At last a year which I can look back upon with a lot of satisfaction. In almost 20 years of running I think it’s the first one with few, if any, low points. And the reasons for that have been clear.

Weight loss
Since I entered my 30s I’ve always been on the heavy side, no doubt about it. It became a natural state of things. I’ve generally felt fine and healthy, I’ve done plenty of running and other sport. I’ve always been aware that maybe I’d improve if I shifted a bit of weight but I’ve never been motivated to do so. After all, I was never going to win races no matter what weight I was, so why bother?

In September of 2020 my daughter Emma announced that she’d lost a good bit of weight and, as a result, she was running very well. At that time she’d never beaten me over any distance. Maybe I was spurred on by the realisation that this boast was under threat and, on her recommendation, I trotted along to Kit Chamier, Sports Nutritionist. He weighed me, I was 99kg (218lb), very overweight indeed by any standards. Kit set out a dietary regime designed to lose weight steadily and – crucially – I was held accountable to send in my food diary on a weekly basis. Weigh-ins were infrequent, no jumping on the scales every day.

By 25th January I was 86.1kg, by 27th May 81.6kg. I stopped there and have maintained that weight ever since. I’ll talk a little more about that in my next post, but onto the running.

My running year
My target for the year? To beat my record year of 1,333 miles, back in 2010. (I have always kept a diary.) So nearly 26 miles per week. In practical terms this means running 4 – 5 times a week. I have ‘go-to’ circuits from my apartment of 4.3 and 5.5 miles, each with a serious hill included to give extra training value to the run. A few of those and a longer run usually make up the distance.

Most of my running is done solo. In June I stepped back from running with Jersey Joggers, the group I started back in 2013. They’re still going strong but without me. I’m still happy to meet up and run with others now and again, including the Slackers & Skivers on a Friday morning 😃

And the races! I love race day. Pin a number on me and I’m happy. As Covid receded the races returned. Here are a few highlights. (Bear in mind, when looking at my times, that the proper runners are waaaay faster and finish long before I do.)

New Year’s Day 2021. By this time the weight loss had become very evident and I was enjoying my running. I resolved to make 2021 a good one. To this end I was up early on 1st January to tackle Rozel Valley. It’s a beautiful valley in the north-east of the island but it is long and steep, a full kilometre from the Rozel Bay Inn to the old mill at the top. I’d never before managed to run it without stopping. That day I did. That was the signal that things would turn out well.

10th Jan – At the height of lockdown, permitted exercise, a fun 5k time trial dodging families, dogs, buggies etc. on the cycle track at Les Quennevais, 25.06. Enjoyed that one. (For context, my PB from 2015 is 22.51).

11th May – 5k race 24.35.

Outdoor coffee, the new lockdown rage, with the Jersey Joggers

22nd May – Durrell Challenge – 8.1miles (hilly), 1:14.25. My daughter beat me handsomely, first time ever.

8th June – 5k race 24.18

Finishing up that 8th June 5k

19th June – A regular time-trial of 6.5 miles out to Gorey Harbour, 56.30, my fastest in a long time.

26th June – Headway 10k, 50.42. Very happy with this, and rubbing shoulders with one or two local legends. (Again for context, my 10k PB remains at 47.54 from 2010.)

6th July – 5k race 23.54 (delighted with sub-24).

22nd July – Spartan 10k (actually 9.8k) 52.07.

25th July – Delighted to meet up with an old Jersey Jogger. Doctor Ella Corrick is now living and working in Scotland and, on a short visit, it was great to run a few miles with her.

31st July – 10-mile race 86.00.

14th August – Jayson Lee 10k 50.17.

10th October – Autumn 10k 50.29

Durrell Dasher, wearing my Crusaders (Dublin) vest

23rd October – Hospice Half-Marathon 1:55.31, my first Half in a long time and pleased and relieved to get inside two hours.

6th November – Spartan 10k 51.02

14th November – Cannacord Half 1:59.18, tough uphill finish.

4th December – Durrell Dasher 12k (approx) 62.00.

18th December – Bouley Bay Hill Climb 9.44, a fiendish event, just under a mile.

Great photo of the Bouley Bay Hill Climb though I’m nowhere in sight

26th December – Boxing Day 10k 48.48 (I’ve adjusted to 49.15 for a slightly short course.) The undoubted highlight of the year, I’ll never run as fast again. After a few near-misses I really wanted a sub-50 to finish the year. The only way I was going to do this was by starting quicker than I was comfortable with and trying to hold that faster pace. This I did, getting among the slightly better runners which kept me going. The danger was that I’d die a death in the final stretch but I managed to keep it together. Insanely pleased.

Total miles run in 2021 – 1,418.

Oh, and I also led a 9-week Couch to 5k programme for Spartans in the autumn, and I’ll be doing another starting mid-Jan.

That’s it then, on to 2022, targets not yet decided. One definite target is to keep running well until my 70th birthday in Feb 2023 at which point I’d be confident of getting a few age-group victories 😃

Thank you for reading.