Well, here we go, a brand new year and a lot of nice days out to look forward to......
19 Jan: Anglesey Coast Ultra 33m
23 Feb: Belvoir Challenge Marathon (trail) 26m
09 Mar: Wuthering Hike 32m
23 Mar: Hardmoors 55m
07 Apr: Blackpool Marathon (road)
27 Apr: Highland Fling 53m
22 Jun: West Highland Way 95m
27 Jul: Lakeland Hundred 105m
31 Aug: Ultra Tour du Mont Blanc 104m
This might seem like a lot (or just an easy year if you're Jon Steele or Nick Ham) but I've decided to take a different approach this year and concentrate mainly on just two events - the UTMB (because I've got a place this year and entry gets more difficult by the year) and the West Highland Way (because I haven't really taken this great race seriously over the past two years and it's time I gave it another proper shot).
All the other events are really preparation for these two. I love the days out so don't want only to run two races, but I'm aiming to treat the others as miles I would do anyway and I won't push them too hard or be concerned about the time. I used to find this hard, I wanted to do as well as I could in every event I entered, but nowadays I'm happy to enjoy a day out. In the closing stages of last year I ran the Glen Ogle 33 and the Tour de Helvellyn deliberately taking them easy for various reasons, and while I'm sure I could get much better times in both I nevertheless thoroughly enjoyed both events.
So the runs up to the West Highland Way are "time on the feet" miles; it may be hard to resist having a good blast at the Fling but I'll try. There is a two month gap between the Fling and the West Highland Way. I toyed with the idea of a Bob Graham attempt at the end of May but I couldn't get near a 24 hour round except with an all-out effort which I think would take too much out of the tank so I'll leave it for another year. I may have a go at the Joss Naylor Challenge which doesn't have to be done too fast for my age group (although I would be allowed another 6 hours later in the year!)
I've entered the Lakeland 100 because it's a weekend not to miss, but also a good wakeup call to check that I'm in shape for the UTMB. It would be nice to get under 35 hours in the Lakes, but I wouldn't go for broke on that, finishing in good shape is what I'm after.
I haven't firmed up on anything for the last third of the year yet. I'll see how things feel after the UTMB, but I've pencilled in the High Peak 40 which I've never done for September, then either Rotherham or the Liverpool Marathon for October. Attractive events dry up a bit in November, so I think this year I'll follow Dave Troman's example and have a month off. One thing's for sure though, I'll be back for the Tour de Helvellyn just before Christmas, wouldn't miss that one!
I did some speed work over the first third of the year last year, but as time goes by I find that running more quickly just leads to injury niggles for me, so I won't bother this year. I'll just cover the miles and rely on the hills to make me puff a bit.
Well, that's the plan, a lot to look forward to. But then don't the military guys always say that no plan survives the first contact with the enemy?