We are already into February and the year is one-tenth of the way over. The running goals that I set myself at the start of the year are still in place.
Towards the end of 2015 I was finding it difficult to motivate myself for each run. Consequently I was struggling, not only to get out and run but I was also having difficulty regaining any semblance of past fitness.
Setting some running goals for 2016 was the key to putting that behind me. It’s a simple trick for the mind, just some tangible goals and suddenly there is far more meaning to get out and complete each run.
I do love a challenge and the three goals I came up with are both quite difficult but achievable if I commit to them.
A quick recap is in order, here are my 3 running goals for the year:
- Run every day for the year (minimum 2km per day)
- Aim to run 4,000km for 2016
- Complete a 10km run in under 40 minutes
Running Every Day
Part of the process of getting my fitness back to the point of being able to run a sub 4 minute per kilometre is to run every day. This is what I did back in 2013 which was the last time I was able to run at this pace.
As of today, my current streak of running every day has reached 76 days in a row.
I’ve got to say, it’s been pretty tough. Mainly due to how incredibly humid it has been in Sydney over the last 2 weeks. Energy-sapping humid.
It has only been over the last week or so that I can actually start to feel greater strength in my legs again.
As with the first time I ran every day for a year, I am constantly amazed at how well the body adapts. Apart from a brief period of tiredness, my body actually feels more energized 2 months in.
The opposite to what you might expect to happen is once again taking place. Rather than getting tired and lacking energy due to a heavier workload, I am actually feeling fresh and raring to go each day.
Running is once again becoming easier and I now feel I can knock off a 10k run without too much drama.
Run 4,000km In 2016
Where did this random goal come from?
Well, in 2013 I ran every day for the year and managed to complete 3,710 km for the year – an average of 10.1 km per day.
So the next logical step was to increase the daily average distance to 11km and this comes to a total distance of 4,026 km.
The Sub 4 Minutes Per Kilometre Mark
This has always been the mark that I have always considered to be the difference between jogging and running.
When I was a younger man the sub-4 minutes per km pace was where I ran most of my races. It marked the point where I could see that I was at the peak of my form.
I reached it again only 2 and a half years ago at 46 years of age, if only briefly. And it felt good.
I want to get there again one more time before I turn 50.
I have already nailed a single kilometre at sub-4 minute pace. The next stage is to smash out 2km, a feat that seemed beyond me at the start of the year. But right now I feel confident in the likelihood of doing it.
Part of the process of building up the body to achieve a specific pace is to incorporate a regular speed session into my training.
I’ve been around long enough to know that a serious speed session each week is incredibly effective in improving fitness. There area number of studies published that supports this.
I’ve also been around long enough to know that speed sessions, when done right, hurt.
So far, I have managed to complete a couple of interval sessions – also known as High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) – during January.
A few of us have been heading down to Rushcutter’s Bay Park (shown below) and slogged it around the oval in serious interval sessions.
We have mixed things up a little from one session to the other, the first was a session consisting of 8 x 400m @ around 90 seconds per effort. The second session was 4 x 800m at around 3 minutes per effort.
The downside of both sessions was that they happened to fall on a couple of the warmest days of the summer so far. And we run at lunchtime, so the conditions were at close to the worst possible.
Mixing Things Up
I have found that one of the most important factors for consistent running is to mix things up to keep it interesting.
If I were to run every day over the same course I don’t think I would last very long.
Boredom would quickly conspire to derail my running plans.
So to mix things up I try to set off in a different direction every day.
I work in Sydney and there are many different destinations that are within reach of a lunchtime run.
If the Monday run is a waterfront run that follows the harbour from the Harbour Bridge to the Royal Botanic Gardens, then on Tuesday I will head west over to Glebe and Blackwattle Bay. This means Wednesday might take me north over the Harbour Bridge to North Sydney and Friday will head east to Double Bay or Bellevue Hill via Cooper Park.
Varying the course changes up the landscape and gives me something different to look at each time I run. It’s a very important part of staying fresh. It also ensures that I look forward to each day’s run, particularly if I can come up with a destination that I’ve never been to before.
To really mix things up, I have also added a public transport aspect to some runs.
On at least a couple of occasions I jumped on a ferry to get me to a different starting point. The first time I went to Balmain, ran around the suburb and then back to the city. The second was a trip to Watson’s Bay for the starting point of a run that took me through the exclusive Eastern Suburbs on my way back into the city.
On both occasions the ferry trip was a very scenic start to my run.
The train has also played a part in expanding my lunchtime running area. It meant I could start my run at Bondi Junction, run to the beach and then get back to work in a (slightly extended) lunch time.
Exploring Sydney on the run is becoming a very enjoyable part of my running routine.
It’s amazing how quickly the focus changes through the act of challenging yourself with a few simple goals.
I’ll be checking back often to discuss how successful my running goals have been throughout the year.