I always find the festive season an odd thing to deal with as an athlete. On the one hand you've usually got more time to train, and for me, a return to the Peak District adds an extra level of temptation to log some serious time in the hills. On the other hand the season is still young, fitness isn't quite there and there's normally the equally tempting lure of meat, cheese, pate, and wine/beer/cider/port/sherry/all of the above to consider. My approach is usually excess in both directions leading to some long runs with a fairly groggy head – although I have found that this is one of the better methods for shaking off the night before and on many occasions have been the envy of friends arriving back looking slightly more muddy but considerably less green!
Brown Knoll - Kinder
There are two festive traditions that I always look forward to and this year was no exception. The first is my Christmas morning run. This is something I've completed since I started sport a decade ago – the only two occasions I've missed it (due to illness and injury) have left me grumpy for much of the morning. Each year the distance has been upped and since my brother Steve has started joining me an element of fraternal competition has meant neither one of us wants to back out of a challenge. The 2013 edition saw a beautiful run along the route of the Edale Skyline and unfortunately this year not only did I wimp out of Win Hill, I also lost the sprint up Mam Tor. I am also deeply regretting saying (at least 75% in jest) that next year we should try a Christmas Day Bob Graham fuelled on nothing more than the components of Christmas dinner. I feel strongly that the isotonic properties of pigs in blankets has been overlooked.
The second tradition is slightly younger but has become a staple of New Year's Day; some friends and I walk to a pub, cure the night before with some hair of the dog and review the predictions we made one year earlier. Last year three of my predictions were running related and the table below shows how I did:
Run a sub 2:25:00 marathon Fail-2:28:01 at London
Run the Thames Path un under 36 hours Fail- collapsed at 93 miles (quite a long way from the finish!)
Have a holiday where I don't run Fail- my partner's father challenged me to a race
and no self-respecting man is going to turn
that down. I also lost that race but he was on a
In spite of this fairly poor conversion rate I look back on the year as a success. My 2:28 was a PB and at least I gave the Thames Path a crack, not that it's something I'm going to be trying again for a few years. Tough goals are the key to success - whether it's to win a race series, to complete your first marathon or simply to run three times a week every week. A good goal should be specific and measurable and all that stuff but it should also make you a little bit nervous, you should respect it and understand that achieving it will not be a cake walk.
To that end my goal this year is a 2:24 marathon. I'd also like to go on a holiday where I don't run so I'll have to avoid invites from my other half's family because I'm never going to turn down that challenge!
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