2018 preview

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Firstly, I’m going to reflect on 2017 and what a busy year it was.

On a personal note, I was awarded “Most improved athlete” for the 2016/17 winter season at the Tonbridge AC awards dinner in February 2017. In April I attended a warm weather training camp in the Algarve which was led by Liz McColgan and John Nuttall. Over the course of the year I managed to achieve personal best times over 5km (July), 5 mile (July), 10km (June) and half marathon (October). I qualified as a Coach in Running Fitness in July and successfully completed a 5 week intensive Personal Training course in August and September. Finally, in December I was awarded a place by the club in the London Marathon (April 2018) – my debut at this distance.

So, on to 2018.

Although we’re just 12 days into the year, it has already been pretty busy for me. Unfortunately, toward the end of last year I developed the flu and was laid up in bed for 3-4 days before Christmas. This, along with a busy Christmas period led to me missing two weeks of training and doing very little running. I therefore went into a 10 mile road race in Staplehurst on New Year’s Eve with no expectations to beat the time that I ran the previous year and ended up almost a minute down on last year’s time.

New Year’s Day and the day after the 10 mile race, I attended Tonbridge parkrun, which I used as a recovery run from the day before. It was very wet and muddy, but a very enjoyable run and it was good to catch up with friends and regular runners from the Royal Tunbridge Wells parkrun event. My first real club session on the Thursday was a Fartlek run and my legs were still pretty heavy from the two runs that I had done leading up to this.

Goals for 2018:
Train for and run a successful marathon in London.
Learn to swim and complete a triathlon (Edenbridge – August).
Read more and write in my trainnig journal every day.
Rest & recover well – in bed at 9.30pm and up at 5.30am each day.
Continue to cut out any added sugar, salt & chemicals in my diet.

Just 2 days after this session, on the Saturday, it was on to the Kent Cross Country Championships at Brands Hatch, a 12km race. Again, I knew that I wouldn’t be posting a personal best time on this course as my legs were still heavy and tired from the previous 6 days. I arrived to the venue in good time, warmed up, but after chatting with a fellow parkrun Event Director I noticed that I had only 5 minutes to make it to the starting line. Whilst getting changed into my spikes and vest I heard the starting gun go off – I had missed the start of the race. Not phased by this, I jogged to the start line and started about 30 seconds after the field. I gradually made my way through the field and tried to keep the pace relatively steady, whilst trying to catch up with fellow club members who I would have expected to be competing with. Despite my late start and my heavy legs, I was pleased to finish just over a minute slower than last year (taking into account the 30 second late start).

Looking determined at the Kent Cross Country Championships. Photo courtesy of Mark Hookway.

Earlier in the week I had signed up to a social, long cycle ride with a group which was to take place on the Sunday morning (the day after the Cross Country race). Having invested in a road bike at the end of last year (which I will be using for my triathlon in the Summer), I wanted to try it out and also improve my stamina as my rides tend to be for only an hour. This ride was to last 3 hours…

It took a little getting used to the bike as it was my first time using it, my first time on a road bike (my other bike is a hybrid with flat handle bars) and my first time using different pedals to my existing bike. It was a very cold and windy morning and having cycled almost 30 miles I became affected by the cold and a lack of mid-ride nutrition and I had to stop. Fortunately, one of the guys (who used to be a regular runner at the Royal Tunbridge Wells parkrun event) looked after me and kindly gave me one of his brownies whilst I also finally got around to eating my banana. He called his wife, who very kindly came right away to collect me and my bike and gave me a liftt home where I first tried to warm-up in bed and then went into a warm bath and consumed some hot soup. After an hour, I was feeling a lot better. A tough lesson learned.

On Monday morning I went for an hour’s long run (my first long run for a number of weeks) and in the evening I led a new beginners, zero to 30 group as part of my RTW runners club. Everyone did a great job and managed well with the first session where we did a 5 minute walk followed by 10 x 60 second jogs each with a 2 minute walk in-between. I then had a quick turnaround, but enough time to get some food in before I headed off for my first (and what would also be my last) training session with RTW masters swimming club. I had contacted the club and spoken with the secretary the previous week, where I explained that I planned to enter my first triathlon later in the year but that my swimming technique and ability required some serious work. I went along to the session expecting to be coached on technique and to perform drills to assist with this and my breathing, which I struggle with, however, I was allocated the slow lane with two others and we were left to complete lengths with recoveries. I managed to complete two lengths of front crawl, two lengths of back stroke and then another two (one of breast stroke and one of backstroke), but it was very clear that I require some one to one coaching and unfortunately, this was not something that they could offer.

On Thursday evening it was back to Tonbridge AC training and the session involved a 7.5 mile tempo run. Conditions were rather miserable – cold & damp, but I was dressed for it with gloves and a lightweight waterproof. I made the daft decision to wear my racing flats for the run, something which my calfs didn’t thank me for afterwards – walking up and down stairs that evening was a challenge in itself!

And here we are, Friday 12th January 2018. This morning I baked my homemade brownies, which contain unrefined sugar, dark chocolate and no butter (rice oil as substitute) and then at 8.30am I had a one to one running client, who I covered 4 miles with.

So, all in all, it’s been a pretty hectic and tiring start to the year. However, I have been consistent with my bedtime and morning time; I have been reading and writing in my journal each day; my attempt to entirely cut out added sugars, salts & chemicals in my diet has taken a step closer as now I create my own homemade pizza – using a pizza base and adding my own toppings (mushrooms, goat’s cheese, tomato puree and tomatoes) and so a routine is developing.

I have written my marathon plan, which includes an endurance cycle ride each week (an hour will suffice), a swim session (I shall be joining the local leisure centre in order to use the pool and improve my technique and breathing) and also takes into account the groups that I lead as well as any one to one sessions that I coach. I have entered a 20 mile race in March where I plan to practice my race nutrition and pacing for the marathon and I look forward to my final two cross country races of the season – the Kent Cross Country League at Sparrow’s Den on 10th February and the National Cross Country at Parliament Hill, London on 24th February which is followed by the Tonbridge AC awards dinner at Salomon’s in Soutborough.

Thank you for taking the time to read this blog post and please feel free to leave comments.

My next blog post will be following my trip to the inaugural National Running Show later this month. So, until then, keep on running!

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