So here we are a new year and a new base building period for the forthcoming calendar of races. I, like many others I suspect, took the time over Christmas to rest and recuperate both mentally and physically from running and to let little niggles heal and get straight for 2014. I also suspect like many others I might have put a few pounds on over the festive period, which was initially a little startling and was something I wasn’t too happy about. Various discussions with my coach, girlfriend (who runs as well) and other runners have settled my mind about this and I have actually come to view it as a positive as my coach likened it to running with a weight vest which in turn should strengthen the muscles and as the weight comes off (hopefully) the strength will stay, making a stronger, faster, leaner Paul! Or something like that anyway!
Further to my last post, which saw me at the end of 2013 pondering “Has my fire really gone out?” I am pleased to report that my fire is on its way back.. It may not be burning like the inferno that it has whilst at the peak of my powers, but there is a little spark and due to the rest and time away from running I am feeling “the love” coming back, which is great news indeed! I spent alot of December not really being sure of what was going on, I was in a very unfamiliar place; not really wanting to run, lacking motivation, feeling despondent and this permeated to the very fabric of my character. I think over the last 2 years I have very much become “Paul The Runner” and I suspect that alot of people identify me as such also, which is great when things are going well and I am on form, but actually not having run much through December I suddenly realised I had nothing to talk about!This was quite disconcerting and led me to think about getting a little more balance in my life.
So onto 2014 and taking the theme of balance I have decided that this year I will race less, train more and live more life in between. I have a race roughly every 3 months this year rather than every 6 weeks (on average) last year and I am looking forward to the next 5 months training leading up to my first race Transvulcania in May. After that is the SDW 100 that will be a test as I am yet to complete the 100 mile distance and then Round the Rock Ultra here in Jersey (with maybe a little charity based twist – watch this space for more news on this). These races will be interspersed with a few trail races and shorter distance “fun” races and hopefully a few trips to run in awesome places around the UK.
Another thought that I have been toying with over the winter is addressing the issues that cropped up strength wise over the latter part of the year for me particularly hip flexor strength, core strength and a dodgy knee. I am taking the relative down time as a chance to sort my knee and to do some weights to address any weaknesses or imbalances I may have. I have discovered the joy of kettle bells and have purchased a few various weights off Amazon and a few evenings a week you will find me doing a KB workout of lengths varying from 15 to 45 mins with plenty of vids available on Youtube. I have been enjoying the new challenge of kettle bells to be honest, learning the technique and the variety is really fun and most of the exercise are either very leg dominant or engage the whole body so even after a few weeks I am noticing gains in strength in classically weak areas for long distance runners. I have been running and then coming home and adding on a little 15 minute session which is plenty enough time to do 10 or so different exercises.
Now we are into January proper the training again starts in earnest and I have noticed the relative loss in fitness after a rest period. Sessions that I would sail through normally have turned into heartbreakers leaving me a gasping broken mess, but that’s the other side of resting and I know the fitness will come back, the weight will shift and I will hopefully jump to the next level. I love the feeling of 2014 being a blank canvas waiting for me to make my mark and I look forward to getting in the groove, working hard and creating more good experiences similar to last year.
I would be interested to hear about how readers of this blog have been training through the winter, what have you been doing to be faster, stronger and better this year? What hopes do you have for 2014 in terms of races? What did 2013 throw up for you in terms of issues that you hope to address in 2014?