2017: Laying A Foundation Using Collective Failed Efforts

I can’t really get around this unfortunate fact; I failed at almost every single goal I set myself this year, despite my best efforts.

Back in 2014, I remember setting myself some hugely ambitious goals, such as running unassisted from Lands End to John O’Groats, running a sub three hour marathon, and to try and learn how to talk to women. Despite the obvious difficulty of these tasks, I ended up walking away from that year having achieved two out of three!

At roughly this time last year, I once again, set myself some targets; both personal and professional:

• To run a PB in the Manchester marathon, currently standing at 2:56.
• To perform well in the Apocalypse100 event later in the year.
• PB, or close to, in the Gritstone Grind ultra to finish off a successful running year.

And the professional ones:

• To get my bank account back up to zero.
• Continue to grow my running club to 15+ members.

#1 Manchester


This went horribly/hilariously wrong, which I chose to see the funny side on the day. I can see all my mistakes, when I look back now at my training on Strava. A little too much focus on some things, and not enough on others. There were also things that happened on the day, like the sudden, first bit of heat for the year, which my body did not respond well to.

To give you an idea of how suddenly ‘the wall’ can hit you when you’re being ambitious for pace and not sufficiently reconditioned to the heat, here is my pace graph taken from Strava to illustrate:

#2 The Apocalypse 100 in Shropshire


This is the funny story of how I collapsed just seven miles short of the finish line to DNF in this hilly 100 miler.

The really frustrating part was that I had actually covered well over 100 miles at this point. I shut down Strava on my phone at bang on 100 miles, due to being critically low on battery charge. The trouble was that this was somewhere between the 80 and 90 mile checkpoints.

Navigation has never been my strongest attribute; especially on an unmarked course. I was lost…. A lot.

Again, I can’t really blame anybody but myself. There was a lot of bad luck on the day, but ultimately, I need to learn from my mistakes and be better prepared for the next one. For example, I now know that the technology exists, to make this sort of navigation an absolute cake-walk. OR, I could have moved at a slower pace throughout and been able to follow the written instructions more accurately.

You live, you learn.

#3 The Gritstone Grind


A local ultra of around 35 miles and quite a few hills. This was a more encouraging result considering I’d let myself get a little out of shape following the Apocalypse (now there’s a sentence I never thought I’d have the context to say). Although this was 20 minutes short of a PB, it was a minute inside the time I set for myself on the day.

#4 The Bank Balance Thing


This one hurt a little bit, as I was really focussed on it for a change. I’ve been dipping into, or completely stuck in my overdraft/credit card every month now for as many years as I can remember. The trouble is that every time I make some headway in paying this off, I go and do something fun that puts me right back where I started.

Last year, it was the Frodo trek adventure that set me back every penny I owned. The years before it was the JOGLE cycle and the LEJOG run that financially crippled me.

This year, I made sure that I focussed ALL my attention on finally making some money back, AND keeping hold of it. This meant, no holiday’s, no little adventure excursions, no breaks from work whatsoever. No fun.

It was all going so well until it dawned on me I now needed a car again. I’d been managing quite well up to this point just using my road bike to get where I needed to be, but it was starting to get silly mileage, and public transport around here is not really fit for purpose.

So to cut a long story short, (which would mostly be me ranting about how car insurance is like daylight robbery) I got SO close to achieving zero money for the first time since before I went to university, but fell at the final hurdle.

#5 Run Stronger Club


This, personally, has been my proudest part of the year. Although again, I didn’t quite hit my initial target for the year of 15 members, so struggled a little with expenses at times. I have, however, improved the training service I provide a great deal and I think that quality comes from it being a slow progress, and the fact that I spend more time and effort looking after the members I’ve got, rather than trying to attain new ones constantly.

In Summary:


On paper, 2017 for me has been a slow series of collective failures and no shortage of low moments, but somehow, they come together as a great experience, lessons learnt and a strong foundation for going into 2018 with.

I am hopeful that, providing a couple of things fall into place early next year, I can get back to living a slightly less reclusive life again at some point. It would be quite nice to get back out on my little adventures here and there, and writing about them here.

I’d also like to be able to talk about smashing my marathon PB when I next go for it in Liverpool next May, following a revised and improved training regime.

I’m a firm believer in being generally positive in your outlook, but to be hard on yourself whenever necessary. It’s easy to let ‘positivity’ be an easy excuse to brush off all negative things that happen to you as simply ‘bad luck’, or someone else’s fault, when actually, there are important lessons to be learnt in most cases.

At any rate, I’ll now be heading into 2018 in decent spirits.

… Or failing that, drinking them.

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