March – Back in the fells but not out of the woods.

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After first picking up a niggle 11 weeks ago, which then developed into something a lot more which stopped me running entirely for 6 weeks, I finally made my return to running in the last week of March!

Back to the beginning of the month.

March carried on in the same foot steps as February, no running what so ever. I told myself this month that I wasn’t going to rush back this time and try and run until I’m totally pain free, as trying to run through the pain is what kept setting me back through the end of January and February.

The first step was to defer my place in the London Marathon. I knew in February that it was very unlikely I was going to be able to take part in London but kept holding off making any decisions on it just in case things picked up with the injury, but this was always on my mind and putting pressure on myself to get fit and train again. The moment I deferred my place I felt a massive weight off of my shoulders, and didn’t feel as disappointed about missing out on one of the biggest marathons as I thought I would. I also had a half marathon booked for the beginning of March which I also cancelled, just to relieve myself of any commitments that might make me rush back into running. There was a Fell race at Hope towards the end of the month that I had my eye, but I said to myself that I wouldn’t do that if I didn’t feel right.

Now with no commitments I could just put my feet up and relax, recover properly and give my foot the rest it needs. I was planning on doing exercises, stretches, and static bike routines, but after just a few days I gave up on that as I’m not cut out for that unfortunately.

Time off.

Even though I had every intention of trying to stay fit through my recovery period, I just don’t have the mind frame and commitment for it. I knew that staying fit would be half of the battle done when I came back to running, but Iv always said that I don’t particularly enjoy going out for training runs and only do it so I’m on my game for races, so the thought of just staying indoors and stretching etc was too tough for me.

You know what? I actually really enjoyed the time off of running and doing everything else. It gave me chance to spend some quality time with my partner and daughter, something that is hard to do when you’re out training 4+ times a week. The only downside to this was that I started wondering if I’d ever want to run again, which I know sounds a bit extreme but its how I felt. I was enjoying family time, chilling in front of the telly, and all the other perks of having time on my hands too much, and was getting use to it.

Along with this frame of mind I was in, the actual injury didn’t seem to be easing at all. I had another physio appointment which again left me coming away unsure what the problem was and how long I’d be sidelined for, which didn’t help my cause for wanting to return to running.

As days went on, and the pain still lingering everyday, I decided to go straight to a&e and get an x-ray, as I was starting to feel that this maybe a slight stress fracture. The x-ray at the time came back clear, and the consultant said it was plantar fascities, the same thing the physio said it was. A week later I received a phone call for the nurse saying that after further inspection the x-ray wasn’t as clear as they thought and would like me to return for another. Due to work and family commitments it was going to be at least a week until I could make it for another x-ray, which in that time I was starting to feel some improvements.

Back in the game

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As the month was drawing to a close, my fell race calendar was starting to pick up. Hope fell race was on the agenda but when the time came I still wasn’t quite right, and there was no way I was risking it now. On the last Monday of the month though it was the start of the Trunce series, one of my favourite races. Like every other race this month I was committing fully to it as I didn’t want to rush back, but I was feeling so much better and felt I could run, so I decided to go. I gave myself an hour to warm up before hand, as I hadn’t run for 6 weeks so if I didn’t feel right I could of backed out and spectated. After just a few minutes I knew…..I was back!! It was the first time in 11 weeks that I’d ran without any pain what so ever, and what a feeling that was.

I went into the race knowing I wasn’t match fir though, so I started in the middle of the field and took it steady…ish. Its amazing how much fitness you lose in 6 weeks, it was a real struggle……..I knew I should of done some training while I was off!

I got through the race without any dramas, and although I was 5 minutes slower than my normal pace here, I loved every second of it, and I was just so happy to be back.

Looking ahead

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Looking over to Win Hill, Peak District

With that successful run done on the Monday night, I decided to have a couple of recovery days before going back to the Peak District on the Thursday for another run out. I took my camera equipment as photography is a hobby of mine, and fell running is perfect for photography as you can get to the trig points in no time and get some great shots. This also means I’m not running for the whole trip, so I’m not knackering myself up, ideal for just my second run back in 6 weeks.

I ended up doing 5 miles around Hope Valley, stopping regularly to take photos. This climbs really did take it out of me, legs and lungs. It made me realise I’v got a lot of work to do before I’m going to be back where I was, but its work I’m willing to do.

On this little run I did start to feel a pain in my plantar facia again though, which wasn’t enough to stop me running but was uncomfortable at times. I’m not worried about this, its just making me aware that I do have to take it steady for awhile and not come straight back into doing 40 miles a week. I’m not out of the woods yet.

I know its going to take time before I’m back chasing pb’s, but just been back fell running, and running in general is a great feeling so there no rush for results. There’s plenty of races in April to ease m back into things and hopefully this time next month I’ll be that little bit closer to my best.

As for London, I made the right decision and I’ll be ready to give it my best next year. I wish everyone else running all the best and I hope they have the most amazing day, but I wont be watching as Iv got a fell race that day now…….keep my mind off of what of could have been.

January – All roads lead to London

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As we entered 2018 there was only one thought for me…..marathon training was imminent! As someone who has never trained for a specific event before, this was all new to me and a bit hard to take. Up until now all Iv done is the odd 10k road race here and there and fell races, all of which I haven’t felt the need to train out of the ordinary and just do what I do. Being sensible though I knew I wasn’t going to stand a chance at London if I didn’t get a bit of help and guidance, and some structured training, so I took the plunge and decided on a lactate test….

The Lactate Test

Id heard about these Lactate test for sometime, and the results runners were achieving from them. As much as it interested me previously, I never felt the need before as I wasn’t aiming for any big results. Yes, of course I wanted to be faster, but it wasn’t important to me and I was slowly getting better results on the fells as time went on, so I didn’t bother with it.

As January came around though I was aware that training for London had to start, and I couldn’t just turn up at the start line on 22nd April on my current training regime, so I had to do something. The lactate test blew my mind, the information I got out of it about my body was amazing, with the main piece of info I took away was that for the last 3 years of running Iv not actually been touching my potential. The test finds out what your lactate threshold is, then shows you how to train to that using your heart rate, and basically Iv very rarely ran near my threshold!

After the 2 hour test I was given a training plan aimed at London, which would hopefully help me towards a sub 3hr marathon time. The training plan is like nothing iv ever done before, the sheer quantity of it was going to take a commitment of which Iv never had the motivation to do before, and the effort of the runs are also significantly harder than any training Iv done previously.

This was, and is, going to be a real test of my physical, and mental strength, but I’m hugely determined and want to come away from London in April thinking that the hard work had paid off.

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Treadmill session of the lactate test

The Training

The plan I was given consists of running 5 days a week, which mainly includes – 1 recovery run a week, 2 threshold runs, 1 tempo run, and then the standard long run on a Sunday. I quite enjoyed having some structure and routine to my training at first, and I found running to heartrate quite interesting which made the runs that little easier. The pace was a bit of a shock though, as even the recovery run was quicker than what I was use to. I know that the idea of the plan though is to get your body use to running at a quick pace, so that when your marathon comes along you can sustain the pace easier for longer.

This was all fun for the first 10 days, but then I started to struggle with the training……10 days in!! The commitment was getting hard, as juggling 12 hour shifts at work, family life which includes a 2 year and a partner who equally enjoys training, and then an hour of running was becoming a choir. The main difficultly I was, and still are finding though, are the niggles I’m getting. As a fell runner the majority of my training is done on trails, soft ground with loads of cushion, where now I’m doing 40-50 miles a week on tarmac, and Iv developed pains in my knee and foot. The knee issue was sore but I was managing to run on it, with just the occasional twitch which made me stop for a few seconds. However, I think nursing a dicky knee has had some impact on my opposite foot, causing it to be quite painful and swell. I am still managing to run on this as well, but I do need rest days more often and some ice on it regularly to keep it ok to run on. I know I should really rest for a lot longer than a day or two to completely sort the niggles out, but I don’t want to loose too many training days to niggles. Wrong attitude I know, but that’s just me.

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Taking precautions on injuries

Aside from the actual training there is the diet, which I thought would be the hardest part for me with this whole marathon training. Up until now Iv been fortunate to always eat and drink what I want and its never effected me, and because of this Iv never had the best diet. There wasn’t a day went past where I didn’t have chocolate, and pre packed sarnies for dinner, and most evenings id have a beer or two. Also, I never drank much water a day, and most days I wouldn’t drink any. Iv made a massive effort to change though which has surprised those around me, who also doubted me changing my diet. Iv hardly touched any sweet stuff this month, drank beer, and I’m consuming around 2 litres of water a day…….and I’m pretty proud of myself!

So what will February bring?

With January being the first month of training, it was a case of me just getting use to the change of lifestyle and adapting to the new training programme. Like I said earlier, I have found it hard at times but I’m enjoying seeing the improvements I’m making and its giving me all the incentive and motivation I need to keep at it.

Thankfully though, February brings with it some racing, and more importantly some fell races!! My first race of the month was today, a 10k road race in Dewsbury. Its known to be a flat fast course so I entered it with the aim for a PB, sub 36. I put a lot of pressure on myself for this, and said that I didn’t get a sub 36 then Id never manage a sub 3hr at London. I know this is nonsense but it was motivation for me, and it spurred me on…….and it worked! I ended up coming home with a new PB of 35:44 and even got a 5k pb in the process. It has set me up for a great month of training and a couple of fell races.

I really can’t wait to get back in the fells as its seemed ages since I was last there. As much as I’m enjoying seeing past splits and pb’s, I can’t wait to get back in the hills where you don’t really care about times and positioning, you just enjoy the adventure of it and the place your at.

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Fell running. My happy place.

So that’s month 1 of training for London Marathon. There’s already been some ups and downs, and some huge commitment, but I’m already seeing some improvement in my fitness and running. Hopefully February will be a little less stressful with some enjoyable races……..watch this space.

 

Looking Ahead

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PB at Doncaster 10k, coming in at 36:17

A Quick Look Back

Before I start waffling on about what goals and plans Iv got for 2018, I suppose it would be nice to have a quick reflection on the year just gone, because it was a big year for me and my running. Iv only been running 3 years so 2017 hasn’t got much competition, but out of the three years Iv been doing this sport, 2017 was a different class to the two years previous to it. I considerably upped my mileage last year to the previous years, and I competed in significantly more races two, hitting a total of 49 races/Parkruns.  I managed a good combination of fell races and Parkruns within those 49, and just 1 trail race and 2 road races to make the numbers up. I achieved numerous PBs in the fell running, and even winning my first prize in the sport on the last day of the year at the Oxpsring Amble’s Revenge fell race, coming 4th overall but 3rd in my age group. Iv also managed to get a 5k PB at Parkrun back in July (17:36) and a 10k PB at the Doncaster 10k in November (36:17), both of which were way above my expectations when I set my targets for 2017 last January. This leads me on to this year, as unlike last year I need to believe in myself a little more and set the bar higher, set goals that are hard to reach but will make me push.

The Goals

Up until now Iv just gone through the motions (no pun intended) with the running really, training regularly and putting the time in but nothing really structured or focused, just the same sort of distances at the same sort of pace. This year I’m going for it, I want to hit new heights and achieve things that I didn’t think was possible this time last year.

The main focus Iv got this year is the London Marathon. As a fell runner I never thought Id be doing a Marathon, especially London! I applied through the Ballot just on a spur of the moment thing, and the next thing you know Iv got a place. This means I cant just steadily train through the week and turn up and race like I do with the fell races, this is all a bit strange for me knowing I have to train properly and to a plan for this, and weeks in advance. I am really looking forward to the challenge of the training though and the race itself. My target time is sub 3 hours, which I know is a tall order but Iv got some experienced running friends around me to guide me in the right direction, and I’m determined to put the time and effort in. I’m very lucky to have this opportunity so I taking it by the scruff of the neck and going for it!

Its not all about London for me though, I’m somebody who loves competing and its why I do this sport, so I need to be racing regularly. Iv got a lot on this year away from running, we’re moving house in a few months and are also getting married in August, so a lot of my time will be focused on that. I do however want to try and get to as many fell races as I possibly can, just because its what I love doing more than anything and I want to achieve some good things with it.

 

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Kinder Down Fall Fell race 2017

Fell running aside I want to try and do a few more road races than I did last year, for the main reason that its where you achieve PBs. Fell running is just about going out for an adventure for me. Yes I want to run it as fast as I can and finish as high up the field as I can, but its not driven on miles per minutes and an that jazz, which is what I like about it. However, it is a buzz to run a fast road race and get a PB, so I want to compete in a few more this year and hopefully get some PBs……..

2018 Targets

1mile - sub 5mins
5k - sub 17mins
10k - sub 36mins
London - sub 3 hour

I will be entering a half marathon prior to London as its part of the plan, but I haven’t set a target time for a half as Iv never done one before or have any indication on what sort of time I’m aiming for. They’re are a few other events I want to take part in too, the South Yorkshire Cross Country being one of them. I managed to get to the last race of the series last year, my first ever cross country run, and I loved it, so Id like to complete in those this year.

I know its all a lot with everything Iv got going off this year, especially with work which takes a lot of my time up, which it does for most us, but I’m sure with some dedication and determination I can achieve it.

I’m really excited for this year, I feel really focused and determined to be my best……this is my year!!!