First things first: Happy New Year! I sincerely hope that you find 2015 to be stuffed full of adventure, fulfilment, self-discovery, puppies, another bit of adventure and possibly a 100ft robot that you can command to rain down fiery vengeance upon your enemies.
Anyway, this year I’m resisting the temptation (translation: can’t be arsed) to write my usual “round up of last year / goals for next year” post. Instead, I’m just going to have a moan about how, in the last few months, I’ve become considerably slower and much more cuddly around the middle. Halfway through the year, I started yaffling on about Operation Battlecat, which was basically my attempt to fend off a tsunami of poor lifestyle choices and inconsistent training by throwing a handful of well-meaning bullet points at it. Don’t get me wrong; some good habits did come out of it, but the one thing that let me down was my diet. A combination of snacking, drinking and godawful portion control meant that I piled on the pounds, and the added weight and cheese-induced lethargy kicked the living crap out of my running. Back in March I grabbed a lovely PB at the Reading Half Marathon, but towards the end of 2014 I’ve found myself struggling to maintain that exact same pace for more than a single mile.
Okay, so it seems this is one of those typical end-of-year reflection things after all. Never mind.
I’m going into 2015 with no grand plan, no nutrition strategy and no specific goals. I just want to stop being quite so much of a dick about what I put in my body. I’ve always hated hackneyed “fitspirational” slogans, but one that’s started to ring very true is: “You can’t outrun a bad diet”.
In a funny way, I’m actually starting to enjoy where I am right now, back at square one. I’m in a position where the pitfalls are becoming a lot clearer, and I get the feeling that the rewards are going to be a lot sweeter the second time around. It’s like in Rocky IX where he has to fight his evil robo-clone, but it’s only after he’s been beaten to a pulp on Neptune that he finally starts to see things clearly and make the connections he needs in order to fight his way to a climactic comeback that sees him rip off the aforementioned robo-clone’s head and punch its spleen out from the inside.
(Apologies to anyone reading this in 2015. I put that last bit in so that there’d be some relevant material for anyone reading it a few years from now).
In other news, I’ve been taking part in a thing organised by Helly Hansen (the Norwegian winter clothing types) called “Winter Duel”. Basically, you download their app and choose an online opponent, before seeing which of you can rack up the most miles over the winter months. Your opponent can either be someone you know or, if you prefer, a random runner from anywhere in the world. A gentle warning: because of the brand’s origins, a lot of these random runners are Scandanavian types who look as if they could cheerfully poop out a mountainous 30-miler before breakfast, and then do it all again before lunch, probably while juggling wolves or something.
My chosen opponent is an old internetular (real word) chum Stephen, who is currently in training for VLM2015. He’s running it for the charity MIND, in memory of his mother-in-law Alison who sadly lost her battle with depression in 2013. If you fancy supporting a very worthy cause, you’ll find the details here.
The app isn’t without its bugs, but the concept itself is a great one. I’ve only been doing it for a couple of weeks, but I’ve already found it to be a great little motivator. At this time of year, when the nights draw in quickly and the temperatures drop through the floor, it’s always tempting to put off a run until tomorrow (or Easter, if I’m feeling particularly lazy). But seeing that Stephen has just logged another few miles and has now edged into the lead has a miraculous effect, and before I know it I’m lacing up my running shoes and heading out into the cold night air (usually while muttering something about “vengeance” and “accursed foe”, and some stuff about 100ft robots which is almost definitely an idle threat). I don’t belong to a club and I only ever run alone, so the friendly rivalry of this challenge is the closest thing I have to a running buddy calling round at my house and dragging me out of the door kicking and screaming.
Who will win out of the two of us? It’s difficult to say at this stage. Stephen has youth, fitness, a righteous cause and a sensible approach to training on his side; I have petulant bloody-mindedness on mine. It could go either way.
If you’re interested in doing your own Winter Duel, you’ll find all the info here: http://www.hellyhansen.com/winterduel/