As we turn a new year, I feel it right to review last year, before putting into writing whatever plans I have for 2016.
I think it fair to say that 2015 was a year of unplanned abject failure. Okay, yes, I did run two ultras, but they were interspersed with injury, sporadic training, and a general feeling of under-achievement.
I can hear what you’re thinking – “if you haven’t planned anything, you haven’t failed”. Yes, you’re correct, but the things I did plan didn’t pan out as expected, in a disappointing way.
So, to go through what I did in 2015:
Dark Star Marathon – 28 miles in January. Ran in just under six hours. Not fast by any means. Unplanned, and un-trained, so that’s a tick!
South Downs Way 50 – April. Bailed at 6 miles, due to calf problem. Injury appeared three weeks before the race.
High Weald Challenge – September. 31 mile race. Completed in a time I wasn’t exactly happy with, but then again I didn’t plan a race time, so it was to finish, so again, I should be happy. Shortly after though, the calf injury returned.
Downslink Relay – 13.3 miles (Legs one and two) in December. Completed in 1:50:00-ish. Tick!
So the pattern of the year after January was: train for a race, get injured, get nervous about upping the training after injury for fear of repeating injury, finally start training again, do a race, get injured shortly afterward.
So, what have I learnt this year? Three things:
- Have a Plan. If you want to do something, it’s important to have a plan. The plan needs to be specific, and considered in accordance with the outcome you want to achieve. Running three times a week isn’t a plan, unless the plan is to run three times a week.
- Ignorance is Not Bliss. As with above, if you don’t know what you’re running for, it’s potentially junk miles, and potentially damaging to your plan. Know what’s right and wrong. Find out more.
- Learn from your Mistakes. You can learn much more about yourself from missed achievements than doing everything correct. But be sure to learn from the mistakes you’ve made.
I could go on, but I think those are the main ones.
So I begin 2016 with a renewed sense of purpose – at the last Club meet of the year, we had our annual ballot for the guaranteed London Marathon places for the club. Each year VLM provide the club with a number of places which are open to those club members with rejection letters/emails – i.e. you had to be in the ballot to qualify.
This was the first time I’d entered the ballot in ten years. I’d entered after a particularly inspiring view of the 2015 edition of the race, but received the rejection pack from VLM in October, complete with reject running top(!). It was a complete surprise when my name came out of the hat!
So, over Christmas, I got thinking about the task ahead. What’s the plan? What’s the target? What outcome am I searching for?
Going from recent training and races, it got me thinking that, injuries aside, I’d done some pretty fast times – a sub 21 minute 5k in winter, a sub 1:50 off-road half-marathon. Could I beat my Marathon PB, achieved in 2011 in Brighton? If I could do it, it would need better training.
I’ve spent the past week looking through many websites, asking the advice of more learned coaches, and have a training plan which I hope will get me a PB. It seems the Ill Prepared Runner may be learning something…
Beyond April, I’ve pencilled in Beachy Head Marathon again (always a favourite – the runners equivalent of Field Of Dreams in my opinion), a cycling holiday in September, and maybe two other marathons – possibly in June and December.
Time to make it happen…