Week one – dangle the right carrot

Everyone has a carrot. What’s yours?

Fitness and health? Performance? To raise money and awareness for a charity? Or, for the lucky few, it might even be wealth?

Everyone has a reason to run and a likely goal they are trying to attain. Mine used to be strictly performance related. At the start of each year I would write down my target times across a range of distances from 400m to half marathon and then spend the year struggling to meet my high expectations.

I would set short, medium and long term goals for how I wanted to progress over the next year or two. I would even create an A, B and C goal for the times I ideally wanted to run (A), would probably run (B) and would be happy to run (C). Invariably I would only reach a C goal before being scuppered by injury. B goal attainment was rare and an A goal was as infrequent as a British man running a sub 2:10 marathon.

This year will be different. My target isn’t performance, but process. It is not times or positions I desire but process completion. If the process is completed, I am confident that I will be happy with the times I run.

The process is simple. Train progressively harder throughout the year whilst keeping my body healthy enough to run at least two miles the next day. This is my A goal. My B goal is to run at least 1 mile a day and my C goal is to run at least 1 mile a day for 350 days this year.

This challenge is my medium term goal. My long term goal reverts to times which I believe can be more easily achieved on completed of this challenge.

So, what are your goals, and what is the process you are going to use to achieve them? Do you have a B and C goal? This is really useful in races where you are no longer able to attain your A goal you can quickly change focus and concentrate on hitting your B, or C goal.

Find your carrot, and dangle it.

Day 1 – January 1

Leamington Spa parkrun – 8.4 miles

I can’t think of a better way to start the challenge than with a parkrun. It proved to be an excellent test for my injuries and the muddy, hilly conditions gave increased my confidence that I could make the start line of the first Surrey League xc race two weeks later.

It was a slow, slippery start across a football field and it took 800m or so to work up to my goal pace. The hill was very steep but not too long and the downhill was gentler but the conditions made me hold back to protect my injuries. The hardest part of the run was to keep the effort hard and controlled and ignore the battle going on for 3rd not much more than 50m ahead of me.

‘Take them down’

‘No, think your achilles’

‘But I can beat them both’

‘Probably, but think of your achilles’

‘But they need to know I am normally faster than this’


‘But I can’


‘Ohhh kaaayyyy’

I finished fifth in 19:18, a bit slower than my target time of 18:59 but considering the conditions it was an improvement on my previous week’s effort of 19:09 at Bedfont Lakes parkrun.

Day 2 – January 2

4.3 miles – 8:27 – 135bpm

Slow, early morning trot in Bushy Park.

Day 3 – January 3

30 miles cycle and 4.8 miles – 8:31 – 158bpm (that doesn’t seem right)

Final day off during Christmas break and we took the kids to nursery and went for a 30 miles cycle to Ripley and back. This was a big step up from my usual 3.5mile cycle to work.

It was my turn to lead the club session which I wasn’t going to do. Having ran the parkrun on Sunday it didn’t fit in with my training plan of having at least 3 easy days between hard runs.

Whilst the guys did the session I kept warm by doing a mini workout using two large logs and I felt amazing doing leg plyometrics over the logs.

Day 4 – January 4

2.1 miles – Garmin didn’t save the run

Too much leg work yesterday. I feel broken.

Easy run to the park, a few stretches and then back to work.

Day 5 – January 5

7 miles – 7:02 – 156bpm

Legs feel wrecked but today is session day. I’m doing this.

The plan was 2×15 but as a precaution I decided to do 3×10. Keep the volume the same but the shorter reps should be more manageable.

Approaching 10 minutes of the first rep I really wasn’t in the mood for this session. My legs just weren’t feeling great. My heart rate was 162-166, a few beats lower than my target 166-170.

‘This is rubbish. I just want it to end’

‘3×10 minutes’

‘I can’t face doing three reps. I’ll be back at the start after two and then have to do another rep.’

‘Come on. A bit of recovery after 10 minutes will make the session easier on your legs’

‘But if I continue for another 5 minutes I only have to run back to the start and the session will be over.’


‘Too late. Watch says 10:23, I’m not stopping now’

My pace was awful. My last tempo session of 2016 was really positive. I average 6:13 for 3x10mins and was expecting a similar pace today. Not to be. Rep 1 was 6:28 (164bpm) and rep 2 was 6:28 (161bpm). Woeful pace but quite happy considering the heart rates I was working out in were less than required.

Day 6 – January 6

Run 1 – 3.7 miles – 8:03

Commute to work, legs feel surprisingly ok.

Run 2 – 4.5 miles – 8.33

Commute home, legs feeling unsurprisingly not ok.

Day 7 – January 7

5.2 miles – 8:05 – 137bpm

Legs. What have I done to thee, and it’s only day 7.

Weekly total

  • 8 runs
  • 40 miles
  • Leg freshness score 4/10

Yearly total

  • 7 days
  • 8 runs
  • 40 miles

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