Resolutions 2014: July Progress Report

If a few of you reading this wondered what on earth happened with my resolutons in June, I wouldn’t be at all surprised. I didn’t share it around much and that was because my fall basically ruined that month, barring a return to swimming that was long overdue. I’m pleased to say though that I didn’t break anything (as I expected, actually) and that I’ve got a lot more to report back regarding July. By and large it’s positive, though not entirely without setbacks. So without further ado, let’s see how the second half of the year goes, starting with how I got on with…

1. SLEEP

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It’s been another reasonable month for sleeping, with my yearly cumulative debt (according to Sleepbot) now down to around 20 hours or below. It blew up massively at the start of the year but I am getting more blocks of good sleep than not, as well as occasions where I’m falling asleep sparko while trying to help get the kids to sleep, often chipping in with a half hour here, or an hour or two there. This does sort of distort my figures a little, e.g. if I slept for five hours but then slept in the evening for 90 minutes, I’ve reached my target for the day. But sleep is sleep and I’ll take it whenever I can. The big thing is that I’ve kept logging it all this time – 7 months in and I’m still determined as ever to crack this. It won’t make up for the hundreds of hours I’ve lost over the years to the Xbox 360 and Spaced, but at least I’m having less tired days, and I feel the benefit in my running as a result.

2. Learn to swim again

With me getting back into training for a half marathon, swimming has taken a back seat, with many of my 7 days a week filled with runs. I think I went swimming once early this month, and I admittedly didn’t feel at ease – it was my fourth time in the pool alone, and I just struggle to get breathing techniques right, and when I try to focus on one thing in the water, another part, e.g. my stroke, or my kick, seems to suffer and it just doesn’t go right. I know as much as anyone that the key here is not to get demoralised – but I haven’t been back in the water on my own since and I feel I’m going to have to prepare myself mentally again to give it another go. I want to learn to enjoy it and I as much as anyone knew there were going to be setbacks.

3. Run more

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I’m now signed up for the Halifax Half Marathon, where my entry again has come courtesy of my very good friend who has agreed to sub me in for her place due to a lack of preparation for the event. She’s the same person who granted me her place in the Huddersfield Half Marathon and she just doesn’t want the place to go to waste. She knew I was aiming for this event and I cannot thank her enough for her generosity. You know who you are.

My training has certainly increased in July, where despite accruing a number of minor issues early in the month, I managed to work through them and its been amazing to get back to the levels I felt I was at earlier in the year. I clocked over 111 miles in July, within which I managed two 11 mile runs taking in part of the Halifax course, which has now been tweaked again to go through Brighouse, my hometown, which makes this race even more special for me now. It’s going to give my family a great chance to step outside and cheer me on from the street. It’s now just over 4 weeks to the race and I’m quite excitable – but realistic – about my chances there. The joy though is simply in getting back to training. The hot summer has meant I can use my local park for shorter mileage runs, meaning I can run on nothing but grass which is feels amazing for my knees. 

4. Run faster

As described above I’ve been getting back into my groove, and have found a fair few miles in the low six-minute range. Nothing sub-6:00 minutes though, but it does feel like I am getting closer to that range again following my lay-off in June, and I’m trying to make those tempo runs, intervals and fartleks count for all they’re worth. As you read this, I’m attempting Marathon Talk’s Magic Mile event, where this year I’ll be aiming to try and go below 5:32, my fastest ever mile recorded on flat (I did a 5:23 mostly downhill at Liversedge). Last year I did 6:09 and that was my fastest ever mile at the time. I’m not entirely certain a 5:31 is within me at the moment, but I’ll certainly give it a good crack while it’s hot.

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And speaking if hot, here’s some split data from a run home I did from work. It’s from 23/07/2014, when shortly after 5:50pm I set off via the least hilly route possible. This meant extending my journey home by a couple of miles and the temperature that day was scorching. I purposefully went for the negative split but not without almost paying the price. Normally I can get through a good ten miles or so on little to no water providing I’ve hydrated well enough, but on this run the sun was beating down and I was taking on board water, both orally and over my head, after two miles, and then again about 5 miles in as the pace picked up. As I went hell for leather on the sixth mile, at one stage I felt a bit unsteady, such as the unforgiving sun. I got my fast mile in but it was quickly back to the water after that as well as a gentle recovery mile too. I’ve never known myself to suffer like that in the heat, but I’ll take it as both a precaution and indeed an experience to prepare better for running in that kind of weather at speed. Of course, the rain has just arrived here in the UK, so that could well be the sweatiest it gets. In any event, that last mile of 6:17 was pleasing just because it was another step towards that six-minute zone.

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A view of Halifax that entrants to the Halifax Marathon will experience

The sub 1:25:00 half marathon attempt is definitely still on, however, and my training seems to be going really well. The Halifax Half Marathon route does contain a couple of steep hilly sections early doors, and possibly one rather steep hill around mile 6 or 7, but otherwise it does seem a course where I genuinely believe I can get a PB, if not a sub-1:25. The course is by and large my backyard – Once the run passes Shibden it runs through a section called Sutcliffe Wood Lane and then Wood Bottom, which then snakes uphill to run through Brighouse’s main road into the town centre, joining up on the towpath I enjoy running on so much and continuing all the way up beyond Hebble Brook and back to The Shay, home of FC Halifax Town and Halifax RUFC, where the finish line will await. I have no doubt that I will seek to attack the second half of this race and barring the last half mile, it’s largely flat all the way to the finish. It’s all set up very nicely – I’ve never run a course I often refer to as my extended backyard before!

So to summarise, going forward, the next month is a big one, starting with my Magic Mile attempt, and finishing with the Halifax Half Marathon, with a lot of miles, intervals, hills and fartleks inbetween. August will mark a further push for sponsorship in terms of my fundraising for the MND Association, and crucially a return to race preparation – Halifax is the first of three in the next three months – and that means a likely reduction in my return to swimming, though I won’t be giving up on it. Can I get into sub-1:25:00 shape? We’ll soon see, but right now, things are looking good. Cheerio!

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