Category Archives: Post

SDW50: ringing the bell

The conclusion of my SDW50 2019 training has been brought forward. A lot has occurred since my last post. It has been a bit of a roller-coaster 5 weeks for me in terms of life/work stress and struggling with motivation and tiredness because of it.

I haven’t hit my weekly distance targets within my +/- 10km range for the last 5 weeks and that has made me doubt my ability to achieve what I originally intended at the South Downs Way 50 which is rapidly approaching – at the time of writing it is less than 48 hours away.

Week 9:Planned 104km / Completed: 51.1km (+961m)

Week 10:Planned 83.6km / Completed: 51.8km (+713m)

Week 11: Planned 90.1km / Completed: 46.3km (+476m)

Week 12: Planned 0km / Completed: 50.9km (+521m)

Week 13: Planned 0km / Completed at time of writing: 24.6km (+273m)

I have wavered with my decision making about whether or not to run a lot over the past two weeks, switching between two mindsets.

The first mindset is ‘It is what it is’ with a view to lining up on the day with no expectations and no goal other than to finish – if I beat my 2015 time or run a 50 mile PR, great. If I don’t, well, that doesn’t matter because I will have still covered 50 miles on foot, under my own steam and for me that is still an achievement in itself and particularly so considering how I have been feeling these past few weeks.

The second mindset, and the one which has won over, is ‘You know yourself, and you know if you line up, you’ll blow up and if you blow up and DNF you’ll beat yourself up’. The ‘It is what it is’ mindset works for some people but it’s just not me. I only really enjoy racing when I’m at or near my physical and mental best and right now I’m feeling physically mediocre and mentally shot! I think my training probably peaked somewhere around Week 8 or 9 and if the race had fallen then I would have been up for it. But it didn’t fall then, it’s falling now and right now I know that if I lined up I wouldn’t be able to control myself for long enough early on and the inevitable physical decline would be rapid and upsetting, likely falling between the 25 and 35km mark – not even half way through. I know that with the my current frame of mind I would drop out and DNF the minute I knew I had fallen out of the 8.5 to 9 hour finishing bracket – but not before a long, painful bout of mental self-flagellation. In essence if I lined up I would be setting myself up for a pretty long and shit day, and probably a month or more of the same afterwards. I hate DNFing because my head wasn’t in the game.

The best thing I can do for myself right now is to take a deep breath, relax, have confidence in my underlying base of fitness and faith and belief in my ability to get through hard times. It’s all good. In terms of my life stress I am already feeling better having made this decision and having spent the last two weeks working together with the wife-to-be to ensure our wedding day is memorably, exciting and fun for everyone. In terms of work stress, I have taken a step back from some extra duties that I had taken on outside of where my professional passion lies and refocused on what is important to me at work, and what I enjoy – providing excellent, innovative, trauma informed complex and multiple needs mental health support in a community setting.

It hasn’t all been bad these past five weeks! I have had some decent runs and enjoyed a few decent swimming and strength sessions too. I ran a great race at the Ashridge Boundary Run 16 miler, finishing with an 8 minute course PR and in 17th place – it was hard early on as I suffered with my mental game, but once my mind quietened down I felt great.

So what’s next? Well, over the next two weeks I’m going to take it easy and plan no training in at all. I’m going to run when I feel like it, swim when I feel like, pick up and put down heavy stuff when I feel like and do nothing when I feel like it. I am going to recharge my body and regain my positive mindset. After my reset I plan to run the Three Forts Challenge Marathon which runs on part of the South Downs Way on May 5th, and then after that I will run the North Downs Way 50 on May 18th. From there I’m getting married on June 15th and then heading into a summer of running a few 10k races and a half marathon.

As ever, my rock of a wife-to-be has been at my side throughout which has made the last few weeks much easier than they might have been had I been facing them alone. All in all, I am a fortunate and lucky man and I do well to remind myself of that every day.

SDW50: Weeks 5 to 8

Those of you who are regular readers of this blog will notice that this post is much shorter in length and more sparse in detail than usual.

I am surprised at this myself as the words normally come to me easily. All I can guess is that I have had a pretty intense month of life, work and training and the mental energy required to write an informative post is somewhat lacking!

Hopefully by the time my next post is due I will have regained that energy and will be able to write a more interesting piece.

Things that probably won’t come across below: I enjoyed teaching one of my nieces how to use a map on a simple orienteering course (Week 5), Sarah and I bought our wedding bands and enjoyed a day out in London Week 6), my treadmill training sessions have been both epic and fruitful Weeks 5-8), I have taken a real interest in CrossFit and strength training (Weeks 7-8).

My treadmill totals for Weeks 5 to 8:

  • 6th – 5.1km, +441m (Week 5)
  • 10th – 8.1km, +520m (Week 5)
  • 13th – 2.1km, +260m (Week 6)
  • 20th – 6.1km, +451m (Week 7)
  • 21st – 3.2km, +255m (Week 7)
  • 24th – 4.1km, +322m (Week 7)
  • 27th – 2.1km, +161m (Week 8)
  • Total: 30.8km, +2410m

Week 5

Planned 86.7km / Completed: 74.7km (+1097m)

I am going to be honest here, I have very little recollection of Week 5! This is even after reading back on my workout notes for the week. I had a tough week at work which hit my consistency and motivation and it seems like my mind has put the learning from this week into storage to draw on at a later time!

Week 6

Planned: 84km / Completed: 80.5km (+2037m)

This week is also a bit of a blur and that’s down to carrying a cold through the majority of it. My workplace settled down a little so the stress there wasn’t a drain and I managed to incorporate my first Tough 21 strength workout which is now an integral part of my week.

It was during this week that, DOMS aside, I found that strength training really does help stave of fatigue and pain during runs. Week 6 is when I made the commitment to looking into strength workouts that would challenge and test me, as well as making me a stronger runner.

At the end of the week I also got a monkey off my back that has been plaguing me throughout this block – I kept putting off running past 28km for some reason! So, on Sunday, I headed out to Wendover Woods and ran/hiked two laps of the WW50 course in unseasonably warm weather. It was hard work and very testing but I got it done and felt much more confident having done so. The mental block lifted somewhere around the 25km mark as I realised I still had the ability to at least go longer in training. I began to plan out some potential long routes in my head over the last 8km as I tried to engage my brain to distracts from the aches and pains of a 33km run

Week 7

Planned: 65.5km / Completed: 69.1km (+1593m)

Just like everybody else who is not a professional athlete, the stressors of work and life played their part again during this week. My car failed its MOT and was expensive to fix which was a great start to Monday! Then on Tuesday I found out that one of my former clients passed away which hung like black cloud across the rest of the week. Not an entirely unexpected death but shocking, premature and an emotional experience.

I put in some good running across the week and a great strength session, according to my training diary but as in Week 5 I have little recollection of the week!

This is turning into a really useful training post

Week 8

Planned 80km / Completed: 81.6km (+1150m)

Surprise, surprise! Another pretty intense week at work but a fantastic week of training culminating in a confidence boosting 40km training run on Saturday morning, followed by a confidence affirming 10km training run on Sunday evening in testing conditions – gale force wind and around seven different types of mud.

My 40km Saturday run was brilliant as I hovvered around the pace I’d like to achieve at my first race of 2019 – the West Pennine Ultra which will be at the end of Week 9. I also tested my nutrition for the race and found I had no troubles running within myself on 4 Shot Bloks, 1 Gu and 750ml of water

That’s it from me for this 4 week block. Onwards for Week 9 to 12!

SDW50: Weeks 1 to 4

Overall I am really happy with how my South Downs Way 50 training has started. I am also glad I started 4 weeks earlier than I had originally planned as these extra 4 weeks are going to prove invaluable in terms of building a base and consistency. Also valuable has been the continued commitment to weekly weight training, running at least once a week before work and the return of regular uphill treadmill hiking.

My treadmill totals for Weeks 1 to 4:

  • 12th – 5km, +355m (Week 1)
  • 17th – 3.2km, +371m (Week 2)
  • 20th – 1.1km, +167m (Week 2)
  • 21st – 6.2km, +660m (Week 3)
  • 30th – 2.1km, +248m (Week 4)
  • Total: 17.6km, +1801m

Week 1

Planned 65.9km / Completed: 65.1km (+962m)

The training block got off to a good start once I set my mind to it. However I soon realised that I was not going to be able to train in the pool as much or as easily as I thought if I was going to maintain any sort of balance with my home life and work life. This realisation, and some life changing events for a friend of mine led me to change my focus which I wrote about in Week 3.

Day 1, Week 1, Session 1: pre-dawn farm roads.

Week 1 saw a three double days and the commitment to running before work at least once a week started from day 1, Session 1. I ran doubles on Tuesday, Saturday and Sunday.

Week 2

Planned: 68.6km / Completed: 41.8km (+865m)

I started the week off feeling positive and raring to go. I began the week again with a pre-dawn morning run. As the week went on temperatures began to drop and I looked forward to some real winter running. Alas, things at work took off and then my week became a case of just getting runs done for some thinking and breathing space as opposed to focusing on distances and targets for the week.

I managed doubles on Thursday and Sunday – both back to backs. I ran trail to the gym and then onto the treadmill for uphill hiking workouts.

Sunday’s uphill dreadmill session.

I drove to the gym on Thursday, ran around the local park trails and then got changed for my weights session. I finished the weight session feeling good and still with time before Sarah finished her class so I decided to put in a decent treadmill session.

Sunday’s double was particularly memorable – although only short I was in full SDW50 kit having run to the gym to meet Sarah after her gym class. I arrived early so made the most of it!

Week 3

Planned: 94.4km / Completed: 90.3km (+1490m)

I got back on track in during week 3. Temperatures kept on falling and along with that came snow, ice and wind. This week was meant to be my first of two ‘peak’ weeks in terms of distance with Week 4 following as a taper into the Dartmoor Trail Marathon – as you will see as you read on to Week 4 this was cancelled so my plan had to change.

Cold, dark, wet, windy and happy!

Anyway, back to Week 3.

Not the perfect week by any means. I struggled with the increase in distance given that Week 2 was not the best build up to it! I got in some decent runs but towards the end of the week I was finding it difficult to maintain pace and motivation. So much so, in fact, that I abandoned my long run on Saturday and cut it down to a 10km hike/run (mostly hiking with x3 1km run sections). I turned Saturday into a double though, and headed out after dark for 6km. I figured I owed it to myself and to my fiancé to get back out and cheer myself up! I kept the pace relaxed and stayed in the mud. I could have chosen an easier road based loop but I felt it wouldn’t satisfy me as much as getting out in the rain, wind and darkness. I made the right choice.

That is something of note during this 4 week block – I have absolutely loved being out in the dark, the wind and the rain/snow/sleet. My daylight runs haven’t seemed to have had much pep or positive feeling to them – pre-dawn or post-sundown I seem to be happiest at the moment!

This bodes well for my plans later in the year and into 2020!

(Come to think of it, it bodes well for now as it doesn’t seem to be getting any warmer anytime soon, although the daylight hours are growing longer)

Week 4

Planned 82.6km / Completed: 91.3km (+1336m)

Two double days for Week 4 and the commitment to run at least once a week before work is still intact! Twice this week, farms roads on Tuesday morning and icy/snowy trails on Wednesday morning. Week 4 also saw the commitment to weight training still going strong.

Tuesday’s second run was great as it was the perfect antidote to the long, drab and frustrating day I had at work. I absolutely loved running into icy rain that turned to snow, over wet and muddy field edges in new shoes and gloves with removable wind mitt (it feels like your fingers have their own duvet). Perfect! I felt great over rough ground and fast too – I always try to put in a strong effort in new shoes and I was glad to bag a Strava CR for the maiden voyage of my 6th pair of La Sportiva Helios SR. Yes, 6! I cannot get enough of these shoes and wax lyrical about them to anybody who asks about what I believe to be the best trail shoes (all down to personal choice in the end, but these are special). I should probably write a post about them one day…

La Sportiva Helios SR (6th pair, first run)

Anyway, I digress. Back to Week 4.

Wednesday, as I mentioned, I went out before work on the trails and then in the evening I warmed up for my weights session on the treadmill. As the week progressed I started to feel really strong physically and my mental game felt switched on for racing on Dartmoor over the weekend. I backed off on Thursday with no running and began to wind down and taper (aside from moving 900kg of firewood into the shed that evening). Little did I know that I would wake up on Friday, the day I had planned to drive down to Devon, to find disappointment and the need to rapidly reassess my weekend plans.

Long story short: it snowed a lot over Thursday night and the UK once again failed to properly prepare. Friday’s road situation was terrible and the RD of Dartmoor Marathon decided to move the race from Saturday to Sunday. This helped with my decision to withdraw from the race. I am glad I decided not to risk the travel for a Sunday race too as come Saturday afternoon the RD cancelled the race – the right decision I think judging by the fact that the rural roads of Devon were basically blocked by snow and ice and competitors from far and wide couldn’t even get to race HQ.

I was bitterly disappointed on Friday. I had the day off work and thought I would try and go out locally for a 42-45km effort in the snow. I’d like to say that I went out and made the most of a bad situation, and enjoyed myself. But I’d be lying if I said that! With the race postponement and impending cancellation I started with a really negative mindset.

Friday: Air Temp -1°C / Wind Chill -10 °C

Although I set off with full winter trail running kit, by the time I reached 8km I had already decided to cut it to 21km – I just wasn’t feeling mentally switched on to push it without anyone to compete against. I had gels and water bottles, and I had a 21km loop planned so I could use my car as an aid station after lap 1, but the desire wasn’t there. At the end of the run I went to the sauna and spa as my car was parked outside! I sat and adjusted my goals for the weekend and drank the water, sugary tea and fruit I had stashed in the aid/station car.

Friday: Leaden skies, searing winds

The plan turned from hard winter marathon racing to back to back trail half marathons and then a 25km on Sunday to see me surpass my original weekly target. It would also mean I set myself up nicely for an easy Week 5 before picking back up again! Friday night I found the GPX for the Dunstable Downs Challenge Half Marathon and vowed to give a good account on the course on Saturday afternoon.

I was in a much happier and positive state of mind than Friday. I went out and put in a decent effort that I really enjoyed and was really pleased with! I finished 4th on the Dunstable Downs Challenge Marathon route back in September and the day’s half marathon effort would have seen me finish 6th had I race that distance instead – not bad considering there was no snow or mud in September!

Saturday: sun and snowy trails

Saturday wasn’t as cold as Friday, with the sun shining and a gentle breeze as opposed to leaden skies and harsh wind. I took my gloves off at about 5km, and I didn’t need my jacket or hat. Although my legs felt quite heavy I found what rhythm I could given the conditions underfoot and tried to keep my pace up. I slowed for a bit after about an hour so I could change podcasts but that was it. Sunshine, snow, techno and quiet trails were exactly what I needed to forget about the Dartmoor Trail Marathon.

Saturday: views from Bedfordshire over to Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire

Saturday evening I plotted out a GPX course around a local Nature Reserve that I haven’t run before – 5km longer than Friday and Saturday’s efforts with more climbing too.

I slept really badly over Saturday night so I am surprised I pulled myself together to get out for Saturday’s long run before lunch time! I slept so badly, in fact, that I got out of bed at 2330 and wrote the majority of this blog post returning to sleep at 0200. I woke at 0815…

Once I’d had some porridge and coffee I started to feel more relaxed, less achy and motivated to bag another 90km week as a counter to the lack of racing.

I took it easy from the off with my main aim to just get around and to enjoy the movement, the scenery and running somewhere new. I felt tired almost from the start – a mixture of an awful night of sleep and two half marathons back to back in the days preceding. On the hiking climbs I felt it in my calf muscles, on the running sections I felt it in my hamstrings, but nothing could take the enjoyment away from being outside in the sunshine and fresh air.

The run had it all deep snow, ice crust, ploughed fields, mud and plenty of undulations along with a couple of big climbs. It was the perfect end to the week really and I can safely say I’ve earned a sub-90km week next week.

2019 – reconsidered

Throughout January I have been looking at my original list of 2019 Goals & Resolutions and weighing up whether or not I wanted the original list to dictate the direction I want 2019 to go.

Unsurprisingly, given this post, some things have changed from the original list.

The original list:

  1. Finish every race I start
  2. Improve my 50 Mile PR
  3. Run a sub-3 hour Marathon
  4. Improve my 10k PR
  5. Give my best at the ETU Aquathlon Championship
  6. Race a Cross Duathlon
  7. Keep up a regular weight training regimen

One of the biggest factors in my decision to refocus the year is that I am getting married in June and the other is that life is too short not to be doing the things you love the most. Therefore I have created a new list:

  1. Finish every race I start
  2. Improve my 50 Mile PR
  3. Run my first 100k
  4. Give my best at the Cheviot Goat Winter Ultra
  5. Keep up a regular weight training regimen
  6. Improve my 10k PR
  7. Run a sub-3 hour Marathon
  8. Give my best at the ETU Aquathlon Championship
  9. Race a Cross Duathlon

I have dropped a sub-3 hour marathon attempt as I have never, to this point, enjoyed marathon training! I was going to run the Abingdon Marathon in October which is a fast road course. Instead I have decided to change my autumn/winter focus to running my first 100k and then a month later to running the Cheviot Goat Winter Ultra. Why? Well, because as much as I enjoy running fast on the roads, I love running and hiking hard over rough ground! The 100k isn’t going to be easy – the White Rose Ultra in Yorkshire takes place the first weekend of November and covers two 31.7km loops with +2700m of ascent.

A month later it’s one of the toughest ultras in the UK, the Montane Cheviot Goat.

88km with +2840m of ascent, a loop of the largest hills in the England/Scotland border region. The race starts in December when most livestock are brought off the hills and only the hardy feral Cheviot goat is left to fend for itself, hence the name of the event. There are no course markings, it starts in the dark at 0400hrs and the vast majority of the route is inaccessible to vehicles. I’ll be facing peat covered hills, grassy banks and a run along the border ridge with Scotland on one side and England on the other. It’s going to be a real challenge on so many levels – navigation, mental toughness, freezing temperatures, a lot of running in the dark – I cannot wait.

Training in the cold and dark, January 2019

The other things to have dropped from the original list are travel to Romania for the European Triathlon Union Aquathlon Championships and my first cross duathlon. Firstly, the cross duathlon will not fit with the training block for White Rose 60 and Cheviot Goat so that was a simple decision to make.

The decision to drop from the ETU Championship wasn’t so easy but in the end I looked at the cost of the endeavour and the cost did not sit well with me for short distance race. I enjoy racing aquathlon, this is true, but I like it as a getaway from long distance running once in a while. I am good at it, good enough to qualify for the GB Age Group team, but I don’t love it enough to spend a fortune on it (GB Tri-suit: £130, Flights: £400 each, Car Hire: £100, Hotel: £200 each)!

Sarah (my fiance) and I have decided together to divert the money from the ETU to a relaxing holiday together in Ibiza instead – as I said above, you have to do what you love, life’s too short not to do otherwise.

So there we have it, 2019 reconsidered. I am really looking forward to the year ahead. I’m 3 weeks into training for a 50 mile personal best and it’s going well and I have done 6 weeks of weight training so far. All is well!

South Downs Way 50, 2019

The last time I ran the South Downs Way 50 (heretofore; SDW50) was in 2015. At that point I had completed 2 ultras of 40 miles and 45 miles. I ran a personal best of 9:02:55 and it has stood since then.

When I lined up for the race I had no plan in mind, I didn’t pay much attention to pacing and I didn’t have any real idea of how to fuel myself through an ultra. Now, four years later, I have 11 ultra finishes along with three ultra DNFs and 7 marathons (3 road, 4 trail). Alongside the long stuff, I’ve also ran plenty of shorter races too. Along the way I have learned a lot about running ultras, racing at lots of distances, and about myself. I feel in a good place to put in another attempt at my 50 mile personal best.

Tomorrow, January 8th 2019, I start Week 1 of my 13 week SDW50 training plan and I am raring to go and looking forward to putting the work in. My training plan isn’t high mileage because I’ve found that doesn’t really work for me. What does work is consistency and frequent racing. Below is my running plan, which will also be supplemented by mountain biking and three swims per week:

Another thing I have learned over the years, and particularly last year, is that I seem to do better (and feel happier) when I don’t hold myself rigidly to a weekly distance. The plan above is a guide and I won’t really mind if I run +/- 10km on any given week. Any more and I will probably burn out, and any less is too little for the goal.

The basics of my plan, as it sits on Training Peaks and in my head:

  • Monday: Rest
  • Tuesday: Speed (I plan to train with my club)
  • Wednesday: Easy Run (AM) / Swim Workout (PM)
  • Thursday: Tempo Run (AM) / Weights Session (PM)
  • Friday: MTB to work, pool and then home (c.32km) / Swim Workout (PM)
  • Saturday: Race or Long Run
  • Sunday: Easy Run (AM) / Swim Workout (PM)

The AM sessions are a new thing and something I have struggled to commit to and maintain with consistency over the years. I have set my alarm 30 minutes earlier each morning, so I will now be getting up at 0530hrs with a view to being out on the run by 0600hrs. I find it much easier to get going with 30 minutes of open eye time as opposed to rolling straight out. The reality is that I have to make this work and I have to commit to it if I want to maintain my swimming and weight training. The weight training will benefit my running and I am off to the European Aquathlon Championship (Age Group) in July so the swimming is absolutely vital.

There we have it. Call it public accountability, or call it motivational self-talk (or both), but it’s out there now so I am going to do my best to achieve the goal of improving my 50 mile PR. Will that improvement be 30 minutes, 15 minutes, an hour (or more), or just mere minutes?! Only time will tell and I have decided to keep my target to myself for now.

I will be posting a training update at the end of Week 4, 8 and 12 with a race report at the end of the endeavour.

I hope you enjoy the read and take some inspiration where you can!

2019 Goals & Resolutions

I’m going to keep this short, sweet and simple! Below are the things I would like to achieve by the end of 2019 in life and in sport:

Endurance Sports

  1. Finish every race I start
  2. Improve my 50 Mile PR
  3. Run a sub-3 hour Marathon
  4. Improve my 10k PR
  5. Give my best at the ETU Aquathlon Championship
  6. Race a Cross Duathlon
  7. Keep up a regular weight training regimen

Life

  1. Marry Miss Sarah Kathryn Lock in June
  2. Progress in my career (be that promotion or service expansion, or both)

2018 in Review

Overview

It’s safe to say that this has to be one of the best years of my running life so far! Last year was tough but it set the foundation for success in 2018.

I have set personal bests at 5k, 5 Mile, 10 Mile, Half Marathon, Marathon and 50k. I have also qualified for the British Triathlon Age Group Team for Aquathlon and will be going to the European Championship in Romania next year!

I have finished 4th at a trail half and a trail full marathon. I finished 2nd at a trail 5k and I won a trail 20 miler. In addition I finished 12th at a trail 50k, 14th at a mixed terrain 10k and 15th at a road 10 mile.

The secret? I took the pressure off. Most of my running, be that training or racing, has been without hard and set goals attached – in races I’ve lined up at the start with a view to giving what I could on the day and nothing more, and in training if I felt the need for a break or a slower session I gave myself room for it.

Best Race

Tring 50k – paced really well, surpassed my expectations, set a 37 minute PB and finished 12th overall. Here’s my race report:

I focused on pacing, not racing and it worked out well! The first 12 or 13km are pretty flat so I aimed to average 4:40pkm there and once we headed onto the trails around Wendover I adjusted to between 5:00 and 5:15pkm. I had a loose plan to hike all the ups after 15km and I stuck to that, as well as running all the downs and all the flat. Overall I was aiming for 5 hours so to run 4:35 was amazing!

Around the 30km mark and looking strong!

I listened to music again for the whole race which I really find helpful at the moment. I ate 8 Shot Bloks and drank a lot of water and I knew about it by 35km – from there to the end I felt a bit sick and wasn’t able to eat anything else for the rest of the journey!

I thought I’d finished 7th overall, initially the timing system said 4th! Final result turned out to be 4th Age Group and 12th overall.

I felt really happy all the way through, even when I felt sick! I smiled a lot, hummed to myself a fair bit and spent portions of the race thinking about different things I’m grateful for in my life. Worked wonders!

Worst Race

Chiltern 50k – repeated same mistakes as the first time I ran it!

Around the 30km point. Shortly after this section I started to fade.

Although I finished 9 minutes quicker than in 2016 and 8 places higher up the field I failed to drink enough water given the high temperature and abandoned my plan to eat little and often along the way. Annoyingly I was on pace for what would have been a PB up to around the 32km mark and then BOOM – my energy levels sank, I began to dehydrate quite drastically and basically walked it in with 5km to go. I won’t be returning to this one in 2019 as it won’t fit with the ETU Aquathlon Championship. I will be tempted to come back and do better in 2020 though!

Best Moment(s)

Running in the foothills of the Himalaya in May.

Getting engaged in the jungle above Rishikesh.

Detaching myself from weekly mileage targets and finding that a more relaxed approach to training really works for me.

Worst Moment

Although I was still pleased at the end of the race, I was extremely disappointed to be dropped from 2nd into 4th with 2km to go at the Kings Forest Half Marathon in October – I had been in 2nd from about the 500m mark and was giving all I had. I could feel myself fading with about 3km to go but I hadn’t realised how close (and how fast) the guys in 3rd and 4th were running.

Favourite Run(s)

My first run in Mcleod Ganj, India was amazing! I ran through the streets of the town, and then up a winding mountain road to the village of Dharmkot before turning onto a mountain track leading up into the foothills of the Himalaya. The views were breathtaking and the run itself was challenging on the way up, and fast on the way down!

2018 also saw some UK based firsts – I ran from my Dad’s house to my house (20 miles), I ran from my Nan’s house to my Mum’s house (10 miles) and I went for a run with my brother a few times as he randomly decided to give running a go in the summer. I also ran a lot with Sarah through spring, summer and autumn which was great – it was amazing to see her race her first 5k and 10k too!

Running in deep snow, on local country roads in February was also a highlight – snow deep enough that I could comfortably run in trail shoes without ever breaking through to tarmac.

At the other end of the spectrum I ran on the treadmill in India a couple of times. The first time was in Bodhgaya where the outside temperature was 44°c and inside the air conditioning was appalling so the temperature was 37°c, I have no idea how but I managed to push on and run a 25:30 6km without throwing up or passing out!

The second time was the day before we were due to fly back. This time we were in Delhi and it was even hotter outside – 46°c! Thankfully we were in a 5 Star hotel so the air conditioning was much better and I ran a 33:00 8km in 30°c before heading out to the outdoor pool for a cool down.

In 2018 I also trained with friends more than I have ever done before, as well as committing to Gade Valley Harriers running and triathlon club. It has been a year full of enjoyable and varied running both solo and with friends and I am really looking forward to 2019!

Favourite Kit
I tried and tested a lot of low volume race vests and waist belts in 2018 for use in 50k and trail marathons, as well as long training runs. I can safely say that the Mountain Hardwear Singletrack vest is not only the cheapest out there but also the most comfortable and easily adjustable in a crowded market. Pair it with UltrAspire soft bottles and you’re good to go long!

2018 also saw the purchase of my second pair of Adidas Adizero Boston for road running and my 4th and 5th pairs of La Sportiva Helios SR for trail running.