The running diaries: March - April, 2021

Beginning this post with an elaborate explanation of why these series of diary entries came to an almighty stop at the end of last year felt necessary. But, in all honesty, I don't have one. Despite the first few months of this year being spent in yet another lockdown, I didn't often find the time to sit and patter away on my keyboard. And not only did my blogging have a neglected start to 2021, but so did my running. By mid-February I began to find my stride and pursue my usual routine of three runs per week. However, I only felt fully back into a good place with my running during March and April - hence the combined, returning diary entry.

Stand-out sessions

Considering I am writing about two months worth of sessions, this is quite difficult to pull out. However, there are two types of sessions I can easily say I have enjoyed the most and gained the most fulfilment from.

Firstly, my long runs. During March and April I have really found my mojo for covering longer distances again - even completing my furthest ever run. Particularly when the weather has been lush, there is no better feeling than plodding along at an easy pace in the sunshine. Not only have these runs provided me with some great me time to switch off, but they have left me feeling really strong on the running front. Whilst I haven't managed to fit in the long distances every week, they've definitely become a staple again in my running routine. Getting a 15km and 10 mile run under my belt gave me the confidence I'd been missing that my fitness and running ability has well and truly returned from last years half marathon training. The way I see it, it's only up from here and I look forward to pushing that distance in the months to come.

Secondly, the other stand out sessions for me have undoubtedly been club sessions. Since running club was allowed to resume again in March I have loved being back running with others. Not only have I been back to my regular interval sessions on the track, but have also attended a few other chatty runs too. The company and change of scenery has been lovely and a great motivational boost - particularly in those tough interval sessions.

A combination of these enjoyable sessions created a high in motivation that led me to completing the highest mileage weeks that I have in the last 12 months, 25km, 25km and 27km respectively. While these distances may not seem far to many people, or even quite far to some, I am pleased to start seeing distances in the upper 20s again - something I haven't achieved since last years half marathon training.

Alongside all of the running, March and April also saw me rack up some quite high walking miles. Both months saw me clock between 70-80km of walking. This included dragging my boyfriend out on a local, long walk or two and even venturing further afield during our week off work. Exploring some beautiful new routes like the Bath Skyline and Cheddar Gorge Hike was a lot of fun. Getting out for long walks and/or hikes in nature is something I really enjoy, sometimes even more than a long run. Long walks are also an excellent form of time-on-feet training that is much less impact than running - perfect for lower impact cross-training or on an active recovery day.

Personal bests

Alongside running my furthest ever distance, I also managed to hit a 10km personal best at the end of February. Yes, that is slightly out of the March and April timeframe for this post, but I was really pleased with this effort. When starting out on the run I was not attempting for a personal best, nor was I even sure I was going to hit 10km. Trialling out a new route, I reached home at around 9km. A quick glance of the watch and I realised, if I pushed it, I was on to a winner. I hit 10km in a moving time of 56:53, but elapsed time 57:35 (including a stop I had to make to cross a busy road). Both of these times are personal bests - so I was extremely chuffed with this effort.

My next aim is to reach a 5km personal best. Although I don't feel ready to smash that goal just yet, I am hoping the next few months might see me reach that sub-26 dream. Watch this space...

Race plans

As of yet, I still haven't entered any races for 2021. You might ask why - and the answer is, I have no idea. A 10km race is definitely on the cards soon, as I'm desperate to get back out there in an event atmosphere to see what I can achieve. Subconsciously, I think I wanted to wait until things were a little more 'normal', meaning the next couple of months look promising. Additionally I am still really keen to get a half marathon race booked in for later this year - possibly even two.

My club have a half marathon at the end of November that I'm considering, but more for the enjoyment than any time. I've heard the route is rather hilly and so definitely won't be a race-for-time course. The other one I am eyeing up is Frome Half Marathon in July. With only being two months away, I'll be able to finally tick off the illusive half marathon distance that continues to escape my grasp. Although I might not be in tip top shape for it, at this point I am more than happy just to run for fun.

Overall opinion

March and April allowed me to see some real, positive improvements in my running. They have left me feeling in a great position to see some performance enhancements over the next few months. Whilst I know that my weekends are going to get busier as restrictions ease and social plans increase, meaning an unavoidably decrease in weekend long runs, I'm still keen to fit in as many miles as possible and keep progressing.

How has everyone else found their 2021 running so far? Have you hit any great achievements or tried any new, beautiful routes? Let me know in the comments.