How has training been with the uncertainty of the race going ahead?
I’m sure the lack of events or races has made everyone question what they are training for and why they are doing it at times. I don’t tend to use specific goals or a races for motivation, so I didn’t struggle too much when my race calendar fell apart; I have always been a runner, and probably always will be, so the last 12 month has really just reaffirmed the reasons why I run. That being said, there have been a few disappointing moments, I trained for Centurion SDW100 twice, the second time training until a few days before the race, when it was cancelled due to a lockdown announcement. For now I am just been enjoying have a training plan for the structure that it gives my week, and for having something to focus on when there is not a lot else to do.
How has it been training more solo, where in the past it may have been more group focused?
By it’s nature ultra-running is quite a lonely sport anyway, so I’m very comfortable with running solo for hours. The thing that I’ve missed a lot is the community side of running, away from the grind of my day-to-day training – catching up with people at the club, park runs, local races, my weekly S&C group sessions, being able to go down to the track for a change of scenery, meeting friends for a casual workout and coffee. I certainly took those things for granted and can't wait to get back to a more social.
At times, when the only thing we were allowed to do is to go out for exercise, I've felt really fortunate to have running while friends lost access to the activities that they rely on to de-stress etc. It's been comforting to be able to keep this part of my life relatively consistent and familiar.
How have you coped over the past year with very limited races?
My training has carried on pretty consistently and i've even seen some benefits working from home. I used to cram a run into a lunch break, shower and rush back to the office without being able to take time to eat properly or stretch. I was always exhausted and on the edge of injury. The flexibility that comes with working from home made a huge difference to my experience of training over winter, from sleeping more to being able to adjust my working hours so that I could do all my running during daylight, or the best weather.
It’s been really positive to see the results of consistent training over 12 months – I'm fitter than I've ever been and have managed to avoid injury. I never realised before how races can be a such disruptive interruption to your training cycle. A 1-2 week taper, the race effort and subsequent recovery can cost you a month of solid training. Don't get me wrong, i'm desperate to get back on a start line, but when I do it will be with a new appreciation for the best building blocks to get there – rest, consistency and good recovery.
What event are you most looking forward to in 2021, and why?
Contrary to what I just said about not being particularly tied to racing, my event calendar for the latter half of the year is, if anything, too busy (thanks to so many postponed events from 2020). I’ve got a few UTWT races in the diary, but the most exciting has to be CCC. I’ve never ran it before but there is nothing more incredible than running in the Alps so fingers crossed we can get there safely.