So, it's pretty chilly here this morning. -5 out in the fields. Even with loads of warm weather gear on I got cold walking with the hounds a little after dawn. Looking out the window now not a lot has changed since the sun came up- everything is silver and frozen solid. It's very beautiful, but I worry about the birds who are flocking to the garden and eating like mad. We have a resident pheasant and two moorhen to add to the normal gang, as well as four stock doves. My RSPB garden bird watch at the weekend was stuffed full of species and numbers. The Hawfinch are back at the bottom of the lane but no sign of Brambling yet. If it continues this cold we may get them.
Snow is forecast later, which will be interesting because it's the Hares' training night. A bunch of Hares ran the Romsey 5 at the weekend round the Broadlands Estate. M came in under 30 mins and was first old man, somehow I managed to get a PB which, given that I wasn't sure I'd be running at all after my knee stiffened following a 14 mile run on Friday, was a surprise, and the Hares all did brilliantly on what was only their second race.
I had an interesting chat with my friend and newly qualified coach, Ian, about running goals on Friday. We talked about FOMO (fear of missing out), and how it contributes to people committing to things that aren't right for them. We spoke about how a coach's role is to help runners identify what's most important to them, and then choose one or two goals to focus on, instead of the four or five that most runners have. And to keep those goals in mind and not let yourself be pressured into doing more or different. We also talked about how, if doing the same thing nets you the same result, one that you don't want, then it's time to change the thing.
I went home with his words ringing in my ears and spent most of the next day reflecting on my own targets and approaches. M was up in London at a cross country event at Parliament Hill, L was working quietly in the study and, unusually, both the dogs were happy to sleep by the fire all day so I had time to think without interruption.
I came to the conclusion that my training plan isn't working. I had three months injury-free last year, and although I managed to do two marathons and numerous long runs in that time, having to manage stiff knees after long runs which jeopardise me taking part in shorter races afterwards is not where I want to be. So, I redesigned my plan, replacing the long runs and races with shorter ones and adding in some speed work and short recovery runs on what would ordinarily be rest days. It's completely different from the training I've done before, and in six months time I'm going to reappraise it and see what difference it has made.
One thing I have learnt is that when you start running you are likely to go through several evolutions before you find what works for you. It is almost never a case of going in a straight line; as your muscles and joints develop, adapt and strengthen, and as hidden weaknesses are exposed, so the capacity you have for different types of running changes. Last year, I couldn't run fast without getting injured, now that seems to be less of an issue. Last year, I ran two marathons and numerous long training runs but I can't currently do that. I think it's all good learning and it teaches you to be flexible in your approach and focus.
Pop and I went out and ran a little over seven miles together yesterday round the lanes, following a new route which wound though really beautiful countryside, and returned invigorated and content and with no ache in the knee, so that's a really good start to my new plan.
Funny how often in life a simple word dropped in your ear that's meant for someone else can have a powerful and positive impact on your own thoughts and behaviours. It's nice to have a friend like Ian, an accomplished but always humble runner, to check in with from time to time. He has an ability to get to the core of an issue simply and without fuss and to shine a light on what's really important, and in so doing, to help you find a healthy new perspective. We all need friends like that. He's going to make a great coach.
Hope all is well with all of you? It's started snowing here.....