Year of epic fail & minor win (running)


<Even puppy power wasn't enough to salvage my year>

For the past few years (2009201020112012), I end them with a post reviewing my running over the previous 12 months, and make some tenuous connection to education. No-one cares, but hey, it's my blog, and I like to plan this post when I'm out running, as it gives me something to fix on. So here goes.

This year started out with big plans. I signed up for a marathon in January, a 10K February, half marathons in March and April, just a 5k in May, and marathons in June and July. That was the plan. It started badly and got worse, in a year of woe on the running front. 

I was training ok for the January marathon and did a 20 mile long run on December 20th 2012. I didn't know it at the time but I was coming down with flu that very day. The next day I was feverish, shaking and wiped out. The whole family came down with it. Christmas day 2012 was cancelled, our holiday was postponed. Full-on, miserable, definitely not just a cold, type flu. This lasted for about 3 weeks, before I could get out running again. I could barely do 5 miles then, so the marathon was out of the question. Epic fail.

I regrouped, and concentrated on the 10K in February. I forgot my Garmin when it came to this, and so had no idea of pace. I went out too fast (I was like Simon Pegg in Run Fatboy Run), and slowed considerably but actually finished in a decent time (for me) of 49.50. This was a race PB for 10K. Minor win.

Then I had a note saying the March half-marathon had been cancelled due to insufficient numbers. Never mind, I'll concentrate on the April New Forest half-marathon. Come the race date, it was postponed due to ice and rescheduled for a day when I was in Bali for the OCWC conference. Epic Fail.

I did discover the wonderful parkrun though. Every Saturday you can go down and run a 5K free of charge, and get a time posted on their website. In a world of evil, the parkrun is an unalloyed thing of goodness. I went a few times in May and got my time down to about 24 mins. Minor win.

I abandoned the June marathon as I hadn't maintained enough fitness and decided to concentrate all my efforts now on the July Tenby marathon. If I could do one marathon this year, it would still be all worthwhile, I could salvage the mess of the year with this one race. I trained dilligently, if not enthusiastically. I wasn't going to get a good time, but I should be able to get round. Come the day before the marathon I was planning my arrival time when I had a sudden thought: "That's strange, I haven't received anything from the organisers". I checked emails with increasing panic. I rang the organisers. No, it seems I had registered for all the other races back in December, but this one I had forgotten to actually put my name down for. It was full, there was no way of running the race. Epic, epic fail.

I entered a slough of despondency then. I hadn't been enjoying the running, but at least it had some purpose. I picked myself up for a late entry into the September 10k, and managed another PB of 49.43. A minor win. My Cardiff Half time was average for me at 1.55.

And then I lost all running mojo. I ended the year with a desultory total of 880 miles, the lowest in 4 years. I could have reached the 1000 mark easily if I'd kept up any decent running schedule in November and December, but I really couldn't be bothered.

Why? Well, I'm doing an MA in history and as they got nearer the end it demanded more time. And I'm writing a book, and managing research projects, etc. I found that a day would be stressful if I had to fit running in as well as these things, but if I took it out, then suddenly the day fitted together more neatly. Sarah, my wife, has a theory that you can only keep three plates spining effectively, for example work, family and one serious hobby. You can have more on the go, but the others suffer. You have plenty of other minor interests, for example I like reading literature, but if I was to go at it seriously, one of the others would have to suffer. Completing MA and maintaining running has proven difficult. 

But ultimately, that is an excuse, one can always find the time. It's only an hour here and there with the occassional long run. So, I need a plan, and it is this: next year I am going to be less ambitious in the knowledge that once I started failing this year, it gave me permission to carry on doing so. I've signed up for the Windermere marathon in July, and I'm not going to stress about time – a 5 hour marathon is better than no marathon. This way I hope to get back to enjoying running, as any run I do, regardless of time, is a success. 

So, now for the tenuous link to learning. For a start, the title could stand for any edtech review of the year, but I won't go over that again. Instead I think the analogy is that in learning you can coast for a while or you can overstretch yourself, and then you need to reflect and plan for some success to make it seem wortwhile. This may be completing a Masters, or finishing a MOOC, or just reading that novel or learning that programme language you always promised yourself. Failure is part of the pattern, but now that learning, like running, is so diverse, there's always one more way to tackle it.

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