Blue Runnings

Race Reviews, GPX files and more from North-East England

Endings and Beginnings

on 31 December 2015

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I’m not usually one for new resolutions; every new second, minute, day, week, month is an opportunity to make a new start for yourself so I’ve never really been particularly bothered about January the 1st coming round again, I certainly don’t really wait for it before doing anything. This year however I find myself thinking about what I want to do for myself in the year going forward. Even just within the fitness part of my life, 2015 has been a year of many firsts for me and I find myself wondering what 2016 will bring and where I’ll be and what I will have done this time next year. How much fitter will I be or how much further will I have travelled and what new things will I have seen?

Before I get too hung up in leaping forward, I’d like to briefly take stock of where I’ve been and what I’ve achieved this year. Everyone always has goals of where they want to be, and they’re always faster, or further, or fitter than where they are now – regardless of what they were 5 minutes ago or where they’ve come from. I am exactly the same, but I am also really proud of how where I am now – even with a somewhat haphazard approach to training and a more turn-up-and-see approach than a strategic one to races.

I started this blog in February to chart J and I’s journey to the Great North Run from first learning we’d gotten through on the ballot right through to the race itself in September. The race itself already feels a long time ago, particularly now it’s cold, wet and windy and dark at 4pm, let alone the start of the year when I was first trying to get my head around this blogging malarky! It’s certainly been an interesting experience getting it all to work, and seeing what goes on behind websites, where traffic is coming from (not that I get a huge amount), and who’s looking at what – or refreshing the homepage when they know I’m working on an entry so they can see it straight away so my page views suddenly go sky-high in a very short timeframe…don’t know who that could be 😉

The two biggest milestones in my running calendar for 2015 are obviously the two half marathons I’ve run – one which I actually trained for and felt vaguely prepared for, and the other which I didn’t… My first ever half marathon was the Rock ‘n’ Roll series one in Liverpool, and nerves had me out running 9-11 miles every other weekend, and 10k in between with a few weekly gym and running sessions thrown in. I was hitting about 50ish miles a month the two months before hand and was in the best shape I think I’ve been in since I was 18. I was on top of the world!

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The second half marathon was of course the iconic Great North Run, and this was special not so much for me actually running the thing (old hand at this sort of thing now you know [totally not!!!]), but because I got to watch a friend of mine achieve a goal she’d been working on for months starting from a running newbie in the New Year. J had done the GNR before, many many years ago (dare I say decades? Will she hit me? Probably!) and with a big X-0 birthday hitting this year she set her stall out to run it again. No walking breaks, no wussing it, tackle the whole 13.1 miles. J the Machine absolutely nailed it – non-stop in under 3 hours and it was a great privilege to cross the line with her, I think I was more tired than she was!

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I was looking through my calendar for 2015, and I have done a total of 31 different races across the country this year from Bamburgh in the North-East down to Liverpool in the West. I have also in doing so spent an alarming amount of money on races…I don’t want to add up how much it’s been in entry fees, parking, travel costs… I’m intending to cherry pick only my favourites and special ones this year but I hope to still see some new and special places while I do so. We shall see if I succeed of if 2016’s count actually exceeds 2015’s as I find many ‘interesting’ races to do.

I think this year I’ve experienced most running experiences in training runs and races: there’s been can’t-see-a-thing-soaked-through-rain (Sunderland 10k), last-of-the-summer-sunburn (GNR), sideways hail (Run England – that hurt!), snow, races where I felt completely in ‘The Zone’ (Kielder), and one’s where while I love the setting I really don’t want to be there today and please don’t make me run up that hill (Gateshead Trail). I’ve tried cross-country, and loved (Aykley Heads) and hated it (Tanfield), I’ve run on roads, trails, beaches, bogs, done an assault course race, managed not to break anything, spent far too much money on trainers and had to purge my t-shirts pile at least twice to get it in the cupboard. I’ve been hiking in Ireland and along Hadrian’s Wall, eaten my own body weight in chocolate in Belgium, and even been persuaded onto a bike twice!

All in all, it’s been something of a jam-packed year!

How do you go forward from that? Well, you find more goals to stretch yourself and you find new places to go, things to see, people to meet and dynamics to live by.

My biggest challenge for next year is now only 3 months away, the Dark Skies Marathon at Kielder in March. I was hoping to hit the half marathon distance for year end and haven’t quite made it – 11 miles on New Year’s Day with J will be my longest so far, and as I don’t seem to be doing so well randomly turning up for things, I’ve tried to draw up my own marathon training plan. There’s a long run, a gym session, a training session and 1-2 ‘other’ runs per week, and 2 rest days, but each exercise session doesn’t necessarily fall on the same day of the week depending on what P’s working. I want to do this run and be prepared for it as much as I can, but I also don’t want it taking up all my home-time either. We’ll find out after the event how well it actually worked!

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My overall aim for the year isn’t to complete a marathon, though I will get round it in one shape or another, with or without my feet! I want to feel like this again:

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This photo was taken the evening before the Liverpool half marathon, and I felt genuinely happy in my own skin. I have no idea what I weighed, I was wearing the same clothes size I am today, but I felt fit and healthy and strong. After Liverpool I dropped off a lot of the extra exercise sessions I’d picked up in training for it – I haven’t been back to the gym doing the bigger weights since, and I stopped doing a lot of the longer runs through the summer – which contributed to my ill-preparedness for the GNR when that loomed around. I want to get back to feeling like that and then maintain it. I’m using Kielder and my new training plan (watch this space in 2 weeks to see if I’m sticking to it – Personal Trainer J has her stick prepared!) to hopefully get me back to that stage, and then I think I will come up with a slightly less hardcore training plan to keep me going out after Kielder, the danger being I go back to being a vegetable as soon as I cross the finish line.

Many of my fitness aims for 2016 are focused mainly around the first half of the year, I don’t know where I’ll be by the summer so can only plan for the next few months!

  • Run a marathon (without brain-screaming too much beforehand)
  • Go to 15 parkruns this year – there’s 5 on the training plan already, I only did about 3 this year…must do better!
  • Get <30 mins at Blackhill Parkrun. I hit sub-30 5k just in time for year end; Blackhill is reputedly the toughest parkrun around and I will get there!
  • Get <1hr 10k. This one has eluded me for 2015, I set my best time at the Tyneside 10k in April, and pretty much matched it at Kielder which I was pleased with given the terrain was tougher, but I need to find a nice flat one to just put this to bed!
  • Eat less crap. Not a particularly quantifiable target I will concede but I thought I’d try keeping a food diary at least for the post-Christmas period while the house is still full of junk food in the hope that if I have to write it down I will be less inclined to gorge myself on it. I’m not really fussed about calorie counting or weight loss, as I weigh the same now as I did at the start of the year and am a dress-size smaller, and I will need calories to keep me going – I just need them to come from the right sources 🙂
  • Do a Pasty Run. There have been at least 3 since I joined the Bounders – run from Shotley Bridge to Gibside along the Derwent Walk, fill face with pasties, go home. Should be easy right?! For various reasons I haven’t managed to make a single one this year! Must do better 🙂
  • Update my blog more. After the GNR I decided I wasn’t going to write an entry for every single exercise session I did as I had been trying to do, it was taking up too much time and causing me too much stress, and I would just do race reviews with my exercise quick-reports going straight onto my facebook page (tick for that one at least!). I’m intending, for the sake of my bank balance if nothing else, not to do as many races next year but I want to do weekly reports while I’m training for Kielder so I’m accountable to myself regularly for staying on track with my plan, and at least monthly after that. Writing regularly did at least keep me going out not wanting to have a conspicuous gap between updates incase anyone noticed I wasn’t doing anything!

I’ve got my new calendar and stickers ready, lots of shiny new gear ready for the New Year (I do not need to buy trainers for the next 2 years – remind me of this!),  and a supportive family, friends and running club – the only way is forwards.

Bring on 2016…

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One response to “Endings and Beginnings

  1. Fab round up Sarah and well done you for everything you have achieved this year! Looking forward to next year and maybe sharing some races too x

    Like

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