It’s twelve months since I first started writing this blog, nearly six months since the NDW50 & I’m about to embark on training my next challenge. NDW50’s sister race, the SDW50.
I’ve had a great summer of running, but it’s been just that, running. I never wanted to be writing about every mile I covered, so I haven’t. This blog is more about the runs that I do that challenge me, that push me, that take me outside of my comfort zone & beyond. The running that I do that I want to remember.
I re-read my NDW50 post the other day. As I read the words I had written, I was taken right back to that day in May. I relived the the sights, the sounds, the people, the feelings. Not usually a particularly emotional person I had tears in my eyes as I was reminded of what I had done, what I had achieved.
I was reminded of what I can do when I set my mind to it. My mind believed & my body achieved.
I ran 50 miles.
It made me excited for what’s to come next, for 2018’s challenges, for the SDW50 & another go at the NDW50.
I began to focus my mind for the journey ahead.
Not writing over the summer isn’t to say that I haven’t been challenging myself, I’ve been challenging myself in many different ways & I’ve had some flipping amazing runs!
My quest to cover the whole of the North Downs Way has taken me as far as Hollingbourne, about 86 miles in. I’m hoping to make it to 100 miles by the end of 2017. 18 months ago as a 100% road runner I didn’t even know that the North Downs Way existed!
I’ve had my first adventures on the South Downs. On a misty September morning & after a two & a half hour train journey I ran 17 miles from Southease to the finish in Eastbourne. A new area, a new trail, by myself, I navigated, I didn’t get lost, I climbed 2,000ft in the first 16 miles. Again, the change in my running to 18 months ago (in reality pre-long term injury in 2014) is significant. In those days I rarely left the streets of Croydon.
A few weeks later I ran from Fishergate, just outside Brighton, to Lewes, 18 miles away. 10 miles were on the SDW, eight on local trails & roads. So at 27 miles, that’s over half of the SDW50 covered! Like with the NDW I would like to try & recce the whole route before race day if I can.
In August I ran the Vanguard Way Marathon. Quite possibly my most favourite race EVER (I’m taking NDW50 out of the equation). A trail I knew well so I didn’t have to worry about navigation (thankfully, as some runners ran upwards of 28 miles, I was bang on 26.2!). A gorgeously sunny August morning, runable trails, hills, stunning views, great company & fifth lady! A run I am proud of. Am I allowed to say that? I ran well, I ran strong, I loved every single minute & was absolutely delighted with my finish time & position. This race simply was everything I’ve grown to love about running!
A mere six days later my second attempt at the Thames Meander Marathon was a different story. A piece of advise here, don’t try to run a marathon PB less than a week after smashing a tough, hilly trail marathon. It won’t end well. Or with a PB.
And to round the summer off, quite possibly the MOST fun I have ever had in a race at the Bacchus Half-Marathon at Denbies Vineyard in September. 13.1 hilly, trail miles with WINE SAMPLING at the aid stations whilst dressed as a unicorn. I think I will let the photos tell this story…
There have been many more miles. I’ve just tipped over 1,400 for the year which is my highest ever annual milage (previously 1,365 in 2013) & I could write hundreds, if not thousands of words about them. I probably have an equal number of photos to be honest.
So the beginning of November, where are we now?
Less than six months until the SDW50. This is the big one for 2018. I say that but it comes a mere four months into the year. There may be others.
I like a plan & structure, it’s generally how I work best in life, not just running. My 20 weeks of training starts on 20th November. I’m not working with a coach this year so am currently creating my own training plan using the basics from the plan Bea wrote for me last year, expanding & adapting.
My second fifty. I now know a little what to expect, although with that I don’t want to become complacent. Over the past 12 months I’ve grown as a runner. I am stronger than I was a year ago, I understand more about how I run, how I recover, what works & doesn’t work for me. I’ve learnt the importance of strength training, of easy runs, of rest days, of listening to my body (what a strange phase but runners will understand!) & sports massages. I feel with the right training more ready to tackle 50 miles & I think it is only natural that I would like to improve on this year!
So my goals? They are simple
- To enjoy my training.
- To stay injury free. (Yes, I accept that with the volume of miles I run niggles & sore bits are inevitable but I would like to avoid serious injury).
- To complete both SDW50 & NDW50 with a smile.
- To beat my 2017 time at NDW50 in 2018.
I need to remember to run sensibly. To not to do too much & to realise that sometimes not running & rest is better than pushing on if something is not right. I need to make sure I don’t become over confident. A strange one. Yes, I have run 50 miles before, I now know I can do it, but the distance & training still demands respect. Just because I have before, doesn’t mean I can again. It’s going to take a lot of hard work to get to those finish lines.
So this is it. The journey is starting again.
I like having something to work towards, a goal, a plan. I AM SO FLIPPING EXCITED! Come join me for the ride.
* I don’t know in what direction this blog will take, I am never going to be a prolific writer but in the same way that my NDW50 2017 stories are preserving the adventures of my first 50 miles, I would like to hold on to my 2018 adventures too.