2016 Year in Review

Looking back on 2016 it has been a great year for my running and hiking. More miles covered, more consistent training, and more adventures than last year.  I think it is only the start of something though. I’ve already got ambitions to do more, and push myself further in 2017. Yesterday I finished off the year with one of my toughest runs to date. 15 miles along the Pennine Way between Standedge and Hebden Bridge, battling boggy and rocky terrain in low cloud. Not the longest of tuns and nowhere near the fastest but a true test of determination and strength.

I’m a bit of a lover of the statistics. An end of the year review of my Strava data tells me I have run 630.5 miles this year, and done a total of 737.4 miles when hiking is added. That’s 300 more miles compared to last year. However I’m not going to write about numbers. Running is more than that. Instead I’m going to reflect on my favourite things from 2016.

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Highlight number 1: Joining a running club

I had tried clubs before and never got on with them but this year I started running with a local group and love it. Being a Greenfield Greyhound has changed my outlook on running, encouraged me to push harder and further, and allowed me to run routes that I wouldn’t feel comfortable doing on my own. I feel a part of the local community and have some awesome running friends.

Highlight number 2: Running a marathon

I never thought I’d be able to run a marathon. But I did and I loved it. It was tough, both physically and mentally, and left me suffering injuries that took a while to get over. But it was a wonderful experience and even if I do more marathons, I will always be proud of that first marathon medal.

Highlight number 3: Going off-road

2016 has been the year of off-road running. I’d done some off-road running previously, however last Christmas I got trail shoes as a present, and this year I’ve focused on improving my off-road technique. I have challenged myself to some tough, long off-road runs, done night time off-road running, and entered a 10k race.

Although I could ignore the numbers although so I found an awesome website called VeloViewer which will generate an infographic using Strava data. It shows I’ve only had a couple of weeks this year in which I’ve not logged anything on Strava. One week after my marathon where I had a rest, and a week in October after I fell over and couldn’t walk properly.

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Winter Running

I’m back to blogging. The last couple of months have been very quiet on the writing front, but thankfully not on the running front. I’ve been suffering from an almost non-existent internet connection for the last two months, but fingers crossed all is finally fixed.

Winter running season is here and I must admit I haven’t been the most enthusiastic about getting out in the dark or the cold miserable weather. I struggle with winter. It’s the darkness. Waking up in the morning is a struggle and leaving work when it is dark is rubbish.  Energy levels drop and the winter illnesses go round and round the office.  It isn’t all bad though. I love a crisp winter’s day, a morning frost, snow on the hilltops. Even being awake to see a sunrise is nice if it is a pretty one.

Last year I barely ran over the winter, especially in the run up to Christmas. Strava has 2 hours logged for November 2015 and 4 logged for December 2015. This year I’m doing a lot better for 15 hours for November and 7 so far for December. Partly because I’ve upped the mileage anyway this year but mainly because I’ve got a better winter months system in place.

Mix it up

I’ve been trying to mix up my training more over winter. Going out for a mid-week run in the dark after work never appeals at this time of year.  My favourite routes become unsuitable. I dislike road running in the dark. I generally dislike road running but not going off road on my own in the dark. Pavements around here aren’t the best and tend to disappear or have cars parked on them meaning straying into the road on occasions. Plus crossing roads in the dark makes runs stressful. So I have mixed up my training with sessions, staying closer to home and doing more hill sprint sessions and interval runs.

Winter kit

Reflective running kit is our winter friend. My go to running tights have reflective dots down the sides and round the waist, and I tend to always run with my reflective waist bag. I could do better with the top half though and need to invest in more reflective long sleeve tops. Thankfully the cold doesn’t bother me as much.  I rarely run with a hat or gloves but always have my packable running jacket in my bag.

Light Up

Light up reflective arm bands are probably the best thing a friend has ever given me. I keep them in my running waist bag so I can be reflective and lit up at anytime. Useful if I haven’t worn my hi-vis I find myself running for longer than expected, and ending up in darkness (or even dusk).  Head torches are useful to have in the bag too, although I’m not a fan of excessive head torch usage. I’ll get have it ready for an unlit or poorly lit road but generally won’t use it if there are streetlights.

Festive spirit

Christmas lights have proved to be dark night motivator for December. My spirits were lifted whilst pounding the pavements on a very wet, dark evening, by the sight of twinkling Christmas lights on decorating houses. We took the festive spirit one step further this week at running club with a Christmas lights run. Our route took us round local villages to see the fantastic Christmas lights. Everyone wore a santa hat too.

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Christmas lights run

Another Injury

Things were starting to look better. I was out running again after my sore foot problems, and then disaster struck. A silly accident is all it was but I’m not sure when I will be running properly again.

Last weekend, my mum left a cupboard open in the kitchen. I walked into it, slipped and landed on my bottom on the tiled floor. Not a soft landed. I was in agony and haven’t been able to walk pain free since.  I probably made things worse by hobbling up Snowdon this week (that will be my next blog post!), but I’m stubborn and didn’t want to not give it a go when the trip was already planned.

So it’s enforced rest for me now which is frustrating. I want to be out enjoying the lovely autumnal weather.

Lesson learnt about walking into cupboard doors!