2015 was the first time since I’d got back into running 4 years previously where I began to get back some of the belief I had all the way back in 2002 that I could actually become a decent runner. It seemed things were coming together and I was beginning to see progress in my times and results.
Literally on the first Saturday of 2015 I took part in the Surrey County Cross County Championships at Lloyd Park. It was my first return to a County Championships in 12 years. In the second half of the 7.5mile hilly course I found another gear and managed to pick off a decent number of runners finishing just 2 scoring positions off making the medal winning scoring 6 for my club.
I made my first attempt at seeing if I could qualify for the Great Britain Duathlon age-group team for the next year’s European Championships. It was a humbling experience to say the least. After the first run section I was perhaps in the first 60 or so of the 500 plus field however by the end of the bike leg I’d been over taken by perhaps two thirds of the whole field and I was to finish the race really low down the overall finishers.
By the time summer arrived the benefits of consistent training for a good 1 and a half years was paying off as I went about setting new pbs from 800m to the half marathon distance. I was even surprising myself as I ran 2.09 for 800m – which was unheard of when I competed in the younger age group (my best time from memory was 2.30 something back on an actual athletics track). Over the course of the summer I ran pbs of:
1500m – 4.21, 3000m – 9.25, 5km – 16.35, 10km – 34.50, Half Marathon – 1:18.59
It wasn’t all non-stop progress however. Being on a strong upward curve can cause you to almost expect success and improvement to continue from here on in. I was also about to receive a wake up call in how one should (or rather shouldn’t) train in order to try and cut corners to keep improving.
In August I travelled to Spindleruv Mlyn, Czech Republic which sits in the Karkonoski National Park. I took part in a 9-day fell running training camp organised by jacekbiega.pl
Each day as a group we undertook long runs of up to 20 odd miles across mountainous terrain. The views and scenery was stunning with temperatures up to 30 or so degrees. My prime motivation for undertaking the camp was that my friend Eduardo Vallejo Ceron was going and the previous year had been on the camp and had notably improved in his running. Having spent the summer training for short track races I really was in no condition to be thrashing my body on back to back mountainous long runs for 9 days. Needless to say my body broke down. I was exhausted, became ill and needed to take some time off running on my return to get myself feeling better again. It was a hard lesson to learn but in hindsight the experience taught me that if you are to keep improving at running you have to play the long term game and only increase training volumes very gradually or else you will always come up short and get injured/become ill in some way as the body needs time to adapt to stress.
In the autumn I managed a 39th place in the London Cross Country Championships which was another mini triumph as I finally felt I could perhaps make some sort of impact within the Senior men age category as a club runner – something which for most of my adult life seemed a very unrealistic prospect as I knew how hard I worked as youngster to be fit then so thought getting into good shape again would be impossible.
Whilst the earlier highs of 2015 really felt quite high it was a shame that the year had to end on a very bad note. One early morning in November I was cycling to Regents Park in London to do some cycle some laps before work when I was hit by a taxi driver not looking when he was making a very impulsive jump across 2 lanes of traffic. I was knocked clean off my bike with my body flying through the air and the full impact of the crash being felt by my knee as it crashed into the pavement. I was on crutches until it got better and meant my running was over for the year.
On reflection 2015 was the year where for the first time I regained belief in myself as a runner. My times on the track were quicker than anything I did when I was younger and it was in 2015 that I felt I had started again as a club runner ready to try and mix it with some of the better runners that the UK club running scene has to offer.