My 2018 running year

I hope you have had a fantastic year with lots of running, racing and personal bests. I’d love to hear about your successes of 2018 and goals for 2019. Contact me through the contact page, comment on the blog post or let me know through social media. Sharing your goals is often the best way to commit to them.

For me, 2018 has been the year I finished saying I wanted to write a book and finally did it (the first draft at least)! It’s a book about running, and I hope to share it with you in 2019.

The irony is that although I’ve been writing about running, I had to stop running quite as much so that I could find the time to write. Some weeks I only managed a few miles, other weeks nothing at all. According to Strava I ran 832 miles this year, averaging four runs and around 15 miles a week. It’s more than I thought.

There has been no consistency or quality training, so my fitness has rapidly declined. It’s been a tough year of juggling a full-time job, a long commute with hours stuck in traffic, as well as writing and family commitments. I’ve found it incredibly tiring and challenging. Running was an escape, but not a priority.

When I sat down to write this blog post I wanted to describe 2018 as a non-running year. I didn’t run any PBs. I didn’t take part in many races. It’s easy to focus on the negatives and what you haven’t achieved rather than what you have. But when I thought about it, even though I’m not as fast as in previous years, I’ve still achieved things that I’m proud of.

In May I completed the Edinburgh Half Marathon after a six-week block of panic training, helped by my friend Katrina. Meeting Katrina early every Sunday morning got me up and running so that come race day I felt strong enough to run a 1.40 half marathon. I celebrated with a few Proseccos and burger and chips!

In the summer came the realisation that I was part of a team of seven taking on the Endure 24-hour challenge. I tried to pretend this wasn’t happening and kept hoping for a miracle so that I wouldn’t have to run. No miracles. I had to run. I prepared by doing a few Saturday morning runs to Nostell parkrun, followed by a delicious scone, but not much else.

The race was on one of the hottest days of the year. Despite thinking I was going to die, I somehow managed to run five laps, a total of 25 miles, which was an amazing personal achievement. The bonus, of course, was that my team, Attack of the Killer Daisies, won!

On holiday in Boston, Massachusetts, I took part in the most fantastic race ever, the Thursday Night Fever 5k. I loved the race. I love the band and dancing, and I was filled with excitement at getting back into training. After a sub 22-minute 5k I was optimistic it wouldn’t take long to get my fitness back.

Then I went home to the UK and found it harder than ever to fit in consistent training. I made a start by tackling the Trunce, a local fell race but then things went badly wrong. I tried to train but I could never get past week one of training. It became a bit of a joke.

September to Christmas was incredibly busy with work and writing commitments so time for running was non-existent. It was during this part of the year that my fitness deteriorated, and I mean really deteriorated.

In November my friend Katrina took part in her first duathlon and persuaded me to do the 10k fun run whilst I was there cheering her on. There was nothing fun about it. I finished fourth in a very painful 47 minutes. I’d got carried away on the start line and set off thinking I was going to win it. Really! On no training?! What was I thinking?

After that there wasn’t much running at all. I started to experience pain in my knees from all the driving I was doing. My body felt weak. I’d lost all my strength and fitness, and at the end of the year, I was exhausted. The 5am starts and three-hour-long daily commute alongside my writing, horse-care, running and family commitments just weren’t sustainable. They were starting to take their toll on my body and mind. I knew I had to make a change. As with most things, this takes time, but there are some exciting changes coming in the New Year.

Watching the Barnsley 10k inspired me to get fit again and made me realise how much I’d missed running and racing. I wrote a post about How cheering on others can improve your running. In December, after a year away from racing, I decided that enough was enough. It was time to make a comeback. Forget about training, I just turned up and ran. I started with the hilly Silkstone Shuffle, then the challenging Traveller’s 6 with 800 feet of climbing, followed by the Ward Green 6 with 500 feet of climbing.

It was a tough start, but it was fantastic to be back. And what really made the difference is the support from friends on the local running scene. Thank you to everyone who cheered me on, offered some words of encouragement and welcomed me back. It means such a lot!

For 2019 I’m not going to set goals to run specific times. I just want to take a year to run, get fitter and enjoy the comeback.

Happy New Year!

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