Running on a New Year’s Day has always been very special for a number of reasons, and this year is no different. Getting out on the first day of the year is a terrific opportunity to consider upcoming race targets and goals for the next twelve months.
Thoughts are very much focused on the big races ahead, such as the London and Edinburgh marathons that take place in the spring. These are still months away, but it’s very easy to get excited about the prospect of eventually crossing both finish lines.
There is of course a huge number of training miles to cover and tired limbs to deal with before these races too, but this does not dampen my positive outlook for the year. My early run on a usually bright and frosty morning is also an opportunity to reflect on the year that has just passed.
In this case, a frustrating twelve months plagued by injuries – ultimately stalling the progress I’ve made in previous years. I can however take forward many positives into the new year, even after the numerous troublesome niggles that were thrown my way.
For a start, in order to overcome these various annoying injuries I have become a better runner by gaining a more in-depth understanding on running technique and building body strength. I know now that to achieve my marathon target of a sub three-hour time I will need to make improvements in numerous areas, all of which I now better understand after a challenging year.
I am fortunate that New Year’s Day fell on a Sunday and so I had the opportunity to enjoy a long, slow and easy run with plenty of time for reflection. The route I decided to take was along the Water of Leith towards Juniper Green and Balerno, a winding pathway that follows the course of the river. The peaceful nature of the route makes it one of my favourite places to run in Edinburgh, and the tranquillity of the run is only slightly broken by the fellow runners or dog walkers.
The southward journey has a gradual incline throughout, which meant I could benefit from a smooth downward run for the second six miles and go at a slightly faster pace. The mild wind from the north that blew in my face on the return leg meant I did not get carried away with too fast a pace, however.
Completing twelve miles was a wonderful way to start off my running in 2017, and a great way to finish week three of my training plan. The week has seen me complete 35 miles in a total of four hours and 43 minutes, and has included two tough but slightly different threshold runs as well.
On Tuesday I was running three lots of ten-minute threshold runs, and the wind on my back meant I was averaging six minutes and 40 seconds per mile. But when the wind was in my face this average pace-per-mile dropped to just under seven minutes, a 20 second difference. I blame the wind for this difference in pace, although the tired legs in the third repetition may also have had something to do with it.
For the second threshold run of the week I decided to avoid the blustery gales outside and complete the four sets of eight minute threshold runs on the treadmill at the gym. Maintaining a constant pace of six minutes and 40 seconds per mile on a one and a half gradient, without any wind assistance, was tough but worth it. I just hope I can repeat this outside when the weather conditions return to some normality.
My final run of 2016 was an easy run of 6 miles or so from the shores of Cramond to home. Despite the gradual incline all the way I found that each mile I was getting faster; maybe it was the promise of a hearty Scottish broth at home that pushed me along.
So, that concluded my week of running into the new year and it has left me feeling quite fulfilled with hope that this will be a very special 2017. Bring on week four of the training plan!