2015 was a funny old year, and unlike other years I haven't really been in training so much as just running. I don't really get the concept of 'junk miles' - I like running, so any time that I am out on the trails I am enjoying myself. I'm not really overly bothered whether or not this is the most efficient way to train, although I do always prefer to try and push myself. My routine has been thrown off a bit this year with a house move and a new dog to try and knacker out every day, but I'm keeping fit and getting plenty of running and cycling in. What I haven't been doing is any focussed training to try and get faster, something which I hope to address in 2016.
Free time seems to have been a very scarce commodity recently, hence my absence from social media and the lateness of publishing this. It has actually sat in my drafts folder since the day after the race, but I just kind of forgot about it! A recent article that I wrote for ULTRA magazine (a fantastic magazine which I am very proud to have been even a small part in, and a topic that is very close to my heart since taking on the epic job of being father to an awesome little girl whom I want to give every chance in life) took a lot of my free time so I decided to have a break and try to get into the habit of using my time more efficiently. I'm pretty bad at it, so I'm sure I'll be back to my usual loquacious self in no time...
I hit Thames Path 100 at the start of the year in pretty good shape - except for the unpleasant stomach bug that had hit me a couple of days prior. Yuck. So I failed in my Grand Slam bid before it had really begun which was a bit of a bugger. "Fine, let's try again at South Downs Way 100 then", I thought. But by then I was trying to run faster than my training would really allow. And it showed. Frankly I just got bored with my own whinging so pulled out to avoid sullying the race for the people that were there giving it everything that they had. So really since then I've taken a step back to get back into the swing of just chilling out and enjoying the experience. The North Downs Way 100 was a very good example of this, as I started right at the back of the field and then had a lovely time making my way to Wye, even going so far as taking in a couple of naps along the way. It's the only way to travel.
This brings us to the Autumn 100, the final "hundro" in the Centurion Running Grand Slam. The setup is very tight, centered around a checkpoint in Goring with four 25 mile loops (12.5 miles out and back) along the Ridgeway and the Thames Path like a big cross. In previous years, this has been held later in the year as the Winter 100, but this year had been pushed forward to try and avoid the horrendous weather that had dogged it in the past. Whilst I have never run this race before, I have experienced it in previous years as the Piece of String Fun Run took in much of the same route (plus the little detour to Bath in the second edition). But this year the weather was pretty much perfect, with an overcast but dry outlook for the day and night.
In the past, making plans for these things has resulted in it all going to pot, so I stuck to my standard "plan" of running stupid and went in pretty much blind except for what I knew from previous PoS races. No pacing plan, no nutrition plan ("eat" was as far as I got), no walking plan - just got on with it really. I probably should have planned ahead a little bit and at least arranged somewhere to stay, but I managed to sort this out a day before race day with minimal fuss. I stayed in the Reading Premier Inn, and caught up with Rich Stewart and Bryan Webster for a meal at TFI Friday. I couldn't bring myself to have a dessert, but when Bryan's came I was really regretting that.