With 2015 now underway it would be remiss of me to not have a quick look back at how 2014 went from an endurance training and racing perspective and also to look forward to 2015.

Looking back at 2014

Rack of Shoes

So how would I summarise 2014 from a training perspective? Well there was lots of running, some cycling but very little swimming would be the simplest way to describe it.

I entered the year with entries in the Cambridge Half Marathon, North Downs 30km Trail race, Monster Half Marathon and Monster Intrepid Duathlon, with the later my A race for my 40th year on this planet.

Fitness wise is was a year of thirds, with three significant injuries causing down time in the run up to races. The first was a knee issue in January which delayed the start of my build into the Canbridge Half and meant no speed work at all. The next was a hamstring injury in May, which resulted in me pulling out of the Club Triathlon Relay team and again impacting my build into North Downs 30km. The final was an ITB/TLF injury in the build up to the Monster Intrepid.

It would be fair to say that I started the Cambridge Half with very low expectations performance wise. It was my first ever attempt at the half marathon distance, so I was guaranteed a PB. But with my training purely limited to distance work at a slow steady pace I was aiming to complete in around 1:50 at best, with a sub 1:45 a really positive result.

I was therefore extremely pleased and surprised to cross the finishing line in 1:38:44. It was great to see how quickly I could run on base work alone and gave me confidence that one day, and with proper training, I could aim for time around 1:30 for the half marathon distance.

At the finish of North Downs Trail Race 2014

At the finish of North Downs Trail Race 2014

My next race was the North Downs 30km trail race. It was great fun but again injury meant I approached it to complete rather than with a target time. By now I was already seriously considering the step up into Ultra and this race allowed me to practice both my nutrition and ultra pacing, especially through hilly terrain. I was still really pleased to finish in just under 3 hours considering the injury, terrain and high temperatures on the day.

This Intrepid Duathlon was ultimately cancelled, which was one of the lowest points of the year, as it was the race I entered back in 2013 as my big 40th birthday challenge. Fortunately during the Spring I’d realised how much I loved my long runs and in July finally took the plunge and entered my first ultra marathon, ultimately finishing in the top ten.

On the plus side it was that event, combined with the training building up to it, that opened my eyes to trail and ultra running, leading to the creation of this site and the start of my ultra running journey.

The autumn saw my one DNS (did not start) of the year, when I dropped my second attempt at the half marathon distance. Family commitments and injury meant this was a decision I was happy with, although I’m still keen to try and go back and improve my time of 1:38:44, maybe in 2015?

Giles with finishing medal for 2014 Grimreaper Ultramarathon

Giles with finishing medal for 2014 Grimreaper Ultramarathon

After a brief lay off following a minor operation in October, I finished the year with my third attempt at the Ely Runners NYE 10km, finishing in 41:16, a new PB by over 3:30. A great way to finish a year which had been mostly based around long endurance runs, with little structured speed work.

So here is a quick summary of my highs and lows of 2014 and the year in numbers:

Best race(s)?

Best results/PB’s?

  • Half marathon PB of 1:38:44 – this was my first and only attempt at the distance, so was always going to be a PB but it well surpassed my expectations when standing on the start line!
  • 10km PB of 41:16
Pennine Way Run 2014

Pennine Way Run 2014

Best training session(s)?

Biggest surpise?

Running over a thousand miles in 2014

Lowest point?

Pulling my hamstring at a work team building event, causing me to have to pull out of my one and only triathlon for 2014

Highest point?

Completing my first ultra marathon, with a strong finish and finding out I came 7th overall!

2014 in Numbers

  • Number of recorded training sessions: 267
  • Number of races: 4
  • Total time: 296 hours
  • Total distance travelled: 3,600km
  • Total calories burnt: 156,000kcal
  • Total altitude gain: 15,200m
  • Swam: 36km
  • Cycled: 1,675km
  • Ran: 1,894km
  • Core and flexibility work: At least 36 hours
  • Number of running shoes used: five pairs

Looking forward to 2015

Earlier this week I outlined my goals and aspirations for 2015, so won’t repeat those here. I’ve already got a number of ultra races booked in 2015 and am keen to add Stour Valley Path 100km and Lakes in a Day to the list if diary, family and work commitments allow.

The key thing for me this year is to put more structure into my training throughout the entire year. While base/endurance training yielded some great results in 2014 I am aware that the inclusion of speed work will also add benefit, even over ultra distances and make me a much stronger runner.

Cross training is also key and while I have withdrawn from the Coast to Coast Sportive to allow me to focus on my ultras and gaining UTMB points, I want to be an endurance athlete and not just a runner. To that end I am keen to ensure I use both swim and bike sessions as part of my overall training and also to do at least one triathlon in 2015. Although when, where and which distance who knows!

Wild Running BookFinally I want to take more opportunity to use running to get out and explore the UK, especially while travelling through work. I managed to fit in some great trail runs while away with work this year and hopefully one of my Christmas presents will provide further inspiration in 2015.

Above all its about having fun, improving as an athlete and using this sport to keep me grounded as a husband, father and human being.

Next up is the Peddars Way Ultra at the end of the month. Here’s to a great 2015!