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Welcome to 2016, running buddies!

I have not written on this blog for a couple of months for a couple of reasons:

1. I have needed plenty of R&R after a big year of running for me. I felt I had little to say or add while I was not running. I put a bit of weight on as a result as you can see from the main picture here today.

2. I had quite a lot of illness at the end of 2016 which hampered my running schedule when I was not resting and recuperating.

3. I have been incredibly busy with a number of other projects with my work.

With the new year though, comes new impetus, and of course a brand new shiny running schedule to get stuck into!

Writing up my running schedule for each new running goal is actually a highly enjoyable and pleasurable experience for me. I write it all up for each day, I write up the type of session each run is, how long I have to go, how fast I have to run it, what the goal is for the session and so on. I include my psychological regimen in the schedule and also my other types of training – core stability work, plyometrics and some free weights for strength training that I include. It takes me some time, some research and then I add it to Evernote (which syncs the schedule to all of my devices so I always have access to it) along with some motivational quotes and a number of goals to achieve with the schedule and then I just follow it without having to think too much.

It is motivating and fun and I feel like I get rewarded for the due diligence. Each run that gets completed, I then tick it off on the schedule. It all gets downloaded online too so I get to examine my stats and measure my progress as I go.

This has been the way it has gone for me for a number of years. It is a formula that I am familiar with and adheres to my own researched evidence base where possible. Especially with the principles of goal setting and the psychological approach I take. The schedule highlights my progress and keeps me driven in a wide number of ways.

The new running schedule is underway, more about that shortly.

2015 was a good running year. I ran just over 2300 miles in total. The 3 marathons I completed were all under 3hrs 10mins and my fastest was 3hrs 7mins. One highlight was coming 14th at the tough (imo) New Forest marathon. I also ran a 50km (31 and a bit miles) trail ultra and learned a lot from that. I needed to know the course profile better in order to pace myself well and suffered in the latter stages of the race from heading out too quickly. Those lessons are going to serve me well this year though.

In 2015, I only ran a single competitive 5km (19mins 26secs) 10km (39mins 9secs) and half marathon (1hr 28mins). With work and family commitments, I don’t get to compete in too many races these days, certainly not as many as I’d like.  I fell short of completing all the Bournemouth marathon festival races as I had planned, but did learn a lot from it (as you can read from my previous entry here at the end of last year). It was humbling and I learned a great deal from that experience too.

My shiny new schedule then is aiming at me now training for a Spring marathon PB, and I am having to incorporate ultra marathon training into the schedule as two months after London marathon I compete in the 69 mile ultra along Hadrian’s Wall. Rat Race the Wall in June. It will be the longest I have ever run in a single event and following London marathon my training will move from the road and include much, much more running on trails and in the hills. I’m really looking forward to that in the Summer.

The road training right now is tough because of the stormy winds we’ve been experiencing here and of course the seemingly endless and torrential rain. Conditions have been a slight challenge. I quite enjoy running in the rain at times to be honest, and I can cope with any amount of coldness, though this year Winter has been incredibly mild. I just get occasionally miffed with the wind and have to reframe those runs battling against it as resistance training!

Also, after the end of 2015 including some rest time and with all the eating and drinking this Christmas, I feel sluggish at the moment and need to work hard this January to get into race weight for February and March when I will be averaging 85 miles a week (new year schedule starting at 70 mpw).

I feel slow and have really found myself puffing and blowing with my harder sessions much more than I was last Summer when I was at my fittest last year. My watch indicates that my VO2 max has dropped and it keeps telling me that the recovery time for my runs is a lot longer than I am used to. This makes me feel very defiant and determined to prove it wrong!

So just a quick update for now. I’ll be back weekly in the upcoming months charting my progress and sharing techniques and strategies to psychologically advance running performance. In the meantime, have a fabulous start to the new year and happy running.