This is so overdue it's crazy! I'll be honest, I've been chatting with Mandy about actually closing down this website! It's not that I don't love blogging, it's just I don't seem to have the time just now. I do a daily post on Instagram about my training but never just sit down and type up something. However, I'm going to give it another go. Why? Because I find it really therapeutic to sit down and just write my thoughts out, even if no one actually reads them.
So where do I start. My last blog was back in September after the Scottish Half marathon, which I really enjoyed. Since then, I've signed up with a new coach. I've ran a cross country race. I've ran the first Foxtrail Winter Series race and I've had some pretty big news happening in my life. Where will I start?
Let's go with the new coach.
A change is as good as a holiday
About 3 months ago I decided I needed to make a change in my running routine. I'd put on some weight, lost a lot of speed from my legs and generally needed to find something new to challenge me. I looked around online for the generic training plans but none of them really fitted in with my life or excited me. Then I saw a tweet from @FraserLyndsey which was mentioning her training plan from Hawkins Running - I was intrigued. After a couple of emails and a phone call with Derek Hawkins, I was signed up to their full coaching plan.
It took me a couple of weeks to get used to the structure, mostly because the mileage was much lower than I had been used to. I average about 40 miles a week now and get 2 days off. In the past I only took one day off and would be closer to 60 miles a week. The other difference is that every run I do has a reason. No junk miles. Whether it's a speed session on a Tuesday and Thursday or an easy run at the weekend. I'm told the pace range I should be aiming for and what reps I should be doing. It takes all the guess work out of it and I love it.
I get a new plan sent to me via TrainingPeaks every week, usually on a Sunday evening. That then tells me what I'm doing for the rest of the week.
For the short amount of time that I've been following these plans, I can already see improvements in my pace and I can't wait to see how next years races go. I've decided to step away from Ultras for the time being and concentrate on shorter stuff, half marathons mostly but maybe a marathon towards the end of the year. We'll see.
Stirling Cross Country
A week or 2 ago now I headed along to the Stirling Cross Country race. It's a course I enjoy and it has a bit of everything in it. 3 laps to make up the full race. A bit of grass running, some trail, some hills and some forest tracks. As I say, a real good mix.
I headed out for a warm up lap and my legs felt really heavy and tired. I mean, really tired. I put it down to sitting in the car and after some strides and general leg loosening I hoped it would get better. I stood on the start line, waited for the gun to go off to mark the start of the race and then Bang, we were racing. I went out at a comfortable pace and thought I was doing OK but something wasn't right. The legs weren't easing off and after the first lap had been done I almost stopped. I was so tempted to just pull on my tracksuit bottoms and sit the race out.
Rather than do this though I decided to back the pace off a bit and just get round the next lap and then reassess.
After the second lap I was in a better place, legs still felt rubbish but I decided to try and catch the group ahead of me, which I did and I actually found myself passing them. This continued all the way to the end and I made up a number of places but it wasn't one of my better Cross Country experiences.
Life is rubbish at times!
The truth was, mentally I wasn't up for racing. The previous week I had been given some pretty bad news from my Mum. She had been diagnosed with lung cancer and it unfortunately, it's incurable. She will be under going Chemo but it really hit me hard. I've had a couple of weekends where I just wanted to hide away from the world. I've had times when I've just burst out in tears in front of the tv but it has also brought my closer to my brothers and Mum. My Mum has also set a date for getting married to her partner Mark which is fantastic so every cloud and all that....
Rocking up to Stirling XC with all this in my head wasn't my best of plans but one of the Edinburgh AC coaches, Alex, asked me how I was, I just shook my head and his advice to me meant a lot. He said, just go out, enjoy it and clear the head. He obviously wants the best results possible for the Club but when it really comes down to it, running is a hobby for us all, it's meant to be enjoyable and fun. I really appreciated it and the run did help. Even if my legs didn't like me for it!
Foxtrail Winter Series
Since Stirling, I've had some good weeks of solid training. Mentally, I'm doing better and I've been trying to raise money for Cancer Research UK, so far I've raised over £100 which is brilliant. If you have a spare couple of pound, I'd really appreciate it. You can donate via my donation page.
I headed down to Dunbar yesterday for the first race of the Foxtrail Winter Series and wasn't sure what to expect. Would I have tired legs again? Would I struggle to hit any sort of pace? There was only one way to find out.
I headed out for a 2 mile warm up and the first thing I noticed was how strong the wind was! It was going to be a tough run in places but I also knew that there was plenty of shelter to be had as well.
Mandy is taking on the 5k races this year and so her race started 10 minute before mine. I wished her a good race and watched her head off in to the distance. Then we had our race brief and it was almost time for us to take on the 13k course.
I love the Foxtrail events, they don't feel like races. It's a group of friends all coming together to battle the course. I was standing on the start line with the same people I have started the last 3 years with. We laugh and joke about the weather, the course and try and work out who might be race fit or struggling with a niggle.
Last year all the races were started, or should I say, attempted to be started with the sound of an air horn going off. The horn never worked but it added to the fun of the event. Yesterday, James announced the air horn had been put in to retirement and it has now been replaced by a cowbell. :)
With the ring of the bell, we were off. I took a very brief lead for the first 50 metres and then realised that the wind was behind us and I was running at 5k pace, not 13k pace. I eased back a bit and found myself sitting in 5th place. I was comfortable with that and expected to drop a couple more places as the race settled down and people found their rhythm.
I was feeling good and decided to start racing from very early on. On the first small downhill section I pushed hard down it to try and open up a gap and move in to 4th place (sorry Tim). Then I watched 1st, 2nd and 3rd and thought they were running well and I wouldn't catch them. However, I didn't give up. I kept on racing and before I knew it, about 2.5 miles in to the race I was right up behind 3rd place. I felt comfortable and thought I'd just sit behind him for a while. One reason was to try and shelter from the wind a bit but also just to relax in to running and calm my breathing a bit. Not long after this though, 3rd place moved to one side and let me past. Very odd I thought but I passed and then checked he was OK. I would have hated to have passed and then found out later he had something wrong! That's not the ethos of the FoxTrail series, we all look after each other out there.
Now sitting in 3rd place I decided I really wanted to hold on to that position and I fought so hard for it. I knew there was some tough sections ahead and I just had to dig deep.
The final 2 miles were really tough. My quads were screaming at me. The wind was trying to push me backwards and I was expecting a group of guys to come streaming past me as my legs started to tire. Luckily, I think everyone else was in the same boat and no-one did pass.
I couldn't catch 2nd place and I didn't see first place for much of the race! He ran really well.
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Well! That went ok!! Really didn't know what to expect yesterday at the first @foxtrailscotland 13k trail race. I had a race plan of just running hard but when I moved in to 3rd place I was shocked. Thankfully I managed to hold on to that position but it wasn't easy. ___________________________ I had planned to get a blog online yesterday but by the time @runbesidehim and I had had lunch, visited @decathlon.edinburgh and got home, it was time for us to head back out for a social with the Foxy Trail Runners. 🍻 I love this great group of people. They are fab! __________________________ My blog WILL be online today. I promise. 😊 I'll be recapping my training from the past 3 months, a race report from yesterday and some info about the Foxy Trail Runners and what it's all about. __________________________ #run #runner #running #runtoinspire #furtherfasterstronger #seenonmyrun #trailrunning #trailrunner #runchat #runhappy #time2run #instafit #happyrunner #halfmarathontraining #runners #ukrunchat #trailrun #runnerscommunity #runnersofinstagram #longrun #training #instarunner #instarun #runthroughuk #irun
With one race down, I've a 3rd place under my belt which I am delighted with. Unfortunately I'm going to miss the night time 10k race in a couple of weeks but I'll be back for all the rest of the races and I can't wait!
I hope everyone else enjoyed the race and I look forward to seeing you all at Balgone for the 10k!