I wasn’t planning on writing a review of the year, but when I saw this infographic of my 2015, I realised it didn’t really tell the full story.
Just looking at the pattern of red and grey dots in the active days shows how it really was a year of two halves: I ran every day for the first six months, then struggled to get any consistency after it.
The real story of the year actually started just before Christmas last year. I’d been targeting 1,500 miles for 2014 and, at the start of December, was just about on course – until a bout of the flu wiped me out for a week and kept me off running for 10 days.
When I started back just before Christmas, I was 60 miles short of target with only 10 days to go. With the extra time gained from being off work, I managed to clock up not just 60 but 70 miles in those days and beat my target with a fantastic, 10-mile NYE run near home.
With one 50-mile week in the bag, I wondered if I could do two back-to-back. And then three.
Aside from a light (47-mile) week around the Four Villages Half Marathon, I actually managed a minimum of 50 miles a week right through my training for the Stafford 20, and up to my taper for Manchester Marathon.
And I was loving it.
The Wings For Life World Run two weeks later was always going to be ‘just for fun’ – but I’d underestimated how much fun it would turn out to be!
In mid-May, I clocked up 1,000 miles for the year – the earliest I’d ever reached that milestone, while a week later I ran my first Sub-20 Parkrun. Even without my usual autumn marathon in Chester – off the plan for family reasons this year – hitting 2,000m for the year seemed a foregone conclusion, and my 5k PB of 19:52 (Southport, 1998) was also there for the taking.
First, I needed a trail run – the Borrowdale Trail 21k – and a few weeks of distance to prepare for the Ultimate Trails 55k. I’ll still say that was one of my favourite runs ever, but running the last 26 miles on an increasingly painful ankle wasn’t my smartest move.
The runstreak that had begun over Christmas was over. Not until I’d done seven weeks of rest and plenty of physic was I allowed to even think about running again. And by then, my running mojo had long since turned on its heels and left.
The second half of the year, therefore, has been a slow and uneventful tale of nursing my achilles back to health. Lots of slow runs, with no target to aim for and no motivation to push myself to hit speeds I could have done in my sleep a few months earlier.
My biggest achievement – and not to be underestimated – is that I’ve been sensible throughout and, while still a long way short of fitness, I’ve been able to recover without any setbacks.
I end the year having not pinned another number to my vest since June, a long way short of 2,000 miles for the year, and more than a stone heavier than I was in the summer.
Next year will look very different. I’m still hoping to do Manchester Marathon – my 5th in a row – but won’t be troubling this year’s PB. I’ve got a spring ultra in the diary and will spend most of the first half of the year trying to build enough stamina to survive The Wall.
After that, who knows? Providing I’m not nursing another ultra injury back to health, I’m tempted to properly target a good half-marathon time – first at Warrington and then at the new Manchester Half in October.
But that’s a long way off. If this year has taught me anything, it’s not to get carried away or look too far ahead, especially when there’s a mammoth ultra in the way.
Thanks for all the support you’ve given me during the year. Next year has a lot to live up to, but I’m confident that, on June 18, it will do just that.
Happy New Year!
1,684 miles run
292 runs, including:
1 Marathon PB
1 Parkrun PB
1 amazing ultra
1 episode of achilles tendinopathy