On my obligatory Sunday morning long run today my mind drifted to the years highs and lows and what the future may hold in 2018. I have said many times on my blog you always need a goal otherwise what is the point, without a goal you can so easily turn into a ‘once a week’ runner or even worse a ‘jogger‘. The definition of a ‘jogger’ in my mind is someone who won’t commit to being a runner by putting in the time and also can be spotted by ‘jogging on the spot‘ at traffic lights. A real runner would never do this, instead they would stop their Garmin and wait patiently before exploding back into the run annoyed at the hold up; or worse in the middle of a Strava segment being stopped in your tracks when you were on for a PR or even CR. (you do have Strava right..? http://www.strava.com)
This morning as it is the holiday season I treated myself to a lay-in and started my Sunday morning run later than usual, around 10am. Unfortunately you pay for the lie-in with heat as your training partner and in summer this can become quite a struggle. Add in a hard 16k progressive the previous day and the 30k ahead of you is about as enticing as a turkey sandwich four days after Christmas. Needless to say I was tired after the first kilometre and things didn’t improve at all for the next two and a half hours. I counted down the kilometres one by one , every 5 minutes or so depending on the terrain. Every hill the pace slowed to a shuffle and even the down hill sections were a struggle, yep it was a good old fashioned ‘beating‘ in the heat. One thing I did notice is the second half of the run does get quicker as the kilometre’s are more reasonable figures. i.e. after 15k every new kilometre ticked off seems to be more of a reward than the previous. This is not the case with kilometre 1-15 where you are still moving towards the halfway point and the total seems so low but you are still moving so slow.
A 17k I must admit to having a sit down at a water stop and this turned into a 5 minute break from which I found it very hard to get going again. This is one of the main reasons I don’t carry money or a phone as I’m pretty sure I would have used both of these in this situation to get home quicker i.e. Uber ! After my mini-break (I was close to categorising the first 17k as one run and the next 13k as a seperate run, it was a long break ! ) I was starting back into a 1k hill which just about destroyed me but the next few kilometres were downhill so I stumbled down these and got enough of a second wind to make the 30k total I had set off to complete.
Lesson learned, wake up at 5am and run with the boys or at least in the cooler conditions, heat is a ‘bitch‘ ,and together with ‘hills‘ and ‘wind‘, (head wind only of course) is the runners mortal enemy when looking for a good time. (I mean good time in the hours and seconds sense not a good time in the Saturday night out with the boys sense.) These late runs do serve their purpose though and there is method in my madness. They teach you about mental toughness as the run really is a slog from the first step to the last. You need to have these runs once in a while because you will need this mental side to your running when you put on a bib, trust me. If every run was easy and required no effort then you won’t improve. Matt Fitzgerald realised this and stipulates 80% easy , 20% hard. (and remember “in Fitzgerald we trust“. http://mattfitzgerald.org/about-matt/ ) They both serve their purpose and both are needed to improve. All pace and you’ll eventually burn out or worse but with no pace you’ll just run slow, a lot , and when it comes time to step up you’ll be unable to maintain the required pace.
Of course this doesn’t make you feel any better when you are sitting in the shade after ‘suffering’ through 17k knowing you have at least 13k to go, with the temperature rising and your motivation draining away quicker than a bit coin portfolio when the truth eventually comes out. Pay back is when you crawl home and log the 30k run on Strava satisfied with completing this ‘once every few months‘ bad boy of a run. Personally I have run many of these and always normally just before the taper stage, so at the end of a long race preparation stage where distance is my friend. I actually know after one of these runs it is time to start tapering as my mind and body are fatigued. This is the case now as I have three weeks before I attempt my second 100k ultra, ( http://australiadayultra.com ) the one I promised myself I’d never run again (yeah right , as if that was ever going to happen?) For those new to my blog my friend Rob Donkersloot, owner of why walk when ( http://whywalkwhen.com ), put together this video of my first attempt this time last year. Worth a look…. https://vimeo.com/201134104
Right goals for 2018, remember I mentioned goals in the first paragraph which now seems a long time ago. ? Anyhow my goal for 2018 is the same as every year really, to run as much as possible and not slow down. Is this achievable as I reach 51 in a few months, not sure, maybe ? I’ll need my mental toughness that’s for sure as I feel this is the part of running that you lose first and once this weakens everything starts to fall apart. I feel 2016 was a stella year and an unexpected bonus as I was happy that 2013 was my best year , so far. The calf injury in 2017 made this year challenging but overall I’m happy with my times and even had a few PB’s and course records scattered among my results. The only downside is the runs are getting tougher and I realised that more this year than last. The enjoyment and motivation is still there but the training times of old seem to be unreachable these days. Even today I was reminiscing on some 30km plus long runs where my average would be hovering around the 3:50 minutes a kilometre, today it was nearly 5mins/k; admittedly it was hot and hilly. Could I run a 30km sub 4min/k average pace now , it would be a challenge, where-as a few years ago this was my Sunday go-to pace. In my defence I have embraced the 80/20 concept but several authors feel as you reach your fifties it is better to concentrate on pace rather than distance and spend more time in the gym performing specific activities tailored for the older athlete. Throw in nutrition and there is still a lot of variables for me to play about with as I enter 2018.
Last post of 2017, a good year with lots of great running adventures with good friends, great coffee, pancakes and world class muffins. I’m a lucky man to be able to surround myself with such good friends and live in perhaps the most perfect environment for running globally. There is lots to do next year and don’t you worry I’ll be writing about all of it. To sign off for 2017 I hope you all have a great New Year and lets make 2018 even better than 2017, bringing down our own personal best times and cranking up the distance for our longest run and race, remember it’s all about numbers. Yours in running……