A week on from #REDBED

Time to plan
Time to plan

Well it’s almost a week since I finished my Run Every Day / Blog Every Day #REDBED Challenge for December. And the eagle-eyed of you may have noticed it’s been a bit quiet on the blogging front since!

The even-more eagle-eyed readers will have also seen that has been no running either! So what happened?

Bring out the lurgy!

My nose may have rivaled this!

My nose may have rivaled this!

My original plan had been to run on New Year’s Day. But realising I’d also be running on 2nd January with my club I decided to bin NYD, to avoid the run streak going on and on.

However, things didn’t work out as planned. I went to bed early on NYD as I felt a little unwell and spent the rest of the week trying to clear this season’s cold-bug. Turns out it was a nasty little thing. Although clearing it in a few days I think I’ve done a lot better than many.

So whether there was a link between the run streak ending and the cold beginning I’m not sure. Certainly there were a lot of runners at the Race HQ (Pub) for Wormstones so it’s possible I picked it up from there. Needless to say, I think it was always going to be a matter of ‘when’ not ‘if’ it caught up with me and I feel fortunate that I managed to get through the whole of the December challenge first.

Speaking of Wormstones, according to the official results I was 42nd out of 95 finishers. So, much better than ‘last place’ to be in the top half of the results.

Did the end of the run-streak feel odd?

Prior to the end of the challenge, I was wondering how I was going to react to its end. With the exception of falling ill, which was an option I had considered but ignored (OOPS!), I questioned whether I’d miss the routine, or be glad to stop.

It's a Red Bed for #REDBED

It’s a Red Bed for #REDBED

I think on reflection I was glad to stop. As I mentioned above, when I realised that I could easily get a few more days onto the run streak, I made a conscious effort to put a break in.

What I found when running each day was that there was very little gradation in the runs. So unless I was doing a track session, or running up a big hill, most of the runs ended up at roughly the same pace. That’s fine for a period when specific training isn’t really going on. In fact it was quite useful to re-build my base-level training which had crumbled after the extended period of injury. But it was difficult to go out and push hard on a run, knowing that I’d have to run again tomorrow. And the next day.

Plans for 2018

Time to plan

Time to plan

It’s amazing, you finish 2017 and within a few hours, the talk on Twitter, Facebook and the Internet in general is “what are you 2018 goals”?

In the past few years, I’ve started in the January with a firm idea of what I want to achieve in that year. And to be fair, to date it’s been related to improving performance at specific distances. Reading on Twitter, I see many of the @UKRunChat group have booked up races for 2018; some already have entered more races than I think I’ll book on to throughout the year!

I guess having come back from injury (AGAIN), I’m being intentionally less focused along those lines.

Road races? I thought we weren’t going there any more?

I said a number of times in 2017 that I was looking to switch across from predominantly road races to those happening off road. New challenges and hopefully avoid the old injuries.

Thus far, I’ve got 4 road HMs and 1 trail ultra booked in for 2018. On the surface that looks like I’ve changed my mind about the switch, but that isn’t the case. That’s the sum total of road events for 2018; One is my favourite race. Another is one I’ve planned on doing for years and never managed. A third is my first international race which I’m doing with the @UKRunChat crowd. And the final one is local and seemed to get great reviews in 2017; a day where I was actually racing even more locally on a course that wasn’t that bad either!

Fell running. Not falling whilst running

2017 was the first year when I actively set out to run some fell races. I’ll admit, I was scared of the unknown. Being someone able to trip over his own feet on a level surface in broad daylight, I just saw fell running as an accident waiting to happen for me.

But I got out there and I’m glad I did. To say the experience was liberating was an understatement. I’m running in far more interesting places with no expectations regarding my performances. That will change with time and experience, but it feels like a new book, not a new chapter. I’m so much more aware of things I don’t know that I want to learn about.

It’s not for everyone. But if you’re in the Stockport area and have a chance to get up to Lyme Park for either our weekly parkrun (5k) or monthly Trust10 (10k) do it! Both are more towards the ‘trail’ end of the spectrum of off-road-running. But with marked courses and a mixture of terrain to play with they’re a good starting place.

Map skills

I’ve managed the best part of 5 decades of my life without needing to read a map. It’s a skill I’ve started to build up, but one that’s going to take a lot more practice. So 2018 will involve a lot more work on navigation. It’s something that is essential once you’re running in places more remote than your local roads.

More fun. More adventure

Don’t get me wrong, I do love racing. But the nature of many events is becoming increasingly corporate, which is something I don’t like. Huge events means huge crowds and generally hugely expensive. Almost to the point where the ‘race’ itself seems to be secondary to the ‘event’ itself. When organisers can charge £40 for a 10k and look you in the eye as if that’s OK, I feel that corporate greed has taken over from enthusiasts wanting to put on a good race. Whilst I’m sure that in the 12 years I’ve entered races that costs have gone up, value for money of too many events has gone down.

My running (albeit historically road based) has always been driven by my desire to improve. It’s something that’s within me; I suspect the mechanism is the mental health trait of perfectionism which wreaks havoc in many parts of my daily life. However, for reasons beyond me, it actually seems to have a positive place in my life when applied to running. It’s that buzz that has caused me to drive all over the place to get to races and to enjoy the experience; new route, new course, different distances. Even if I seem to default to a 13.1 mile distance when on a road!

I see 2018 as something quite exciting. Lots of things I want to do. And no pressure to do any of them. That’s a nice place to be going to.

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