At the beginning of the year I set my running goals and actually wrote them down on an intranet forum. They were; to run 2,000 miles this year and complete my first hundred miler.
When I wrote them in January I genuinely thought they were achievable. Without writing them down I also had it in mind to run a couple more 50’s too. That all changed in January, on 26th January to be precise and in the aftermath of the Wychavon Way ultra.
I ran the Wychavon Way ultra (walked most of it tbh) and while a day out running in the hills and fields is always a good day I was so undercooked that it became a slog. An absolute slog. Emotionally if not particularly physically draining. Looking back now there was a certain amount of arrogance in my approach to the event. I knew I was undercooked but it was only 40 miles. Only. I hadn’t trained much for a variety of reasons (chiefly injury and illness) but it was only 40 miles. My longest run on the lead up was about 13 miles or so but it’s would be ok because it was only 40 miles.
I am not sure when I started thinking 40 miles was a good distance to just rock up and have a go at but that’s what did.
I finished and I wasn’t last either.
Immediately after I was thinking about the day I had just had and decided that for this year at least I won’t be running that kind of distance again. I also took the 100miler off the table too. What I realised as I sat in the car being driven post-race was that running really long distances is fun and I love it, I mean I really love it, but it was starting to feel like a chore. Like a job, almost. I’m going to contradict myself a little now because if this could be my job that would be awesome! I love to run but when you need to train for long distances it can become a chore and that actually more than anything you cannot fake it. You can run a 10km or even a half marathon on little training and it’s fine. It will be a rough hour or two or maybe even three. But an ultra is 8, 10 or even 24hours. You need to be ready for that and you eed to be trained.
This is the root of my decision, I run all the time, often twice a day and currently average around 40 miles a week. My longest training run this year has been 13.6 miles. This is fine. I love thins kind of running. I ran home earlier this week and it was only 2.8 miles but one of the best runs I can remember. I was flying along, a light rucksack, early spring sun warm and bright, I felt great physically and just bounced a long effortlessly. To use cycling parlance it was like there was no chain. That’s what I want my running to be. I don’t want to feel like running for 20 minutes but have to do a 3hr effort. I want to be able to do the runs I want when I want.
Hence the decision.
I might yet hit 2,000 miles and I may change my mind again as the year progresses and I feel more trained. This year so far I have done 70 runs at an average distance of a little over 5.5miles each. I am more than happy with that.
I have a couple of races in the diary. A trail marathon on May 5th and the Cheltenham Challenge half later in June. That feels good enough for now.
It feels good enough because when I put my running shoes on I am running without pressure, without expectation and can do as much or as little as I want without worrying that I haven’t hit a target or goal for that week. If I want to run fast then I do (speed is relative so don’t look at my numbers too closely) if I’m not feeling it I don’t have to.
It’s great, I’m loving running again.