This blog post comes all the way from sunny Albuquerque, USA. Yes, I’m back here again!
There is a lot happening for me at the moment. I am currently in a great routine with my training and racing and I’m really enjoying working with various people as part of my personal coaching project.
Anyway, let me give you a quick recap of summer 2015…
Well, it was certainly a summer of transition. Let’s go back to June when I was merely an injured and heartbroken spectator at the Island Games. I am pleased to say that I have virtually blanked that from my memory and since then, things have been continually on the up!
I started training again from scratch in early July, when it was a case of taking the baby steps to get me fit enough to handle ‘proper’ training again. I had to be extremely patient with everything, and it was September before I was ready to compete in my first race in over five months. That was a 10K event in London, which I completed in 30:49, followed up two weeks later by another 10K in 30:34, this time in Sheffield. The first 10K was actually tied with a two week training block with a former team mate and close friend, Andy Vernon (yes, that guy!). It was a pleasure to spend some time with Andy after years of being on different schedules (I don’t get to see him very often with me being based predominantly in the U.S.). The London ‘training camp’ came just at the right time for me and I left the capital bound for the States with my head held high.
So, what’s happening right now? Well, I am less than two weeks out from my next race – a half marathon in Las Vegas of all places. This is honestly not an excuse for a holiday or a gambling spree (I’m not really a gambling man!). It is a genuine elite running event held on the Vegas “strip”, run at night under the lights. Sounds pretty sweet to me… hopefully the result will be too! I was going to throw in some sort of ‘hitting the jackpot’ pun just then, but I resisted!
Fitness wise, I’m actually rounding into fairly decent shape again and I’m ready to give it a good go in Vegas. As an insight, I did a special training session last week which involved cutting down the pace of a training run over 13.1 miles (half marathon distance) and for that I ran a controlled 71 minutes, running at high altitude. I reckon I should go at least a few minutes quicker on the day.
After Vegas I plan on a quick turn around for a much shorter 5K race in Albuquerque on Thanksgiving Day, the following week. It may be a local race but it always provides hot competition – mainly from my training partners who all turn up to try and get their hands on the prize money. After that race I will be doing my usual Thanksgiving tradition of eating an unsuspecting American family out of house and home… After seven Thanksgivings I have decided it’s better than Christmas!
Anyway, that’s enough rambling from me. I’ll let you all know how Vegas and the proceeding 5K go!
It’s been a while since my last update in November, so let me bring you up to speed with what I’ve been up to in recent months.
I’m delighted to say that 2013 ended on a real high for me; I placed 20th in the European Cross Country Championships in Serbia. There’s an expression ‘horses for courses’ and this is definitely applicable in Cross Country running! The Euro Champs presented us with flat and firm underfoot conditions which tend to suit the track specialists better; I’m a bit of a mud lark myself, and so felt like I was flat out sprinting the whole way! I couldn’t have done any more on the day and to finish 20th was pleasing for me. Also, the Great Britain team picked up a bronze medal which made it a great day all-round!
The year ended on a high with the Euro Champs, but 2013 was a fairly consistent year throughout, with plenty of high-points. I’ve been reflecting on the past 12 months and a few events particularly stand out for me. Last February I successfully defended my English National Cross Country title, and in the summer I won a silver medal at the UK Track Championships over 10,000m. That performance earned me a gold medal in the incorporated English Championships and further sealed a Commonwealth Games qualifying time for me - three birds with one stone! I also broke a long-standing Manx record for the traditional ‘mile’ distance; so I had some memorable performances over a variety of terrains and distances. On the downside, I didn’t race as much as I’d have liked to in 2013, but I definitely performed when it mattered!
Those of you who are sport enthusiasts might be familiar with the term ‘sporting peak’, which is basically when an athlete reaches their best performance level at any given time. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to “peak” 52 weeks of the year, so I have to carefully plan my training and racing schedule months in advance to ensure I’m in good shape on the big day. It’s easy to view each calendar year and try to cram in as many good performances as possible, but now I say to myself “how can I surprise myself this year, and what haven’t I achieved yet?” or “how can I make this year better than the last?” and I set my schedule accordingly. Plans don’t always work out the way you want them to, but by prioritising and planning ahead you can greatly increase your chances of getting it right (as long as you are realistic with your expectations!). Looking ahead to 2014, for me it’s all about prioritising for the Commonwealth Games and I have to say I feel like this year is going to be an exciting one!
Until next time, have a great winter and stay fit!
Hello readers, here’s a look at what I’ve been up to recently.
This blog is being sent all the way from Albuquerque, New Mexico! I arrived here on the 1st October to prepare for the up-and-coming British Cross Country season. I’ve been training in Albuquerque for the past five years and it has always been a very positive experience for me and as the old saying goes "if it ain't broke, don't fix it".
A big part of why I love to train here is because the weather is superb all year round; Albuquerque is situated at 5000ft altitude, which really helps improve endurance performance. Furthermore, I have an abundance of international training partners here and I can train under the watchful eye of my American coach, Art Acevedo. I also have some amazing friends in New Mexico and the state carries a lot of sentimental value from my college days at New Mexico University. All these things combined make me a happy person, and it's really important to feel positive when you step out the door for training every day. Never underestimate the effect lifestyle factors can have on sports performance, or any performance for that matter.
So what have I been up to in recent months? In September I was fortunate to be back on the island for a few weeks. The highlight of my trip home had to be the Isle of Man Triathlon Championships, sponsored by Microgaming; I ran the 10k leg for Microgaming in the team event, and what a race it turned out to be! Mark Gorry, a specialist in open water swimming, started us off with a solid 1.5k swim through Mooragh Park lake. Mark then handed over to John Quinn who absolutely buried himself in what can only be described as a heroic effort around the 40k cycling section. As John finished, we lay in third place and were over four minutes behind the leaders; it was now my turn to take on the third and final leg. Whilst there were whispers that we could pull this back, I'd already done the maths in my head and I knew that it was going to be a challenge. The race came right down to the wire and I only just secured the win in the last 100 metres. Fair play to Christian Varley who ran extremely well for the challenging team. It was such a fantastic event; I’m already looking forward to next year’s!
A couple of days later, I popped into the Microgaming office for a run with the main man, Roger Raatgever. I was a little nervous about going for this run after the aggression in which Roger had attacked the last one, but luck was on my side as he took it easy on me as we bounded through The Nunnery and along Douglas promenade! Roger is genuinely one of the most passionate and enthusiastic people I have ever met, especially when it comes to sports. I have to give him and the rest of the Microgaming team a big shout out for getting right behind me in my running career and giving me a chance to see how far I can go.
Well, that’s all my news for now; the next time I update you my Cross Country season will be well underway, and hopefully I’ll be able to discuss some positive race results.
Hello readers, and welcome to my first blog. Over the course of the next few months I will try to give you an insight as to why I run and how I prepare for events – there is a lot to it both physically and mentally and I look forward to sharing my thoughts and experiences with you.
Spirits are high as I write this post as I recently won a silver medal in the British Championships for 10,000m, narrowly missing the gold medal in a last lap burn up. I also just claimed my 5th Manx record, this time for the classic one mile run. It is by no means my speciality distance, but to be ‘the fastest Manx man to have ever run a mile’ sounds pretty cool! These races signified a return to form for me after a nightmare spring which was ridden with injury. Right now I have my sights set on a Half Marathon in the autumn, so fingers crossed I can keep my body in once piece until then.
Looking to the future, in just twelve months’ time I could be facing my biggest challenge yet – the 10,000m final at the 2014 Commonwealth Games. Having run the qualifying time for this competition on numerous occasions, I’m hopeful of selection. I usually like to take things one day at a time, but the CWG is already lingering in my mind - scary stuff!
Running is such a natural activity, and it’s the simplistic nature and individual aspect of it that I love. There are no fancy equipment or accessibility issues with running, anyone can do it, and often it’s the poorer countries in the world that lead the way. Furthermore, it is a very individual sport… there’s no hiding behind team mates; you’re on your own out there!
Competing in a sport which is contested in every pocket of the world makes it very difficult to reach the highest level. But ‘once a runner, always a runner’ and this is why I am compelled to follow this path and keep pushing to be the best I can be.
I will leave you with a quote about running that I heard recently. I think it is one you have to experience to understand, but I like it because it sums up the doorways that long distance running can open: “At the point where a runner finds it nearly impossible to take another step, everything that matters in their life will make sense.” RUN!