Apparently there’s a difference between ‘training’ and training. Running around is not ‘following a training plan’ did you know that? 

Well, for a long time, I was kidding myself that by running around like a confused pheasant, three times a week, that I was training. Don’t get me wrong, there’s something wonderful about the freedom to just go out and hit the trails- I never want to lose that joy.. but if you have a goal in mind, like myself, it might be beneficial to start building in some structure to your running. Quite simply, it gets results.

I’m the classic Jack of All Trades. I run trail, road, fell and ultras, I enjoy the different challenges and am a serial racer (not a particularly successful one I might add!) But it’s time for me to settle down for a bit and see what it’s like to focus…did I tell you I love sausage rolls? FOCUS. 

Right, I’m aiming for improvements over 10K, so I’ve picked the step by step guide in Trail Running Magazine and am adapting it to my needs and ability.

One of the tricky things that I found was fitting structured training around a full time job. It’s worth saying that ‘structure’ doesn’t necessarily mean inflexibility, there can be compromises and a creative approach can solve a lot of problems. Simple things that we’ve all heard before like taking kit to work, run commuting all/part of the way. Getting up earlier. 

I was aware that time existed before 6.00am, did I ever really consider that as an option? I was also aware that lunch breaks can be utilised for speed work instead of sausage rolls, could that work for me? As for commuting, I’d need more logistical nounce and organisational ability than the London Marathon and UTMB put together to make that one work. 

Truth is, Excuses come pretty easily and it really just came down to me making time. I tried a few things, confirmed I wasn’t a morning person, forgot my shoes for work, continued to eat sausage rolls- those sorts of things. But I also stopped making excuses and became better at seizing opportunities and more flexible in changing round the plan now I was confident in what needed to be done. Being ready to run when you get the chance is key and having reliable kit makes things easier. I don’t let the weather stop me (within reason!) and living in the Lakes, it’s important to have a decent waterproof, the Inov-8 Raceshell did not disappoint (I’ve tested it in some pretty horrendous conditions) and it packs down nice and small as well.

It’s worth remembering that even as a seasoned runner, any change in routine can be a bit of a shock to the system. So as the old saying goes ‘you’re a long time dead’-so make the most of your potential…but you’re a long time injured as well- so listen to your body. Fairly early on, I picked up a slight niggle that limited my training (ultra followed by a 10K two days after, not the best idea). It was incredibly frustrating, but, I continued to follow the plan, swapping things around, including cycling, rowing and stair climbing to keep my fitness up. It took a couple of weeks to get back on track but having the existing routine in place helped to keep me focused. 

So right now I’m feeling pretty good, I’m no longer feeling like a pheasant at a road crossing, more like a very focused hedgehog or maybe an extremely dedicated squirrel ….wearing Roclites of course.


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