First they will ask you why you do it, then they will as you how you do it.

Friday, 1 November 2013

Taking the next step....

Did you ever get the feeling that for all the running you do, you've moved no further forward. 

And I'm not talking about being on a treadmill either, I'm talking about the fact that when you first start running, every day seems like a new adventure, every route a new discovery and every race medal a milestone.

I'm 4 years into running now, and I recently moved my collection of race medals into a new box as the old one had got a little full. Looking back at my selection of mid pack medals I found myself asking if all the hours running and, let's be honest, the money spent on race entries were worth it.

I'm not the kind of person who gets excited by a runstreak, and I'm not a stats fan either so I don't really go hunting PB's or comparisons. I run because for the personal challenge it sets and the goals I achieve along the way. Or at least I did.

After my DNF in Stour valley 100 last month, I felt like I needed a win, I signed up for the Stort30, knowing I could run it and get the medal this time, secretly confident I could do well.

In the run up to the race I felt great. Energised, excited, the old me. I wanted to run and race and be competitive to the end. Stort30 is run by Challenge Running and is a 30 mile out & back along the River Stort. Other than a short detour it was easy to follow and being the only one to make the mistake, I can't criticise the organisation at all. The route was good, the aid stations were fab and the medal was one of my all time favourites.


The first 15 miles went by in a blur, all sub 8 minute miles, all strong, alone, but content. Loving the run, loving the race. I tailed a twitter runner for ages and was excited to see I was maintaining pace with someone whose performance I really respected.

But after the turnabout, my energy levels and enthusiasm dropped to the floor. People started going past me and my mood went downhill as fast as my performance. By mile 20 I'd had to adopt a 4:1 run:walk strategy. And I death marched the last 5 miles to scrape a sub 5-hour finish.

Despite a finish and trying to maintain appositive attitude I couldn't help but feel deflated. I've run 30 miles this fast before, hell I ran a sub 3:30 marathon this year. Wile it's not Olympic standard, I was chuffed with it. How could my performance have dropped off so much?

I don't know if I didn't train enough, or I've got worse at running.  Maybe my nutrition was off or it just wasn't my day...

I don't know what it was and I don't intend to waste energy worrying about why.

I'm not going to repeat other posts about finding success in failure. My solution is much simpler than that.
I'm not worrying about it and like a tough run, I'll push through the tough parts and enjoy the successes to come.

The truth is that I used to dedicate a lot more time and energy to running than I do now, simple as that. If you want to be good, continually improve and set streak records and PB's you have to put the effort in and I'm just not. 

I have the utmost respect for those that do, in fact I'm a bit envious of them. 

This week I asked the twitterverse about reaching plateaus this week. What does it mean when your running plateaus and you're not sure you want to push through it?

The answers were varied, but all interesting. Some saw it as a sign of success, having reached determined goals. Others saw it as a weakness, lacking the stomach perhaps to push through a tough spot.

I think it can be any of these things and probably more. 

Looking back at my medals, looking back at old posts and especially looking back at old pictures of me, I'm proud of what I have achieved. But I'm left with resounding feeling that I have achieved everything that I had set out to and that maybe I want to achieve different things as I move forward. 

In fact, I'm on the threshold of taking my biggest step yet.




  1. Good post Dan. We all have long runs that don't go to plan. All the tougher when everything seems it oshuld have been a good one!! Hope you recover from this one ... Seems like you have the right attitude. Some days just aren't long run days. Happy running!

  2. What a fab post Dan, it's good to hear that you kept going regardless of the pain and those feeling of not wanting to continue - always the hardest in my opinion and believe me I get a whole host of people passing me so I have lot of experience in that area!
    You've achieved loads since you started running and like you said looking back you can see the achievements you've made. You're awesome.
    Keep running and good luck for the next step