As it’s the final day of the year, I thought it was time to reflect and look back at my highlights of the year. 2018 was a great year for me, with regards to both my running progress, as well as personal milestones.
Top 5 Running / Fitness Highlights of 2018:
With my running, I have assembled a home gym which has helped me to train consistently. There are no more excuses for skipping workouts! As such, I have seen dramatic improvements in my fitness. These improvements have helped me achieve some of my running goals, and my top 5 highlights are listed below (in no particular order).
Completing the London Marathon
My first full marathon, and at London no less! This was an amazing experience. My training had not been good enough for this distance, or even a half marathon really, so I did struggle. It was also the hottest London Marathon on record, which didn’t help matters! I was struggling before I had even reached the halfway point, so I knew I was going to be in for a long day.
Despite this, I still really enjoyed the day. The crowd support was amazing and the sense of achievement once I had crossed the finish line was unrivalled. Yes, I hurt (a lot), but it was worth it! I have my medal framed and have a couple of mementos to remind me that I am capable of anything that I put my mind to.
Running a sub-30 minute 5k
After the London Marathon, achieving a sub-30 minute 5k is probably my next biggest achievement of the year.
My first ever 5k was on 26th November 2016, and it took me 46:11 to complete. This was my first ever Parkrun and I struggled the entire way around the 5k course. I got the finish line and couldn’t even walk anymore. Red-faced and out of breath, it highlighted how out of shape I was. I finished at the back of the pack, but it made me want to push on and try to improve my time.
The last 6 months of 2017 saw my training slip. I was inconsistent and when I did run, I didn’t have a plan. Occasionally I would head out for a 2 or 3 mile run / walk after work, but I never really pushed myself. These runs were more just to say that I had been out rather than actually being productive! I started a new job and had cancelled my gym membership, so my training was starting to suffer.
In 2018, my fiancé and I bought a house. I purchased a treadmill and my training started to get some consistency. I would train regularly after work, and my evening runs started to improve. Previously I would struggle to run 2 miles after work, and would often cut workouts short if I was struggling. I started to push myself more and not quit when things got tough.
As such, I managed to run my first sub-30 minute 5k on November 24th 2018 – 2 years after my very first Parkrun! I ran the same course but this time completed it in 29:35. Since then I have improved my 5k time to 28:37.
Running a sub-1:10 10k
As my 5k time had been improving, it made sense to enter some 10k events to try and improve on my 10k time. For a while I had been struggling to beat my personal best of 1:13:57 which had been achieved in September 2017. I managed to run 1:08:17 in a dedicated 10k race, and then a 10km split of 1:06:36 during a 10 mile event in December 2018.
My next milestone is sub-1:05, with the long-term goal being to run sub-60.
Running a sub-2:35 Half Marathon
My very first half marathon was back in October 2017 and I finished with a time of 2:59:47. I then completed my second half marathon in September 2018 in 2:42:53. 2 weeks later I completed my third in 2:33:29.
Granted, I wasn’t really prepared for my first half marathon, I have still made a lot of progress. To go from 2:42:53 to 2:33:29 in the space of 2 weeks was a big achievement! I had targeted sub-2:45 for my second half, which I achieved, but then felt like I had more in the tank so entered a local half marathon 2 weeks later. Here I wanted sub-2:35 and managed to achieve that, despite the appalling weather conditions!
For 2019, I’d like to run a sub-2:30 half marathon. I have 2 half marathons booked; one in January and one in March. Hopefully I can improve on this time in the New Year!
A lot of my progress comes down to the fact that I have put more time into my training. I used to skip runs or shorten them if I wasn’t feeling great. Now I get out for a run (or on the treadmill) even if I don’t want to because I see the bigger picture. I no longer bail out of harder runs or cut sessions short. When you can see the fruit of your labour, it is easier to stay motivated.
That’s not to say that there aren’t times when I don’t want to get changed and run, but I have changed my attitude so that I can overcome these moments. I still struggle to stick to my Yoga and Weight training session plans, but as long as I don’t skip a running workout, I’m not too hard on myself!
Top 5 Personal Highlights of 2018:
2018 was also a great year for me on a personal level. Chris and I achieved a lot and as such, we have a lot to look forward to in 2019.
Buying our first house
After months of saving and a few let downs along the way, Chris and I finally purchased our first house and moved in together. There is still a lot of work to be done, but it feels great to finally have a place of our own.
Getting a new car
We’ve owned a few cars in our 3 and a half years together (Ford Mondeo, MG ZR, and a Ford Ka), but they had all been cheap run arounds that just got us by. When our Ford Ka failed its MOT, we decided to invest in a decent car instead of buying another run around. We are now proud owners of an Alfa Romeo Mito, which I love! It’s nice to have a car with air conditioning, especially given the summer that we had!
Starting a new job
After 11 months at my previous job, I was approached by a recruitment agency who were recruiting for a more administration based role. I attended the interview but didn’t feel confident, however a few days later I received a phone call to say that I had been selected for the role. It was a tough decision to leave as I really enjoyed the people that I worked with, and I knew the job well. In the end, I decided it was time to move on. My new job is closer to home, and the role itself is also less stressful!
Improving my fitness and losing weight
I have made a lot of improvement with regards to my overall fitness. When I first started out running, I couldn’t even run for 30 seconds. Even running 15 minute miles left me out of breath and red-faced. Now I run 7+ miles on my evening runs and 12+ miles on my Sunday long runs. Not only have I progressed to eliminate the walking breaks, I have also increased my “easy” pace. I now run my “easy” runs at between 11:30 and 12:15, and am able to remain in heart rate zone 2. Previously this pace would have kept me in zone 5!
As a consequence of running more, but also improving my diet to help fuel my running, I have lost over 3 stone. When I first started running I weighed 12 stone 7 pounds. Now I fluctuate between 9 stone 3 and 9 stone 5. Because of this, I am a lot more confident in my own skin and feel better about myself. I am proud of my body, not just in terms of having a flat stomach, but also in what it can achieve. Before I started running I had never really pushed myself physically, but now I know what my body is capable of, and it has given me a new found appreciation for it!
Setting a date for our Wedding
Chris proposed to me in Vienna back in September 2016. Originally we had planned on a lengthy engagement so that we could save for a picturesque wedding. The plans soon changed when my Nan was diagnosed with Cancer. Despite now receiving the all clear after chemotherapy, we decided to start making wedding plans. We have set the date for July 2019, and have almost everything in place!
We will also be going on honeymoon to San Pedro later in the year.
2018 has been an amazing year! There have been a lot of changes in my life, but they have all turned out for the better. I would say that this has been a breakthrough year for my running. I have reached a lot of my goals and know that I am capable of more than I ever imagined when I first started running in 2016. I’m looking to continue this momentum into 2019 and build on what I have achieved this year. 2019 already promises to be an exciting year as I have a lot to look forward to!