It’s that time of year again when many of us reflect upon the last 12 months and consider the high and lows, what we’ve achieved and perhaps start to think about setting new goals as we head into a new year.
Personally I’m not a fan of the ‘new year, new me’ attitude. Whilst I understand that it’s a good time to start fresh, I also wonder what stops people from wanting to better themselves at any given point in time. Perhaps in a world full of diet pills, starvation diets, cleanses, skinny coffees, celebrity exercise dvd’s and transformation programmes, conflicting advice can leave us feeling confused and torn in different directions.
For me, it’s about simplicity and choosing just one or two things to focus on otherwise I start to feel swamped. In previous years I’ve been that person trying to do too many things and not really excelling at one thing in particular and therefore I’ve never really given myself a chance to figure out what I could be great at.
So this year I had two main goals:
1. Complete 100 miles
2. Get faster over longer distances.
If I had to throw in a third, it was to achieve the first 2 without any serious injury which is easier said than done when I was already carrying existing aches and pains from 2017. I’m happy to say that I’ve just about survived the year with only a few physio appointments, an X-ray and mri scan on my foot... that’s a good year for me.
I’m not going to list everything I’ve done this year (my Instagram does a good job of that) but only to say that I achieved what I set out to do. My ‘A’ races were the 100 miler (race report here), Centurion Chiltern Wonderland 50 (race report here) and Abingdon marathon (I’m yet to blog about this but it’s in my plan).
How did I do it? I asked myself how badly I wanted it. The answer to this wasn’t immediately apparent but as I progressed with my 100 mile training I started to realise that my mental strength and desire to be great was growing week by week. I developed a real hunger to see what I could do and this in itself drove me to keep pushing. Previously, if I had a last minute cancellation from a client then I’d use the time to pitch up in a cafe and do some admin work, but instead I started to use the extra time to throw in shorter runs here and there. I found that the quick blasts became just as significant to my training as the longer steady paced runs.
Outside of my longer training runs, I noticed I was getting much faster and starting to PB again after a long dry period of slow progress. Aside from the fact I had increased my weekly mileage, I had also started the year off with heart rate zone training which had now taken full effect. By year end I went onto PB in 5km (20.47), 10km (42.15) half marathon (1.38), marathon (3.29) and 50 mile (9.53) distances.
I also had a secret weapon in my training partner, Caroline, who was also doing the West Country Ultra. That woman has a drive and tenacity akin to a big African cat with its eye on its prey. it’s quite a sight to behold! So running with her has always given me that extra push and whilst I quite often hate it, I’m always grateful to her once I’ve had a glass of coconut water and packet of ready salted crisps, my go to post run snack, and caught my breath again. I probably don’t give Caroline enough credit for the real effect she has on my training, so if you’re reading this Caroline, a massive thank you for being every bit as crazy as I am and more!
I’m not doing a great job of summarising my year in this post but I guess what I’m trying to say, albeit somewhat cliché, is that as long as you have just one tiny cell of self belief then it will multiply and grow, the more you nurture it.
Completing the West Country 100 mile ultra marathon is most certainly one of my biggest running accomplishments to date, but the journey leading to it and the road that followed on from it continues to build my confidence and ability to achieve more than I ever dreamt possible.
So here’s the thing, when you set your goals I beg you please don’t make it just about the faddy diet, cleanse or 30 day shred but ask yourself how much do you want it and more to the point, think beyond the intial programme and make a longer term plan that’s realistic and sustainable around your lifestyle.
Furthermore, look closer to home, look inside yourself and DO believe, DO dream big and DO reach beyond impossible... you might just discover something quite remarkable.
My goals going into 2019 are to build on my new found self belief (I still have a long way to go) and make sure I always remain firmly outside of my comfort zone. I also have bigger, more important goals, and they are to find a better balance with my family life, be a better mummy and focus more on my clients requirements.
I’ve just recently joined the Salomon Ambassador family so I’m looking forward to establishing myself within the role which involves delivering workshops and hosting trail runs as well as showcasing what the Salomon trail running community has to offer.
I’ve also made the huge leap outside of my comfort zone and I’m committing to sharing my story with the hope to inspire others through public speaking.. my first two engagements are in January and yes I’m terrified but also looking forward to something new.
Finally, I just want to say a huge thank you to everyone in my support network who have been a part of my running and fitness journey. My incredible family for putting up with my silly antics, my clients and friends for always listening to the aftermath, my incredible RUN LIKE A GIRL members who inspire me to be the best leader I can be and also to those friends who I’ve made along the way - the ultra running community really is something quite special and I can’t wait to see what further adventures 2019 has in store for me.
2018.. over and out.