Chasing Nessie (and a long recap)

Well, it’s been quite a year so far, hasn’t it?

Leaving the current unprecedented situation we all find ourselves in to one side, you can read plenty about it elsewhere from people much more knowledgeable than me, let me recap the year to date or, at least, my year.

After a pretty much unremarkable 2019 from a running perspective I approached 2020 with renewed vigour. I was going to do better, I was going to get fitter, I was going to get back to some sort of form with my running. The best of intentions and all that.

As with the previous two years I started off with Saints & Slimmers, an intensive four or five days a week for six weeks fitness and well-being programme devised by a local sporting club.

This year, my third, was my most successful so far. I lost at least 30lbs during the six weeks but my running never really took off. I only managed 15 miles in total for the month (down from 51 in 2019!) although in my defence I was ill for a fortnight with either a bad dose of the flu or a sinus infection, possibly both at the same time. I certainly felt like crap!

Moving into February, I was supposed to run the London Winter Run 10k  but, as we know, it was cancelled which, as events have transpired, was unfortunately a taste of things to come albeit for different reasons.

Even so, I managed 33 miles in February, more than double January but still well down on last year.

March was better, at least for a bit. It began with the Big Half, keeping up my 100% record of competing in this event. Even though it was my slowest time in the three years doing it the objective was merely to finish, which I did. In fact for around 10-11 miles I felt quite good which was a bonus only for the wheels to come off towards the end, no doubt as a result of my lack of training.

I was also supposed to take part in the London Landmarks Half at the end of the month, and the local Spar Craic 10k on St. Patrick’s Day. As we know, unfortunately, the world has changed and those events have been rightly postponed.

And so onto April. Because our movements are restricted at present on health grounds I was determined to make the most of the government mandated daily exercise allowance, and decided to basically ‘teach’ myself to run again without the pressure of upcoming races.

So I decided to fast track myself through C25K, although since I wasn’t a novice I thought it’d be a good idea to do 5k each day of the programme. In other words, follow the run-walk schedule for a whatever stage I was at but stretch the distance to 3.1 miles.

That has worked a treat. I’m getting the miles back into my legs, but also slowly building my endurance back up at a steady pace. I covered the first six C25K ‘weeks’ in three calendar weeks, clocking up 52 miles in the process which saw April ending up as my highest month mileage wise since October 2018. It felt great to be back.

Which brings me to tonight’s run.

One of the events I’ve entered this year – and which is still on so far – is the Loch Ness Marathon.

The race is due to be held on October 4th, the same date as the rearranged London, but whether it goes ahead or not is anyone’s guess at this stage.

However, I’ve devised a 22-week training plan to get me ready for it based on similar available for other races (Dublin etc.). I know it’s longer than the standard 16-week plans out there but, let’s face it, I need it.

Tonight was week one, day one. It was three miles and since I’m still following C25K (week seven now) I used the scheduled 15 minute running blocks to get me round.

I’m in no great rush at this stage for any sort of speed, so I just focused on completing each 15 minute session. It was a lovely night, clear blue skies and relatively quiet out and about. I simply plodded along, letting my mind drift to wherever it wanted.

I followed my normal dual carriageway to industrial estate loop, and whilst boring and familiar also allows me to gauge my performance run to run. And tonight felt ok, unremarkable in many ways but also a good, steady beginning to this block of training.

It’s going to be a long road ahead for a race that might well not take place, but I’m determined to give it my best shot and even if it doesn’t go ahead in the end I’ll hopefully be a lot fitter by the time the hammer falls.

Relive my run

Playlist: Festival (Sigur Ros), The Trap (BBC Philharmonic), Going Home (Mark Knopfler), Carnival de Paris (Dario G), Rising (The Nouvelles), Heroes (David Bowie), Right Here Right Now (Fatboy Slim), Thunderstruck (AC/DC), Eye of the Tiger (Survivor), Dog Days Are Over (Florence and the Machine)

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