Updated running goals and race plans for 2017

At the beginning of the year I set myself some challenging but achievable running goals for 2017. I felt so confident I shared my goals and signed up to Trail Running’s #RUN1000MILES challenge.

Unfortunately, I picked up a running injury towards the middle of January and found myself sitting on the injury bench.

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The injury was so persistent most of the first six months of 2017 were a complete write-off. I stopped running, started stretching, sulked, put on a lot of weight and sulked some more.

My house was spotless.

I forgot about the majority of my running goals.

Now that we are almost half way through the year and *touch wood* my foot injury is under control, I decided to update some of my running goals and race plans.

Run 700 miles Run 400 miles – I’ve just checked my training log on Fetch and discovered I’ve run the not so impressive total of 29 miles in 2017. 29 miles!!! If my maths is correct, I’ve set myself the target of running another 371 miles in six months.  I’d like to think I’ll be able to run approximately 60 miles a month.

Complete 10 parkruns and 10 races Complete 5 parkruns and 5 races – After writing ‘DNS’ next to several races this year, my race calendar is starting to look slightly more respectable. I’ll summarise my race plans later on in this post.

A sub 8 minute mile – I’d like to think that this goal is still achievable.

A sub 25 minute 5k A sub 26 minute 5k – I set my current 5k PB of 26:49 last February. If my foot continues to behave, I’d like to think that at some stage this year I’ll manage to run a sub 26 minute 5k.

A sub 55 minute 10k A sub 60 minute 10k – My original goal was to run a sub 55 minute 10k during the Vitality London 10,000. Now I’d be over the moon with a sub 60 minute 10k!

A sub 2:20 half marathon – The original aim was to run a sub 2:20 half marathon during the Cambridge Half in March. Although Cambridge was a DNS, I’ve decided to keep this goal the same.

Listen to my niggles – At one stage my foot was so painful I had little option but to listen to my niggles. As an injury-prone runner I now realise that listening to my niggles is not enough. I also need to improve my diet and make a lot more effort to follow my strength and conditioning ‘personal action plan’.

Join a new running club – Although I resigned from my last running club at the end of March, my lack of running fitness has made me slightly reluctant to join a new running club. I suspect that I’ll continue as an ‘unattached’ runner for the rest of 2017.

Be slightly more sociable – I still tend to run on my own and I’m still a running recluse. To be honest I enjoy running on my own so much, I can’t see this changing. Although I am a bit of a loner, I have really enjoyed volunteering at a range of local events.

Don’t buy any unessential running gear – My foot injury has definitely helped me curb my obsession with buying unessential running gear. Hopefully I will actually achieve this running goal 🙂

My race plans

As I’m the type of person who needs a target race, I’ve entered the Great Birmingham Run in October.

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If my dodgy foot doesn’t cope with the half marathon training plan I’ve put together, I’ve entered the Lichfield 10k as a sort of Plan B race.

LichfieldLogo

If my foot doesn’t cope with training for a 10k – the way it is feeling right now this is a definite possibility – I’ll have to look at dropping down to even shorter distances.PrintFingers crossed my foot lets me achieve at least a couple of my running goals.

Do you have any target races planned for the second half of 2017?

Did you sign up to Trail Running Magazine’s 1000 mile challenge? If you did and you didn’t receive a Ruff headband let me know and I’ll post you mine.

Rants and raves #11

**Disclaimer: this post was written while the author was experiencing heel pain and race envy. As always, all rants, raves and opinions represent my own views. Other (far superior) less opinionated and negative running blogs are available**

It’s been a while since I wrote my last Rants and raves post. Now that it’s April and I’m still injured, I feel the need to have a rant. As always I’ll start with rave.

Rave: Diet Coke

I think I’ve mentioned my slight Diet Coke addiction several times in my blog before. I recently realised my addiction was getting out of control when I looked inside my recycling bin and estimated that most of my recycling was Diet Coke cans. I would buy a multipack of Diet Coke – for some reason it had to be cans – and during an average day would easily drink 5-6 cans.

A few years ago I managed to stop drinking Diet Coke for six months; I can’t remember what made me break my Diet Coke ban, but I was soon drinking 5-6 cans a day. I decided to give up drinking Diet Coke and eating chocolate for Lent. The chocolate ‘ban’ lasted two days; when I see a bar of Dairy Milk I have zero willpower. I’m pleased to report I haven’t been near a can of Diet Coke since March 1st. I found breaking my Diet Coke drinking addiction so easy I suspect that it was more an obsession than a ‘proper’ addiction. It’s just a shame I’m now drinking a lot more tea.

Rant: My lack of self-control

I’m now going to contradict myself. While I found breaking my Diet Coke addiction quite straightforward, I wish the same could be said for my eating habits. Since I’ve been injured my eating habits have been poor. I’ve been treating myself to takeaways several times a week and eating far too much junk food. As a result I’ve gained a fair amount of weight since the start of the year. I’ve always had a slightly iffy relationship with food. I‘m an emotional eater and when I feel rubbish I seem to eat rubbish.BMIMost runners seem to lose weight, I’m the opposite. 

I know there are some limitations in using the body mass index (BMI) but I find it a useful guide. Although my BMI currently sits within the ‘healthy weight’ range, I’d like it to sit slightly nearer the middle of the range.

Rave: Tall ranges

There’s another slightly fickle reason I’d like to lose weight; summer.

I’ve never been a particularly girly girl; I blame my height and the lack of clothes for ‘tall’ women when I was growing up. As a teenager, I’d spend far too much time mooching about with my friends in Miss Selfridge, Topshop, C&A and New Look. While my friends had a great time trying on loads of clothes, I would spend my time wishing I was shorter as nothing ever fitted. My options were limited to Long Tall Sally and other expensive brands, so when I wasn’t wearing my school uniform or riding gear, I lived in jeans and checked shirts. The mid 90s were awesome…DP Tall dressesA selection of three of the summery dresses available in the Dorothy Perkins tall range.

Fast forward 20 or so years and more and more high street stores now have dedicated tall ranges. Although I’d rather have been looking at running gear, last night I spent ages looking at ‘tall’ summery dresses on Dorothy Perkins, Long Tall Sally, New Look, GAP and Next. I’ve finally accepted that I’m too old for Topshop. It was great as for the first time ever I actually felt slightly overwhelmed as there were so many dresses to choose from.

Rant: Plantar Fasciitis and DNS’ing races

I’m still injured and haven’t been for a run since Tuesday February 6th. The Cambridge Half Marathon, the Seven Pools Run and the City of Birmingham 10k have all been marked down in my running diary as ‘DNS’. While I’m sure I’ll be writing ‘DNS’ next to a few more races, my heel is gradually getting better and I’m confident I’ll be running again fairly soon.

Rant: Unworn running kit

Apologies for having two consecutive rants, but as this one is directly linked to my rant about my injury woes I thought I’d get away with it! Like virtually every runner I know I love shopping for new running kit. My injury means that the running kit I was bought for Christmas is as yet unworn, and in some cases is still waiting to be unwrapped.Christmas clothesThis is possibly the most upsetting photo I’ll ever share on my blog.

I’m just thankful something made me opt for a pre-Christmas shopping spree in Long Tall Sally rather than in Niketown. Perhaps subconsciously I knew I was about to pick up an injury.

Rave: The National Running Show

And finally, some positive news. The organisers of the National Running Show are currently recruiting Ambassadors. I applied and was accepted. I’m just waiting to receive a few more details, but it would be great to see some of you in Birmingham next January.

If you’ve reached the end of my latest random selection of rants, raves, moans and groans then I’m seriously impressed.

Huge apologies for another rather random blog, hopefully my next post will be slightly more positive.

Decathlon Sports Series 2017 running events

Regular readers of this blog will be aware that I’m not a huge fan of expensive races. £25 for a 5.5k fun run? No thanks. Over £250 for a marathon? I’d need to start saving and find myself a better job…

Fortunately, not all races are expensive, an increasing number of races are now free to enter. As my 15 tips for running and racing on a budget blog has rapidly become one of my most read posts, I’ve decided to share some information on a series of free to enter running events organised by Decathlon.

Following on from last year’s success, the Decathlon Sports Series is returning this month. This year it’s set to be even bigger and better featuring several sports including running, cycling, horse riding and hiking. I can’t wait to get involved.

top-banner-runing-series

The Decathlon Sports Series will be staging a series of 5k (and one 10k) running events across the UK. I’ve summarised the dates and locations below:

  • 26th March – Stevenage
  • 1st April – Oxford
  • 2nd April – Reading
  • 9th April – Farnborough
  • 7th May – Southampton
  • 13th May – Glasgow Braehead
  • 14th May – Edinburgh
  • 4th June – Harlow
  • 10th June – Warrington
  • 11th June – Stockport
  • 17th June – Tamworth
  • 2nd July – Poole Redlands
  • 9th July – Huyton
  • 9th August – Bolton
  • 13th August – Wandsworth
  • 19th August – Croydon
  • 20th August – Surrey Quays
  • 3rd September – Sheffield
  • 10th September – Nottingham Giltbrook
  • 1st October – Newcastle Gateshead
  • 7th October – Wednesbury
  • 5th November – Belfast 10k*

*For the 10k event in Belfast participants must be aged 15 and over. For more detailed information on each event please visit the dedicated running event page.

Although participants should be able to complete the route without assistance, marshals will be available to maintain the safety of all participants at all times. Updates will be released regularly in the lead up to each event. Race numbers will be distributed to your selected store, and will be available to collect prior to the event, or on the day of the race.

Decathlon Gateshead 2016

[Source]

All entrants will receive a free t-shirt to run in on the day, and as an added bonus each participant will receive a Sports Series goody bag and medal at the end of the race. Very impressive for a free event!

These events are free and exclusive for Decathlon Card holders. If you are not a Decathlon Card Member you need to sign up here.

Places are limited to a maximum of 500 participants per race so don’t forget to sign up!

I’m hoping that my right heel will recover in time for me to participate in my local event in Tamworth.

My Top 10 Websites for Runners

Recently, I’ve spent far, far too much time researching Plantar Fasciitis on the internet. My nickname could be Professor Plantar. The amount of information about injury rehabilitation is mind-blowing, and in a lot of cases of slightly dubious quality. As I’m sure that I’m not the only runner who spends quite a lot of time perusing the internet, I decided to share my top 10 websites for runners.

So here are my top 10 websites for runners:

1. Fetch Everyone If you want to write a blog, find an obscure local race, get advice from runners, enter competitions and monitor your progress (or lack of progress) as a runner, then visit Fetch Everyone. I’ve been a member since 2005 and have made some great friends through the site.

Awesome features and articles include:

2. Runner’s World Although the recent improvements to the site haven’t been popular, Runner’s World remains one of my favourite running sites. If you need advice and support you’ll find it on the forums. If you need to find a 10K race in April search the extensive race listings. The wide range of articles written by experts and occasional competitions are an added bonus.

Recent articles have included:

3. The Running Bug The running site that I have a bit of an ongoing love hate relationship with. I love the useful articles, competitions and forums. I don’t love my online stalker and the fact that I’ve never, ever won a Running Bug competition. Hopefully 2017 will be my lucky year!

Recent articles have included:

4. Strava Strava allows runners and cyclists to track and analyse their training, measure their performance against other athletes, share their training on social media and much more. I’m too tight to pay for a premium membership, so I’m aware that I’m missing out on most of the awesomeness of Strava. When I find myself a ‘proper’ job and can run I’ll be upgrading my account. On a side note, if you want to read about ‘runners’ setting CRs on bikes,  the twitter account @stravawankers is well worth following.

5. Running Heroes Back in October, the Running Heroes website featured as a ‘rave’ in one of my Rants and raves posts. Such an honour! Running Heroes works with organisations and brands to encourage and reward runners. The site is really easy to use and I’ve collated a lot of points and completed 30 challenges. While I’ve never been selected as a random prize winner, I remain quietly optimistic.

The site also allows runners to exchange their points for a wide range of rewards. I can’t wait for my running clothes ‘ban’ to come to an end so that I can exchange some of my points.

Running Heroes

6. GB Mapometer Although strictly speaking GB Mapometer isn’t a running site, it is a useful resource for runners. I used the site to plot all of my longer runs when I was training for the Great Birmingham Run. The site allows users to accurately plot and measure routes, and provides an indication of the elevation of each route. Useful for avoiding hills in the final few miles of a long training run.

7. parkrun An essential resource for all parkrunners. Although the site can be quite slow during the weekend when a bazillion runners are searching for their latest parkrun result, if you are a new runner and want to take part in your local parkrun, you need to visit the site to register. The site contains an interactive map which illustrates every parkrun event in the UK and links to the individual parkrun event pages, a blog, information on sponsors, results, some information on the parkrun team and a link to the parkrun shop.

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8. NHS Couch to 5K If I had to recommend one running website to people just starting out as a runner, it would be the NHS Couch to 5K site. The site is free and contains a wealth of information for both beginner and slightly more experienced runners. There are links to download the Couch to 5K app, weekly Couch to 5K podcasts, a simple to use race finder and the dedicated Couch to 5K forums. Finally, the series of guides for runners are a useful invaluable resource.

The most popular articles include:

9. Made with Sisu I’ve been using Made with Sisu to generate data visualisations based on my training runs for quite some time. I almost ordered a print of my 2016 training runs but held back when I realised it would probably end up sitting in a corner somewhere gathering dust. I reckon that this site is probably a must for runners attempting to complete the six World Marathon Major events, the example Tokyo Marathon print looks pretty awesome.

10. The Running Blog – The Guardian The final site to make it into my ‘Top 10’ is the Guardian’s Running Blog. Described as a blog on “…all things running, from jogs around the park to ultra marathons”, there is definitely something for runners of all standards and distances. I love the ‘How was your weekend running?’ and the ‘Friday flyer’ series; some of the comments left by runners and jealous non-runners are highly entertaining.

Recent articles have included:

Hopefully some of the websites and running resources I’ve summarised will be useful to some of you. I also hope that my rambling hasn’t bored you all to tears.

What are your favourite running websites? Did I miss out any really awesome sites?

Which website do you use to search for race listings? I’ve always tended to use Runner’s World find the new and improved site quite hard to use.

Rants and raves #9

**Disclaimer: this post was written while the author was experiencing both race and sexy looking running kit envy. As always, all rants, raves and opinions represent my own views. Other (far superior) less opinionated and negative running blogs are available**

It’s been a few months since I wrote my last Rants and raves post. Now that the Christmas festivities feel like a distant dream and we are halfway through January, I feel the need to get a few things off my chest. As always I’ll start with a race rave.

Rave: Christmas and the New Year

Although my temporary retail job meant that I worked right up until 19:15 on Christmas Eve and between Christmas and the New Year, I actually had a great Christmas. I attended a couple of Christmas parties and managed to avoid getting drunk and acting like a plonker. I met up with some old school friends for the first time in ages, and actually contributed to their adult conversations. Most importantly I managed to avoid getting ill and infecting my family for the third consecutive year.

If I ignore the trauma of having to spend hours and hours watching rubbish on the TV and accidentally eating a parsnip – Christmas Day was awesome. Everyone seemed to love the presents I’d bought them, and there were no nasty surprise presents. I ate far too much Christmas dinner – I love turkey – and drank far too much Prosecco and wine. There were no family arguments and the cats didn’t trash the Christmas tree. As an added bonus, I got to scoff a second Christmas dinner the following week when my brother and his family returned from Spain.

Rant: Emails and unrealistic goals

This year, I’ve set myself a really challenging New Year’s Resolution. After failing spectacularly last year, in 2017 I’m determined to avoid buying any unessential running gear. I don’t need any more running tops, shorts, socks, tights, capris, jackets, gloves or accessories. It’s only January and I’m already struggling thanks to the huge number of emails I receive from running brands on a daily basis. Although I unsubscribed from dozens of running brands’ mailing lists during ‘Black Friday’, their emails keep on appearing in my inbox. I’ve now resorted to blocking running related emails, probably not ideal as a so-called running blogger.

Does anyone know why it’s apparently impossible to block some email addresses on Outlook? I swear that I’ve blocked emails from Elite Property Network, Cheap Flights and a fake Match dating site dozens of times. For some reason they keep on appearing in my inbox on an almost daily basis. Really frustrating.

Rave: GoodGym Birmingham

One email I was thrilled to receive – yes I am pretty fickle – was from the guys at GoodGym. Although, like most runners I’d read about the awesome work of GoodGym, there wasn’t a GoodGym in Birmingham.

There is now!! GoodGym Birmingham is GO!!

I’ve registered here and am looking forward to attending the launch event. I just hope that I can navigate my way to the meeting point. The centre of Birmingham is a million times more difficult to navigate than the centre of London!

Rant: My new trainers

After more than 500 miles of generally pain and incident free running, I retired my first pair of Brooks Adrenaline GTS 16s immediately after the Great Birmingham Run. While, like a lot of runners, I was quite reluctant to retire a pair of trainers, I was looking forward to running in a pair of new trainers.

New AdrenalinesI’d assumed that my second pair of GTS 16s would be identical to the first pair. After all both pairs of trainers are exactly the same model, width and size, only the colour is different. My assumption was wrong! For some reason my new trainers are really bloody uncomfortable, the support feels non-existent.  My feet have been shredded to pieces and I’ve got blisters in some slightly random places. It looks like I’ll be buying another pair of trainers.

Rave: Long Tall Sally #TALLERANDSTRONGER

While I love Long Tall Sally’s #TALLERANDSTRONGER campaign, I’m slightly gutted that their collaboration with one of my all-time favourite running brands – MPG – was launched after my running gear buying ban had started. Not treating myself to these capri leggings has been really challenging.

Anyway, back to the #TALLERANDSTRONGER campaign.

taller-and-strongerLong Tall Sally’s research showed that 63% of tall women slouch and 76% experience backache. While I don’t really *touches wood* have any issues with my back at the moment, I’ll make sure that I have a look at the ‘groundbreaking videos’ that are designed to target and strengthen tall ‘hotspots’. You never know, the leg workout might help to strengthen my dodgy right knee.

I’m definitely one of the 63% of tall women who have knee pain…

Rant: Niggles

Guess what? After being sensible and reducing my running mileage during November and December, my left foot and right knee niggles have made an unwelcome reappearance. I’m blaming the safety boots I had to wear at work. At the end of every shift, my foot and knee were more painful than at the end of the Great Birmingham Run.

After one eight hour shift, my left foot was so sore I thought I’d somehow managed to fracture another metatarsal. Hopefully, now that I’ve binned the safety boots, my foot and knee will start to recover. I don’t want to spend another lengthy period of time sitting on the virtual injury bench.

If you’ve reached the end of my latest random selection of rants, raves and moans then I’m impressed.

Apologies for the really, really random blog, hopefully my next post will be slightly more positive.

My running goals for 2017

Firstly, I’d like to wish you all a Happy New Year! I hope that you all had a great Christmas and New Year. Here’s to an awesome and hopefully injury-free 2017.

As – like loads of other runners – I’ve already reviewed 2016 in far too much detail  – I think it’s time for me to look ahead to the New Year and to set some goals for 2017.

Although I managed to achieve most of my 2016 running goals, I still eat far too much crap food and tend to ignore the strength and conditioning ‘personal action plan’ I was given 12 months ago. Therefore, if I had to award myself an overall grade for 2016 it would be a ‘B-‘.

I’ve decided to set myself some challenging but hopefully achievable running goals for 2017. Although I love writing out resolutions and goals, I wasn’t originally going to share them. However, as previously putting my running goals into writing appeared to motivate me to get off my arse, I decided to publish this post.

training-journalsPerhaps one of my goals should have been to take better photos…

Enough waffling, here are my running goals for the year ahead…

Run 700 miles – When I first drafted out my running goals I wanted to run 1000 miles this year. However, last year I only ran 700 kilometres or approximately 435 miles. As a result I’ve been sensible and have adjusted my annual mileage target, so that this year I’d like to run 700 miles, still quite an increase on my 2016 mileage. I’ve worked out that I will need to run approximately 58 miles a month or 2 miles a day.

Complete 10 parkruns and 10 races – I set myself the same goal last year and failed miserably. Last week I worked out that due to several ‘DNS’ and a ‘DNF’ I only managed to complete three parkruns and a handful of local races. As I currently have to rely on unreliable friends and public transport to travel to races, I suspect that I’ll find this goal more challenging than it probably should be.

A sub 8 minute mile – my current mile PB of 9:09 is from 2012 when I hobbled around an indoor athletics track with tight bends with a leg injury. I’d like to lower this time at some point this year, hopefully at the Westminster Mile in May.

A Sub 25 minute 5k – I set my current 5k PB of 26:49 last February. If I fail to run a sub 25 minute 5k at some point during 2017 I will retire from running. That is a promise.

parkrun-pbI want to receive a few more ‘Congratulations on setting a new Personal Best’ emails this year

A Sub 55 minute 10k – After it took me several attempts to run a sub 60 minute 10k last year, I suspect that I will find this particular goal the most challenging. I’ve already entered the hopefully flat and fast London 10,000, and will do my best to set out at a sensible pace at the end of May.

A Sub 2:20 half marathon – now that I’ve finally rediscovered my running mojo, training for the Cambridge Half in March is going well. The mistakes I made during the Great Birmingham Run taught me how not to pace a half marathon. I’d love to achieve this particular running goal in March.

Listen to my niggles – I’ve reached the conclusion that I’m quite an injury-prone runner… Some runners hardly even seem to pick up injuries; I’m definitely not one of those runners. As I don’t want to spend another extended period sulking on the injury bench, I’m going to listen to my niggles this year.

Join a new running club – This is quite a tricky one as there is nothing wrong with my current running club, I’m just far too slow to attend the training sessions at the moment. I also have no idea where I’ll be living and working in six months time. Although I’ve researched alternative local running clubs, I’ll probably become an ‘unattached’ runner for the first time in a decade at the end of March.

Be slightly more sociable – At the moment I tend to run on my own and I’ve turned into a bit of a running recluse. This year I’m determined to overcome my anxiety and to attend more social runs. I’m also planning on pushing myself out of my comfort zone by volunteering at a range of local events.

Don’t buy any unessential running gear – I set myself the same goal 12 months ago and failed spectacularly! Last month I sorted through all of my running gear, worked out exactly what bits and pieces of essential running gear I needed to replace and then bought what I needed in the sales. While I’m still on the hunt for a couple of sports bras, I don’t need to buy anything else.  

🙂

Have you set yourself any running goals for 2017? While some of these goals are quite challenging, I hope that they are all achievable…

Are you a member of a running club? If you are, how often do you attend club training sessions? There are now so many different social running groups, I’m starting to question if I actually need to join another running club.

2016 review: running highlights & lessons learned

As 2016 is nearly over, I’ve decided to write a review of my running highlights and lessons learned throughout the year. If you don’t enjoy reading review posts then please leave my blog now, I promise that I won’t be offended. I’m nosey and really, really enjoy reading about other runner’s progress, so please do get writing and sharing.

January

Following a slightly disappointing 2015 – stupid injuries – at the start of January I was working my way through the Couch to 5k training plan. I was also nursing a slightly niggly right knee. Rather unexpectedly I equalled my parkrun PB of 27:33 at my local parkrun – Walsall Arboretum – towards the end of the month. I still have no idea where that sub-30 minute time came from. However, the main running highlight of January was winning a place in the London Marathon. While I knew that whatever happened in April I would complete the marathon distance, I quickly discovered that I lacked both the mileage base and fitness required to run long distances. I decided to adopt a run-walk-run training strategy.

February

February was a mixed month. Although I successfully completed the Couch to 5k training plan and achieved a parkrun PB of 26:49, a foot niggle meant that my marathon training was extremely limited.

walsall-parkrun-pbHeading towards a parkrun PB

Once again I was reminded that my left foot and right knee could not cope with running longer distances. I started to feel concerned that any attempt to complete the London Marathon would cause another long-term injury. While I was unable to run, I did my best to maintain my fitness levels by swimming five days a week in preparation for Swimathon.

March 

The swimming, break from running and expensive physio sessions seemed to temporarily cure my knee niggle, and I was able to successfully complete 10 and 11 mile training runs at the beginning of the month. Although I missed the Mash March Madness 10k trail run in Cannock Chase due to a lack of transport, a week later I completed the 7 Pools Run, a challenging cross country run in Sutton Park, without taking a walking break. Unfortunately, I ended March with elbow and knee injuries. Evidently running a challenging 10k cross country event wasn’t very sensible. At the grand old age of 36, I was finally starting to fall to pieces. I accepted that the London Marathon would be a painful and not very positive race experience.

April 

The main focus of April was the London Marathon. My niggly left foot and right knee meant that my training in the lead up to the marathon was virtually nonexistent. Not ideal. Some mornings my niggles disappeared, other mornings I woke up and was barely able to walk. I started to suspect that the ‘niggles’ were all in my mind. Despite my negativity and lack of training, I somehow managed to complete the marathon distance.

london-marathon-selfieOne of my more successful running selfie attempts

I made the fatal error of thinking I could keep up with the Runner’s World ‘run-walk-run’ pacer. I managed to power walk and run to the half-way point. Shortly after running across Tower Bridge – the atmosphere was bloody amazing – I was clipped from behind and jarred my injury-prone right knee. The second half of the marathon was miserable, cold and painful, and as I hobbled towards the finish line in the less than impressive time of 5 hours 59 minutes and 45 seconds, I accepted that my marathon running days were over. I shared my honest review of the London Marathon on social media and the subsequent surge in traffic temporarily broke my blog.

May 

A week after the London Marathon I felt ready to run again. I guess that walking the majority of the 26.2 miles had some advantages… Not following a training plan for the first time in 2016 was great, and in an attempt to rediscover my running mojo I decided to focus on running shorter distances.

hill-west-runPosing with the smallest medal in the world after completing the Hill West 10k

The highlights of May were running consistently and completing the Hill West 10k in the not too shabby time of 62:18. I met Matt for the first time; it was great to put a face to the twitter name! Looking back, if I ignore the fact I celebrated (?) my 37th birthday, May was a great month.

June

June was a month of running ups and downs. At the start of the month I had a really enjoyable 8.5 mile run around Sutton Coldfield, and completed the Great Midlands Fun Run in a respectable (for me) time. When the official results were published I discovered that I’d somehow knocked 30 minutes off my 2015 time! Unfortunately, due to a slightly forgetful friend I didn’t make it to the start line of the Aldridge 10k and wasted more money on race entry fees. The following Saturday evening I enjoyed a few too many beers, and the next morning had to drop out of the Race for Life at the end of the first lap. Recording my first ever ‘DNF’ made me briefly question my commitment to running.

July

July saw the start of my Great Birmingham Run training and my progression towards feeling more like a ‘real’ runner; the walking breaks were finally eliminated from my training runs! I decided to write weekly Great Birmingham Run training updates – apologies if I bored you to tears – in an attempt to make myself more accountable. Although I didn’t complete any organised races during July, I successfully negotiated the first few weeks of my half marathon training and managed to remain injury free.

August 

My half marathon training continued and I somehow managed to run continuously for over an hour. Both my fitness and my confidence levels were increasing, the half marathon training plan was working. I discovered my love of early morning, and will never forget watching the sunrise during some of my long Sunday morning runs.

parkrun-20-08-2016I’d probably run faster if I actually opened my eyes…

Although I didn’t enter any official races, I finally made it back to Walsall Arboretum parkrun and completed the 5k distance in 28:05. Although I enjoyed running with others, I had got used to my early morning runs and running at my own pace. All in all, August was great!

September 

At the start of the month I completed the more challenging than I had remembered Lichfield 10k. Although I finally managed to bag myself a sub-60 minute 10k, I ran like a plonker and was reminded of the importance of running my own race at my own pace.

lichfield-10kBefore the wheels fell off at the Lichfield 10k

My half marathon training progressed well and I found running for almost two hours both enjoyable and relatively easy. I set out a series of gold, silver and bronze half marathon time goals, and after running 130 kilometres during September, looked forward to the start of my half marathon taper.

October 

One event – the Great Birmingham Run – dominated my thoughts and training during the first half of October. I successfully completed a two hour training run and then caught Freshers’ Flu. Fortunately, my dose of the lurgy coincided with the beginning of my half marathon taper, and I felt more or less fully recovered as I stood shivering in the rain waiting for the Great Birmingham Run to start. The race itself didn’t exactly go to plan… I set out far too fast, ran out of steam at 8 miles, walked more than I ran, was unable to run down any of the numerous hills and hobbled across the finish line in tears.

great-birmingham-runRun a half marathon they said, it will be fun they said…

The highlight of the day was bumping into Matt in the chaos at the finish and getting a lift home. Matt’s kindness meant that I avoided travelling home on an overcrowded train. Thanks again Matt. I got home, had a shower, ate three packets of crisps, drank far too much Diet Coke, sulked and wrote a detailed race review. I sulked some more, reflected on what went wrong, hid my trainers and made myself take a break from running. A couple of weeks later I entered the Cambridge Half Marathon. Cambridge has to be less undulating and more knee friendly than Birmingham.

November

Although November has always been my least favourite month – I’m not a fan of the dark afternoons and evenings – I was determined to adopt a positive attitude. After finally drawing a line under the Great Birmingham Run, I was looking forward to getting back into some sort of routine and starting my Cambridge Half training. I completed a short run at the start of the month and felt like I could have carried on running for hours. Unfortunately, later on that day I started to feel unwell and the toilet became my best friend. Thanks to norovirus I was unable to run for a couple of weeks due to a complete lack of energy, the Birmingham MoRun was yet another ‘DNS’. At least I started my Cambridge Half marathon training feeling very well rested and niggle-free!

December

I’ve just worked out that I’ve run the not so impressive total of 5 kilometres so far during December. The combination of a niggly right knee, the lurgy and working 40+ hours a week in retail has resulted in me completely losing my running mojo. I’ve treated myself to colourful running gear I don’t really need, entered a couple of 10k races, looked at my medals from this year and charged my Garmin. For some reason I just don’t want to run at the moment. I’m starting to think that I should listen to my body and hide my trainers for the remainder of the year.

Perhaps it’s time for me to think about my running goals for 2017? One should be to reduce the amount of times I wear purple running gear.

monthly-distancePerhaps I should just ignore November and December!?

After all, if I ignore the last couple of months, 2016 has been my most consistent year of running in almost a decade. According to Strava I’ve run exactly 700 kilometres during the year, I’ve decided I quite like the number 700.

Do you have any running or health and fitness goals for 2017? At the moment my running goals are to run more consistently, to manage my knee and foot niggles and to hopefully run 1000 miles. As for health and fitness goals, I’m planning on cutting down on the amount of Diet Coke I consume.

Finally, a slightly random question… do you have a favourite colour? Purple isn’t actually my favourite colour!