Gravity always wins

View from Pen-y-fan

More out of tradition than profound insight, here is my annual running review post.

First, since you demand it so, is the data:

  • Miles run: 1049
  • Duration: 188:58 hours
  • No. runs: 141
  • Av. distance: 7.44 miles

Not bad overall, on a par with last year. It seems that having struggled to break the 1000 mile barrier for a few years I can now do it, but not with much to spare. Any significant increase would mean changing my approach drastically.

It's been a bad year in terms of events though, I signed up and trained for the Llanelli marathon in April, but went to India, caught Delhi belly and bailed from it. I did the New Forest Half marathon in September (wet, slow) and that was it. I decided I needed a new challenge so signed up for the Lakeland 50 and set off on a mountain/trail running regime. I found that I really enjoyed running through forests and taking 5 hours or so to complete a run with lots of walks in it, necessitated by hills. It's a different rhythm to road running. We live outside of Cardiff and I have Caerphilly mountain and lots of trail runs of around 15-20 miles on my doorstep. And then there's the Beacons less than an hour away, and I managed a 20 miler around the peaks here on my own. I'm not much of a navigator, but Sarah has loaded up her extensive set of trails onto a GPS device for me which I follow slavishly.

But I came to realise that was the extent of my ambition. As I mentioned last year I don't have a reservoir of fitness to draw upon and to do the 50 I'd need to be up in the mountains every weekend. As I slogged around the Gower coastal marathon (eventually only doing the half) I realised I don't love mountains in the same way Sarah does. I like them, I enjoy being in them, but I don't want to spend 20 hours dragging myself through the mud. I do actually like doing the running part, and sometimes it's so steep, or icy, or boggy, or treacherous, that you hardly run at all.


Living with an ultra runner kind of distorts your sense of distance. In our house the following sentence can be uttered with a straight face: "I'm only going to do 20 miles today". The word 'only' has no rightful place in that sentence.

So, I decided on reflection that the 50 isn't for me, and instead have signed up for an event a month, consisting of halfs, marathons and even a 10k. I've enjoyed the trail running so I want to keep that in the mix. I suppose my lesson for the year is that you need to both always be exploring what kind of runner you are, and also know when something isn't your bag. But to accept that may not always be true – in a year's time I may find the thought of going 0.1 mph uphill, knee-deep in icy mud a really appealling day out.

The other thing I've taken on this year is to start studying an MA in History, and there's an element of this here also. I am of a scientific bent and I'm finding the subtle disciplinary differences and attitudes interesting. But I'm now of an age when I can appreciate them, whereas I think my younger, more arrogant self, would have had to be in one camp. 

The year has ended badly though, with a virulent flu bout (no, not effing 'manflu') which has laid me up for 10 days over Christmas (no alcohol, no food, no holiday!). It means my first event – a marathon in January – is unlikely to happen as I've lost the key period I needed and am still not back running. But hey, I lost a stone in weight, so when I do start back, I should be flying.

One Comment


    That is impressive, Martin. I mean it, no sarcasm.
    If someone in my house (and its only me and a stuffed animal) ever said “only 20 miles” I’d surely think the cheerios were laced with acid.
    Those photos, however (guessing form the file names they are Gower?) are stunning! Scenery always helped me stay interested, hence my allergy to treadmills,
    My 2012 summary:
    Miles run: 0.0
    Best to feeling better and being a groovy disco history student in 2013.

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