REVIEW: 2012–the winds of change

A quick review of 2012 – a busy first 5 months followed by 7 months self-imposed running exile to work solely on my running form while keeping clear of distractions.

Yet undoubtedly the most successful year of my running career so far, let’s have a look:

Statistics

During my marathon build-up from January 1st to May 25th, I ran more miles than ever (highest average),did some of the most impressive training sessions (from a personal perspective) and set a slew of 8 personal bests.

I failed to break the 36 minute barrier for 10k, the 1 hour barrier for 10 mile, the 80 minute barrier for half-marathon but did go under 17:30 for 5k as hoped. I failed to hit my stretch target of 2:48 for the marathon but 2:55 was not bad under the circumstances.

To achieve this I ran roughly 2700km last year, well more than the 2157km run in 2011 but a bit down on the mega-years of 2008 and 2009 (2980km and 3023km). But with the quality there is no comparison – 2008 was a constant stop-go system with several injuries. 2009 was slogging mindlessly through pain, getting ever tenser and performing ever poorer.

My race statistics file got broken by a hard disk error so while I’m trying to retrieve it I can only recount races from memory – I believe I raced somewhere between 8 to 10 times in 2012, so one race less than in 2011 (where I did do 4 races in 4 day at La Santa – a trip we sadly missed out on this year) but this was all from January to May. I did zero races from 20th of May until today.

Evaluation

I consider the season a success – first of all, I achieved consistency and personal bests. The “barriers” I failed to hit are arbitrary and either way all of them are but stepping stones on the way to much more competitive times, so what consequence that I did not get them the first time around. In most cases I had only one race to hit my goal, and I was always close to the objective, never falling badly short.

I had a big “run injury free” goal set out for 2012 and I achieved this, only falling foul to a near-miss after Copenhagen where I took it easier for a weeks. The cause was modern running shoes (ASICS DS racers) combined with some flaws in my technique which I have since worked out.

In 2013 I need but step up a further gear and then I need to take advantage of the fact that my improved technique allows me a much higher “ceiling” on what can be achieved in the long-term. But success still cannot be hurried – Arthur Newton knew this, Arthur Lydiard knew it. Only those who like to sell “more for less” books may claim differently.

I do not want to cast my specific goals for 2013 in stone just yet as I need to see what type of performance level I am operating under right now after my self-imposed exile from competition.

Mental improvements

More importantly than pure race success my running ability has increased because my competitive mindset is stronger. I faced adversity with positivity and resourcefulness instead of despondency.

I shed my obsession with pure miles at any cost, learned to listen to my body and embraced a new way of thinking about training. In a way – I left the safe shore of the unknown and took what most will perceive as a risk to reform myself. I consider this a success in itself.

I have learned movement skills I never dreamed off – I can now do a basic vault, I can squat on a whim, my jumping is much improved and I can do plyometric push-ups – even with a little “clap”. Not bad for the laughing stock of PE class.

 

So, in summary: A strange year, yet my most successful yet. Now I’m set up perfectly to begin the journey towards my long-term goals. I’ll post shortly about my more short-term goal – which first of all includes getting a good event in ahead of getting married (5th of April) so I can enjoy the honeymoon unimpeded. The second priority will be to survive the Stag without performance issues!

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