It’s been a great year of running, but looking back on the year, my best races appear to have come more by accident than design. In January I set out my goals for 2015 in a blog entitled “From hills to mountains“. My ‘A’ race for the year was TDS, and I’d also entered the Lakeland 50 to gain experience in mountain running.
All my training was focused on hills. Instead of planning a 3 hour or a 25 mile trail run, my goals became to climb 3000ft in the session. I even ran a few treadmill VKs! Yet despite all the hard work, my performance at these races was not what I had hoped for. Instead I surprised myself with my endurance on the flat. I had entered the Centurion Thames Path 100 on a whim and was amazed to finish in 3rd place. This success encouraged me to enter the Autumn 100, where I managed to run even quicker, finishing in just under 16 hours.
So what can I take from this, and in particular what worked well in training, and what should I change for next year…
My training plan had blocks for speed work, hill work, base training etc. and I had planned a couple of increases in intensity to help peak for key races. However it was also very consistent, and I was running between 200 and 220 miles each month. Looking back at the data (see chart) I was far more consistent this year (in orange) than last year (in blue), and this has clearly paid dividends. Part of this has been a change in attitude to entering races. This year I entered one race a month: a trail marathon or 50k. However I took a more relaxed approach to many of these, and ran them as a hard training session rather than a full on race. Harder than a solo training session but not so hard that I would need to take more than a few days off to recover.
This approach has worked well, so more of the same in 2016.
Hills are good
This year I climbed over 230k feet, which is twice as much as any of the previous three years. All this climbing has improved my leg strength. Not only does this mean I can run well at the end of races, but also means I’m less prone to injury, so able to train consistently.
Training should be specific for your target events. Living in the south east means I have a few hills to train on but no mountains, and eventually the scale of the climbs in the Alps as well as the heat were the factors I couldn’t cope with. If I decide to go back and try UTMB, I’ll need to plan some weekend training trips to the mountains.
In the meantime I’ll pick races that better reflect the conditions I train in.