I set myself a number of goals for the year so i could really target my training around certain key races and have a proper year of training.
These goals were
- Sub3 marathon
- Sub18 5km
- Sub38 10km
- Sub82 HM
- Sub5 mile
Given that many of the PBs were from two years previously, i thought with the right kind of training i’d be able to lower my times. I felt that all of these were in reach.
My 2017 season started in early October 2016 for the build up to me running the Dubai marathon in mid-January. I chose this marathon as the course was flat and fast and the weather was going to be warm. It turned out to be two of the three and i couldn’t quite get myself moving and struggled in the latter stages as the sun rose over the tall buildings. Despite this, i still finished with a 4 minute PB in 3:11. Still someway off my target of under 3 hours.
As i was focussing on Dubai, i didn’t run any XC races between October and January because i didn’t want to risk getting injured tripping over a tree trunk or twisting my ankle in the mud. After taking a week or two off, i decided that i would do the National XC in Nottingham in late February.
Whilst XC is not my favourite, it was good to get on the Salford Express and travel down to the event with the rest of the team. It was an extremely muddy course but i actually enjoyed it. I always enjoy watching and racing with some of the best runners in the country.
March came the first club champs race of the season, the Trafford 10km. I hadn’t done this race for a few years but as my legs weren’t too dead following Dubai and the national XC i thought i’d give it a good go. Without paying any attention to my watch, i just ran how i felt. By half way i had caught up with Jon and Hayley and sat just behind them and followed them. I finished in a time of 36:51 which was a PB by over two minutes! Next up after Trafford was the relays in Blackpool and then the Nationals in Sutton Park.
April saw me return to the Manchester marathon to attempt to get past the 19 mile mark where i had to drop out last time in 2012. Again my goal was to break 3 hours and as the training had continued well after Dubai i thought i had a good shot. I had managed to pick up my training again and gave myself one more shot. Andrew had decided that he was going to run it as well so it was good to have some company the night before.
Luckily for me i had an official pacemaker the whole way round. I don’t think i would have got the time i did if it wasn’t for Matt Dickinson and his precise pacing. Up until 20 miles i stuck with Matt and allowed him to control the pace so i could just run. By this point i had passed the cursed 19 mile mark where i dropped out in 2012. Over the next four miles i slowly lost a little time per mile but will within 2:57. Then i hit the wall at 24 miles. I had literally nothing left in me but i was so close to the end. I had to dig really really deep and and push on. I then saw Becki at around 25 miles which helped massively and got me up the home straight.
I had finally done it. At my 12th attempt and 314.4 miles later, i dipped under 3 hours and finished in 2:59:29
as you can imagine, i was very happy.
A week after Manchester i was down in Sutton Park at the National Road Relays. I love going down (i dont mind not running too) as you get to run against some of the best in the country. I struggled to be honest but did my bit for the team.
The final race of April found me travelling to the heart of Cheshire for a 5km on a friday night. Definitely a weird feeling racing on a friday but i had heard that the course was fast. I had no expectations going into the race and just ran. Luckily the first mile is practically all downhill so that helped things massively. As with a lot of races, and training, i had a good tussle with Mo who gave me a target to chase down. So i kept running without looking at my watch even as i cross the finish line. 17:37. A huge 32 seconds of my previous PB which had stood for two years.
So in the first four months of the year i had knocked over 15 mins of my marathon time, 1:10 off my 10km time and now 32 seconds of my 5km time. 3 targets down two to go.
Early May was quite as i recovered my legs in preparation for the new Manchester Half Marathon. This year the people at Great Run added a HM to the well established 10km that i have done 6 times. Knowing the route so well, i set off at a steady pace and just ran to how i felt. Again i didn’t look at my watch for the majority of the race. The first half of the course was pretty boring and only really a the furthest point of the course near the etihad was any real spectator support. Once back over the flyover it was onto the usual 10km out to old trafford and back. I finished in 1:24:01 which although was a PB, was 2 mins off my target time for the year.
I didn’t race again till early July when the club champs returned at the Rochdale 10km. I think every time i had done this race previously it had always poured down but for once, it was dry. I did end up running my CR.
July and August was dominated by the Sale Sizzlers and another trip to Mid Cheshire. i never quite found the pace that i had at the Mid Cheshire in April and my quickest time out of the four was 17:48. Overall, i have run under 18 minutes 3 times this year which is definitely a positive.
September started with 37:39 at the Salford 10km around Salford Quays. The following weekend was a trip up to Newcastle for the Great North Run. To be honest i felt absolutely terrible the whole way round but somehow ended up lowering my PB again by another 39 seconds.
October would be where my season officially ended in terms of racing. My final two races would be the Yorkshire 10 miles and the Manchester Half.
The Yorkshire race was part of my younger brothers birthday surprise weekend. After completing York parkrun as a family the day before, me, andy and david set off for 10 miles around York and the surrounding countryside. We dont often get to run together so it was a nice way to spend time with them.
The Manchester half i think was one race to many and i really struggle after half way. I ended up jogging back to the finish as i ever want to drop out of a race. I think i was just too tired and my mind was definitely on flying out to Portugal later that day.
After a few rest/easy weeks, the milage has slowly begun to build up again.
Whilst home for christmas, i was able to go to the home of Parkrun and finally run Bushy Park. I only managed to do 10 Parkruns during the year which has been my lowest. Hopefully in 2018 i’ll find the time to get out on a saturday morning.
My time in Manchester was good enough to finally a achieve a Boston qualifying time and two years of good for age at the London marathon. So with my place confirmed, i will be heading out to Boston next april to run the historic race. And then 6 days later i will be running London with David as he attempts his first, and probably only, marathon.
In total i ran 1636 miles during the year which is by far the most i have run in a single year since starting to run again in 2008. My times this year have proved that training more and racing a bit smarter are a better mix to achieve the targets that i set myself.
This year i was also asked to write an article for FastRunning about how i have used running to help manage and deal with the depression i have experienced. I was overwhelmed with the reaction and support that i received from both people i know and others who found my article helpful. You can read it here https://www.fastrunning.com/training/health/running-with-depression-i-found-the-strength-to-battle-on/7866
Whilst setting goals for 2018, i will also use running to help with my depression and my mindfulness in how i deal with everyday.
From the Tao of Running book
Running can evoke spiritualism and mindfulness; it can teach fundamental lessons about goals, self-awareness, and self-improvement; it can be a transformative existential experience. The Tao of Running goes beyond the standard training and racing advice found in other running books, and guides runners to a wider understanding of how running fits into their own aspirations, goals, and life philosophy.
- Sub 17:15 5km
- Sub 36:30 10km
- Sub 1:22 HM
- Sub 2:52 marathon