Set targets you believe you can achieve and make sure the choice to change comes from within.
For anyone doing RED January – all the best. For anyone doing Dry January – good luck. For anyone doing Veganuary – have a ball. Me? I am just doing January – and it has got off to a pretty promising start on the running front.
Any kind of initiative which encourages people to be active or to live a healthier lifestyle is great, but it does not mean that everyone needs to do them. In the past I have done a Dry January, and it was fine, but just not this year. I have my own targets and goals for this month and I feel I am better served by doing my own thing rather than feeling I need get involved in one of these schemes for the start of the year. I have set targets for how far I want to run, for how often I plan to run, how fast I would like to run, to lose a bit of weight gained over the past couple of weeks and for various other things. Targets which, for me, are achievable and can be measured.
As I say, if you are doing one of these January plans – fabulous. I hope it helps and either sets you, or keeps you, on a healthy path for the year ahead and that you are doing it as a positive choice that you want to make. I am a firm believer in live and let live and would not think of criticising anyone who is taking part. Equally, I also believe people should respect those who make their own choice not to participate. Make the decisions about your life that you want to make and do not feel pressured into doing it. Three years ago I made the decision to lose weight and change my lifestyle, not because anyone else told me to do so, but because I chose to, and I think that is the only way that this kind of change can be sustainable. It has to come from within.
Talking of something coming from within, I am still not entirely sure how I managed to get through a couple of contrasting runs this week. I am still struggling a bit with the cold – bit of a sniffle, bit of a cough, bit of a sore throat – but nothing serious enough to derail my Barcelona Marathon training plan. However, I did discover this week that I had miscalculated on my training plan and that the race is only nine weeks away rather than ten! This only means I have missed out one nine mile run so I am pretty relaxed about it, given how well things went through December. I think this shows how experience benefits you, as last year, when I was training for my first marathon, this would have thrown me into a bit of a tailspin.
My long run plan was for a fifteen mile run this week, which I did on Saturday rather than Sunday as we were having some friends round on Saturday night so there was no way I would be in any shape for a long run come Sunday. Saturday morning was cold and a little breezy but in general, when I started, it was a near perfect day for an early morning run. However, as the morning continued, the weather seriously began to deteriorate, to the extent that when I turned for home, I then basically had a five-mile run pretty much straight into a howling gale, with the last two and half miles almost exclusively uphill. It turned into one of the toughest runs I think I have ever done, with the wind, at one point, almost blowing me off the pavement into the road. I have written before about how my training has built resilience, and it was this resilience that got me through this one, and at a pace which was quicker than I was expecting.
I then ran again on Sunday and on Hogmanay, to take my final running mileage for 2018 up to more than 1025 miles – this was so far beyond what I thought I was capable of at the start of the year. If I am honest, I still cannot quite believe it. Take it from me, you can achieve so much more than you ever think you can.
As I did the long run on Saturday this meant, of course, that I missed out on Parkrun, but as it is this time of year, there was to be a ParkRun at Aberdeen beach on New Year’s Day, so I thought I would head down for that. We had been out celebrating Hogmanay with friends, so even though the Parkrun was being held later, I did not feel that I would be ok to drive, so my wife (who had not had much to drink) gave me a life to the race itself. I had little expectation of achieving a decent time for the run itself. How wrong I was.
The run sometimes has pacers so I set out to follow the 25 minute pacer and see how things went – my Parkrun PB is 24mins 26 secs. I was near him for the first half of the race and feeling not too bad, so I overtook him as we moved past halfway. The Aberdeen Parkrun is notoriously windy – it is an out and back course right along the beachfront – but though there was a bit of a breeze in my face on the return stretch it was not too bad so I pushed on. As I got to the last five hundred metres I looked at my watch and realised I had a shot at a new PB! Spurred on by another couple of runners around me who were also pushing each other on I gave it maximum biff over the final stretch and crossed the finish line to get an official time of 23 mins and 52 seconds. Sub 24 minutes! Me! With a hangover! And a bit of a cold! Unbelievable!!!
That run really took me by surprise. I put it down to the extra spring in my step from my new Brooks Glycerin trainers that I got for Christmas, but whatever lay behind it, it really has given me a lot of confidence from which to build on for this year. My other runs this week have also been quite quick – for me at least – and this is what I am going to focus on now for my shorter runs. Speedwork for them – around nine minute per mile pace – endurance work at a lower pace for my long runs. I am now targeting 4 hours 15 mins for the marathon. Let’s see how things go.
After running for five days straight, I am going to enjoy a couple of rest days before heading out for a half marathon distance training run on Sunday – now that I have finally worked out which actual week of my training plan I should be doing!!
Thanks to everyone for reading and best wishes for 2019!!