Typically, I would wait until the end of December to write a post like this, however I feel like I need to take some positives from 2019 and set a plan to ensure that I can improve in 2020.
Towards the end of last year, I set myself some goals for the upcoming year. This year has been like a tale of two halves for me. For the first half, I was consistent with my training and well ahead of where I expected to be. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to keep this up with the pressure of wedding planning and a few other things going on, and ultimately my training suffered. With 2019 coming to a close, I want to take a look at the goals that I set last year to see how the year went and how I can re-evaluate for 2020.
My goals for 2019 were as follows:
- Complete 10 events throughout the year (excluding Parkrun)
- Reach 50 Parkruns
- Run 1000 miles across the year
- Run a sub-1:05 10k
- Run a sub-2:30 half marathon
- Run a sub-5:30 marathon
- Join a local running club (try again!)
Just to note that I did also say I would be happy with a sub-27 minute 5k, but it wasn’t a direct goal. I have actually achieved this with a personal best of 25:58.
I’m expecting the Sneyd 10 Mile Christmas Pudding Run to be my final event of the year, which brings my total to 8 events in 2019. Slightly short of my goal, but this wasn’t helped by my training hiatus around the time I got married until I returned from my honeymoon. Looking at the events that I did enter, I may need to take on a few more 10k distance events next year! I completed the Gloucester Half Marathon, Ironbridge Half Marathon, Chasewater Easter 10k, Blackpool Marathon, Birmingham 10k, Black Country Half Marathon, Birmingham Half Marathon, and the Sneyd 10 Mile.
To be honest, I haven’t really been motivated through the winter to get to my local Parkrun. As such, my total stands at 31. I’m hoping to do the Christmas and New Year’s Day Parkruns, so 50 should be doable next year, even if I only focus on the summer months!
At the moment, my total mileage for the year sits at a rather measly 682. I know this will increase before the end of the year, but it’s impossible to hit the target of 1000 miles. The year started well, but then as the wedding approached my training took a back seat. Then came the honeymoon period and the actual honeymoon itself and before I knew it, I had lost 3 or 4 months of training!
I wanted a sub-1:05 10k, and I actually hit this goal a few times throughout the year. My current personal best is 56:28, so not a bad improvement on what I had aimed for! I know that it’s now going to be harder to improve my times as I’m not really in the “beginner” period anymore where you can see regular improvements and progress. For that reason, I’d like a modest sub-53 for 2020. Sub-50 would be the long-term goal, but at the minute holding an 8 minute per mile pace over that distance is just impossible!
Sub-2:30 Half Marathon:
The next goal on my list is one that surprised me quite a bit. I ran 2:33 in the Birmingham Half Marathon towards the end of 2018, and since then had aimed for a sub-2:30 time. I ran the Gloucester Half in January and got a time of 2:11! I was in shock, and obviously ecstatic! Thinking that it must have been a good day and just a fluke, I was surprised again when I ran the same time for the Ironbridge Half. I could have got a personal best there, despite the hilly course, however I was struggling with a niggly knee. At the 8-9 mile point I was on course for a sub-2 hour time, but then ended up limping around the last few miles. Sub-2:10 would be the next milestone, with the long-term goal being sub-2.
After my disastrous time in my first marathon, London no less, I really wanted to run a sub-5:30 time. Unlike my foolish first attempt, I actually put the miles in and felt quite confident. Looking at some of my previous race times and how training had felt, I was quietly hoping for a sub-5 hour marathon at Blackpool. This could have been an eventuality, but it just went wrong on the day. I didn’t have the best breakfast, I was overdressed, my energy gels were out of date… needless to say I had a few issues and my stomach was a bit all over the place! Still, for so much of the race the sub-5 goal was on. That was until the last few miles as I had to run and walk my way towards the finish line. I could see my watch time just going up, and knew that it was then impossible. This curbed my enthusiasm and I really struggled to get to the finish. In the end I finished with a time of 5:06. Compared to my first marathon attempt at 7:03, I was happy with the improvement, but also let down as I knew that I could have done better. As such, the goal for 2020 is a sub-5 time, and to make it more meaningful my next marathon attempt will be back in London! I’m seeking revenge on the course which beat me badly in 2018.
Join A Running Club:
The final goal on my 2019 list may seem a bit odd to some. I have wanted to join a running club for a long time, but I felt like I wouldn’t fit in. I wanted to meet like-minded people and have a group to run with when running outdoors. The issue was that I didn’t really class myself as a runner as I was slow and running definitely didn’t (still doesn’t) come easily to me. After smashing my sub-2:30 half marathon goal in January, I decided to try a local running club. Unfortunately, although I enjoyed the tough session, it just wasn’t for me. This left me thinking that I wasn’t going to join a club and would stick to training solo and mostly on the treadmill at home.
After posting in a Facebook running group, I received encouragement to try other clubs. I had a quick Google and found another club to try. This time around things seemed like a more natural fit. I got on with people and had a chat. The Tuesday sessions were tough, but fun, and Thursday’s more of a social run. At the start, I was attending both sessions a week and knew that I would be joining once the April membership opened. I then had to drop down to attended just one session a week on the Thursday as Chris was using my car to go to his martial arts classes. During my training hiatus I didn’t attend any club sessions, but made it back in October after returning from my honeymoon. It was good to see everyone again and since then I have been trying to make at least the Thursday session each week, although I have missed one or two. As my race times improve, I’ll be hoping to move up a group or two within the club and hope that the coaches will be able to help me continue to progress.
My goals for next year consist of ones which I had hoped to achieve this year (*cough* 50 Parkruns…) and ones which improve on my race times.
- Complete 10 events throughout the year (excluding Parkrun) – I’m hoping that my running club Grand Prix will help me reach this one!
- Reach 50 Parkruns – second year lucky?
- Run 1000 miles across the year
- Run a sub-25 5k
- Run a sub-54 10k
- Run a sub-2 half marathon
- Run a sub-5 marathon
- Enter as many Grand Prix events as possible
As I have a place in the London Marathon and Liverpool Marathon for next year, my focus will be on training for those and then for the second half of the year I may look to try and improve my 5k and 10k times with some interval training and speed-work.
I’ll also be looking to enter as many events in my running club’s Grand Prix as possible for 2020. A Grand Prix is a yearlong event where runners compete against their club members in events which are picked by the club committee at the start of the season. Points are then allocated based on the number of participants and finishing positions. I doubt I’ll come anywhere near the top of the club leader-board, but it will be nice to see other club members at these events.
2019 was a fairly successful year in some aspects as I improved a lot of my race times. With that being said, I have missed a lot of training and my base fitness is now having to be rebuilt. I missed a few of my goals, but I’m happy with my race times improving and that I overcame the mental battle to be able to join a running club. I know that I will need to keep the consistency that I had for the first 4 months or so of 2019 all the way through next year, but I’m optimistic that I can push on and get back to the level that I was at before my training slump. My main goals for 2020 are to tick off the sub-5 marathon, which I think is definitely do-able based on last years effort (I just need to rebuild my base!), and the sub-2 half marathon. The sub-2 is definitely going to be a challenge, especially as one of the plans that I was looking at recommended having first achieved a sub-54 minute 10k… but hey, as long as I get a half marathon personal best in 2020, I’ll be happy!
Let me know how 2019 treated you and what you have planned for 2020 in the comments section below!