Seeing as I can’t run at the moment due to by arch blister remaining a little raw, I’ve had more time to think about what I would really like to achieve this year; I was inspired to do this by the always awesome Ginger Runner, as he recently VLOG’ed his 2017 goals. Go on, check the guy out, I challenge you not to be motivated by him. I’ve been watching his fantastic videos for some time now (could have sworn I was subscribed to his channel, though) and his accompanying music is equally fantastic! It’s something I’d also like to do. Cheers Ethan 🙂
Unfortunately, Strava watching is only making me envious of everybody that is getting out at the moment. It’s nice too, as that strange yellow thing in the sky we sometimes get in North Wales / UK has made an appearance after all the awful weather we’ve had for the past week. The clouds have cleared and have revealed a new layer of icing on the mountains. Voila:
Anyway, where was I before my back garden distracted me? Goals.
- Stay Injury Free
This has been a tough one for me over the past two years. I have had niggles ranging from what I thought was a hairline fracture in my shin (from bashing it hard on the step of a stile) that never seemed to stop grumbling. But it did. Then I had adductor discomfort pretty much to the point of where I had to stop and walk. I’ve had a back spasm which stopped me running for a while. I have a long history of back trouble anyway, yet much to peoples’ disbelief, running is the best thing for it. Naysayers be, er, nayed. Or something.
But the main issue I’ve had is a really problematical left ankle. It’s generally pretty pants anyway and kind of just hangs limply at the end of my leg, occasionally allowing me to put weight on it. It also likes to hurt me a lot in the form of unbelievably painful ankle inversions (turns inwards). The worst one wasn’t when I was flying hell for leather down a super-duper-rock-strewn Glyderau descent, but at a firkin’ wedding. You know the kind. During what I like to call ‘dancing’. Please allow Brad Pitt to demonstrate:
So, it went. Like a pringle. I couldn’t walk and could barely hobble. This put me out of action for what felt like aeons. Eventually, a month later I went for a run. Not an easy one. No I’m not that sensible you see. My bad. Around Snowdon. Rocky paths. Rocky rocks, steepy steep-ness and lots of slippery-ness and ankle-biters. CRUNCH!! ARRRGGGHHH!!! FUCKITY-FUCK!!! It turned, hard. I carried on and managed to run off the mountain, but it wasn’t broken. A few more runs. A few more turns later, I was still running on it, against my ‘better’ wisdom.
With time it has settled down and has, I think, become stronger from running on trails and technical terrain, but I’m still very careful. Lesson? High stack heights in the mountains equals bad. Low equals good. Which rather cleverly leads me onto my next goal for 2017.
2. Transition to Zero Drop
If you’re not familiar with the term (although if you’re reading a blog about running, you should be, but in case tha’s not), I’ll attempt to explain in simple terms.
All running shoes have what’s called a ‘drop’; basically, the shoe is higher at the back, than the front. Imagine a kiddies slide (that just conjures up stilettos), but you get the idea. So a shoe might have a heel height of 25mm, and the forefoot height may be 16mm, giving this shoe a 9mm drop. To make things simple, 4mm is generally what I run in which will actually make the transition for me easier and in less time.
It is very unwise to go from something like a 12mm drop to a zero drop with no transition time; if you do, you are asking for injury. No really. Ignore this advice at your peril. In my humble view, if you’re running 12mm you are likely a heel striker and not a midfoot/forefoot like myself. That distance from the ground of 12mm using the same gait cycle (how your feet land and move through) straight into a zero drop shoe will give you Achilles trouble, calf trouble, shin trouble and a whole host of potential injuries leading up the kinetic chain.
Remember, your feet have gotten used to a certain gait. Going to zero drop changes all that. ‘Transition’ not only means to move to the zero drop gradually, but also to adjust your gait gradually, as it will alter how you run. However, it will make you a more efficient runner and you will put less force through your body and you will have twinkle toes. Which is useful at night.
So I will be moving to Altra shoes soon. These also have a natural foot shaped toe box, allowing your feet to do what they were designed to do; splay. I’m currently in Hoka Bondi 4 for long road runs (rare these days) at 4mm and Inov8 Roclite 280s for trail and mountain, however these have a 9mm drop but feel close to the ground. For a far better explanation on transition, go here and become a zero drop master. These shoes are also tres sexy:
3. Consistency is Key!
Due to the nature of my work (I’m a freelance outdoor instructor) I do not have a ‘normal’ Monday to Friday 9 – 5 grind. Thankfully. Been there, hated that. Every week is different for me. It is also physically tiring. Last year I worked so much without leaving many days to train or having the energy, this year I want to change that.
Being freelance, I can stipulate how many days a week I can work and I’m going to say no more than four per week for this year. One of my main employers, GoBelow Underground Adventures, understand and accept that being freelance there comes a degree of flexibility on both sides. They also ‘get’ that we have lives away from work. They’re nice like that 🙂 Check ’em out and while you’re at it, book on a trip for something truly unique in the UK; who knows, you may even get my ugly mug leading you 😛
Four days will keep me well above water financially so that I can still pay bills and keep adding to my shiny running shoe collection. Oh and pay for ultra marathons too.
This will enable me to have set days for training which I must stick to. I was rubbish at this in 2016, but I still spent a lot of time running and managed to do alright in any races I ran.
4. Run More Ultra Marathons!
Well I can tick one off already. Ooo, ooo pick me, pick me! This ultra distance thing is very addictive, especially if you have run an ultra and know that it’s something you are capable of. I did far better than I expected to in the Brecon to Cardiff, and despite blisters, I had no physical niggles.
So this year, I have already booked a number of events, ranging from shorter but incredibly tough fell races, to trail marathons and two ultra marathons. So here’s what I’ve entered so far:
- May 13th – The Dukeries 40 – a beautiful looking 40 mile ultra around Nottinghamshire and Sherwood Forest.
- June 3rd – The Welsh 1000m Peaks Fell Race – at 30km / 18 miles with 2,500 metres of ascent over all of the Snowdonia mountains higher than 1,000 metres. This is tough with a capital ‘T’. I know these mountains very well, in all weather conditions but it is a very, very hard physical and mental race. Lots of extra training for this one.
- July 23rd – The Snowdonia Trail Marathon – this is technically an ultra marathon as myself and most competitors measured it at 28.8 miles. I ran it in 2015 but with the addition/improvements of a couple of new path sections, it could be shorter. A beautiful race in my beautiful home that circumnavigates and eventually climbs up Snowdon, but shy of the summit with a 5 mile descent on very tired legs. I’ll be ‘dry’ running this soon to get a feel for it again.
- September 9th – The Ultra Tour of Snowdonia. The big one. All my training will lead up to this in 2017. It is 58 miles or 93 km through some of the most stunning scenery our National Park has to offer. And whilst I am familiar with the majority of the areas it passes through, I will be carrying out recces prior to the event. This really is the big one for me. With only 70 entrants allowed, it will be competitive, so I want to be ready and I want to do well.
Sure, that’s only four main events, but I may yet add more and will probably do one in December to book-end the year nicely. I have to account for recovery time between events too. I will also hopefully try and run what we call the Tuesday Night Fell Series put on by my club, Eryri Harriers. These are very short often ‘up and down’ traditional fell races that are hard and damn painful. I did a couple in 2016 but I didn’t stick at them, as they are so hard and fast I just don’t like that kind of discomfort. But I’ll happily run long distance and put my body through all sorts of physical and mental shit. I’m odd like that 🙂
5. Cross Train
I actually come from a road cycling background, but now my poor bike tends to gather dust. Again, something I have to change, as I used to love cycling so much. After all, we have the perfect roads here in Snowdonia. I just love running more, I get more out of it; usually injuries, hah 😀 And to be honest, I’m rubbish at cross training yet totally understand the benefits of it. I’ll also be swimming too, as it’s non-contact. To that effect, today I purchased some incredibly sexy Speedo trunks so I can look just like Daniel Craig appearing out of the water in Casino Royale:
Ooops, sorry ladies, wrong person. Here’s the one of me instead:
Damn I look good in trunks.
6. More Stretching and/or become a Yogi
Whilst I do stretch religiously after a run, I rarely do any consistent stretching either later on or on rest days. This will help to keep me injury free. I tried yoga in 2016 but again, never stuck at it as I couldn’t be er, bothered. Becoming a yogi is actually quite easy. After all, we always have honey in the cupboard and a cave I can hide in upstairs. Ooooh sorry, wrong Yogi.
Hmm. I just need to spend 10 – 20 minutes every day if I can, but as a human, I am inherently lazy at doing the things I know will keep me flexible. Come on! You’ve all been given exercises by your physio and you’ve gone away all fired up to do them, annnnnnnd….nothing. You sit on your arse like nothing needs fixing. I am very guilty of that! I usually include biscuits too. I mean, I don’t want to look like this either:
…but if it helps.
Anyhoo, that’s my little plan so far for 2017. Let’s see if I can stick to it.
Until the next riveting read, thanks for being here 🙂