2019 A Year In Review
A deep dive into my training of 2019, what's staying, and what's going for 2020
My goal for 2019 was to get fit again.
Mentally and physically I had taken a huge step back for the previous 2 years.
I am happy to say that I achieved this main goal. I feel stronger and healthier, in both body and mind, than I ever have been before.
A Year In Review
January: Joining Saddleworth Runners and The Maffetone Method
By far the best decision I made this year was to join my local running club. Saddleworth Runners have invited me with open arms and became a key source of creating new friendships in Mossley where I had ended up after supporting my Dad with his illness.
I had also started training in the Maffetone method since November 2018 as I was getting too many false starts by getting fatigued or injured. This method requires you to keep your heart rate under a certain figure for all of your training. It supports the building of a huge aerobic base. I had no base from 2 years of poor training, so I started to feel the benefits quickly.
April: Manchester Marathon
The main goal for the year was to get to the marathon in good enough shape to get through it. It was a huge drive in my increasing running mileage and actually getting out there to do a run over 10 miles. It had been a really long time.
The Maffetone training had supported the build of some base fitness so I felt that 3 hours should be comfortable race time.
Unfortunately this didn't turn out to be true 😄. I badly cramped in the last 6 miles with a lot of walking. My core just fell apart.
I had not been running fast, and so my muscles had no ability to withstand 6:45 pace for 3 hours. I had been running mainly 8 - 9 minute miles in training, and it showed as I stumbled across the finish.
July: Mont Ventoux
After the Marathon I switched my training over to 100% cycling to get ready for the Mont Ventoux challenge.
My good friend Ollie had decided to raise money in aid of the hospice where my brother had been treated. Instead of doing a fun run like most people, he decided to ride up and down Mt Ventoux 6 times! Its the cumulative height of everest, 140 miles, in just 24 hours.
At first I had absolutely declined. Then the option of doing just three ascents became available. I wanted to support Ollie as he had been so supportive of me during my family's illnesses and that it was for the hospice meant we could all raise some money for a good cause.
That was a tough 3 months training. I put in soooo much time on the bike, averaging 200 - 250 miles a week for those 3 months.
When it came to the actual day it felt easy. I had been training harder than the 84 mile ride with 14000ft of climbing. I raced it. I ended up finishing under 7 hours and keeping a pretty high watts per kilo for the duration.
Cycling gave me a massive base. It also got me used to spending 3 - 5 hours outdoors enjoying the natural environment. This then transferred to running.
August: The Saddleworth Round
My second fell race back was the Saddleworth Round. It's a local race, so after spending so much time with the club, I decided to give it a pretty good effort to test my fitness.
I ended up winning with a new course record, despite it being a modest one which will be broken soon in the future.
It was a cracking race, and one that started to give me the inkling that my fitness could be returning.
October: The Paddy Buckley and The Fell Relays
I transitioned a lot of my training time over to running for the next few months, despite keeping up 150+ miles on the bike per week.
I was finding that the longer efforts were suiting me but I just didn't have the power for shorter efforts. So much so that I managed to cycle 20 miles to a 14 mile fell race, win it, and then cycle home. The endurance was there.
A good friend from the club Des had asked me if I wanted to join in doing the Paddy Buckley round. It's a 66 mile fell run in Snowdonia, over challenging terrain and with a time limit of 24 hours. I agreed. It's a big plan for 2020. We got to get away for a weekend recceing it with some other lads that will be joining in.
Whilst the endurance was there, the power was lacking. The fell relays were a real challenge to test this. I had the first leg, a 5 mile fell race with the best in the UK as competition.
When I finished I was genuinely shocked to realise I had come 13th. Clearly my endurance training had had some impact on my VO2 max and threshold limits. I think this was a big booster for my confidence. I was incredibly proud to help the club and also on a personal level to get that high a place.
November - December: Thailand, Ultra Trail Panoramic 50k, Dreaming of FKT's
My girlfriend and I had been planning a work break later in the year. We spent November and December in Chiang Mai, Thailand. It's nestled right in the mountains and has a great trail running community.
November was fully of hot long runs in the jungle dodging snakes and meeting the new faces on the Thai ultrarunning scene.
I had signed up to a 50km race in December and so I was gearing my training towards that. I managed to win by some margin, but it wasn't a competitive race by any means. You can read the race report here.
There was always something in the back of my mind this year. A real test of fitness and max hill power. The Pilgrim's Trail in Chiang Mai was where my trail running journey truly began and I realised I might have a little bit of potential. It has always been a bit of a battle ground for runners living in Chiang Mai, and three people have swapped the record routinely in the past three years, including myself. I knew that if I could break my previous record and potentially get a new CR that it would show promise for 2020.
Gearing up for an effort I really felt that I wouldn't be able to achieve it as I just hadn't been doing any VO2 max effort training. I continually wanted to stop as my lungs and legs burnt. As I reached the top I realised I had broken the CR which for me was a huge achievement. Feels great to know that I am fitter and faster than ever before.
2019 In Stats
Distance - 6541 Miles / 125 Miles P Week
Run: 1,292 miles, 25m p / week
Bike: 5,251 miles, 101m p/week
Time - 614 Hours / 12 Hours P Week
Run: 206 hrs, 4 hrs p/ week
Bike: 403 hrs, 7hrs 45mins p/ week
Elevation - 558,630ft Total / 10,700ft P Week
Run: 182,726ft, 3500ft p/week
Bike: 375,538ft, 7200ft p/ week
Comparisons With 2018
In 2018 I ran 352 miles…… So I've ran 5 times more in 2019 with considerably more elevation and time on feet 😄
I've cycled nearly 4 times as much distance in 2019 than in 2018 and 3 times as much time on the bike. That's good news because it means in general I've been going faster even though I've been hitting more hills. I thank a power meter and zone based training for this.
As you can see from above, 2019 has been a bumper year. I've done more miles than any of the previous 4 years and it's pretty close to being more than all of them combined.
My Three Challenges: Failure
I had three challenges after the Manchester Marathon.
- Ride 200km in one ride
This I succeeded in doing with my mate Des one lovely sunny Summer afternoon.
- Run a fast 50km
Mission Complete. The Ultra Trail Panoramic 50km was a resounding success.
- Run a sub 16 minute 5km.
Mission Failed. To be honest I ran out of time. I had planned to get this done in Chiang Mai on the back of so much training volume and felt with a month of weekly speedwork it would be possible. Unfortunately I got food poisoning twice and ended up focusing on other goals such as the FKT's on various uphill climbs in Chiang Mai.
So, what's the plan for 2020?
To start with, in terms of training volume, I want to equal out the running and cycling volume. To be honest, it would be good to swap the two around in order to maintain a high level of running fitness for the 2020 fell running season.
These are my targets:
Running: Average 50 miles per week, keeping the elevation high.
Cycling: Average 100 miles per week.
I've kept these achievable and conservative. This would see me with a similar cycling mileage as 2019, but doubling my running mileage with considerably more elevation.
Cycling - Watts Per Kilo - 4.9 -> 5+
In 2019 I managed to hit 4.9 watts per kilo.
It's a very simple measurement of the power you can hold for one hour, divided by your body weight.
It's also a key part of racing bikes and measuring fitness over time.
For 2020 I would like to hit over 5 watts per kilo. Ideally I'd like to hit 350 watts in a 20 minute time trial at 60 kilos.
If we take 95% of that number then it works out to 5.5 watts per kilo.
It's verging on pro level. I'm not sure it's actually physiologically possible for me to do it.
It's better to set your sights high though. 😉
Fell Racing - The English Championships
I've decided to focus heavily on the English Fell Running Championships this year.
I'd like to see where I am at on the national scene. I know I'm far behind the fastest guys but I can't get stronger if I'm not pushed and humbled around pure talent.
I'm excited to get my arse kicked :smiles:
Ultra Running And Racing
I have a few A Races in the calendar.
- Yorkshire 3 Peaks - 24 miles, 4500ft.
- The Manx Mountain Marathon - 33 miles, 4500ft.
Both suit my style of running with a heavy endurance element whilst still pushing the uphills and descents. As the Manx Marathon will also have Joss Naylor and an open invite to all previous winners, it will be great to have some stellar competition!
I will run a 100km this year. No race planned yet, so if you have any suggestions get in touch.
I will go sub 16 for the 5k this year. It's not up for debate in my mind, it's been something I've tried to achieve many times before and I've got that base fitness to follow it through. It's now or never!