John looks back, takes stock, reflects & carries on regardless.

18th December 2015

Looking back, taking stock, reflecting & carrying on regardless

As is customary when the year draws to a close, it’s time to look back, take stock, reflect (insert anodyne cliché here) and think about what has been achieved and where one fell short. This is traditionally followed by ignoring all the lessons of the previous year and setting 3-5 ridiculous goals that can only lead to a similarly downbeat review in 365 days’ time… what’s the definition of insanity again?

2015 was genuinely a year of two halves, or at least a year of 2/3rds and 1/3…

London

Photo.  Losing form but still get some flight time!

January – August

There’s probably no way to describe this period other than the best running I’ve ever done. Yes, there were some disappointments (a poor showing at Southern XC, a DNS at National XC and some GI issues once again meaning I finished London feeling like I hadn’t achieved my potential) but I also set PBs at every distance from 3000m to the marathon and that’s got to be the headline.

2015 started in style with a big PB at a frosty Brass Monkey half. It was made all the more pleasing coming so early in the season and as the result of a well-paced race – not my usual M.O! After the disappointment of Southerns and Nationals I was able to post another PB at Reading and I went into London in the shape of my life. Now, this had also been true in the build up to Amsterdam so to say I started the race with some confidence issues would be an understatement but 2:26.40 later I was very glad to have got the marathon performance monkey off my back. The result was made all the more pleasing as most of my Thursday night training group all posted outstanding times – I think we had 6 athletes in the top 50 and 8 under 2:30 - made all those laps of Battersea Park worth it! It’s taken some time but the combination of getting a coach and training with a group of top quality runners on a regular basis has, I believe, been the foundation of my improvements this year. If you’re looking for a step change in your running I’d suggest you consider one or both of these options.

Reading

Photo. Elbows are okay, right?

I wouldn’t have guessed it at the time but the middle third of the year was even better than the first. I re-started my training with a week in Chamonix with my brother, Steve. He was training for the Mont Blanc Marathon and kicked my arse up and down the hills but running with Steve is something I always enjoy and it was a brilliant way to re-ignite the flame for my first summer focusing on the track. 

Cutting a longish story short my track focus culminated in a sub 15m 5k – this has been a goal for 3 years and I’ve always felt, for some arbitrary reason, that it was the mark of a “serious” runner, rather than some lummox who used to row and then did triathlon and now runs (it takes less time you see) and he’s good at marathons because he’s got a big engine but he’s not really a “runner”. Now, I know no one says this and it’s all in my mind but it felt nice to stick a middle finger up at the imaginary people in my head –motivation comes in odd forms, take it where you can get it. 

September – November

The plan was simple: 

Run San Sebastian marathon; 
Run it in sub 2:24; and
Celebrate my 30th in style! 

1 and 3 I managed (number 3 I feel I excelled at ending up accidently wandering into a gay bar full of topless men at about midnight – they were very welcoming of three slightly surprised heterosexual couples) but due to the most persistent injury I’ve ever had I was some way short of target number 2. As I’ve mused before, when you train at full throttle for 9 months solid, eventually somethings gotta give; in my case it was my left leg which went into melt down. Frustrating at the time but the rest has done my good and I’m starting to find some decent form as we head into the 2016… which brings me nicely to…

Bradwell

Photo. Token fell race! 

The year ahead

For the first time in forever the biggest planned event of next year is not sport related; on April 16th I’ll be getting married, a date which unfortunately rules out London the following day. Given that I have failed to run two decent marathons in one year every year I’ve attempted it this is probably a good thing. Next year’s 26.2 will be Frankfurt on the 30th October and, once again, I’ll be gunning for sub 2:24. Before then I’ll be racing the Sheffield Half Marathon where my only real race plan is s**t of bust, and, once I’ve regained some of the fitness I’ve lost from my honeymoon, I’ll do some 3000/5000 on the track over the summer. It’d be nice to get down to mid 8:30s for 3k plus I really need to sort out my 10k time, it’ a distance I just don’t seem to be able to crack.

Whatever you’ve got planned for 2016, athletic or otherwise, I hope you have a great Christmas and a wonderful New Year and are able to hit the ground (metaphorically) running in 2016.

John

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