2021 preview

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I write this on the final day of 2020, or as I like to refer to it as the “ghost year”. Here, I look forward to what I hope will be a much improved year ahead.


Without a 2020/21 Cross Country season and having not raced in a mass-participation event since the Lydd 20 mile in March 2020, I only have one race which I am training towards this year which is the Budapest Marathon in October.

The course map for the Budapest marathon


I put together a 12 month training plan for my one and only goal race of 2021 back in October, which I am now 12 weeks in to. Since I increased my employed working hours at the beginning of October, I have had a very consistent weekly schedule of 1 longer endurance run and 1 interval speedwork session. In addition to these two, I tend to complete either a (not) parkrun or a Weekly30 Run Challenge at the weekends as a tempo effort.

I am currently in phase 1 of my training plan, which is the general preparation phase and I have already completed 10 long runs in excess of 2 hours, of which one was in excess of 3 hours. This phase will see me through until the middle of June where I enter phase 2, the specific preparation phase. The third and final phase, the competitive phase, starts just 3 weeks before the race and will see my running volume dramatically reduced as I focus on shorter, sharper runs at my goal race pace or faster.

My long runs are now fuelled by my passion of dance music


Coaching – I signed up for an England Athletics “Endurance: Event Group” online course and would like to complete this during the first half of the year. There is a lot of content to get through and so I will likely need to use some of my annual leave in order to dedicate some time to the course.

Once I have complete the online learning element, there is an integration day to attend in order to receive the qualification. This course will then add to my existing Leadership in Running Fitness qualification which I achieved in 2016 and my Coach in Running Fitness qualification from 2017.

Finally, in order to maintain my professional status as a Personal Trainer and membership of CIMSPA (Chartered Insitute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity) I will need to gain some CPD points by completing some additional online learning.

Outdoor running coaching from earlier this year

Running – As stated above, I have just one goal race this year. With regards the marathon, this will be my third attempt at racing the distance, having missed out on the Cork City marathon in 2020 where the race was cancelled due to the Coronavirus Pandemic. I made my debut in London 2018 (03:31:13) and my second attempt was in Boston, Lincolnshire 2019 (03:08:05), which has the flattest marathon course in the country.

The first marathon provided me with an appreciation and understanding of what is required of the mind and body when covering 26.2 miles on your own 2 feet. My second marathon experience was completely different (cold and windy conditions on exposed and quiet country roads), but I executed my plan of running within myself so that I had energy for the final 6 miles, which is where the race really starts!

Analysis of my Boston marathon from April 2019

My training for this third marathon attempt is geared towards running a time as close to 02:50:00 as I can. Why this time you ask and why not just aim for sub 3 hours? Well, having raced on numerous occasions over various distances and terrain and with two marathon experiences under my bealt already, I feel it is best to train towards a faster time and be in the knowledge that if circumstances on race day do not go as planned (which can often be the case) then I have room for manoeuvre.

Reflecting on my build up to the Boston marathon, my interval sessions were of high quality and I ran my current 10k PB of 37:12 in the January. Interestingly, my long runs weren’t huge, as I ran 11 miles and 13 miles in January; 14 miles, 13.5 miles & 19 miles in February, 25 miles at the beginning of March (03:28:40) – 6 weeks out from the race, then 19.5 miles and12.5 miles, with my final long run of 10.68 miles just over 2 weeks before the race. In fact, my fastest 5km of 2019 (00:19:15) was the day before my marathon and, at that time, felt relatively easy!

Analysis of my 10k PB from Janaury 2019

Reading – I would like to read at least 1 new book each month. This past year I have managed to read 3 books, “Marathon Running” by Richard Nerurkar, “26 Marathons” by Meb Keflezighi with Scott Douglas and “Collision Course” by Jason Henderson (all running related books, of course). I also finished reading “The Chimp Paradox” by Prof. Steve Peters at the beginning of the year, which I had started reading earlier in 2019 and have just started to read a biography of Sydney Wooderson, “A vert British hero” by Rob Hadgraft.

I must have read approximately 40 books on the subject of running, coaching and training over the past 8 years and I have at least 30 – 40 more books available in my library, so plenty to keep me out of trouble for the next couple of years I’m sure. I find reading relaxing and therepeutic and these books provide me with inspiration, motivation, ideas and useful information which I can put towards both my own training and the training of my clients.

Final word

Thank you for reading this blog post. I wish you a safe, healthy and peaceful New Year in 2021 and the best of luck with your own fitness goals. If you would like any advice or assistance with your training or nutrition then please do not hesitate in contacting me by e-mail – joewatts@plegafit.com or phone 07743 073788.

1 thought on “2021 preview”

  1. Pingback: Budapest marathon 2021 – review – Plega Fit

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