Happy new year friends, readers and runners! I’m still feeling the residual effects of last night’s whiskey consumption and am suffering with the subtle (but nonetheless frustrating) kind of hangover that results in a day-long loss of spatial awareness. Me and the girlfriend took our fuzzy heads on a long walk this afternoon along part of my long run route, from our Harringay neighbourhood to Hampstead Heath, and we couldn’t help but notice that the January jogggers were out in force.
It’s a bit of a joke among runners that our numbers will inevitably swell in January, only to fall back to normal by spring. The last two years I have noticed it myself, as our running club fills with new faces in the first few weeks of the year. The new year seems an ideal time to take up a new hobby or get into a new, healthy habit, but I really do feel sorry for anyone who takes up running in the New Year. It’s just so difficult to motivate yourself to keep it up when it’s dark, drizzly, and slippery underfoot!
With that said though, there has been an obvious change in attitude toward sport and fitness among us regular folk since this summer’s Olympics. The benefits of sport to our health is obvious, but I’m really excited by the increasing interest in free access to sport and the use of local spaces and community. The outdoor gym in my local park is almost always in use no matter what time of day I jog past, parkrun numbers continue to grow, a new poster for a local Sunday running group has gone up on the park gates, and the number of power walkers and new runners I see out in the mornings is truly inspiring. I make an effort to smile and puff a greeting to new runners when I’m jogging in the park and welcome them into the informal community of people who just love to be outdoors and enjoy the wonders of our physiology. I really hope that this year’s January joggers are inspired by each other and see their resolution through to the end of the year – and beyond!
Regular readers will know that I recently moved (again) to Haringey in North London and that I have very quickly fallen in love with my new neighbourhood. I have never felt such attachment to my local area and community and I really want to celebrate how wonderful it is in the New Year. It is therefore my New Year’s Running Resolution to keep my sporting pursuits as local as much as possible and to support community sports initiatives as much as I can, if not by directly participating then at least by finding out more and encouraging those that are taking part.
This could include: continuing to run and volunteer at my local Finsury Park parkrun, volunteering with local sports initiatives, marshaling at local races, supporting Haringey Borough FC (I’ve already been to one of their matches), meeting the local cycling club, visiting the London Bike Kitchen again, and using local spaces (rather than gyms) as much as possible for my training. Any more suggestions would be gladly welcomed!
This leads me to my first big announcement of 2013: I have signed up for the Waltham Forest half marathon, a race taking place just a few miles away from my home on April 9th, and with a route that passes very close to friends’ houses too! It’s a slightly bumpy course – a far cry from last Spring’s Berlin half marathon – but has had rave reviews on the Runner’s World website thanks to its jolly marshals. I’m very excited about the race, but not just because it’s local. I am still buzzing from the string of PBs in the last few months of 2012 and have set myself a very ambitious target of sub-1:50. That, my friends, wouldn’t just be a new PB. Achieving a sub-1:50 half marathon would gain me entrance to a whole new world of running amazingness. It’s a really big milestone and is a time I wouldn’t have even dreamed of aiming for a year ago. Crikey, a year ago I was tearing my hair out over training to go sub-2hours!
The Waltham Forest half isn’t be my only local running resolution though. I have used running in recent years as a way of exploring the area that I live, but I want to do this more consciously in 2013. I therefore decided on a year-long running goal while walking with the GF this afternoon. I want to run London’s Capital Ring route over the course of the year. The Capital Ring is a 78 mile loop around London that can be divided up into shorter chunks. It’s promoted as a walking route, but I’m pretty sure there’s no speed limit for pedestrians… It’ll take some planning to achieve this resolution as I will inevitably have to travel across London to run it in parts (unless I intend to up my game to ultra running!), but planning long running routes can often become a chore so I hope that this challenge will help me to stay focused on my training and engaged with the wonderful city that I’m living in.
So there you have it folks! A new year and a new approach to planning runs and running goals. Stay local, stay engaged in my local environment, get engaged with my local community, and run faster. Happy New Year! What are your plans for the year ahead?