Can you believe it? The end of the year is in sight. We’re currently occupying that no-man’s land between Christmas and New Year (what actual day is it anyway?) when people begin to realise just how much they’ve eaten whilst at the same time declaring that they really don’t have enough food and drink in for New Year! Television adverts have morphed seamlessly from unfeasible promises of the mythical “perfect Christmas” to the assertion that we must all now need new kitchens/bathrooms/furniture (cut price sofa anyone?) interspersed with false promises of the sort of incredible sale bargains only attained by those prepared to get up at 3am on Boxing Day to queue then enter what can only be described as a scrum when the shop doors are opened!
This time of year is also great for reflecting on the year just past and planning for the bright, shiny new year ahead. It has become tradition for me to write a blog post doing just that, at least as far as running is concerned, and it would seem I’m not alone as most blogs I have read recently have been on this very topic. And so I guess it’s about time I wrote mine (assisted today by Morven who clearly thinks that such endeavours require the supervision of a cat!).
This time last year things were very different for me: I had been struggling with a variety of injury problems and every time I thought things were improving, a new issue would raise its head – I was pretty much writing my 2012 review from the injury bench! Fed up with the constant setbacks which I felt were hampering my progress as a runner, I made the decision to take a step back and spend 2013 concentrating on tackling the issues head-on, rebuilding my mileage and, indeed, rebuilding myself as the all-new Running Princess version 2.0. My quest to create this updated version of myself ultimately included physio, strength work and some work on the way I actually move.
As with all updates, there were some successes but also some glitches along the way and one or two bug fixes were necessary. No sooner was I able to begin some tentative running again, but I got the flu and was more or less out of the game for a month. I changed to a more minimal running shoe and adjusted my foot strike which led to faster times, but caused a flare-up on the inside of my left calf in the autumn as I had not strengthened that particular muscle enough for my new running style. But despite these glitches, I believe my rebuild to have been an overall success.
It was a success because I have been able to run consistently throughout the year. I didn’t set any time or distance goals for 2013, yet I did run a 10K PB at the Great Women’s Run followed by a series of successes over 5K in the summer. I ran a PB over that distance not just once, but 3 times whilst on holiday and won age group prizes in 2 races before coming back home and running a 5K PB at the Perth Kilt Run. No one was more surprised at all of this than me!
It was a success because the problems I’ve had in the past have not returned. I spent a great deal of time working on my foot strike and form, building my mileage gradually alongside work to ensure the joints in my foot and ankle which are prone to “locking” remain moving well. Even when my left calf flared up, I was able to continue running throughout my treatment thanks to some well-placed tape around my foot. I’ve continued to stretch and strengthen my muscles and this, alongside regular Metafit classes, has contributed to a pronounced increase in my range of motion which is most noticeable when doing squats.
Most crucially, it was a success because I am finishing the year feeling strong, running well and ready to meet my goals in 2014. I have been going to 2 Metafit classes a week and it was this class which I credit with my success over 5K in the summer. I have been training consistently throughout December, even braving some of the coldest, windiest weather to head out for a run when in the past I might have been tempted onto the treadmill – it’s made for some rather “character building” runs, but should also help me feel strong as my mileage increases (and made me feel hardcore at the time for heading out!). I have seen encouraging mile splits in my recent runs and am really enjoying getting out regularly with a goal to work towards.
And that goal? Well I’ve already written in depth about my challenge for 2014 both in a post and a new page on my blog. I will be running 3 full marathons, 2 half marathons and an assortment of other races between April and September to a raise funds for MacMillan Cancer Support. With such a big challenge ahead, I need to remain strong and injury-free, something which I feel very optimistic about right now. I’ve got my training plan in place, built some solid base miles and feel much fitter than I normally do in December: Running Princess v2.0 is go!
Realistically, my goal is simply to complete the challenge in one piece, but it would be fantastic if I could pick up a some new PBs along the way, particularly over the marathon distance as I feel I have unfinished business there. Who know what I’ll have to report this time next year!
What are your goals for 2014?