My main goal for 2014 was to complete my first ultra marathon, after having DNSed Stort 30 in October 2013. I had decided to stick with my plan and keep Dukeries 40 as my first ultra, instead of my second. As the year began, I was well into training for Dukeries. There were a few missed runs, as I had decided to make sure to rest when I felt I needed it, but in general I was pretty consistent with my running in the early weeks of the year.
January to March
The result of this was January becoming my first ever 100-mile month, with February and March matching that consistency. These three months are still currently my highest mileage months, although I expect that to change in 2015.
My first two races of the year were also in March and had mixed results. The Run4Tomorrow Marathon was a disappointment, despite being a PB. Poor nutrition, hydration and pacing put paid to a time which I believe better reflects my ability; but it was a learning experience and I got to meet Naomi en route to her TP100 success. The Sandy 10, in contrast, couldn’t really have gone much better. It was my second running of the race and on both occasions I’ve managed to keep a controlled steady-fast pace for 6-7M and then push on at the end. This year, I managed a PB and a sub-85min; this is definitely a race I’ll be going back to again and again.
January: 119.43M (16 runs); February: 137.69M (14); March: 132.84M (17).
April and May
April began with my first ever ultra-distance run: a training run of 31.5M. Despite being tough and by no means quick, this still remains one of my most enjoyable and memorable runs. I plotted a route round a number of local villages – #villagehopping was a term I coined a lot in 2014 – and just slugged it out in a little over 6 hours. I was walking by the end, as my Achilles gave out on me, but completing the run gave me massive confidence for Dukeries.
At the end of April, I ran a short relay leg with some colleagues at work and really enjoyed the contrast to the long slow runs that ultra training required.
May arrived – as it often tends to – after April, and with it came Dukeries 40, my first ultra. This was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, both mentally and physically, but I was so pleased to finally pop my ultra cherry and proud that I’d stuck with it when it got tough. I rested for the next two weeks so I would be ready for my ever-present annual race, the Bupa London 10,000. Despite going into the race with no expectations, I managed another PB and only narrowly missed out on a sub-50min, something I never dreamed I’d get near. With the post-Dukeries recovery, May was my lowest-mileage month so far this year.
April: 104.74M (12); May: 85.08M (9).
June to August
Early June saw the start of training for my next planned ultra, the Greensand Way (54M). All went well initially, but a loss of mojo mid-month preceded a short holiday, a minor bout of food poisoning and a niggle in my left glute/hamstring, which had begun after Dukeries. July saw a pickup in consistency, but not by much. August had another break for my main summer holiday, during which I began to experience bad acid reflux. On return, I saw my physio about the left-leg niggle and was diagnosed with sciatica.
It was a poor summer; with the training I’d missed, and the sciatica and reflux still an issue, I withdrew from the Greensand Way ultra. I then set my sights on making sure I made this year’s Stort 30, which was to be held on my birthday.
June: 90.76M (14); July: 96.23M (14); August: 52.30M (7).
September and October
With the self-inflicted pressure of Greensand from my shoulders, I started building up slowly again and enjoyed a memorable Great North Run, after missing out last year. Shortly afterwards, I ran an impromptu Leighton 10 and had a great run-out there too. Although neither race gave me a PB, I enjoyed them both for different reasons. September saw a couple of minor mojo slips, but also saw a 100%+ increase in mileage; definitely back on track.
The inevitable taperchondria caught up with me in October, ahead of my ‘birthday ultra’. I rested where needed and reduced mileage; thankfully (and unsurprisingly) nothing came of it. I had a great birthday at Stort 30, albeit disappointed with the performance and result. I rested completely the week after: only my second zero-mile week of the year.
About 20 miles into Stort 30, I passed 1000 miles for the year, for the first time since I started running.
September: 106.30M (20); October: 83.56M (11).
November and December
In early November, I reviewed my plans for 2015 and decided to ‘only’ go for a marathon in the first half of the year, but to try for a time more reflective of my ability at other distnces. This review meant I had a bit of time to play with before marathon training started, so I gave myself until the end of the year just to run for fun and relax. I had one race at the end of the month, the MK Mo Run 10K, but this was a bit of a damp squib in a number of ways and was the first race since I started running that I’ve not really enjoyed at all.
After setting myself an arbitrary, but memorable, target of 1,111.11 miles for the year, December was all about enjoying the crisp, cold mornings at the weekend, plodding through the cold, wet evenings when I had to and juggling runs and routes to get me to the magic number. I got there this morning with a run in the glorious sunshine.
November: 42.51M (12); December: 59.66M (14).
All in all, I’m really pleased with how 2014 has gone for me. I’ve missed a number of runs with loss of mojo, niggles, sniffles, etc., but haven’t had any extended periods out and have avoided full-on colds and flu. I’m pleased with my overall consistency and glad I made the decision at the start of the year to listen more to my body and rest when I felt the need.
As far as races go, the obvious highlights are the two ultras. While some might argue that they’re not ‘proper’ ultras unless they’re over 50 miles, they’re definitely a step (or two) in the right direction and I’ve learned a lot, both in training and during the races themselves.
I’ve had PBs in the marathon, 10M and 10K distances, as well as three PBs at parkrun (2 at Milton Keynes, 1 at Bedford), which I’ve not mentioned above. Not forgetting, of course, that both ultras were technically PBs as they were my first attempt at those distances, as was the Les Irvine OU Relay.
2014: 1,111.11M (160 runs).
Goals for 2015
So, what of 2015? As I’ve mentioned above, I’ll begin training shortly for the MK Marathon in early May, with a target of 4:15, although I’ll be happy with anything sub-4:30. Immediately following that, I’ll start another training plan for the Ladybower 50 in September. This second plan will include alternate weeks with 5 days training and will hopefully get me used to this ahead of training for longer ultras.
Ahead of the marathon, I’ve planned tune-up races at 10M (Sandy again) and half marathon distances; I will be hoping for PBs at both of those. I’ll also be hoping for a sub-50min at the London 10,000, three weeks after the marathon. It may seem ambitious, but if I can almost manage it two weeks after a 40-miler, I think there’s hope. I’ll fit another marathon in between MK Marathon and Ladybower, along with another guaranteed PB at a 50K (which I also DNSed this year).
More generally, I need to start running more on trails and will aim to do this particularly in the second half of the year, when I’ll be doing B2B long runs in training for the 50-miler. I also really need to improve my strength and flexibility conditioning. But who doesn’t.. right? 😀
All being well, I’ll have five or six weeks rest/recovery after Ladybower and then begin training in earnest for the Thames Path 100, which I hope to have entered during the year and to complete in May 2016. But that’s a long way away yet…
Finally, I aim to catch up on writing race reports for this site, as well as blogging more consistently. But don’t hold your breath on either of those. 😉
Happy New Running Year!!!