Blue Runnings

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

A Year in Review – 2016

on 17 December 2016

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It’s been a month and a half since my last entry here, but it feels like an awful lot longer…I was expecting to log on and see it had been months! Saying that, just this week feels like it’s lasted about 10 days for some reason. The weekend could not come soon enough!

As Christmas fast approaches, I find myself going over 2016 and I confess to having found this year incredibly frustrating. I don’t think I’ll be the only one glad to see the back of it and hoping for a fresh start in January.

Having started the year determined not to spend as much time and money on races as I did last year (which was many £’s and nearly every weekend at one point!), the races I’d booked for this year were ones I’d really wanted to try from 2015 but for whatever reason couldn’t make it, or that I really enjoyed and wanted to do again. Looking over my calendar for this year, out of a total of 19 races booked across the year I missed 7 of them due to being either ill or just not fit enough to do them (one does not do a 10 mile race when one is struggling to do a 10k for example!). Of the 12 I did make it to, I had a DNF on one and nearly a DNF on another, and really struggled on a couple more. If this were Laser Quest, I would be losing rather badly!

I think the biggest thing I’ve learned this year is where my running limits are. My maximum running distance at peak fitness so far seems to be about 16 miles, and I shouldn’t try to run a half marathon every weekend several weeks in a row. I am however comfortable running 8-10 miles every or every-other weekend when ‘fit’. I tried to do far too much far too fast at the start of the year, and to be honest that’s over-shadowed the rest of my year.

I recovered from my post-marathon-attempt fatigue when summer was coming into full bloom – and any of you who’ve had the misfortune of being here a while will know I tend to disappear into a dark cave in the summer and don’t come out – heat and I just don’t get on and it always seems to come out on top! Something I did start doing this year was going out on the bike with one of the guys from work most Wednesday’s when work permitted – and I think this is all I can credit with me not being completely back to square one from a fitness point of view across the rest of this year, because I definitely haven’t been running frequently enough for that to have really helped! I’ve done a total of 165 miles on the bike this year, compared with 15.5 miles the year before, which is not to be sniffed at for someone who’s not really a bike fan!

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I’ve definitely hit some much longer mileage runs this year (I managed to half-run, half-stagger my way round 20 miles and hit 16 a couple of times), but the difference in my running between 2015 and 2016 is very evident in the total mileages in the two years. In 2015 I ran a total of 531.8 miles. 2016 to date is only 356.9 miles – and 100 of those were in January so you can see I really haven’t been out much since then! 250 miles in the other 11 months gives me an average of 22 miles a month, which for someone who used to be out 3x a week is not much at all…

I think the biggest thing I’ve struggled with this year is balance: as well as doing far too much at the start of the year from a running point of view, I’ve been ill a few times which is unusual for me, and pretty much the entire rest of the year has been something of an unpredictable disaster from a work point of view – resulting in some long hours and a very busy and somewhat frustrated brain. Sometimes I’ve really needed a run to sort my head out, but also been very much in need of a rest and it’s hard sometimes to choose which one to go for. So, we make the choice to reach for the chocolate cake – resulting in me still being mentally stressed, and adding into the mix being less fit and putting weight on and all the mental baggage that goes with knowing that! I have made a lot of very healthy choices this year 😉

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Getting back into reflective mode, I noticed when I logged onto here this evening, that one of my old posts giving an overview of my winter lights still gets a fair amount of views – looking in more detail it’s actually my most viewed post this year, despite being written 2 years ago. I actually moved that post to the trash tonight as I felt that I was misleading people by recommending gear I no longer use, but then reversed that and just put an addition at the start of the post with my new findings instead. Scrolling back through my old posts to get back to it though made me miss how optimistic I was back then (she says, feeling ancient talking about her two-years-ago self) – I was still logging every single workout as a blog entry (and I’m afraid that’s not coming back – that I don’t miss!) and I was enjoying the act of writing as well as of what I was writing about. It’s something I find quite therapeutic 🙂 There’s photos of me and my friends out enjoying ourselves and just making the most of being out and about – there’s not many from this year and I look like I’m about to pass out in several (which surprisingly enough, I haven’t shared with you all 😉 )

I moved talking about my day-to-day stuff to my facebook page and just kept the race reviews on here, which was fine, but with a lot less races particularly in the second half of the year I wasn’t writing many blog entries. Finding the workouts I did do harder and not wanting to sound like a moaning minnie all the time, as I don’t like to feel like that let alone the few of you who regularly read this likely getting sick all the time of my moping, I stopped really writing anything on facebook at all. For example, my last bike ride a few weeks ago I managed to come flying off my bike in a quite spectacular fashion not once but twice and you were all blissfully unaware until this moment! My knees are still scabby now…

I’m trying to focus on looking forward and making sure I set myself up for 2017 to be more reflective of 2015 – I’ll be doing a lot more 5k and 10k races I hope, with the odd half marathon thrown in as a stretch distance.

I’m very aware that some of my keenest memories over the last few years have been achieved while running – the despair of knowing you’ve taken on something you just can’t finish right now; a distance or terrain you’ve done before is now a lot harder than it should be because you pushed yourself too hard and haven’t got the fuel in the tank anymore; or when you just can’t be bothered anymore.

It must be said these memories in particular are restricted to just 2016, and fortunately I have many, many more of a much more positive nature: running a distance you’ve never hit before but have trained for and know in your bones you will finish because you can;  being fit enough not to be phased when the terrain says ‘hilly’ because you’ve got it so that you run hills all the time without issue – and it’s not a big deal if you walk that one anyway as long as you enjoy the rest; running with your friends just because you enjoy each others company and it’s a great way to catch up; meeting new people and new friends either out and about or through a group session – and the way there’s always a familiar face who welcomes you back even if you drop off the planet every summer and they haven’t seen you for months; and the feeling of a sprint finish at the end of a race when you’ve got nothing left in the tank and are just so relieved to see that line – or a friend has managed to catch up behind you and you are not being overtaken with 200 yards to go!

Running and I have had a rough year, but we’ll get the sunshine and the good memories building again – as long as that sunshine’s on a freezing cold, crisp, still winter’s morning 😉 I’ve already started in preparation for January – I’m making sure I don’t eat all the Christmas goodies in one afternoon (trust me, I’ve got previous!), and I even took myself out for a run tonight – it was flat, short and pretty slow and I felt a bit like a sack of potatoes, but baby steps are still steps! We’re not starting from Square One, but maybe Square Three – I’ll be building up the distance, and hopefully some speed, while I get my confidence back on the flatter routes and then the hills of Consett and Leadgate won’t know what’s hit them (except for Blackhill – one does not run up Blackhill!).

To those of you who continue to support me even when I’m being a proper running grump – thank you, it means more than you know.

See you out there!

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One response to “A Year in Review – 2016

  1. 2017 will be better Sarah! I think it takes a few years to evaluate progress and what your potential is (with running) – at least if you’re a relative newcomer to it. After completing my first 8 mile race recently (which involved some walking!) I am more at peace with improving my 10k times next year and have no desire to take on a half marathon! Your achievements are to be celebrated – there will be more to come 😃 x

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