After clocking up a personal best 817 running miles during 2016, a knee injury towards the end of the year ruled me out of participating at all in the 100 Peaks Challenge and led to a real slump in motivation during the majority of 2017 which saw me making far less frequent trips to the gym for strength work, pack in running altogether by October as I no longer got any enjoyment at all out of it and by the Christmas / New Year period tip the scales at close to 16 ½ stone which is the heaviest I've ever been. With hindsight, I should have seen sense and not taken part in the 2016 Kielder Marathon. Training had gone reasonably well, I was confident of beating my previous time, then race day came and I woke up feeling not entirely 100%. When I got off the coach at the start I felt worse and by 5k in I was already wishing it was over. I eventually staggered across the finish line in spot on 6 hours and no doubt planted the seeds for the injuries and burnout to follow. In 2017 I tried to get my motivation back for signing up for the local Morpeth 2 Newcastle marathon. Halfway through my training plan the event was cancelled and that really was the proverbial straw. My Granddad was a hugely influential figure in my childhood and I was particularly in awe of his time in the British Military. Whilst I wasn't able to follow him in to the Army I do try to live up to his legacy and pay tribute to the memories I have of him. To date I have completed both the Winter & Summer edition of the Fan Dance, Nine Paras10 events, 5 marathons and ¾ of an Ultra Marathon. The ultimate aim is to be able to call myself an IRONMAN.
WHAT DO I WANT TO ACHIEVE ?
My main focus for the next 12 - 16 months is on the 2019 running of The Wall ultra marathon, a one day 69 mile run from Carlisle Castle across the country to the Newcastle Upon Tyne Quayside loosely following the route of Hadrian's Wall. I first attempted this in June 2013 when I was far less experienced as a runner and, after following what turned out to be a highly inadequate training plan, I had to voluntarily withdraw from the race at the 52 mile checkpoint when everything simultaneously seized up and finishing those last 17 mile felt about as likely as turning round and doing the same 52 mile back to the start. Since running my first 10K in 2011 I've run 30+ races since at The Wall is the only time I've crossed a start line and not crossed the finish line. Finishing those 69 mile will be a big personal achievement and put to bed 6 years of what if's.
WHAT CHANGES AM I MAKING ?
Diet is the first change I am making, I am very aware that being 16st is not healthy for me and will not enable me to run 69 mile so I am taking more interest than I ever have done not only just in what I eat but in calorie count, when and how often I eat, effects on weight gain / loss and protein, carb, fibre content etc. In previous years, particularly during marathon training programs, I haven't got the balance right between strength training and running miles. Rather than self program my strength work I am following the Stronglifts 5x5 app sticking to compound lifts and three 45 minute sessions per week. On a similar note and in terms of running training, 2016 in particular I suffered from the effects of overtraining. Partially out of a reluctance to take rest days and partially due to a lack of confidence and a feeling than if I take some time off I'll have to work harder to get back to where I was, I would just keep running. I'm paying more attention to how I'm feeling both physically and mentally, 10 - 20 mins a day Headspace meditation, and adjusting or taking rest days if the signs of over-training start appearing.
MY PLANS FOR 2018 AND BEYOND.
2018 `is very much a training year for me. I didn't run at all between the Great Scottish Run on 1st October 2017 and my local Parkrun on 27th January 2018 so it is going to be a year of steadily building up the mileage and concentrating on bringing my body weight down. The first six months of 2019 will be spent following a Wall Run specific training plan up until the event itself. Beyond that, my focus will change slightly from running to triathlon in particular taking the plunge and starting open water swimming and developing front crawl technique. The plan is to complete the Slateman triathlon in 2020 then either Wales or Bolton IRONMAN, to be decided, in 2021. Separately to above, an ongoing in the background, I have a personal goal of joining the 1000lb club - in one session, lifting a combined 1000lb or above between single rep squat, deadlift and bench press.
MY PERSONAL PROMISE.
I will follow both my strength and running training plans to ensure I am as ready as possible when I set off from Carlisle Castle but also, I wouldn't have managed to achieve what I have over the last few years without the help and support of many friends so I will do everything I can to help and inspire those around me and show that, if you put the work in, you can achieve your goals no matter how big.