I’m sitting on a train traveling North as I compose this, the last time I was on this train I was on my way up to Manchester in April for the marathon. I remember writing this piece which discussed expectations and me trying to deal with nerves.
This feels like an apt point to catch up on the last month; look back at the year; and look forward a little to 2020 …
The last post I wrote after Gosport did a pretty good job of suming up where I was at: getting no enjoyment from chasing arbitrary time goals on the roads; burnt out both physically and mentally; and in need of a break. I received a lot of supportive feedback on social media about the post which was fantastic, both from runners and non-runners. I’m always amazed and grateful that people take the time to read my (way too long) rambles; to everyone reading this, thank you, you’re all awesome-sauce!
So take a break I did, in the three weeks after Gosport I only ran three times which is incredibly little for me. Once was at a friend’s 250th Parkrun on a great local muddy course, I probably ran too hard but I didn’t care, it was great fun. I’ve enjoyed the time off, I didn’t really miss it too much either which I think is validation that a break was needed. I very much enjoyed supporting Katie recently in her first race in Joggers colours. I’ve also tried to obsess about running less, the build up to Christmas is a good distraction, plus I’ve cut back on things like Strava (Strava friends I love all the running you’re doing, apologies for the lack of kudos recently).
I’m slowly starting to run a bit more but with little structure. If I run twice a week or four times a week it’s no bother. We were down in Cornwall last weekend and I had a great time blasting round Eden Project Parkrun with a few members of my family then running a rambling twelve miler round the town where I grew up. Keeping it fun is definitely the order of the day at the moment.
Looking back obviously Manchester marathon and my (just) successful sub-3 attempt dominates the year. To this day I still can’t quite believe I did it (it still feels like an out of body expensive where I went to Manchester to watch someone else run it, not myself). I read back my review a few weeks ago and it brings back wonderful memories of the day. I’m glad I put the work in beforehand, the training was tough but it did work, those marathon pace blocks at the end of those long runs were so important.
I’ve been pretty lucky with picking up pacing gigs this year. Southampton 10k, Reigate Half, Ageas 10k and pacing at Parkrun were all great experiences which I thoroughly enjoyed. I’ve found helping others achieve their goals is a very rewarding way to put something back into the sport. I’m not sure how 2020 will play out pacing wise but it’s definitely something I’d like to do more of in future.
Volunteering on one of the water stations at the Great South run was also a fantastic experience this year which I think I’d like to repeat in 2020. It was a chaotic but adrenaline filled couple of hours and a fun way to see the race from the other side of things.
The summer was spent on the trails, training for and then running the Serpent Trail 50k. I can honestly say that the evening recce runs were some of my absolute favourite runs of the year. We had a lovely little group of us from club and I loved that we ran it from start to finish the way we set out to, as a group. It was tough on the day, 50k is a pretty long way, I think we all struggled at times, but having the support of others around us helped immensely.
The less said about the Autumn the better: PB’s were set at 10 miles and Half, my Power of 10 page looks a bit better (not that anyone other than me cares), but I didn’t enjoy it. The positive I take from it is that (I think) I’ve made the right decision going forward to focus on the trails. Given how the autumn went I couldn’t imagine facing the prospect of a spring road marathon right now. Thank god I didn’t book one!
So overall it’s been a great year of running: the Spring and Summer were fantastic; there’s been PB’s at most distances; I’ve run more miles than ever before; and most importantly I’ve stayed fairly injury free (*touches head & all the fake wood I can find on the train).
2020 had a single focus at the moment, the North Downs Way 50 mile race in May. Pushing my body much further than I’ve ever gone before. There is a training plan in place (to no one’s surprise), which has kind of started already although I’m not 100% on it until the New Year. I’m looking forward to the long training runs out in the countryside and all the hill work, plus I’ve finally found some trail shoes that I like (hooray!)
After that, who knows, I’m looking forward to the journey. Thanks again for reading my rambles this year, I really do appreciate it. I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year xx
Until next time …