Six Month Review

Well the first six months of training is complete and I thought it worthwhile to review current progress (both good and bad) and the six months ahead. As usual I've thought of lots of things to write whilst I'm out running, but when it comes to putting pen to paper (or whatever the computer equivalent is) I've got a bit of a mental block! Here goes...

After my entry to the MdS was accepted in March its been a case of steadily building up my mileage. I knew (or thought) I had a decent level of what I call 'residual fitness' - the ability to be able to do events such as the OMM and orienteering which in effect keeps me ticking over, but nowhere near full potential. Up until the start of the year if you don't include events my training was quite literally nil and had been for several years. In effect this meant that my training was doing one event one weekend as preparation for the next and so on. Clearly this had to change if I am to have a chance completing the MdS.

Up until my entry was accepted I was running about 15-20 miles a week, most of which were 3.5 mile runs. I occasionally did a 5-6 miler but my endurance wasn't really there, and perhaps it was always easy in training to 'cut short' whilst in a race situation its not possible to do this. I think now in hindsight one of the reasons why I wasn't able to run the extra distance was because I was going way too fast - from what I recall sub 6 minute miles was not unheard of. The other problem I had to contend with was that my feet kept blistering badly, especially underneath the arches. These problems continued until after my MdS deposit has been paid in March and quite early on I was harbouring lingering doubts that if my feet were getting mashed after 3.5 miles then what is the MdS going to do to me? In the first couple of months of training alone I must have gone through several boxes of blister patches.

I started off by racing several 10k's as it was my strategy to become 10k fit before increasing the distance. In virtually no time at all my pb went from 38 mins to 36.23 (and subsequently 35.54 in May) and was happy with progress other than the state of my feet which was a constant worry.

In April I went to see a podiatrist and and eventually got some orthotics created a month or so later. In the meantime I entered my first half marathon and although I was running longer distances now wasn't sure whether my body could cope with 13.1 miles. I was very surprised to find that although the last few miles were agony I ran a very competitive time of 1.22.30 which I thought was not bad for a first effort. I think it proved that my training was going pretty well and around this time my weekly mileage had increased to around 30. It was not long after this that things began to go downhill. When the orthotics eventually arrived most of the rubbing in my feet subsided (though to be honest it was reducing of its own accord by then anyway), but a couple of weeks later a tendon/bone in my right foot became very sore. It resulted me in not training for best part of two months and being back to square one. I suppose I could have done some cycling to keep some of my fitness, but I just lost a lot of my motivation as well.

Two months later my foot, although not perfect had improved enough to consider starting running again. The downside was that before the injury arrived I had entered the Milton Keynes Half and it was the following weekend. I decided to run it anyway and it just demonstrated how much fitness I had lost. Not only did I run 13 mins slower, but it was the manner in which I did it and how bad I felt afterwards. I can honestly say that was the most painful race I've ever done.

Since then its been a case of putting some solid training in and although I had a further two weeks out of training because of a cold my mileage has steadily increased to a new record last weekend of 50.

So what are the positives and negatives so far? Well the positives are: 1) The problems with blistering have all but gone 2) None of the knee pain that I've had over the last few years has returned 3) My overall fitness has improved considerably as had my endurance.

The downsides are: 1) My feet are still not perfect, especially my toes which are constantly bruised and is something I will need to look at detail over the next few months 2) The injuries I've had so far which has resulted in 50% of potential training time being lost 3) A probable loss of top speed as a trade off for endurance - I'm fairly sure that I'm no longer capable of running sub 36 mins for a 10k but need to look at the bigger picture. I also suspect that running sub 1.22 for a half marathon is not likely now either.

So what is the plan for the next 6 months? Well stay injury free for one! I don't see the need now to increase my mileage for the foreseeable future so its just a case of maintaining what I'm doing into early next year. The only thing I want to change is to do one longer weekend run, say 16-20 miles and not feel dead to the world as a result.

Here's to the next six months!


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