Resolutions 2014: October Progress Report

The end of the year is drawing close, but now is not the time to measure up how I’ve done with my resolutions for 2014 without first stacking up my monthly progress against these targets I set. October has, like most months, been a mixed bag as far as the non-running goals go, but I achieved personal success at the Great Birmingham Run just over two weeks ago, recording a new personal best time in a performance which I will be assessing here. There’s not much more to add to that, so read on my followers and continue my journey with me.

1. SLEEP

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After all the good progress I was making with regards to getting enough sleep, this month has been a relative struggle as I got mired in late night housework again. Just the general sort of chores that subside when you’re focused on just getting your tea and getting the kids ready for bed. I should realise again that it isn’t all that important, but I’ve had days again where I’ve felt a bit too tired to operate – as that large line of nights under six hours of sleep shows – and that’s a bit of a kick up the behind as far as actually seeing through this resolution goes. Still, my level of sleep debt has not been affected too much, finishing around -7.7 hours for the year so far.

I did fare better as the month went on, particularly after the Great Birmingham Run when I had two weeks off running – albeit forced to do so because of a chesty cold rather than simple rest/recovery. I aim to ensure I’m well in the routine in November due to being on consistent 9 to 5 training at work for the next three weeks. I ought to be able to find a balance with that schedule, short term at least.

2. Learn to swim again

Not many opportunities this month having focused on getting ready for Birmingham, but due to injury worries prior to that race I did get to the pool once before October 19, and decided to step up into the middle lane – as in, for medium paced swimmers. I did around 150 metres – down on what I usually manage – in 15 minutes. I seem to be stuck at 25 metres a time, taking a breather in between and then setting off again. I just get tired so easily because I currently have no way of being able to slow down without losing buoyancy, and so I feel most comfortable at this speed. I could do with a few lessons but my local pool only offers Monday evenings which I can’t get to on a regular basis. For now I will soldier on and if possible find an alternative way of getting the improvements I need to begin making progress. I do not intend to ever give up here, for the sake of my kids, and for the sake of one day potentially doing triathlon.

3. Run more

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My activity noticeably tailed off towards the Great Birmingham Run, as following my last long run before the race – a 12.66 mile jaunt through Kirklees to work – I felt quite sore in the days afterwards, and my right knee was giving me gip – indeed I didn’t run at all between the last Tuesday before the race which is more rest than I would have liked, but when faced with possible illotobial band syndrome I didn’t want to take any chances. Thankfully, I came through that race with no issues at all which shows I made the right decision there, and I can now try and use this reduced schedule to get that issue sorted without making it any worse.

The Great Birmingham Run signalled the likely end of all racing action this year, and I have decided I will relax a little on the running side of things and focus a bit on preparing myself in the gym for core and all round strength, as well as working on my swimming technique. That might be tricky in November – I’ve been booked out for 5 weeks of training and 3 weeks of that are consistent morning starts which isn’t my usual topsy turvy schedule that I like. That might impede on efforts to gym and swim but then again, I can hopefully work around it and make good on what I say I want to do. In any event, it makes a mockery of this goal now, but I can say I’ve achieved all I wanted to out of it this year.

That said, there is one event that money and Christmas permitting has caught my eye – the Great Yorkshire Pieathlon in Huddersfield, a 6k trail run/walk race that involves pie stations and a chance to eat pie as you run. It’s £13.50 to enter and it’s on Sunday 14th December. I fancied it last year but I wound up working and lacking money instead. This year its ominously looking much the same as I’m pencilled in to work on that Sunday. But as my mate Jordan says, ‘come on, you know you want the pie!

Head to the <a href="Great Yorkshire Pieathlon website“>http://www.teamoa.co.uk/pieathlon.html if you fancy entering it. It’s for a great cause – The Laura Crane Trust – and it sounds positively barmy.

4. Run faster

Well, I did it. By hook or by crook, timing chips and timing mats be damned, I got a new personal best time at the Great Birmingham Run at 1:25:37. While I would have loved it to have been the 1:23:41 that I thought I had recorded, at least I was able to get a validated time with which I can now legitimately reflect back on my performance in that race. Which was an enjoyable experience and although my tactics were not the best, I still came out with a 68-second PB. Sadly I can’t analyse this with my Garmin data, as actually getting it to a computer with internet and an up-to-date browser is not currently an experience I can manage at home, believe it or not.

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You can see across this series of watch images how my race unfolded. The first mile, as you may have read from my race report, clocked at 4:54! While its remarkable to look back on a new record mile like that, at this stage I must regard it in some way as a bit of a fluke – of course, if it wasn’t within my capabilities I wouldn’t have cracked it, but it wasn’t intended to create a new PB mile of 29 seconds in that race and I fully believe it impacted my race strategy and ultimately a realistic chance of getting that sub-1:25:00. I’m not downhearted about it, not at all – I’m very proud to have timed 1:25:37 and got the improvement I worked hard in training for. But in future I would not like to set off like a speeding bullet because I think had I not kept dropping pace from mile 7 and in particular coped with the hill better than the 7:29 the 12th mile went for, the magic target may well have been on.

But as I mentioned, I’m not beating myself up about it. A PB is a PB and this was a very good one. I’ve taken nearly 6 minutes off my HM best since the 2013 Great North Run and see no reason why I can’t lower the mark next year, even with a focus on the marathon. I can’t see me whizzing through training runs with this intensity now, what with them likely to be fewer in number and with a bigger focus on the local gym. But make no mistake, while I’m of a reasonably prime age there’s going to be opportunities for me to work on my time goals, so long as I stay fit, healthy and injury-free.

So that’s October’s update done, what lies ahead now is probably not a lot of running, and hopefully more time doing the core, cardio and strengthening work as the year winds down. I’ll be analysing my resolutions at the end of the year so I will measure all my targets including running then, and not now. Swimming will no doubt have a role to play in the shake-up, and in amongst it all I hope I can avoid the trap of midnight housework and actually get some decent nights of sleep. Toodle pip!

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