What a way to finish off this year's running: a very soggy and blustery 91 minutes round Chazey Wood. With that done, I think it's a good time to sum up my running for 2012.

So what happened in 2012 in my little running world? Well, lots.

Training

I started the year by switching my training to follow the maximum aerobic function (MAF) theory and method devised by Phil Maffetone (see my post Does Maximum Aerobic Function (MAF) Training Work? post from Saturday for more details) and experienced tremendous returns.

As I was running all of my training aerobically, I found I was recovering incredibly quickly and soon found I could run for an hour or more many days on the trot, including after a 2-to-3 hour long run on a Sunday. As a result my mileage climbed to levels I've never run before...

training_2012.png
Monthly training totals for 2009 - 2012 (all figures are in kilometers)

As you can see, every month trumped the years before with 3 huge months: June, August and November, each over 300km. I'm not quite sure what happened in February and March as I didn't log the days I didn't run (that'll be changing next year), didn't document any complaints in my logs and didn't post any blog posts to suggest a problem. I know I had a holiday in the lake district and I tapered (unnecessary in hindsight) for my first half-marathon in over 13 years in March, but that shouldn't have entirely accounted for such a poor showing in March. February we can probably blame on the weather - I've become much less of a fair-weather runner through the year 😀 .

Within all this training are 5 weeks in which I covered more than 100km in each week with my biggest week being the week of 3 - 9 September when I clocked in 121.54km. Impressed? I am 🙂 and I'm chuffed to bits with the fact 8 of the 12 months have totals over 200km and the total of 2823km for the year. This is 823km MORE than I thought I'd cover when I set myself a target of 2000km for the year in January 2012.

So given the success I've had so far with this training, more on the effects on my racing coming up, I'm going to be sticking with this MAF training for a lot longer. As I mentioned in Saturday's post, the only change I'll be introducing this year is a race-specific speed session once a fortnight. I also plan to introduce a bit more strength work in the form of hills and full body weight sessions (got to get my money's worth in the gym) to the non-peak-racing parts of the year. Both will be closely monitored to see if they have a negative impact on my overall training and well-being.

Diet

After reading Phil Maffetone's Big Book of Endurance, I started to consider the merits of a lower carbohydrate diet. I then read Tim Noakes's Challenging Beliefs and I was convinced this was something I had to try and put to the test so I adopted a "paleo-lite" diet as I mentioned in my mid-year update.

After experiencing some very good results, I finally took the plunge and dropped the carbs almost entirely. No more pre-long run or pre-race carbs (I was still consuming some "complex carbs" until about June); just good ol' fat and protein and lots of it and I've not looked back and I don't think I will. Thus far I've not needed a stack of carbs before any of my runs and in fact I believe I now perform better by NOT having any carbs before I race.

So with a good 6 months of a low-carb, high-fat (LCHF) diet I can say this works for me as...

  1. I have lost weight without even trying. You may say performing the MAF training would have done this, and you're probably right, but only partly. Once I switched to a LCHF diet, the weight just fell off. I started the year weighing 81kg and soon stabilised at 79kg. I'm ending the year weighing 71kg with the biggest drop in their weight coming after I switched completely to the LCHF diet.
  2. I noticed my endurance improved significantly. Once again, the MAF would have contributed to this, but I think switching to the LCHF helped even more as fat is definitely a better fuel source for me than carbohydrates.
  3. I experienced much better and more consistent energy levels. I'm a lively chap most of the time, but I always found I had a slump around about 3pm each afternoon when I craved a choccy or some other quickfix carb snack - my will power was good so I very rarely gave in, but I still experienced the sugar low. Things were particularly bad on the weekend when I tended not to have my mid-morning apple or banana. I'd then enter the state my wife and I call "hangry". It's when I'd get grumpy, snappy and agitated because of low sugar levels. Not anymore. I can breeze through the afternoon or Saturday morning's shopping without even noticing the time or feeling the slightest bit peckish.

As an added bonus, my wife has switched to a LCHF diet with me, though with a bit less stringenc, and she too is reaping the benefits, except the running part - she's not a runner. She does however miss the likes of bread (she's a huge marmite fan) and pasta more than me.

So as with the MAF training, this is something else I'll be keeping up and I definitely encourage you to consider it too. If anything, get hold of a copy of Wheat Belly and try giving up just wheat to start with and see the benefits. The rest of the carbs will soon follow 😉 .

Racing

So you now know about my diet and training, what happened in the racing? Well check out these times:

Dist2011 Season Best2012 Season BestImprovement
5km (off-road)19:0617:361:30
5mile (off-road)32:0330:551:08
10km39:4237:551:58
21.km1:29:52*1:19:5310:01

* The 2011 season half-marathon was actually run in April 2012 but as I didn't run a half-marathon last year, I've included it.

The 5k off-road and half-marathon are all-time personal bests according to my records. I'm sure I've run 5km on-road quicker, but not off-road. I'd also never run a half-marathon anywhere near 1h 20m before, let alone run under it and best of all, that half-marathon included a 10k PB. I can't wait for a nice fast 10k in 2013 to see if I can get a new all-time PB.

I can only put these great times down to the fantastic aerobic base the MAF training has given me and the adaptation of my body to a LCHF diet.

I am now running at a quicker pace than I was when I left South Africa at the ripe old age of 20.

Plans for 2013

With 2012 behind me and 2013 looming on the horizon, it's time to think about my goals for next year.

My first and probably biggest goal is to run a sub-3 hour marathon at the Milton Keynes marathon in May and thus qualify for the 2014 London Marathon well within the "Good for age" limit of 3:10.

Once that's out of the way I think I'll have a good go at the following goals...

  • sub-17 5k
  • sub-36 10k
  • sub-78 1/2 marathon
  • run a 100km week at least once a month
  • exceed 3200km of running for the year - this isn't too important as I tend to train by time rather distance

I think these are good attainable goals which are going to be tough to hit, but with some good training I think I might be able to accomplish them. I'm also going to start logging the days when I don't run so I can understand the fluctuations in monthly totals and gauge the effects of my training more effectively.

I'm really enjoying my running at the moment and really hope next year is another bumper year. Watch this space.