2014 has well and truly dawned and most of us, if not all, are well into our new goals, endeavours and ambitions. For the first third of the year my running drive has been heading towards Sunday the 13th of April. The London Marathon. So with a reduction in working hours, a coach and a clear target I've been off.
Winter training in the UK has been what I expected it to be. Wet, dark and quite chilly. However, the miles have clocked up and I've always made the most of the time I've been running. I feel it has significantly helped to have clear direction, and I have to thanks Rob for this. I feel in the past I've still been planning my sessions - especially speed - in my head while putting my shoes on. I like the openness of this idea but I now really understand it's far too scratchy.
Pre 2014 finished for me with a solid little training block in Wales over the Christmas and NY period. I then worked my way through a niggling lower back injury, which went away after only a few days of rest. Always good to keep in mind, rest that is. Therefore once into the swing of 2014 I've quickly established a solid routine and seem to be seeing some of those benefits 5 weeks out from London.
Races to re-caps so far this year:
Watford HM: First race of the year - 6th 1.12.01
Weather turned on a stunning morning, if on the slightly chilly side. I went into this race excited, as it was my first hit out of what is going to be a busy year. I knew that I'd only put in 4 weeks of consistent training so approached this race to be as fresh and strong at the 10 miles mark as the start. It wasn't quite the case, but not too far off. The course has a couple of testing little climbs which took some of the pinch out of the legs but it was a top race, perfect hit out for the first of the season.
Great Bentley Half Marathon - 2nd 1.11.26
Back out into Essex following the trip to Watford. This day was windy. At times parts of the course felt like you were up against a brick wall! Then running down wind wasn't bad, although you can never make up the time lost going into it. This made what is normally a very flat and fast course slightly slower. For the conditions I settled for my time but had hoped for a little bit more.
Reading Half Marathon 26th 1.08.36
Last weekend was Reading. I knew I was in good shape and was really up for having a decent go. The crowds where big (16000), the weather held off and was a great temperature and I managed to get into a great little position on the starting line. Albeit in a rather sneaky fashion.
From the outset I felt relaxed and confident. I found myself surrounded by fantastic runners and we worked really well together sharing out some of the duties at the front and remaining to keep a steady and active pace. The support on the course is fantastic and does make a very big difference. A real credit to the town and area. With about 3 miles to go we went down on the flat final section of the course to be greeted by a stiff head wind. Fortunately we had managed to keep four of the group together so worked hard to pull each other through. The stadium finish was a buzz and full of excitement - really great finish line set up. Much better than the empty void of the Olympic Stadium in Seoul!
So now the home stretch is on for London. This weekend (Sunday the 9th) I'm running the Essex 20 mile road champs. This will be another testing rural road run - a perfect measure of fitness. Following this there's the Colchester Half Marathon (Sunday the 16th). Then it'll be ticking off the days until London.
Here are a few photos of Frankfurt;
Touch base again soon - Run well!