As I reflect on this post-injury phase, the thing I’m most pleased with is my consistency. I have not missed a single run that was on the plan, and January was no exception. Consistency is key to building long term endurance and performance, or so I gather. The longer runs are getting meaty now, the last one of the month reaching 30k.

The pattern of the week usually goes something like this:

  • Monday – easy recovery run, just bash out the miles nice and slow
  • Tuesday – rest day
  • Wednesday – longish run, up to 20km now. Easy pace but with added spice, perhaps 6-8 strides en route, or a few km of faster pace in the middle.
  • Thursday – quality day, 5k of something a bit harder, fartlek, tempo, hills, that kind of thing.
  • Friday – somewhere between easy and tempo, a steady pace.
  • Saturday – rest day
  • Sunday – long run!

Then on top of that I have two strength sessions in the shed gym, mainly working the big muscles in the legs. To give my ageing body a chance to recover, and also to consolidate any gains, every 4th week is a recovery week with a lower volume of running.

I speculated last time that the Green Man Ultra in early March was looking iffy and I was right, not long after that the event was postponed to an as yet unconfirmed future date. While obviously not a surprise in the circumstances, it is nonetheless disappointing to have the end goal of a lengthy training block disappear, the proverbial rug pulled out from under you. Not to be deterred, I’ve organised a two-man event with a colleague. On 20th March we plan to run three 10 mile out and backs, all on trails, using our cars as the aid station. It won’t be quite the same as GMU but I’m really looking forward to it. For now I’m focused on the training, I want to be super ready for it as my running buddy is an old hand at this ultra business.

I have been enjoying exploring nearby trails. I’m making great use of the Ordnance Survey Maps online service. I found the free version unsatisfactory, the mapping is basic, you can’t export a gpx or even save a route. The premium version is only a few quid a month and well worth it. For that you get detailed Explorer level mapping which is great for discovering and stitching together footpaths and bridleways into a nice long trail run. With the nav on my new watch it is very straightforward to export a route from OS and send it to the watch. The moving map and turn by turn directions on the Fenix 6 Pro take all the uncertainty out of running a new route, leaving me to just enjoy the running and the scenery.

Like much of the country we had a bit of snow mid-way through the month. I had 27km on the plan so 27km was run in quite heavy snow. For the most part this was actually fine, the main challenges being accumulated snow inside my specs and fresh snow concealing trip hazards or frozen puddles. The snow made much of the route unrecognisable so it was a bit of a mystery tour. I really enjoyed it!

With lots of rain and snowmelt, the trails got extremely boggy towards the end of the month. Last Sunday’s run was positively gruelling. Things were strange right from the start as the watch took me round the route clockwise rather than anti-clockwise that I was expecting. This did strange things to my head, I lost all awareness of where I was and I didn’t trust the route guidance in the same way. This made for frequent stops to check the route. To add to the fun, the recent rain has caused the Thames to top its banks in several places. Part of my route, actually just a mile or two, was to run along the Thames Path to Goring and then off into the hills. I was stopped in my tracks by high water. The post in the middle distance is a way marker for the path, totally flooded out. Having experienced the icy joy of wading through a lengthy stretch of knee-deep water last month, I didn’t fancy it at all, plus it wasn’t at all obvious where the river stopped and the path started. I did the sensible thing and found an alternative route on a nice bit of road.

When I wasn’t stopping or diverting, I was running through muddy gloop which gets very tiring very quickly, like running on sand. I was properly knackered afterwards, a quick snooze on the sofa wasn’t going to cut it, I actually went to bed for a couple of hours!

A couple of months back I was seriously contemplating entering a 100 mile event. I took the plunge, half expecting not to get a spot, but my bluff was called so now I am officially entered into the Centurion Autumn 100 which is due to happen in mid-October this year. As I sit here in early February, this is rather intimidating. The thought of running, walking or crawling for over 5 times further than my recent distance record, probably for in excess of 24 hours, all sounds a bit insane to me now. I haven’t begun to wrap my head around what that takes, or what it will be like, and perhaps I won’t be able to until I make the attempt. For now I have to trust the training, the miles I’m putting in my legs, to get me there. Plenty of time.

Onwards and upwards!

I’ll be back in a month or so with another update.