200 miles in, 800 to go. There’s no turning back now!
This morning I passed the 200 mile mark on my quest to run 1,000 miles this year. On a challenge like this, the first part is particularly tough. Firstly, because you’ve got to get yourself into a fairly strict routine which is never easy and is a change from the norm; secondly, you’ve just emerged from the season of eating, drinking and having a good time; and thirdly, the weather is grim and it is dark outside of normal working hours in the week. So I’m glad to have got through this bit! Actually the weather hasn’t been as grim as it might have been this winter. Certainly I’ve done no running in snow or frost, and I can’t remember the last time that happened in January or February, so that’s something to be thankful for.
Since January I have been on a strict diet of three training runs per week. Generally this breaks down to two shorter runs midweek, then a longer run at the weekend when I have the time to fit it in. As well as trying to run a thousand miles this year, I am also in training for the Edinburgh marathon at the end of May, so as the training plan rolls forward the long runs become very long and the shorter runs tend to be at least an hour long.
Since February I have also started doing a weekly boot camp class at my local gym. This has been a welcome addition to my training routine and has been easy to accommodate physically as the class focuses mainly on upper body strength and even the leg work in these sessions can prove to be useful both as strength and stretching exercises, which I think is doing me good and complementing my running. There is a risk that I could overdo things by adding an additional weekly exercise to my routine, particularly when I am supposed to be recovering from really long runs, so I’ll just need to keep an eye on this going forward.
The year started with a reasonably hilly six mile run in Malvern at an average pace of 9:13 per mile. This is generally quite slow for me for (just over) 10k, but I was just pleased get off the mark, and the hills in Malvern slow everyone down! My longest run this year was last weekend in Bournemouth where I did ten miles at 8:52 per mile. This represents a good improvement in both pace and distance, which is pleasing, although the progress hasn’t been linear. There are days when I run much slower than that over a shorter distance, which I think is generally down to shorter recovery times – I always run faster when I’ve had at least two days prior rest.
I need to vary my routes to keep things interesting. In this two-month period I have run in Malvern, Bridgnorth, Stow-on-the-Wold, Birmingham and Bournemouth. I’ve also done around 30 of my miles on the treadmill which is the option of last resort, but a more appealing alternative to running in pouring winter rain! I have also done some of my runs on the Malvern hills in my trail running shoes, which I really love. The pace is slower but the hills really do give your legs a workout so I think that’s a good trade off, and the views are stunning. I look forward to when the weather and light improves in the mornings so I can spend more time on the hills and perhaps split my longer runs into part-road, part-trail to mix it up and keep things interesting.
I’ve been lucky with injuries so far. At the end of last year I saw a physiotherapist about some hip discomfort and while I haven’t been as strict with myself with the exercises as I should have been, the pain has definitely subsided since I started my proper training. I am also conscious of my right knee just reminding me that it’s there occasionally, particularly at the beginning of runs, again, another thing to watch out for but it’s nothing I’m too worried about at the moment.
There are now eleven weeks to go before the Edinburgh marathon, which really isn’t long! This weekend will be my first half marathon distance for a good few months. This will be the first of many 13 + mile runs that I will do between now and the big day. I’m still deciding how long my longest training run will be. The last time I trained for a marathon I maxed out at 21 miles in training. As it happens, it was mile 21 during the actual marathon where three leg muscles seized up at the same time. I did finish the marathon, but that last five miles didn’t half hurt! This is on my mind so I may up it to 23 or 24 miles in my training to overcome that psychological barrier.
So, onto the next 200 miles, which, if things go to plan, I should complete quicker than the first 200, as my training runs get longer. As much as I want to get faster I am not setting myself any pace targets the moment except to continue to enjoy my running as the mileage starts to increase.
I will be posting my progress on Twitter and Instagram, and Strava will be tracking everything, so please do follow me and shout words of encouragement! I may recount any particularly notable, amusing or painful stories on this blog and will certainly review miles 200-400 in a few weeks’ time.
I would, as ever, be very grateful for any advice. I do a lot of running, but I’m not vastly experienced so am still learning and experimenting with everything from routes and clothing, to nutrition and accessories.
To the next phase of the 2022 running challenge….!