Ever since I was 11 years old I have been told it is the winter training that determines how the following season will go. And ever since I was 11 years old I have hated running in the cold and wet and dark. It should therefore come as no surprise that I never really fulfilled the potential people thought I was capable of on the track when I was younger. It would also explain why I used to perform below my best all year and then peak at the end of the season, often beating others that were ahead of me a few months earlier.
Over the last two winters that I have been taking my running ‘more seriously’ I have either been ill and/or injured (or some other excuse to not run in the cold/wet/dark) and have therefore found myself repeating the aforementioned 20-something year old pattern.
As last year’s winter ‘excuses’ continued on into Spring, Summer and Autumn, I entered this winter having lost pretty much any run fitness I had last year but also injury free and healthy. During the time of complete run rest last November, I took the opportunity to find my feet with the gym (which must have initially been hilarious to any onlookers as I fumbled my way round the equipment), and spent time in the pool, actually feeling my way through the water.
The benefit of this is that I have been able to put my run rehab sessions into my training plan and easily slot the gym and swim sessions in around them. Having established a routine in each of the latter that I really enjoy, in my mind, now all I need to do is concentrate on the running. I am fairly strict about not straying too far from the running schedule which, in turn, makes it relatively easy to ensure I don’t miss (too many of) the other sessions.
So, fast forward 6 weeks since I began my run/walk sessions and I have progressed to running continuously for 30 minutes. My pace is quite erratic throughout each mile although overall I am maintaining a sensible progression of speed and distance. I wouldn’t say I feel overly comfortable running at the moment but the rhythm is slowly returning and I am enjoying having nothing to focus on but my next session, despite having my training plan written out for the rest of the year!
This may seem a tad premature but with no races planned for 2017 (except a 10k in April I entered last summer that I will use as a benchmark), it works well for me to have something to look forward to. In the past, training has been a means to and end (usually a race or to be sociable) so it is actually quite alien for me to not only stick to a plan for no other reason than to regain fitness but to find myself weirdly enjoying it all.
Even this photo of me at my first park run for a few months, which led to the scales and tape measure coming out and shocking me into the realisation that I was the biggest and heaviest I have EVER been, spurred me into making a year long resolution to ease myself out of the over indulgences I had become too reliant on.
Realistically I know this photo is not horrendous and I appreciate some people would be very happy being my size, but for ME, this is not where I want to be. My current stats rate me as ‘acceptable’, behind both the active and athletic categories. I know that as I increase my training, my diet will naturally fall in line with my nutritional needs, but there is no harm in making things a bit easier for myself.
I have committed to a 12 month resolution to give up something different each month. January began with alcohol and others include chocolate, caffeine and crisps. January has started well but I am not expecting it to be the most challenging one; I think caffeine will be hard, not because I’m addicted to it but because it is one thing that forms part of my daily routine and routine is my safety net. Caffeine is scheduled for June before I repeat January through to June again in the second part of the year.
I usually set myself running related goals but this challenge replaces those this year for two reasons: one, I don’t want to put any pressure on myself with things that are out of my control; and two, to raise awareness (and hopefully a few pennies) for some charities that mean a lot to me personally. I have set up the Facebook page Mind We Don’t Forget where I’ll be posting and sharing how each month is progressing. Check it out for more information on the charities and maybe be inspired to support me along the way.
For now though, onwards and upwards with the winter training and see what all the fuss is about!