This year was a big one for my running, so it’s worth doing a retrospective.

What went well?

I ran my first marathon and came second. The training paid off! I finished in 5 hours, which feels like a decent time for a marathon with 1,330m of elevation on a baking hot day. Fuelling went perfectly; the only change I’d make would be an extra 500–800ml of water. Kept it Zone 3 and 4 most of the way, except the descents towards the checkpoints.

In April I hiked the Taith Ardudwy (pt. 1, pt. 2) and had a great time. Each day I covered around 21km with lots of elevation, and I camped in the middle. My kit is light enough for these excursions and lightweight provisions (nuts, jerky, Tailwind, nut butters) gave me enough energy. It was pretty cold sleeping on the ground (it was -2C at night) but adding a sleeping mat to my kit will be a necessary improvement. (Ran some bits but hiked mostly.)

Also claimed a personal best of 1h41m for a half marathon! This came after my marathon, there wasn’t any dedicated training.

I must give a mention to going alcohol-free for six months too. It had a noticeable impact on sleep, rest, stress and weight.

Low heart-rate training was a big success. It means more time on feet at lower intensities, which you really have to think about to fit it into your weekly schedule, but the performance gains were noticeable. Almost went the whole injury-free too, which can’t be sniffed at.

What could have gone better?

I didn’t make enough time for fastpacking. This might be down to packing too much into the year, including races, and a big year at work with a lot of travel commitments in October.

Action: Make more time for fastpacking by dialling down the race commitments and planning ahead, so that I can organise work around it.

My activity fell off a cliff in December, as the short days crept in and inclement weather increased. It’s not a problem the rest of the year: you can feel days getting longer in January and February, and there’s enough warmth in October and November for it to be bearable.

Action: Plan for low frequency fitness maintenance in December next year. Use commute time as run time: get a train in to town and run to the office. On work-at-home days, move runs to lunchtime and extend lunchtime by 30 mins.

There’s a causal relationship between alcohol intake, feeling naff and getting proper rest. My running activity reduced as my drinking increased. That gets in the way of achieving goals.

Action: Develop ‘If, then’ principles for reducing alcohol intake overall, but that allow for celebration and socialising.

I beat myself up whenever I missed a day of training, for example, only running 5 days a week rather than 6.

Action: Discipline is good but life ain’t perfect. Plus missing one day of training here and there has low or no impact overall. Be kinder to yourself and get back on track the following day.