New year, same me

I just re-read my last year’s New Year’s resolution post. I say “resolutions” but I don’t really make them… basically it was what I had planned for the year basically.

It was really interesting. My plan for the Dubai Marathon, that I ran in January, was to “go for it” and my plan for the Brighton Marathon was to just bimble round. How different that turned out! Dubai was my slowest marathon time of the year (3:39:58) whereas Brighton is now my PB (3:16:28). It’s funny how things are never as you plan (well for me certainly).

2018 was a really good year for me in terms of running. I ran five marathons! I put the exclamation mark because this still shocks me. My body is so much stronger. SO much stronger. Regularly going to the gym and working on my strength has hugely helped. I know where my weaknesses are and what to work on. I’ve had minimal niggles, and anything that did crop up disappeared relatively quickly.


I ran 1,633.9 miles. I PB’ed at my 5k (19:40), was five seconds off a 5 miles PB (33:48), unofficiallybeat my 10k three times during training runs (41:49), beat my half marathon PB (1:31:106) and got a new marathon PB (3:16:28). So in purely performance-related achievements, I think I’ve done well!

Hitting my target of running a sub-20 minute parkrun, a goal I had at the start of the year, made me very happy. I mean it was horrifically hard and I felt every single second, but I got there (twice actually, I squeezed a 19:59 at Victoria Docks parkrun). I’m very happy with that time and feel no desire to attempt to go faster. Sure sub-19 minute sounds amazing but so does winning the lottery, some things in life aren’t meant to happen to me 😉

One of my most proud achievements was getting my parkrun Alphabet Challenge completed. It genuinely took me a lot of organising , but I had so much fun along the way. It gave me good excuses to visit friends, go to different places and have adventures. Something I see goes firmly hand in hand with my running.

So 2019. Well, I’d love to do 4-5 marathons again. In the plan currently is a Barcelona in March, Manchester in April (I know, scarily close to each other), Chicago in October (my LAST Marathon Major!!!) and probably Portsmouth Coastal in December again. I see a gap between April and October so I’m sure if all is well I’ll squeeze something in between. But I don’t want to become complacent with my new found “lack of injury” status I have so I won’t make any assumptions lightly!

It might be nice to get close to my marathon PB again. Manchester or Chicago might be viable options as they’re both flat. The New York Marathon showed me I could put a good time in and still enjoy myself so that makes me more inclined to try. But getting under 3:16 will require consistent, solid running and almost certainly with some speedwork put in. This is something I probably should have as a goal… but actual track? No I think I’m done with that. Let’s be honest, going from zero speedwork to intense PROPER speedwork on the track was never going to be a great fit for me.

So perhaps some less formal sessions with Hedge End Running Club (who are a bit more chilled about these things) and some sessions on my own… once in a while anyway. I won’t commit to anything as ludicrous as “once a week” as that’s a lofty target that I’ll never hit. Baby steps.

In terms of my life outside of running… well, if you couldn’t tell I’m very happy. I wouldn’t have thought I’d be this happy last year but I am.

It’s funny because I actually didn’t think I was missing anything. I was quite content bumbling along with my life and didn’t really think I needed anyone to “make” me happy. But there you go. Kyle and I have a lot of adventures planned for this year. I just hope I don’t mess anything up! I mean there’s bound to be many more Anna’isms through the year but I guess that’s to be expected…

Do you make New Year’s resolutions?

What are your goals for the year?

Did you achieve what you wanted in 2018?

Running Lately

So running lately has been going surprisingly well. I have no niggles or injuries and I’m running consistently around 35-40 miles a week, five times a week.

I’m really proud of how things are going. I seem to be in a very happy place with it and my body doesn’t seem to be breaking. Granted I’m not doing much (if any) speed work and I do wonder how much this helps me avoid injury. I also get a lot more enjoyment out of running by not putting myself through track workouts and intervals each week. However I realise I do probably need to incorporate some of that into my week (or every two weeks) to keep my running from going stale and plateauing on progress.

That said, I’m sure you know my views on these things. I’d rather run consistently slow than super fast with numerous breaks for injury recovery. I’m just a happy plodder. If I never get another marathon PB again I’ll be OK with that. It’s just the experience I enjoy, the thrill of the race (even when not racing), the challenge of all those miles and seeing different places. Boring as that well may be, it’s what I enjoy.

I’ve had a few people say to me I could dip under the 3:15 to get a championship place at London and as amazing as that would be I’m not sure it’s something I want to target. If it happens naturally then of course I’d be up for it, but I very much doubt it would. When I got my 3:16 PB at Brighton I was doing more speed workouts than I am now and was in better shape. The thought of putting more effort in right now for a lofty target isn’t quite where my head’s at.

Maybe next year I’ll have another go, put more effort into structured training… who knows. I do have some good marathons planned where this might be possible. The Barcelona Marathon in March, Manchester Marathon in April and Chicago in October. All are relatively flat and fast courses. So there is that temptation (of course I won’t be targeting all of them… I’m no machine, as we very much know!).

In the near horizon, as in this Sunday, I have the Portsmouth Coastal Marathon. It’s not a PB course despite being quite flat. It’s right next to the coast and if you get bad weather it will really affect the day and the course is semi-off road. But it might be as still and cold as last year and in that case I might go slightly faster than the “plod and be merry” pace I had intended. So I’ll decide the night before or on the day how I feel.

If I did “go for it” I would be super happy with 3:25-3:30, with the course and the fact that it’s not exactly 26.2 miles (last year it was 27 miles) due to the tide causing issues. I do feel like that would be quite a bit of effort though and already I’m mentally backing out. I don’t want to put pressure on myself or be disappointed.

My main focus on the day will be hoping that Kyle does well for his first marathon. After a bit of a bumpy training lead-up due to not being able to start training until a bit later than ideal due to injury and then missing a week due to illness, it’s not been as good as planned.He managed a successful 18 miles which, though he didn’t think it at the time, went pretty well! He struggled through – but then realistically, for your first 18 miler, do you do anything other than struggle through?I just hope he doesn’t have a a bad time of the marathon. He’s a very strong runner though with a solid game plan, so fingers crossed for him. Just really hope the weather is kind to us! We’ll have the full cheer squad out in force as well, so that’ll certainly help.

So hopefully 2018 will finish nice and happy and in a strong place for running. It’s funny to think I started the year with the Dubai Marathon, in the hot sun, and now I’m ending it in, very likely, traditional wet and cold British weather in Portsmouth…

Do you have any big goals for next year?

Do you have any races coming up?

Goals for the New York Marathon

So on Sunday I will be running the New York Marathon. My 16th marathon and my 5th Marathon Major.

On the note of Marathon Majors… I have entered Chicago and will (all being well) will be running my final Major next October. Words cannot explain just how excited I am about that. I’ve heard Chicago is one of the best of the bunch so I’m pleased I have that to finish on.But first New York…

Now I’m obviously super excited for this marathon but it is very much a flying visit to New York itself. I’ll be leaving midday-ish Friday and then arriving home Tuesday morning. So I won’t be hanging out there that long. And a big part of me is sad that I won’t have my amazing support crew with me. But money doesn’t grow on trees and I decided to do this so do it I must!

I won’t be entirely alone though as I’m staying with a great bunch of girls in a palatial-sounding AirBnb, organised by the lovely Charlie, from The Runner Beans blog. So I know I’ll be in good company. And though initially I was terrified that I somehow had to make it from JFK all the way to East Harlem on public transport ON MY OWN (likely I wouldn’t make it without some sort of Anna mishap or drama, let’s be honest), one of the girls is on the same flight as me. HURRAH. THANK GOD. So that’s a major worry off my (and everyone who knows me) mind.

So the marathon. Sorry to be an absolute boring disappoint to everyone but I actually have no ambitions to race this one. I’ve heard it’s the hardest of the Majors due to all the bridges and the final 5k through Central Park is relatively undulating. I don’t want to smash myself to pieces, I want to take it all in and enjoy myself. I’m thinking 8.30-8 minute miles, though *hopefully* closer to 8 minute miles if I do feel good. But as I always seem to say, I’d like to get under 3:45 as I feel that’s a natural pace for me without busting a gut.

I want to take selfies. I want to smile. I want to wave at the crowds. So far my Majors have been all pretty enjoyable (though I found the first 10 miles of Boston very tough). I don’t want to be disappointed or injured at the end. It’s a big deal – and getting a good time doesn’t make a marathon any more enjoyable or memorable to me.

That said, if I feel good in the race, I might push it and see what happens. WHO KNOWS. It’s a marathon mystery. In general, I never really know how I’m going to run until the day – until I’m literally running. I do know for almost 100% certainty that I’m not in PB shape (in body or mind). I don’t want to go after trying to beat 3:16 as it would be painful and I’d fail – I know where I am with my fitness and I’m realistic. I’m not sandbagging here, I assure you. Unless something crazy crazy happens on the day (who knows what those NY doughnuts will do to me eh) I won’t be pulling a Brighton.

So, to be clear. My goals are:

  • Remain uninjured
  • Smile 100 times
  • Cheer madly at the lovely people of New York
  • Take approximately 759 selfies and photos
  • Get under 3:45, but who the hell really cares!

I’ve hit some solid long runs, I’ve managed to get some good paced runs in, I feel healthy, I feel injury- and niggle-free. I’ve basically fueled the last few months with cake, meals out and sugar. But I’m the strongest I’ve ever felt. I’m loving running. I’m loving the gym. I’m loving how I feel in myself and how my body looks. And in general, life is very good right now. So I’m going to celebrate with a little run round a big city and then eat a lot of food. Sounds good, right?Have you run any of the Marathon Majors?

Have you ever been to New York?

What’s next? My Running Goals

There’s nothing like a good race to get you feeling confident about your running. Though confidence and enthusiasm needs to not fall into getting overly-confident (aka cocky).

My Brighton Marathon PB has given me such a boost. I’m not lying when I say I am genuinely still shocked by my time and how good I felt running. I didn’t actually think I could get a PB let alone a significantly sub 3:20 time. So it’s definitely boosted my confidence in my own running ability.

With that in mind I have two main goals. I’d love to get my half marathon time a bit quicker. It’s currently 1:34:30. I’d loved to be closer to 1:32. I have the Jersey Half in June which is supposed to be quite flat and fast so I’ll be aiming for that. During this time as well I’d LOVE to get a sub 20 at parkrun. In terms of time goals, that’s all I have. I’m generally not hugely bothered about times but it would be nice to “give it a go” again… who knows. And it’ll be nice to have a proper focus for my training.So going forward I want to do to put a bit more thought into my running. I do just tend to run all the miles at one pace and occasionally blast a parkrun out. This isn’t a great way to train, so I’ve heard… I also want to get to running five times a week, rather than my four times.

OK this all sounds like me heading towards doing too much and over-training and getting an injury but I’m going to be cautious, listen to my body, recover adequately (sleep and eat well) and CRUCIALLY make sure I run the fast stuff fast and the slow stuff slow. Ideally I’ll have a Tuesday run where I’ll put the effort in and do an actual speed session, then have two other runs I keep SLOW and gentle, then Saturday parkrun (which I won’t blast out every week but plan when I want to) and then a Sunday long run, sensibly paced.

Again, this is all very much “in theory”. I can get fairly negative about my running and believe I’m injury-prone so I’m always expecting the fun times to stop at any point when my next niggle crops up. Watch this space I guess 😉 But I am going to try so hard to be sensible and not just run all the miles at my usual pace. Basically I’m hoping to think more strategically about how I should be running. Let’s be honest, I don’t usually do this so this is all very much new territory for me.

Alongside my time goals, I obviously wouldn’t be me if I didn’t have my fluffy goals too. I’d love to tick off some more parkruns from the alphabet challenge (Jersey will be done in June) and tick off a few more tourist locations.

I also have a bit of an itch to do the Cheddar Gorge Marathon to celebrate turning 30 in June. I really loved that marathon. Yes it’s tough and super hilly, but it’s so chilled and scenic. And what would be more fitting than running a marathon as a way to celebrate my birthday? But it’s all very much just thoughts at the moment…What are your current running goals?

How do you like to celebrate big milestone birthdays?

Do you have structured training or do you just run how you fancy?

Goals for the Brighton Marathon

It’s that time again… my next marathon is almost here. My fourteenth marathon.

So normally when I write these things I’m quite vague and fluffy about my goals. I’d have several soft goals of remaining uninjured, having a bit of fun and probably aiming for a ballpark time of 3:45 or there abouts.

The “remain uninjured” will always be my first and foremost goal. No marathon is worth getting injured for in my opinion. I’ve been there and done that with my first Bournemouth Marathon and if I’m honest I fully regret pushing through. I don’t get warm fuzzy feelings from that one. But you live and learn (or at least I try to).

So this marathon, asides from my unchanged “remain uninjured” main goal, I do have fairly ambitious time goals this time. I had a moment of, “why not?” the other week as I found my training was going well and I’d clocked up some solid long runs (17 miles, 18 miles, 20 miles… the stuff that dreams are made of as far as I’m concerned when it comes to my marathon training).

I mean, I could run this marathon like I’ve run most of the others… take a few selfies, wave and smile at the supporters and take my time on the first 20 miles before thinking “OK maybe time to give it a blast”. And I’d manage to have gas left in the tank because I’d ran fairly comfortably.

But what would happen if I did actually go for it? Like set out with a ‘not-so-comfortable selfie-taking’ pace? I’m not talking about a ridiculous pace but something around 7:50s. Comfortable enough in theory, but for 26.2 miles…? Not as cushty as say 8.30s or 8.20s would be. And then if I have gas left, to push that further to 7.40s and maybe even 7.30s.

This is all very much blue sky thinking dreamworld scenario of course but I do want to put it out there that I’m considering going for it. My final decision will very much depend on how I feel on the day of course and then, if I do appear to feel good, how the first 8-10 miles feel. If it feels like it’s just too hard to maintain for the rest then I can accept defeat and either crawl miserably to the end of bring the pace back down and resume selfie-taking mode.

I realistically have nothing to lose (asides from some painful hours of my life in a living nightmare of a marathon). The Brighton Marathon isn’t a particularly special marathon. I’d never attempt something like this for a marathon like New York (later this year) because I want to actually enjoy New York (if possible) and see the sights and have a good time. Brighton? Well it’s relatively flat and realistically if it goes wrong I won’t cry about it because it’s, well, Brighton (no offence Brighton. I love you dearly as you know).

Now this is scary, throwing your goals down on paper for the world Internet to see and judge (OK, yeah no one cares but me…). My PB is 3:24:06 from the Liverpool Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon back in 2016. So to beat this I need to run roughly a 7.45min/mile pace. So my intention (very much intention I stress) is to head out at 7.50s and see what I can bring to the table later on. I won’t be upset if I don’t beat my PB. I’m very proud of it and if it remains my PB forever than that’s fine by me. But to beat it would be nice of course.

So my goals:

  • Remain uninjured
  • Gold Standard (if everything goes right on the day, angels sing, unicorns prance, cake drops from the heavens etc.): sub 3:24
  • Silver Standard: sub 3:30
  • Bronze Standard: sub 3:35
  • Everything’s gone to poo: all the selfies and make it to the finish

There we have it. Laid out bare. If it happens it happens. If it doesn’t, who cares? My self-esteem and happiness do not rest on this. It does however rest on the size of the cake I’ll be eating afterwards. Just saying.

Do you set yourself hard or soft goals?

Do you like to beat your PB’s regularly? Are they important to you?

Why do you run?