A season in review, or how not to Race the Train.

I have to keep reminding myself that I’ve had a great running season this year.

I ended a disappointing 2014 triathlon season with a determination to put away the bike and swimming goggles and concentrate on something I was increasingly beginning to love, and that was trail running.  I set myself some goals, most of them challenging PBs but with the main goal being to beat the train at August’s ‘Race the Train’ in Tywyn, my thinking was, in order to do that then everything else had to come with it.

So into the early season and the goals started to tumble; fastest every 10k, fastest ever half marathon, fastest every 5k.  And even two unexpected top 3 placings.  And that’s where it started to go wrong.  I know (I absolutely know it!!) that I have a problem with going out too quick and now here I am thinking I’m top 3 material (I’m absolutely not, both races were very small fields), so now every race I’m standing on the start line thinking ‘ooh, maybe I’ll get another trophy’.  And so into the spring and summer, going out too fast, blowing up before the end and finishing slow (slow, slow).

I finally got a grip at the North Downs 30k, a fabulous hilly off-road race in North Kent that everybody should try if they get a chance.  This time I set myself a goal of going easy and not walking any of the steep hills.  And it worked.  Goal achieved and with a 10min PB!

And now it’s August, time to ‘Race the Train’, I’m running fast, I’ve got control of my early pace so I’ve got this in the bag….and then the train whistle sounds and we’re off! Now, for some reference, my fastest ever recorded mile on the track is around 6:20.  That first mile against the train I knocked out in 5:30.  I mean seriously, did I say I have a problem with going out too quick!?!  So, what’s the right thing to do?  That’s right, back off the pace.  A lot.  Of course I didn’t do that, instead I kept my foot to the floorboard and blew up an incredible 3 miles, which has to be a new record right there for a 14 mile race!  Needless to say, the train won – though only by a bit.

So my main goal of the season was missed, and the autumn season was completed with chipping away at a few PBs but missing a few stretch goals and I was starting to feel dejected, then I listened to a podcast recently and somebody said “give it everything you’ve got and you’ll either succeed or fail, but if you don’t give it everything you’ve got you’re guaranteed to fail.”

I had a successful season and there’s no doubting I gave everything, and perhaps sometimes too much.  But what’s really important is I have learnt how to achieve yet more, not only through my successes but also through my failures.  Without failure how would any of us know how to improve?


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