So, by now you may have read my ever-so-slightly puerile review of 2012, in which I looked back at the running resolutions I’d set myself this time last year. The purpose of today’s post is to set myself some new goals in the hope that they’ll imbue me with a sense of purpose and laser-guided single-mindedness, rather than my default setting of “jogging round in little circles while scratching my head and drooling”.
Speaking of drooling, there’s a reason I haven’t posted as much lately. Two reasons in fact. You see, the Plod household has recently been blessed with the pitter patter of four new feet. I’ve given up asking my wife for a hippopotamus, so I must instead be referring to the arrival of our beautiful new twins, Milo and Izzy. They arrived early, so both are still a little on the small side (just like Daddy) but are doing well. Their Mummy and their big Sister Amelie are both doing their best to help, but obviously I’m doing all the really hard work. It’s not easy being a man. Anyway, that’s enough gushing, other than to say that every step I run this year will be dedicated to my amazing family.
Hey, it’s my blog, I can be mawkish if I want to! Besides, I’ll just counterbalance the sentimentality with some stuff about ninjas. So anyway, onto the targets for 2013. Some are brand new, while others are carried over from last year. Let’s have a look…
1. PB! PB! PB!!!
(Apologies to any American readers who use “PR” instead of “PB”, but if I’d used your version it would have just looked like this one was written by an increasingly angry cat). Anyway, I’ve decided to lump all my PB goals into one bullet point this year, due to budget cutbacks. Targets are as follows…
1 mile: 6.45 (currently 07:20)
5k: 22:00 (currently 24:28)
10k: 48 (currently 53:10)
Half Marathon: sub 2 (currently 2:13:18)
To be honest, these figures are pretty arbitrary. I’m not sure if they’re actually attainable, but they’re certainly in the area I’d like to be. I did try playing around with the McMillan calculator, but my 5k PB doesn’t reflect my times at all other distances, which is odd because I’ve always felt a bit stronger over longer distances (I’m too flumpish to be a racing snake).
2. Run one of them marathons
This one must feature on so many people’s lists at this time of year, and after 2 years of (sort of) running it’s finally made an appearance on mine. Towards the end of 2012 my long training runs were creeping up within spitting distance of 20 miles, so I think I’m about as ready as I’ll ever be to start marathon training in earnest. I didn’t make the VLM ballot, so it’s just a matter of choosing another race to take my 26.2 mile cherry, preferably a nice one that’ll cuddle me afterwards and send me a muffin basket the following day. With it being my first marathon I’m guaranteed a PB, even if I stumble across the finish line at the same time as the bloke who hasn’t been following the news recently and decided it’d be a jolly wheeze to run dressed as Jimmy Saville, and who was then forced to spend the next two days hiding in a bin before it was safe enough to rejoin the race. But like many of you, I crave stats and solid targets, so I’ve set myself an (again) arbitrary goal of 4:15:00. From reading up on the marathon experiences of others, sub-4 seems to be something of a holy grail, and I’d always hoped to join that particular club with my first attempt. But there’s a (very small) part of me that’s trying to be realistic, and sub-4 would mean maintaining an average 9:09 min/mile pace. Considering that I tend to bimble along at this pace on anything over 6 miles I can’t see it happening for the entire duration of a proper big-boy distance, so I’ve been a little more conservative. Of course, when I’m on mile 22, I’ll be thinking “sod the arbitrary targets, I’ll be glad just to get round this bloody thing in one piece”.
The prospect of 26.2 miles is nearly as terrifying now as it was when I first started running, so wish me luck folks (when I finally get round to signing up for one, that is).
3. Get off the beaten track
I made a couple of feeble efforts to try trail running last year, but to be honest I never really went much further than “damp cycle track”. I did buy some trail shoes though, and enjoyed the feeling of ploughing straight through the muddy bits with heady abandon rather than nimbly tip-toeing around them. While out running along country lanes in my sparkly road shoes I’ve seen loads of tempting public right-of-way signs, but they all seemed to involve traipsing through ankle-deep sludge. Well this year I’ll be wearing appropriate footwear and embracing the sludge.
4. It’s not all about the running
Another leftover from last year’s goals. I was seeing some great results from my non-running sessions (primarily strength & conditioning sessions, insanity workouts and stretching/rollering). This year I need to get back into that routine and hopefully mix it up with forays into other sports and activities. Suggestions welcome, but not cribbage and nothing involving alligators.
After the VLM ballot, I resisted the temptation of grabbing a charity place. Although he causes were worthy, I’d heard too many horror stories about people struggling to raise the required amount and having to pay hundreds out of their own pocket. When I do sign up for my first marathon, I’d rather focus on the training without having to worry about other stuff. After the first one’s out of the way and I’m an old hand at running 26.2 miles I’ll probably reconsider. That said, I do like the idea of running for a cause and so this year I WILL be running for charity, just without the scary minimum donation thing hanging over my head. As you’ll know This year I’ve witnessed first-hand the excellent work done by The Special Care Baby Unit at Kettering General Hospital, so will be setting up a JustGiving page to hopefully raise a bit of cash for them.
More details to follow, but in the meantime if are interested in donating, please don’t just send babies. They’ve already got those.
6. “And I will run 500 miles, and I will run 500 more…”
Okay, so due to a mojo deficit towards the end of 2012, I missed out on last year’s 1000 mile target by a whisker. This year I will nail it. So there.
Next year it will be 2000. Then a million. Then a million billion. Then in 2017 I’ll probably drop back to 1000 miles, just to give my legs a bit of a rest.
Nothing gives your running more of a boost than the prospect of an impending race. I sort of forgot this last year (with a couple of notable exceptions) and don’t plan to make the same mistake twice. I haven’t booked anything yet because I wasn’t sure when the baby explosion was going to happen, but I’ve got a few races and events on my wish list. I’d really like to do at least one 24hr event this year – most likely Thunder Run again if I can grab a space on a team. Also, I really enjoyed the Cransley Hospice 10k last year, so that’s one I’ll be aiming to do again too. Other than that, I’m hoping to do my first marathon (as mentioned above), a couple of halfs and an assortment of shorter distances. Again, your suggestions are more than welcome, particularly anything within easy reach of Northants and Bedfordshire.
8. The kindness of strangers
I’ve always been a bit of a lone wolf* when it comes to running. Never joined a running club, never run with a buddy, just plodded around in my own happy little world. The closest I’ve come to engaging with others in my running life has been restricted to a few trips to the physio and rubbing shoulders with fellow runners at races. Oh, and blogging to you lovely lot of course. But I’ve decided that 2013 will be the year of making the most of the help that’s out there, so watch this space. I’ll be looking into joining my local club (although shifts at work and a hectic family life mean that I probably won’t be able to play with them too often) and seeing if I can beg, blag or barter some time with all manner of specialists: Coaches, physios, running lab boffins, nutritionists, campanologists, I’ll take all the help I can get.
9. Those jelly babies won’t hand themselves out
I think anyone who’s run in an organised event will agree: Marshals maketh the race. The energy-boosting cheers of a few enthusiastic marshals can take even the most average race and transform it into something outstanding. So one of my goals for 2013 is to give a little back and do at least one stint as a marshal.
It’s no secret that I’ve always taken great enjoyment in that happy moment of camaraderie that we call The Runners Nod. But if, in that split-second, we’re trying to say “Hello there my friend, running’s brilliant isn’t it? And we’re both doing it! We’re both running! That means we’re brilliant! Byyyyyye!” is a surly nod really the best way? Well, no, it isn’t.
So 2013 will be the year of going beyond the nod. Instead I’ll make every effort, regardless of how many miles are in my legs, to smile, to give an animated wave, maybe even a double thumbs-up.
Will I get funny looks? Probably.
Will I care? Umm… Probably.
Will I do it anyway? Yup.
Some would say that this particular goal is a metaphor for life itself. They’d argue that life is a flawed yet utterly wonderful thing, and that rather than keeping it at arms length with a reluctant nod, we should embrace it and “give life a double thumbs-up”.
But it’s not, it’s about nodding at runners. Sorry.
So those are my goals for the coming twelve months. I was generally pleased with how things went last year, but I hope you’ll join me as I plod my way through 2013.*The whole “Lone Wolf” thing always sounds quite rock ‘n’ roll, but I wonder if it’d attract the same kudos if a different phrase was used. Solitary mallard? Unaccompanied walrus?