Have you set any New Year resolutions this year? I have always been a bit dubious about New Year resolutions since many seem to be broken by the end of January. After weeks of over-indulgence, you seem to see the gyms and weight loss meetings suddenly get really busy, only for numbers to fall away over the weeks and months. This is because it’s quite unrealistic to change habits overnight and then keep that up through the days, weeks and months. However, I think that if you set longer term goals at the beginning of a year, then you have a better chance of achieving them because it gives you time to work toward these goals. This is why I like to set year-long goals.
Last year was a bit of a torrid time for my running. January 2022 started with me getting Covid (which took a surprisingly long time to get over) and mid-year, I had to recover from an Achilles tendon injury which took many months. This means that at the beginning of this year, my running performance is way off what it should be, and my running volume is right down. I haven’t run 100 miles in a month since March.
I have always noticed that my running performance seems to be proportional to my running volume. One of my best running years in the last decade was 2020, where I managed to run 2020 miles and was producing race results that I could be proud of.
This contrasts with my current situation in that I’m not running very far each week nor am I running very fast in races. Therefore, this year, I have set a goal to get back to my usual routine of doing over 100 miles each month. This means that I would like to see my 2023 annual total get above 1000 miles again.
Last week I managed a 9-mile run, which is the farthest I have managed since October. This was tough, but I can’t expect to get back into high mileage just like that. Hopefully, I will be able to work up to longer runs soon.
Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. – Proverbs 19:21
Last week, there were around 20 people at running club training, where the task was to run a number of efforts at 10K pace on a flat course around a housing estate. This week, where the brief was 8 two minute efforts up a steep hill, around 8 runners turned up!
What is it about hills that make people stay at home? Sure they are hard but it’s that hardness that makes them so good at building fitness. I have had more than one occasion thinking a particular running race was hilly, only to run it again when much fitter wondering why I had ever thought there was a problem.
So I hope doing the hill session has helped to build my fitness. When I last posted about my plan I was aiming to run 100 miles in March and my total was 109 miles. Now April has just started and my goal is to do at least the same. Last year I managed to sustain an injury in April which really messed up my running year and so, above all things, I want to get to the end of the month in one piece!
“May the mountains bring prosperity to the people, the hills the fruit of righteousness.” Psalm 72:3
Over the past few months, I have had to cope with something that I never thought would happen to me and that is, I struggled to keep motivated to go running.
What happed first was that I spent the first week in the new year isolating with COVID which felt like a nasty cold. Then, after that I managed to hurt my back while gardening. What didn’t help is the subsequent succession of storms which would rage locally with 60MPH winds, making it very easy to convince myself that I wouldn’t even go running if I wanted to. So, when I did go running, I didn’t run very far each time because I felt my fitness had left me and it was really hard. The bottom line is that I was in need of a plan.
When I trained for my first Marathon, I considerably increased the distance I was running and noticed that as well as building my stamina, my times on short distances improved as well. Hence my golden rule has always been that the more miles I run, the faster I become. When I am on good running form, my total mileage is usually over 140 per month but my mileage in January of this year was around 50 and in February it was 80.
So I’ve set a plan to get my mileage up again, making sure I run 5 days a week and include a long run as well as forcing myself back to club training. Even after a few weeks of doing this I have noticed that I’m getting better now and managed to run the Wakefield 10K on Sunday in a time of 53:31 which relieved me because I was worried that I might not even get under 55 minutes.
So onwards and upwards. As the weather gets better, I am sure I will soon be back running the kind of distances I am used to and be able to more fully experience the joy of running.
“Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.” Proverbs 15:22