There’s a few things which I could talk about in this blog; race start etiquette, serious runners participating in charity fun runs, runners whinging after races, historic races, training over Christmas, listening to your body etc etc However a few of those topics are quite controversial so I am going to leave those out and concentrate on the last three in that list.
Those of you who read my last update will know that I was planning on running the Saltwell 10k the weekend before Christmas. This race has a great history, it is the oldest road race in England (maybe Britain) and it holds the world record for the most consecutive wins by any one person with Mike McLeods 16 year winning streak. I created a little bit of history myself by breaking my own course record by 50 seconds to record a time of 35.09. The time was a little faster than I thought I would do as the route is quite tough (3.5 laps with 2 tough up hills, a steep downhill and lots of twists and sharp corners each lap) so I was pleased with my run. I finished 5th overall and won the women’s race for the 3rd year in a row. Gaining my ‘hattrick’ was something I am very proud of, it’s nowhere near Mikes 16 years and not even a record for the race as my good friend Claire Simpson holds that record at 4 years – yip you know where I am going to be on the last Saturday before Christmas next year!
Saltwell was a good blast out before the Christmas havoc began. I had a pretty big week of training planned for over the Christmas week and was looking forward to getting dug into it. On Christmas Eve I managed to get some of the lads from my club together for a tough session around the lake at Silksworth. The lap that we were using is tough enough with a nice flat 1200m round the lake and then a tough uphill final 250m but it was made even tougher with the addition of gale force winds. We were lucky that the rain held off or that would have made it even worse! The session went really well for me but the lads suffered a bit, they definitely earned their mince pies!
Christmas day after opening presents I went out for an easy 13 miles. I am very lucky to have a very understanding and supportive family so whilst mam started to cook dinner and my nephew tore open more toys I popped on the trainers and headed for the coast. It was a lovely morning for running, a little windy but not too bad considering the day before. A nice half marathon run set me up lovely for a massive Christmas dinner and a solid 6 hours of eating!
Boxing Day I had planned on using the Woodlawn Pudding Run as my steady run. The ‘race’ is a charity event but attracts a lot of the local club runners including some of the good ones. The route is right on the coast and ice and frost had set in overnight. As I did a couple of miles before the start I was noticing my feet slip a little in parts so decided to just slow my pace down and ensure that I stayed on my feet. I never intended to run fast here so it didn’t make much difference. There were some very skatey patches on the course and one poor lad went absolutely flying within the first 200m. I took my time and ran on the grass in parts to avoid the ice. I finished 2nd and carried on straight through the finish line to do another 2 mile at a similar pace to make it up to a 5mile tempoish workout. Anyone who is friends with me on Facebook will have read my concerns about the start of this (and other local races) but I’m not going into all of that again as some of my comments have been taken the total wrong way and the organisers have taken offence even though I never once blamed them for it, so in order to not offend anyone else I will no more air my concerns about peoples safety!
Today (Saturday) I set out to do a hill session but abandoned it after the first 2 reps. I felt tired and sluggish in my warm up but this isn’t too abnormal but when you struggle to break 8 min mile pace on your 3 minute hill reps you know it’s not your day and I made the sensible decision to stop and walk home.
It can be very hard for athletes to make this decision and a lot, me included in the past, will just keep on fighting it and try to get through, it. I have learnt the hard way over the years that this is not the best way to go about things. If you are really struggling in a session its best to call it a day rather than flog a dead horse and risk digging yourself into a deeper hole. One missed or abandoned session won’t make any difference to your fitness but pushing on through could and can lead to worse things which results in you having to take more time off. It takes confidence to stop a session but it is for the best in the long run, it’s all about training smarter not necessarily harder, especially at my age!!
From reading Twitter and Facebook today it seems that I wasn’t the only one to suffer. I put my fatigue down to being on my feet constantly for 9 hours at work yesterday along with the total disordered eating and hydration I’ve had since Tuesday and by the sounds of it a lot of people are finding it the same (minus the work). Come Monday and we can all get back into a good routine with training, eating and hydration and all should be well again. Just in case it is something more than this though I am taking tomorrow (Sunday) as an additional rest day and I’ve started taking an iron supplement again and will get my bloods checked on Monday to make sure that they are all ok. It’s only just over 3 weeks until I head out to Kenya for a training camp so I need to make sure everything is fine for that.
Thanks for reading, I hope that you have all had a great Christmas and wish you all the very best for a fantastic 2014. I have a lot of goals for next year as I’m sure you all do and I have no doubts whatsoever that with a lot of hard work, a sprinkle of sense and a bit of self-belief that we can all achieve them.