And so we come to the end of 2012. It was a pretty epic year all things considered, and as my friend Herbs pointed out, "2013 must be shitting itself". The Olympics and Paralympics showed the world that we're actually pretty bloody good at sport (but unfortunately convinced them that we suck at music), my sideburns doppelgänger Bradley Wiggins did pretty well in his little bicycle race, the Queen is still going strong despite our best efforts to give her hypothermia. So what will 2013 have in store for us?
I don't know, but I have an idea what the year will hold for me. It's going to be a pretty exciting year with the birth of my first child in a few weeks, and running will have to take second fiddle to some ultra-fathering. But I have a few plans in place and will have to wait and see if any of them pan out.
Race wise, I have a few big races planned for the year (some of which I entered before I knew we were pregnant), and it's just going to be a case of seeing closer to the time if I can afford to take the time away from my daughter. But all being well, you may see me at:
- The Viking Way Ultra: 30-31st March. 147 miles. I failed to make the start line last year, and may fail again for a second year. But hopefully I can toe the line and tame Mark Cockbain's beast to get myself one of the (absurdly large) Viking Way medals that very few runners have achieved so far.
- Transvulcania: 11-12th May. 51.5 miles. This was one of the most iconic races of 2012, running around the volcanic island of La Palma. I entered with a few friends as soon as it became available as it looks like an incredible experience. But whether taking a weekend away so soon is a good idea we will have to see.
- South Downs Way: 15-16th June. 100 miles. I had a fantastic race at the SDW100 last year, and want to improve on it this year. This is my A race for the year, and if I only make one race it will be this one. I got second place last year, now I want to see if I can do any better. The South Downs runs near my parents' house so I can combine it with a trip to the grandparents while I bugger off for a little jog!
- North Downs Way: 10-11th August. 100 miles. I helped out at this race last year and had a lot of fun, so decided to have a go at the race itself this year. Again, it is close by to my parents so hopefully should be able to make it.
- Spartathlon: End of September. 153 miles. This is a pretty epic race and the reports from 2012's race were very inspiring (check out the report from James Adams, one of only a handful of British finishers). I have a qualifying time from the Norfolk Ultra, so will hopefully be putting my name in the hat to join the British contingent this year.
Training wise, I am not changing much. Because a lot of my training doubles as commuting to and from work, this shouldn't change when baby arrives. However, I have been recently making sure that every training session counts. For instance I started running with a tyre to help with my hill climbing, I now turn my long run home into somewhat of an interval session to make it higher intensity, and I have refurbished my garage into a really functional gym to help with cross training (plus it means I don't get in Jen's way by doing weights in the lounge). But as with everything, we'll see how it goes. I would like to keep training hard, but will be happy to just get some enjoyable runs in if that proves difficult.
I plan on keeping up with the blogging and particularly with the data analysis stuff. James Elson and I will be continuing with the survey that we started at the South Downs Way last year, so hopefully you will see some more interesting results from this later in the year. Plus I still like messing about with numbers from other races, so I'll post anything interesting (?!) that I find.
I also have something in the pipeline for the end of the year. I don't want to say too much yet in case it doesn't pan out, but keep the weekend at the start of November free in your diary just in case...
And finally, I have a few goals for 2013:
- Be a good father and husband. Obviously!
- Learn how to incorporate running with parenthood. I have a lot of friends with experience to tap into on this one. But I have my priorities in order, and Jen is very supportive. But at the end of the day running is just a hobby. Family comes first!
- Improve my training and become a faster runner. This one is obviously dependent on the previous goal! But my current training plan works well in terms of pushing myself while also preventing over-training and injuries, and the recent tweaks I have made to get the most out of training should hopefully lead to improvements.
- Improve my nutrition and get my body fat below 10 %. Typically I eat very well (other than the odd cake), but I want to start tailoring my diet to tie in with my training so that I am feeding my body the right things at the right times to maximise my performance. Body fat is important for endurance exercise, but 10% is still way more than enough. I'm not fussed about my weight anymore since I lost the weight I put on during my PhD, now it's more about tweaking things for maximum performance.
- Win something. I have my eyes on the prize, and I'd love to win a big race this year if possible. It'll take commitment, but it would be nice to have at least one trophy to look back on. I have my eyes set on the SDW, but there are some fantastic runners entered this year so we'll see what happens.
Happy New Year everybody. 2013 is going to be a great year!