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Review of 2013 Running

Sun 16th March 2014

To improve at anything, you have to analyse and reflect upon what you have done to work out whether what you are doing is effective, and what you could change. 2013 was the first whole calendar year that I took running really seriously; before that I ran for fitness and did a 10k race each year. I got a GPS watch in 2010, which coincided with parkrun coming to the Southampton area, both of which motivated me to improve a little more. I then took the decision to join a running club in late 2012, as I felt I’d run out of ideas for how to progress my running, and the added structure quickly helped my times.

Winter

Starting to train with a club in October 2012 meant I was doing a lot more mileage, because I was training more times each week, and that training involved more intervals and hills, so rapidly improved my fitness and speed. This meant that going into January 2013 I was very confident. I set myself a goal of running 100 miles per month (~25mi per week). In 2011 I ran 1001 miles, which was quite a challenge at the time. With my increased training, 100 miles per month felt achievable.

Rikki at the Stubbington 10k 2013

Stubbington 10k 2013

I ran Stubbington 10k in January, with the aim of testing my fitness and using that to plan my target for Eastleigh in March, as my previous 10k was June 2012 (44:27, first time under 45 minutes) at the D-Day 10k. I was extremely pleased with a 42:11 in the cold and snow! I also discovered Dulwich parkrun in Feburary – definitely the fastest parkrun course I’ve run at.

January was my second highest mileage month, with 117 miles, while I just about got to 100 in February (I blame the 3 fewer days), running 4 or 5 times a week!

Spring

A strong winter definitely benefited my spring, resulting in an all-time 10k PB at Eastleigh 10k of 39:24. I was absolutely ecstatic to dip under 40 minutes for the first time, and I felt strong. I passed Paul Johnson at about the 5 mile mark who told me to stop looking at my watch, which I promptly did and left him in my wake (for the only time in my running career)! πŸ™‚

A few weeks prior to Eastleigh I also set a 10 mile PB at Salisbury 10, by going under 70 minutes for the first time (1:09:16). Very pleased with this, as it was a last minute decision to go and enter on the day, as I hadn’t planned for it because of Eastleigh. However, I was feeling fit and felt it would be good practice for Eastleigh.

Eastleigh 10k 2013

Eastleigh 10k 2013

April also saw the first Lordshill Road Runners magic mile, my first entry into the Lakeside 5k series in Portsmouth (which I had considered doing for about 3 years before), and a trip to Poland to do a parkrun double in Gdynia and Gdansk. The trip was magnificent, with some great people and a nice chance to do some parkrun tourism. The chance to do two parkruns was great, and the hospitality from the Poland parkrun country manager was way above the call of duty – thanks Jakub and thanks to Peter for organising!

I was hoping to build on my performance at Eastleigh going into the Netley 10k, but misjudged my pacing. I ran in my first inaugural parkrun (Brockenhurst), which was quite fun to see the excitement of something new. I had volunteered at Southampton inaugural, but it was nice to run one too.Β Mileage was good, with April being third highest of the year (113 miles) and 101 in the other two months.

Summer

Lots happened! I ran at the first ever Gosport Golden Mile, which was a very fun and very well organised event, blessed with wondrous weather on the day. I had an off-day at D-Day 10k, but that was the last 10k planned for a fair few months.

Mile of Miles

Mile of Miles

In June I ran the Lavant Mid Summer 5 for the first time. 5 mile PB by virtue of the fact it was my first since September 2012, but I didn’t run very well, due to a combination of it being an evening race and quite hot. Talking of evening races, I did a couple of RR10s for the first time (another race I’d thought of doing for many years, but had never been in a club). I didn’t do that many due to clashes with Lakeside 5ks (which I’d already paid for) and tennis lessons, but the ones I did were fun: like CC6s but with better weather πŸ™‚

By this point I had become pretty consistent at running 5ks in the mid-19 minutes, and hoped to eventually push this down towards sub-19. My PB of 19:21 at the third Lakeside 5k race was the closest I came.

July saw the start of an increase in race length. First was the New Forest 10, which I had entered in 2012, but was cancelled the day before due to flooding. I had heard it was a nice race, so was determined to run it. The weather was fantastic. Too fantastic. A fairly late start (11.15am) meant it was absolutely scorching the whole way round. Despite being through the New Forest, there was nowhere near enough shade, but the race was nice, if tough in the conditions.

Chelmsford Central parkrun

Chelmsford Central parkrun

I also went to my first Thunder Run. This is a 24 hour relay race, with laps of 10k cross-country, in teams of 1-8 (we had 7). I could go into details, but I wrote a whole blog post about my Thunder Run 2013 experience. Lessons learned: get trail shoes and hope there isn’t a thunder storm!

Training for the Great North Run started about this time. This was semi-structured, taking into account which training sessions I managed to get to, races I went to and then filled in with some tempo and long runs to make the mileage up to a steadily increasing value (with a few lighter weeks in there too). This included doing the Arundel Castle 10k as a warm up race for the Great North Run, but as it was steadily uphill for the first 5km it wasn’t easy to compare!

I did a significant amount of parkrun tourism over the summer, visiting Bromley, Andover, Conkers, Winchester, Chelmsford Central, Lloyd Park and Bournemouth. Again, mileage was good, with July topping the year at 124 miles.

Autumn

Great North Run Certificate

Great North Run Certificate

The big race of September was the one I had been preparing for all summer. The Great North Run meant a weekend away to the north-east, via Braunstone parkrun in Leicester for Saturday morning leg stretcher. The race was far busier than I expected, but I managed to settle into a pace, and despite the constant up and down of flyovers, the mid-race rain and lack of scenery I think I ran a pretty good race. I didn’t go under 90 minutes as I’d hoped, but knocked 17 minutes off my previous half-marathon best.

I decided to have a go at getting into the top 65 of the HRRL to get my name on a mug, so signed up for the Solent Half and Gosport Half, having missed the Overton 5 and Victory 5 because of the Great North Run. This meant keeping my half-marathon training going through the autumn. September was wrapped up with a trip to the Isle of Wight for a parkrun and the discovery of hip and glute strengthening exercises.

The Solent half came a month after the Great North Run. I had heard it was a bit hilly, so decided to use it as preparation for Gosport rather than go flat out. I succeeded in implementing my plan of running a fairly comfortable pace for 10 miles, then run 90 minute half-marathon pace for the last 3 miles.

Football - the cause of all injuries?

Football – the cause of all injuries?

Then injury struck. In a football match (19th October), while taking a goal kick, I felt a strain in right glute or hamstring. Then, somewhat stupidly, I tried to play in a 5-a-side tournament with a few Lordshillers the day after. That was painful! Unfortunately it was the Great South Run the week after (I signed up after getting into the Great North Run – thinking I might as well do both), and I thought I’d give it a go, as it’s an expensive race to skip. I pretty much stopped training in the hope that my injury would heal in time for Gosport.

Winter

Gosport Half - painful by this stage!

Gosport Half – painful by this stage!

Injury plagued the tail end of my 2013. What started as a strain of one of the gluteal muscles or hamstring became a general problem throughout my hips. Clearly running while still injured had knock on effects. Typically a run would start fine, but after a mile or two some muscles around my hips would tighten up, making it difficult to run smoothly.

The Gosport Half was a strange affair. I’m not sure I warmed up as much as I would have liked, because parking was a little tricky. The first mile and a half didn’t feel too bad, so I tried to stay at target pace. Then the tightness set in. It wasn’t particularly painful, so I kept the pace up. My hips actually eased up around 8 miles, though I’m not sure if this is because my form deteriorated or because I needed an 8 mile warm up! However, my pace then dropped as the lack of recent training became apparent. I ended up running at 90 minute pace for about 9 or so miles, then slowed down over the last 3. I still ended up running a little faster than at the Great North Run, so set a half-marathon PB, but not what I was hoping for.

After Gosport I ran at the Lakeside 5k 2014 prologue race (which was a new route that I really enjoyed), and the Christmas Pudding 10k in Christchurch. Again, I probably ran them both too hard, and delayed my recovery. Other than a few parkruns, I tried to rest up as best as possible over Christmas. This resulted in mileage of 46 in November and 59 in December.

Summary

It’s taken me some time to actually sit down and write this, probably because I was a little down about being injured and not being able to train as much as I had earlier in the year. However, on reflection I’ve got a lot to be happy about in 2013.

I set PBs in all distances I race. I’m obviously very proud of this, but it has raised my expectations about how fast I should run all the time πŸ™‚ I also became much more comfortable with racing the half-marathon distance; I had only done 2 before this year, and having trained hard for the Great North Run and continued that through to Solent Half and Gosport Half, I’m much happier that I can run the distance well.

2013 was also my highest mileage year by 166 miles. I surpassed my 2011 previous high of 1001 in the middle of October and it was only injury that stopped me continuing at the same rate.

I finally got my parkrun 50 t-shirt, and did a whole bunch of parkrun tourism taking my total different parkruns up to 22, including 2 inaugurals and 2 outside the UK. Using running as a vehicle for visiting other parts of the country and the world has been really enjoyable this year.

  • Mile – 05:23 (LRR Magic Mile #3, 10th September 2013)
  • parkrun – 19:25 (Southampton parkrun, 5th October 2013)
  • 5km – 19:21 (Lakeside 5k Race 3, 26th June 2013)
  • 5 miles – 33:21 (Lavant Mid Summer 5, 19th June 2013)
  • 10km – 39:24 (Eastleigh 10k, 24th March 2013)
  • 10 mile – 1:09:16 (Salisbury 10, 10th March 2013)
  • Half-marathon – 1:32:21 (Gosport Half, 17th November 2013)

Future

My first target for 2014 is to get stronger and more flexible. Hopefully this will help me avoid similar injuries in the future. I will be doing this by signing up to the Run Camp Level 1 running technique course and start yoga again.

Once I get running again I would like to try some shorter distances. While I enjoyed my sojourn into half-marathons, I’m not a massive fan of the really long runs. I am less interested in attempting a marathon any time soon. What I discovered in 2013 is that really enjoyed running the mile, so I think I’ll have a go at a 1500m, and maybe an 800m or 3000m at some point during 2014.

With less emphasis on the long distance races, I don’t have to intentionally aim to increase my mileage. Obviously if I get my training back up to the level it was I’ll be running 25-30 miles a week, but I’m not pressuring myself to do that. I also don’t expect to run particularly well this year. I think it will take a winter of hard training to get back to how fit I was before injury, and I’m not sure how soon I will be able to start training again.

I have some long term goals, and some that are more realistic for 2014:

Distance 2014 Long Term
1 mile 5:20 5:10
5km 19:30 sub-19
10km 41:00 sub-39
half-marathon sub-90
other run a 1500 and 800, compete at discus
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From → Running

2 Comments
  1. OMG – a blog post with photos! πŸ˜‰ You’ve made amazing progress in the last year or so, and have set yourself some great goals. If you’re sticking with the shorter distances, I guess we can’t ask you to do your 5 laps at Thunder Run back to back, but 5 separate 10ks would be fine.

    • I did it for you Tamsyn! Luckily I have a folder of my running photos, so it was easy this time. I’m happy to do whatever’s needed at Thunder Run, as long as I don’t have to train for it πŸ™‚

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