2007 Review. The good, the bad and the ugly.

Another year is almost over, but incidentally is also almost one year to the day since I started blogging. Heading into 2007, before I had even contemplated entering the Marathon des Sables I set myself four targets. To recap these were:

1) Sub 13 min run on the Mungo Bone
2) Sub 36 mins for a 10k road race
3) Cycle sub 48 mins on my 14.5 mile lap
4) Improve upon my average cross-country position of 59th.

These targets were set with the idea of improving my physical fitness rather than as preparation for an ultra marathon which is what I am now heading towards. As a result the targets do seem a little strange, as if nothing else they are all a bit on the short side. On the other hand it shows how far I've come over the last year when I hadn't really contemplated running anything over 10km. The first target to fall was the sub 48 min cycle ride which I completed in April. Arguably this was the easiest of my targets, where to be honest all I needed to do to improve my time was a bit of extra fitness, some bravery and luck! Following that I managed to break a sub 36 min 10km at Silverstone in May. I found this target the most difficult to achieve and now that I'm running longer distances I'm not sure whether I have the basic speed to improve this further for the moment.

The last target I achieved was to beat my average position of 59th at the cross country. I thought this target would be very difficult but in the end my average race position was 32nd with a season best of 17th. This was really when it hit home how much my fitness has improved as it was the first time I could compare myself against the year before.

The final target of sub 13 mins for the Mungo Bone I failed to achieve, basically because I chose not to run it in favour of doing a long 20 mile run instead that day - in essence I felt the target to be no longer relevant now that I'm branching out to longer distances.

As for my best and worst performances of 2007? Well my top three were:

1) Stratford Half Marathon
2) Leek XC
3) Stoke XC

and the worst...

1) Milton Keynes Half
2) Stafford XC
3) Air Products Crewe 10k

My half marathon time of 1.22.30 set at Stratford in late April was very satisfying and I was probably at my peak 'speed' fitness. As with my 10km pb it currently looks unlikely that I'll be making any further inroads at this distance. My other two best races were the XC races a couple of months ago. Just a couple of years ago I would often place somewhere around 80-100th so to now have two performances where I came 17th and 25th was a big boost to my confidence.

As for my worst performances - well the worst by miles (pun intended) was the Milton Keynes Half. I had been injured for the two months beforehand, but as I had already entered I decided to give it a go thinking that I couldn't have lost that much fitness. My biggest mistake was to set off at my pb pace, which in essence resulted in me bonking and the second half of the course was as painful as I've ever experienced. The 1 mile walk back to the car almost resulted in my collapsing.

As for my two other worst performances, the XC at Stafford was pretty bad as again I had been injured a couple of weeks beforehand. I'd lost my sharpness and mentally I really didn't want to run so it was just a recipe for not doing very well. Finally the Air Products 10k completes the list - the race wasn't too bad other then thinking it was far hillier than I was expecting and ended up running slower than my start of year 10km pb time (before I started training). It was a dent to my confidence but to be honest deep down I knew that the slowness of my time was mostly down to the course.

I suppose the biggest issue over the course of the year was my feet - I could barely run 3 miles without my feet blistering badly - I couldn't begin to tell you how frustrating it was for several months. I think it was partly a case of time of my feet which eventually resulted in them toughening up a bit and getting some orthotics but they weren't without their problems too. I've now been injury free for a couple of months and I now hope things will settle down a bit.

So now comes the time to set myself some new targets for the year. I've had to think for quite a while to decide what I want to achieve in 2008, but in the end have come up with just two targets:

1) To run a sub 3hr marathon.
2) To finish a 50+ mile ultra marathon

I think the sub 3hr marathon target is going to be tough, very tough in fact but one that I'd love to achieve. At the moment I reckon that I'm running about 3hr 10min pace, but the honest truth is that I have no idea having never done a marathon. I'll probably have four opportunities over the course of the year to achieve the time so is not something that I can do without thorough planning in advance. My first attempt is almost certainly going to be at Draycote Water in February.

My first ultra-marathon attempt has now been put back to the second half of next year, but to be honest that's no bad thing, what with the MdS taking place in March 2009.

At this stage I have no idea how the year is likely to shape, but will probably aim to do the Draycote marathon in Feb, followed by the Stratford marathon in April. After that I have no idea other than I intend to train at around 50 miles until April, then gradually increase bit by bit in the run up to the MdS.


  1. Hi Lloyd, you have had a good year and your fitness has obviously improved a great deal- you're well on course for those goals, and of course the biggie in 2009!

    I am going to look at my goals etc soon but they won't be that impressive!


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