About Me

Harpenden, England, United Kingdom

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Learning to run fast(er): ruminations on 2013 racing

"Why should I practice running slow? I already know how to run slow. I want to learn to run fast."

Ironically, after what was probably my best season of ultrarunning, I have been mulling over this famous quote a fair bit, and the appeal of long, slow runs seems to be almost completely gone. Without having a clear racing plan for next year, I think I will be focusing on shorter races. So I am going to have to learn to run quite a bit faster. Here are some of the goals that will hopefully keep me going, when I am already sick of track sessions, fast hill repeats, and tempo runs:

1.     Become competitive in local fell races: these rarely draw more than 50-60 runners, but the intensity of the competition among the top 5-10 is fierce. So far, I have mostly watched this from the middle of the pack, but I am curious to see if I can be part of it.

2.     Run a low 2:30s marathon: that’s a pretty lofty one, given my current 2:47 PR (Chester, earlier this month), but I have never focused on a marathon for more than 4-5 weeks, and I think I am ready to give this a try. Yes, Phil Turk, I am the guy, who was trying to persuade you to forget Boston and focus on UTMB! ;)

3.     Break 8 hours in the Vitosha 100K: another silly one, I realize, especially given the way I looked and felt during the second half of the race this year, but I do think it is possible. 

Can I do all or any of this? I have no idea – if I knew, trying it would not have been nearly as enticing as it is. 

Running as fast as I could during this year’s Welsh Castles Relay  – not an entirely comfortable experience, but something I would like to learn more about.


  1. Good luck on your goals. I hope you have enough competition on the Vitosha 100k so you don't run lonely :)

  2. Thanks both! Lack of competition is not one of my concerns for next year’s Vitosha 100K. It is precisely the growing competition that makes me want to go back and run it again.

  3. Well this is a dramatic turn of events?!

  4. Phil, yes it is a bit of a turn, but I can’t really afford to put in the hours that I know it would take to improve substantially at long ultras, so I have decided to try running fewer hours, but at much higher intensity. Part of this is also about geography – the fell races around here are much easier to get to (and into), do not necessarily require substantial course knowledge, and tend to be very competitive and just plain fun. And the marathon thing is largely your fault! ;)