Looking back on 2015 and forward to 2016

So, as the year comes to an end and we start to look forward to an exciting new year ahead, inevitably we start to take a look at how things have gone.

2015 has seen many milestones for me:

A new parkrun PB at Southampton parkrun of 22.23.
A new 10k PB at Mel’s Milers 10k of 47.31.
A new half marathon PB at Brighton of 1.43.22.
A new longest distance ever run of 61km at the Downslink Ultra.

The most surprising of these was the half marathon.  I had this 1.45 barrier in my head that was a stupid psychological obstacle to going more quickly.

2015 also saw personal bests at the Darkstar Marathon, 3 Forts and many other smaller events.  We discovered the wonder of White Star Running events and loved the inaugural Moyleman Marathon.  Of course, there was the Green Belt Relay, which was another roaring success.

The year was injury free (apart from the odd grumble from my knees) and I kept to my promise of training smarter.  This obviously works.  Less miles of training, more personal bests and less injuries.

Sadly the end of the year has been halted with a bout of anxiety.  It’s been going on for around 3 months now.  It’s made things pretty tough at times.  It doesn’t affect work, which is very lucky and I’m pretty good at putting on a positive face in public, but it’s really unpleasant and has seriously affected my eating and sleeping.

It feels like I’m starting to turn the corner at the moment.  I’m starting to train again, which is positive on many fronts, as preparation for the Brighton Marathon is just round the corner.

2016 is going to be a big year.  Brighton Marathon sub 4 attempt plus back to back marathons at Bad Cow plus my first ever 50 mile race at the Chiltern Wonderland.  The diary is full with 8 marathons and countless other races.

In the build up to Brighton, I have decided to write weekly about my training and eating.  There are 2 reasons for this.  Firstly, I’m changing the way that I train and want to document it.  I’m a skinny bloke, my core strength is poor and my lack of power in my glutes are hindering my performance.  I have already started to work on improving this, so want to document how this goes.  I am also going to monitor my food.  There are 2 reasons for this.  The anxiety is at it’s highest in the morning, so I often skip breakfast during these periods.  Monitoring and logging what I eat will help me to be more disciplined with this.  Secondly, as a vegetarian, I want to be certain that I am taking on board what I need to take on and disprove the notion that vegetarians can’t get enough protein.

So here goes.  It will be about 18 weeks of weekly blogs.  I hope that it won’t be too dull for anyone who reads it.  I’m looking forward to making it happen and cracking this 4 hour marathon chip that is on my shoulder.

That’s it for now, Neil.

Lovely downhill bit of the Bluebell 10

Volunteer, Run, Support

This is what I did this weekend.  My body is telling me that it was great fun, incredibly rewarding and very tiring.

In order, marshalling at Clair pakrun, 14 miles along the South Downs Way, then lots of clapping, cheering and laughing at the London Marathon.

trypticI was tucked away at the top of the downhill section to marshal on Saturday at parkrun.  It’s a really good spot as you see people before they head off down the hill, although there is a spell for a few minutes when you don’t see anyone until the quick boys come past on the second lap.

On Saturday, it was great to announce the parkrunner of the month for March.  The winner, Sue, was there on day one and typifies what parkrun means to us. She comes down with her family, friends and neighbours and is always smiling.  She’s getting quicker as well and removed a huge chunk from her PB on pacer day.

I am currently in that bizarre space between recovering from one marathon and preparing for the next one.  It is 3 weeks until 3 Forts. I’m not really sure what to do.  I’ve never been in this position before with 2 marathons in quick succession.  I don’t really know what to do, but I think that my legs told me on Saturday.

Jay and I took the train over to Shoreham and ran home.  This takes in part of the 3 Forts course and I really love this part of the South Downs.  I know it very well from my cycling days.

http://connect.garmin.com/jsPlayer/480102358

SDW with JayAs well happen at the 3 Forts, we walked up the hills and ran the flat and downhill.

It was a bit of a struggle to get over Newtimber and the downhill sections are pretty steep, which is not the best way for my knees to spend the afternoon.  We did, however, make it back home in just over 2 and a half hours, which is the pace that I am going to be aiming for at 3 Forts.

It’s pretty easy to see from these photos why it is so great to make the effort to get up onto the South Downs Way.

10176002_10152052713948870_2040554537413339855_n1512449_10152052715343870_5976631921960673036_n10169233_10152052715903870_8481679623874353493_n 10259815_10152052716533870_542809171765658726_nSunday was London Marathon day.  I was more excited about supporting in London, than running in Brighton.  A lot more relaxed as well.

We got a really early train up and there were still lots of spaces at the barriers a couple of hundred metres from Tower Bridge.  Perfect.

10150525_10152056568983870_2457589160389092157_n10169308_10152054474513870_7659699769772001314_n10152581_10152054477933870_8913362640678586277_nAnd the parkrun meagephone even had a day out.

The first athletes who came through were the para-athletes.  It was pretty awesome to see these people.  Partially sighted or blind runners with their guides and amputees all went through.  It’s quite humbling and amazing to see how people overcome adversity.

1517529_10152054473723870_1631592760488459157_n10177861_10152054473523870_8544618290293146915_n10150518_10152054473128870_481376892090664372_nFinally, we saw Richard Whitehead.  This chap touched the hearts of many people during the Olympics and the place went crazy as he ran past.  It must have been such a buzz for him, as I imagine that was the reception he got most of the way round.

10172623_10152054474858870_5946735370797703889_nThe ladies soon came through at a fair rate of knots, followed closely behind by the men, including Mr Farah..

10250232_10152054474173870_6371328723228009484_n1006089_10152054475158870_8858036540090337016_nAnd then came the very impressive club runners and the masses.

10259935_10152054476018870_1692973975754862344_n1613984_10152054475503870_2087654854679487562_nWe watched all of our club runners come through and then headed off on the long walk over Tower Bridge, along the river to mile 25 miles.  It’s a long walk, but worth it.  It was still possible to get to the barriers to cheer people on.

The noise on the Embankment was at a different level.  It was the cheering point for many of the charities and the volume increased each time a specific charity’s runner went past.

This is where people need the help and they got it.

10176204_10152054478538870_4904806607836249576_n10006946_10152054479378870_8002352559975809149_n10154245_10152054478563870_5338783034525163681_n10178140_10152054479008870_2319659398545009841_n1781928_10152054478933870_5431676588939989938_n10246436_10152054479138870_1975636437013883556_n10250164_10152054479648870_152317070625188737_n10245579_10152054480238870_5231820463874588388_n1491692_10152054480423870_2912327495231922885_n10167934_10152054480648870_2227124048735896155_n10013585_10152054480088870_2378244714454393288_nIf ever there was any doubt in my mind about getting up very early on a Sunday morning, when I could have done with staying in bed, then I think that these photos prove that going to London was the best idea I have had for some time.

Well done to everyone for doing this, runners and supporters.  Well done all those BHR people who reached some amazing personal goals.  The most incredible performance came from Helen Pratt.  2 marathons in 2 weeks and the smile on her face on Sunday was just amazing.

IMG_7728

So, it was time for a quick beer at the lovely Blackfriars Station before heading home after the most incredibly rewarding and tiring weekend for some time.

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Not sure if I’m coming or going

It does seem a bit wierd at the moment. I’m not really sure if I’m coming or going.

I seem to be tapering for one event, training for different one, recovering from another all at once.

I’m not sure that this was the best way forward to attack the Brighton Marathin in 6 weeks time, but we’ll see.

This week seemed to feel like I had the Brighton Half in my legs for most of it.  I don’t think that I was alone.  Quite a few people seemed to be posting that they’ve struggled as well.

I did a couple of slow runs during the week and then 13 miles on Saturday.  The 13 miles at almost 30 minutes slower than the Brighton Half seemed so much tougher.  OK, it was undulating and there was a horrid head wind for half of it, but even so.

I guess that you have to accept these bad ones and forget about them.  I did the sensible thing today and got out and did a short few miles and really enjoyed it.

So I guess that this week will be taper week for the Steyning Stinger Marathon.  Not what’s on the Brighton Marathon training plan, but there you go.

I’m really excited about Steyning. It’s another day out, an adventure, taking in the Sussex countryside and 26 miles of hilly off road. It’s an adventure in the same way that the Dark Star Marathon was an adventure.  I’m probably going to be on my own for quite a lot of it, the field is not that big and it’s one of those events that you have no idea what to expect (apart from the input for the club members who have done it before).

The New Year begins…….

2014 started as 2013 ended, wet and windy.

For the first time ever, I am starting a year with 2 marathons planned with the support of a running clubs and the help that it provides.

I have decided upon the training plan which is a 4 day a week sub 4 hour plan which Action Aid offer to their athletes taking part in the  London Marathon.

http://www.actionaid.org.uk/sites/default/files/publications/marathon_schedule-1.pdf

I’m not totally bothered if I don’t go under 4 hours at Brighton.  It’s a huge chunk off my PB, which currently sits at 4 hours 20 minutes.  However, I am now a little wiser and will put in the required training.

The first week of Marathon training was pretty easy to be fair.  The long run doesn’t really get long for a while on the plan, as I was already running 10 miles plus at the end of last year.

I ended 2013 with a lovely 8 miler over the Downs to the Chattri Memorial with Jay, followed by Clair parkrun on Saturday and 15.5 miles around the local area with the Burgess Hill Runners group on Sunday.

chattriFor me running was always a solo activity.  It was me time.  Time for me to listen to music and get my head into gear.  This was the first time I had been out with the BHR group.  It is a group of mixed abilities and the faster runners doubling back every so often to keep the group together.  The miles seem to fly by when you have the chance to chat and take your mind off looking at the watch.

ladies2

ladies

It is also great to get out at the weekend.  I really hate running in the dark.  You are limited as to where you can go and you cannot go off road.  Midweek runs are limited to the pavements around home and the first full week of Marathon training was completed with 5 steady miles on Tuesday, 6 and a half tough miles at BHR track night and a slow 3 mile plod on Friday night.