Keep on keeping on

Posted on: 04 Dec 2018

For what is pretty much the first time this year, I’m not marathon training. No programme to follow, no distances to log, no cross training or carb loading. In theory I should probably be resting post-Snowdon and giving my body a break. But running so frequently this year has become almost habit forming. So I’ve carried on, quietly but consistently, heading out at least three times a week.

Distance-wise I’ve not been much over seven miles, or an hour of running, and it’s taken some adjusting to get used to dark mornings and nights, occasional drizzle and very cold temperatures. But I figured it’s best to get myself into winter mode now so that come the New Year it isn’t a shock when training begins in earnest for my first stab at the Brighton Marathon.

Also confirmed is my place in the Stafford Half Marathon in March and a return to Snowdon in October – after all, how could I resist another call from those mountains!

Any other runs for next year are ‘TBC’ and my plans largely depend on how things go at Brighton, where once again I have my eyes on that thus-far elusive four hour finishing time. I’m persistent, if nothing else. Or should that be stubborn?

There’s also a growing feeling that 2019 should be the year I have my first crack at an ultra, but I haven’t made up my mind for sure yet. With eight marathons under my belt now, it seems like a logical next step. I’ll start doing some research and am open to recommendations, so long as there is little or no navigation involved (definitely not a strong point of mine).

Back to the present and last weekend I had a rare child-free moment, so teamed up with big brother to run Perry Hall parkrun. This was my 11th parkrun and, fittingly enough, I came home in 11th place. I was really pleased with the time too which, at 21:02, turned out to be my second fastest ever 5k.

Talking of James, I haven’t really had the chance to mention his fantastic achievements from this year, most notably making his marathon debut at the highly challenging Beachy Head event. It fell on the same day as Snowdonia. How amazing to think these once unfit brothers would end up being at opposite ends of the country simultaneously running 26.2 miles!

He regularly vlogs about his runs and has a YouTube channel for anyone who fancies taking a look. I’ve guested on a few and when he vlogs from parkrun events he usually tries to grab a word with each race director. 

It makes a change from the written word, although the latter is still my preference for expressing my feelings about running.

This leads nicely to an approach I received a few weeks ago from the editorial team at RealBuzz asking me to contribute to their next magazine feature on running and mental health, which I was happy to do. The topic crops up now and again in my write ups because, as most of you know, I’ve had to tackle a few related personal issues over the last year or so.

I’m far from being an expert on the subject but I know how running makes me feel and I reckon I can articulate that pretty well given that writing is the mainstay of what I do for a living. Anyway, I’ve responded to a series of questions, offered my opinions and we’ll see what appears in the final edit.

And that, fellow Buzzers, is really as far as things have gone since the highs of Snowdonia. Before the end of the month I’ll be trying to summarise my thoughts on the year that was because for me it’s been a big one – doubling my marathon tally, bettering many of my PBs, but also learning the hard way how important it is to fuel correctly when distance running.

I’ve covered more miles in a year than I’ve ever managed before (likely to top 1,200 before the days are out) and fortunately managed to stay pretty much injury free.

But that can wait. For now, I need to concentrate on getting ready for Christmas (which will, of course, include a Christmas Day parkrun). So I’ll sign off and wish everyone the very best for the festive season. Eat, drink, be merry, celebrate with your loved ones and if you are continuing to run, then run strong.

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