathon of the North again at end of April 2013. I switched from the excellent Hanson Brothers plan as I needed a plan with higher mileages to help get ready for my attempt to run 100 miles. I do have a few curve balls added to the plan like running the Hardmoors 55 5 week out from my marathon :) My plan for the marathon is to try and PB, I am realising that I am unlikely to knock well over 30 mins from my PB like I did last time :) I will also be attempting my first 100 miler at the Hardmoors 110. More on that and other future races for another blog post though. A key gamble for the 55 is that I am following a marathon training plan and keeping the pace work in the plan. I stopped most of my pace working during the summer and in hindsight, this was a mistake.I am also running more miles following a marathon plan! I ran 180 miles in Jan after a slow start, 251 in February. So starting to average about 65 miles a week. I am also only running 5 days and pushing myself harder on the days that I do run. I am finding the speed sessions the hardest, but I found a secret weapon for helping and that is using the running app called Strava. It lets you and others mark segments of your runs to compare times against. So I have been tracking down local strava segments and pushing myself to run faster on segment sections. Using Strava also helps track progression in terms of times over key distances. Here is a link to my strava profile for anyone interested in checking Strava out http://app.strava.com/athletes/715945. It works on most GPS watches and smart phones. The only other reflection I have is that trail running is what I really enjoy. I still have to convince myself that I enjoy ultra running(50 miles plus)! So it might be that next year I run more trail races and less ultras. Talking of trail races. The Chevy Chase will be by number 1 A race for this year, really looking forward to this race. Alistair and I are making a real weekend of it and will be running the Coniston marathon the day after the Chevy ;) That is going to be a real leg burner!
Other random thoughts are I joined the runners world sub 3 forum and there are some very good, talented and experienced runners on that thread. So on asking for sagely advice on how to improve I remember two things one was reading this book Bounce: The Myth of Talent and the Power of Practice (Syed). It is a very good read,a brief summary of the book is that you only get better at something by regular practise and training. The other advice followed on from this, do more training and miles to build endurance and get faster! Obvious innit!
With just over a week until the Hardmoors 55, my main hope for that race is that I keep the pacing at level sensible enough to be able to actually enjoy they day out! Here's to hoping I keep that promise not to charge off again!