2020 has begun and before you can even get to the end of Auld Lang Syne the first month of the year is already coming to a conclusion. January has raced by for me. Busy at work, busy home life as ever and a new approach for me to my running.
January saw the start of marathon training, as it does for many. My 2020 goals include taking part in new events, new races and new challenges. I also have a couple of time goals: a sub 3:30 marathon and a sub 1:30 half marathon. The marathon I am targeting is Brighton. The half I am targeting is Bournemouth in the Autumn, but also Reading in the Spring (if Reading doesn’t work out then I will review the training for Bournemouth!).
My marathon training plan is 16 weeks and started on the 1st Jan, no time like New Years Day to start training for a marathon! I have the added complication that I currently have 3 ultras on my calendar: Isle Of White by Ultra Challenge (106Km), Race To The Tower (84Km) and The Temple Trail (50Km). So a normal marathon training plan for me doesn’t;t give me the mileage for that. So I have decided to work to the training plan structure and training types, but adding a mile or two to the short easy runs, plus extending the long runs (trying to peak at 30/32 miles as I did for Race To The Stones in 2019).
My training has followed the Runners World sub 3:30 training plan. This has meant training at a higher pace than I ever really did in 2019 – on a consistent level that is. A lot of my training runs are conducted in the 7:20 to 7:40 minutes per mile, thats faster than I was previously training, but it is a pace I enjoy training at and feel I run well at. That helps make the training enjoyable and easier to approach. Last year I did try a lot more low effort training much slower than this. It never quite felt right, I kept to the approach for around 9 months and I never really felt it. This year is different. I feel much more capable at this moment in time. Much stronger and really on track to achieve some good running this year.
To be honest not much, I am currently training in Brooks Glycerin 16 shoes for road, Brooks Cascade 13 for trail and mixed terrain, and occasionally Brooks Levitate 2 (my current preferred event shoe) just to ensure they are comfortably broken in and ready for race day!\
I’ve retained my previous nutrition plan when running. Up to 10 miles I run without any fuel/water (unless very warm – It’s January soo yeah right – don’t think I need that water!!). Over 10 miles I often will carry water. If I’m pushing up over 15 I’ll probably have tailwind (Raspberry buzz flavour) and I’ll take a bit of food (usually chia charge bars or mini malt loaf). If I take gels it’s SIS gels. I’ll use the Inov8 ultra vest for small loads and if I think I need a jacket or something else I’ll use my Kaleji bag from Decathlon, bargain basement but genuinely a great bit of kit!!]
Kit wise, I’m tending to prefer Balega socks at the moment but most other items I’m preferring Ronhill. Not sure quite why but I like the designs and the fit, as well as the comfort and moisture wicking.
Usually this encompasses those long runs I mange to get on a Sunday. In January I pushed up to 20 miles and I had a great run early on the 19. Out in the dark, head torch on to light the way and I was out onto the footpaths around the Ridgeway and South Oxfordshire countryside. A beautiful sunrise too. It was cold, wet and windy and conditions a bit grim, but a lovely run. In those conditions and those times of day (started about 6am) you often feel like you have the world to yourself. Those times are just glorious, so revitalising, so refreshing, so easy to leave everything behind and spend the time with just yourself and the nature around you. These are one of those things that have really become so part of me now I run. I spend a lot of time running around the local town on weekdays, getting short/medium distance runs in for training purposes, but if it wasn’t for those long Sunday runs I’m not convinced I could find the motivation to put those other hours and miles in.
January has been a good start to the year. 2019 started well though and by mid year was looking great. However I hit an injury in September and that really impacted the last 4 months of the year. I learnt from this that you can’t take things for granted and even when you think things are going well something can always surprise you.
I believe that managing an increase in mileage, being sensible on the effort you apply and ensuring you incorporate rest or low effort training will build a stronger runner. This is my aim. improve strength to build more resilience as well as improved performance and abilities.
I think 2020 could be a great year for my running with some great adventures and many more miles to travel along the way.