So that’s very nearly the first month of the year out of the way, and as far as my running goes it’s been pretty good, in contrast to December, which was interrupted by illness, injury and the small matter of the festivities. Anyway, with the Brighton Marathon looming into view as Big Ben struck midnight on New Year’s Eve I knew I had to start getting some regular training in, and so far that’s what I’ve managed.

For the last three weeks I’ve averaged around 27 miles a week, so that gives me a good base to start building my long Sunday run up now, with the Thanet 20m race on March 5th my initial focus. I’ve not really done anything especially fast in training so far, but I’ll start track training this week before I end up being too one-paced, and it is nice to turn the legs over a bit faster once or twice a week.

I have taken part in three races, two in my club’s cross country league and the Canterbury 10m last weekend. The first cross country at Minnis Bay was unusually dry and consequently faster than normal. Most years we have to negotiate a number drainage dykes that can be waist deep with cold muddy water, but this year whilst a couple were just full of thick mud the rest were more or less dry. I took it fairly easy over the first mile or so then began to pick up the pace, and was quite pleased to finish strongly and end up 198th in a field of 368.

 On the day before the Canterbury 10m the following weekend I took part in a cross country training session set up by the club in Mote Park. It was fun and informative, but I was definitely feeling it the next morning my glutes and hamstrings! It wasn’t helped by the fact that the conditions were also frigid, with the thermometer in my car reaching -7 as I drove out of Maidstone! Fortunately by the time I reached Canterbury it was a positively balmy -2, although this accompanied by fog. No-one was especially eager to leave the warmth of the race HQ, so there was no warm-up, just straight into the race, taking the first couple of miles a little easier. By the time we reached the long downhill section into the village of Bridge I was able to start picking up the pace and felt fairly strong up the testing climb out of Patrixbourne, and I kept that going. Pre-race I’d been hoping to get under 1:20, but with a couple of miles left it looked like I was going to be just outside, however when a couple of club mates loomed into view out of the mist in the last mile I had a target and that helped my pick up the pace and just dip inside 1:20 by a few seconds. 

This morning was race 3, another cross country league race and one of my favourite venues, Nurstead Court near Meopham, which is a good testing course with plenty of undulations, a wooded section and a water splash as it’s based at an equestrian centre. Despite it being relatively dry so far this year it was still muddy in places, the sort of thick clinging mud that sticks to the soles of your spikes as you run. This time I did warm up and got into a good rhythm early on, and it was all going quite well until around a mile or so in when we had to slow down to walking pace to get through a narrow section, and somehow the runner behind me got his spikes caught in my laces and undid them! (My laces have only ever come undone once in a race, and that race was the only one I have ever worn the number 13. Make of that what you will!)

It took me a good 30 seconds with cold fingers and wet laces to tie them back up, but I was able to get back into my rhythm surprisingly quickly. I was able to take a breather through the technical twisty wooded section as this was quite narrow and overtaking was difficult so I just stayed in line and then pushed again once we were out. By the time we came back to this section on the second lap there were less runners so I kept it going and pushed on, finishing in 179th, although at the moment I’m not sure how many finished. I was pleased with how I’d felt as I’d done a slow 13 miles the day before and wasn’t sure how my legs would react.

This will be another week of building up the miles, with a 15 miler planned for next weekend. Brighton is still 10 weeks away, but I know from past experience that time will fly by so I’m looking to keep the momentum up.

I wasn’t intending my first proper post to be so long, so well done if you’ve made it this far, but I wanted to set the scene properly. The next one should be a littler shorter. Hope everyone has a great week.

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