Saturday, December 05, 2009

Running without a purpose

Unfortunately I seem to have lost my running mojo. Up until the end of November things were ok, but as soon as we moved into the darkest month I have had no enthusiasm for running at all. My training diary for December reads as follows:

1st - no run.
2nd - no run.
3rd - no run.
4th - a very poor quality 4 mile jog round Glasgow first thing in the morning (after attending the Sunday Mail Sports Awards the night before).
5th - an even worse 3 mile run in Crieff with the dog (with a break for a rest at the half way point).

There seems to be nothing in the tank at the moment. I pack my running stuff each day and carry it in to work, then carry it home at the end of the day, unused. On Wednesday I had planned to run after work. I even made it to the changing area and had started getting changed before a voice in my head said "Fuck this, you don't really want to go out there in the cold and the pissing rain, do you?". I agreed with the voice, put my shirt back on, and headed home. Not good.

So what is going on? I am not the biggest fan of the winter, but I can usually force myself out the door for a run, regardless of the weather. I've been busy at work and busy with various sportscotland events, but I am normally able to organise my days in such a way that I can fit a run in at some point. Not at the moment, it would seem. And the less I run, the more fed up I become, and the less I feel like running. It's a vicious circle.

So far this year I have run a total of 1,879 miles, so have only 121 to go to reach my normal target of 2,000 miles. Not that it matters a jot, of course, but it would be nice to get there. I have done 20 races, a few less than normal, but that total includes 7 ultras and a marathon which is quite a few more than I have done in a single year before.

I think I need to work out a more structured plan for next year. My next marathon will be my 75th marathon/ultra, and my 50th actual marathon, so I'd like to do a good one, possibly around the end of March. That means a) finding the right event and b) starting to train a lot harder than I have been training recently, including sessions like fartlek, intervals and other forms of speedwork. The thought of it at the moment is horrible, but hopefully my enthusiasm will return at some stage. I also need to think about my club. Strathearn Harriers is a small club, and I find it almost impossible to get there during the week. Not many of the members have the same running ambitions as I have. Should I look for a club in Edinburgh, which I can go to more regularly after finishing work? Would that help? It would certainly be good to be part of a club who were keen on taking part in the various cross country events, for example.

And of course there are the big events next year like the Highland Fling, the Cateran Trail and the West Highland Way race. The only one I have entered so far is the WHW and I'm not sure about the others yet - I am trying to work out a sensible running plan for 2010 before committing to any other long races. The only certainty at the moment is that I will not be back in Tooting for the 24 hour track race.

Maybe I'll go out for a run tomorrow and the magic will have returned. But at the moment I doubt it.


Fiona Rennie said...

It is time for a break, make it official, say “I’m not going to run until 1st Jan. (pick the the date that suits you.)enjoy the time off and come back refreshed.

Thomas said...

Ian, maybe you have a virus of some sort and your body tells you to slow down. Or maybe your body just desparately needs a rest after 7 ultras (not many runners can do that in a year!).

Listen to your body, take it easy and I am sure the magic will return!


Chris said...

Ian, I wouldn't worry about. Just focus on taking a rest for a while and don't bother forcing things. I've had an annoying virus for a while and haven't run since the Cumbernauld relays in October. Btw, do you know who might be organising the Cateran Trail Race in 2010?

Andy Cole said...

Hi Ian, know how you feel, couldn't get out myself of late, could be weather, dark days, too many miles over the year,etc. I decided to have 2 complete weeks off - one of those is complete now and I'm starting to feel enthusiastic again already, but I'll give it another week. Andy

Brian Mc said...

I felt like you for much of last winter and it sucked having to force myself and sometimes just not bothering. It passed though. Have a break for a month or so, it won't do you any harm and might cure your blues, or at least mean you don't get stressed about not making it out.

Peter Duggan said...

Think it all depends what's up, Ian...

If you're ill (like I was last December) or simply run out, you've no choice and just have to stop.

If, on the other hand, you're just suffering from lack of motivation, you have the choice to take a break or kick yourself back out (either of which may be appropriate). FWIW, I think most of us go through patches like this, but I also find running is habit-forming. As in, when you're going out, you go out regardless (usually feeling very guilty when you can but don't) and, when you're not, you stop going regardless (usually not caring that much about it even though you know you should). And it only takes a few days of one or the other to set the pattern for what could be weeks.

Dunno what your night-running off-road possibilities round Braco are like (I'd hate to be out on most country roads in the dark), but I've also come to really enjoy my off-road running by torchlight here (admittedly God's own rough off-road running country!). So I no longer stress about getting out before dark once GMT comes along, but get home, relax for a bit then go out later when it's good and properly dark. Admittedly not everyone's cup of tea, and not something I'd advise without knowing both runner and ground, but it's great if you're confident on the ground (can be very liberating), I'd expect your local choices to be less rough than mine, and maybe a welcome change from city running from work?

Debbie Martin-Consani said...

Sitting here watching the awards..we'll look out for you.

Hope running with Sharon and I didn't zap your mojo %-)

I would say, get out there and do some short, sharp stuff. Recovering pace running is mind-numbing. I would try one-minute intervals or step reps. Just a suggestion.

Anonymous said...

As I was reading thru' your post, Ian, I thought I'd post a msg saying you should have a 2 week break from running. Total break, not short runs, or dog-runs, or short sharp reps.

Then I saw the first comment above, from Fiona the twin, and she's basically jumped the queue on what I was going to say.

So....... I ditto Fiona's comments.

Enjoy the break and resume rejuvenated.....


Kaz said...

Hi Ian,

In some ways this is just a repeat of others. I read a blog the other day of a really good American ultrarunner the other day. He takes a 6 week running break every year. During this time he switches off completely from runnning, goes on holiday, does some backpacking and hiking, cooks, eats out and generally re-charges the batteries. His running is then picked up with a renewed vigour and his fitness returns, of course, to his former peak after the appropriate work which he is ready to tackle because he his physiologically and psychologically refreshed. Running is a tough sport both physiologically and Psychologically - mainly because it involves high levels of Adrenaline and Cortisol that eventually take their toll.They make us feel great in short bursts, but if raised for long periods can have a really debilitating effect. Your body is not a machine,but even they break down some times. All competiive athletes take an off period - it is just good sense, but it has to be a complete break. No going to the gym and then deciding to have a day off - that just makes you feel worse!

Once you've had your well deserved rest I am sure you will be back with renewed energy. As for the training. Hopefully you can come to the Sat speed work sessions. I know we haven't had alot of structured training in the past, but we are trying to rectify that. I myself am chuffed to bits because I think that we really do need it. I'm not much of a night runner, but Peter's suggestion is a good one.I know Al gets frustrated in the winter because he, like you cannot get out in the evenings due to a severe shortage of street lights! You could drive up to Crieff and do The Wed night route. I'm sure if you asked Gordon he could show you some good headtorch routes.

Take care, Ian. Hope you feel a bit perkier soon.


Anonymous said...

Some regular 5k Parkrun runs will do the trick. No Pressure!
Ultra Runners must not forget the shorter distances.
The foundation of running in the winter is to get out and compete on those cross country courses for your club and take the good with the bad. Think about what did work in the past and adjust the goals for your age. Get competitive in your age group.