RACING: Going Long

Time to plan for 2011 as the rest of 2010 is fairly simple: Do as many cross-country races as possible. It looks like I’ll get another stint at the Dublin Seniors. Great news by all accounts, as I’m eager for a rematch after finishing last with a run of 40:10 for the 10k event over the muddy, sloppy course in Raheny.

But next year is where the real objectives lie, cross-country is merely a training suite to get more hair on the chest and learning more about the intricacies of good racing. After a few weeks reflection (well served by the break provided by holidays and illness), I have decided to move back to where my strengths lie: The longer distance events.

My main focus will probably be the half-marathon distance and all the mountain events around it, but at this stage I don’t rule out a return to the marathon and an entry onto the ultra-stage. The exact decisions will be made closer to the time, but whenever the date is set I imagine I will make my ultra-debut in the Lakeland 50 race, an event that captivates my imagination but is not as brutal a the Lakeland 100. Whether 2011 or 2012 will see me have a go at this, I make no commitments to at this stage. I’ll plan my winter season first and foray into the early season half-marathon races and take it from there.

Truth is I was never better on the shorter distance than after the marathon and before my competition in the Three-Peaks World Long Distance Challenge. So while I will definitely keep shorter races on my calendar (especially really short races), my primary priority will move to the half-marathon distance. I could imagine doing all of the Wicklow Way Trail, Wicklow Half-Marathon, Cooley Legends Half-Marathon, Mourne Way Half-Marathon and some road marathon as a series of events.

This year has shown me that it’s too much to ask of yourself to train at a professional level to do events that you are not fully interested in simply because they serve the longer term goal. With the level of commitment invested, there needs to be some immediate pay-off in terms of gratification, joy and results. Had I not decided to do the Enniscorthy Half-Marathon on a whim, I would have left the season with barely one decent run to my name and the conclusions I would have drawn would undoubtedly have been flawed as a result.

So that’s 2011 planned for, but next it’s time to harden the mind for the cross-country season and bring out the inner warrior for there is no mercy on that scene.