The Race Plan: Oxford Half 2016 Preview

I’ve been a little quiet on here for a while; my writing mojo wandered off.  It’s decided to return on the eve-eve of my big target race of the year: the Oxford Half Marathon 2016.  Here’s why it’s come back.

With @MrsTWymer unusually having to work on a Friday night I had some alone time.  So like a good boy I got home from work, wrote the shopping list (including meal plan for the week – gulp!) and went to do “big shop”.

My reward was to eat 2 peoples’ worth of scampi & lyonnaise potatoes followed by 12 jaffa cakes while catching up on a couple of episodes of Agents of SHIELD.  Carb loading or what?!  Not really an athletes diet but there’s a lot to be said for feeling content.

Then my thoughts turned to Sunday.  For the last 3 months I’ve trained harder and with more focus than I have done since the London Marathon in 2015.  Why?  Because I have a score to settle.

Last year I rocked up to the revised, flatter Oxford Half course with a nonchalance following 2 successive PBs on the previous, hillier course that had taken 10 minutes off my time.  A flatter course and another year of running surely meant it was a given?  Turns out, not so much!

The eagerness, freshness and adrenaline took over me (you’d have thought I had learnt my lesson from the 2014 GNR!) and I covered the first 10k in a little over 46 minutes – a pace that would smash another 5 minutes off my PB.  Boom!  It was in the bag; only the bag had a dirty great big gaping hole in it.

Progressively each kilometer from half way onwards got gradually slower, my legs getting heavier and heavier, culminating in me slowing to a walk in the well supported Radcliffe Camera area of the course.  While the crowd attempted to encourage me with the obviously-non-runner spectator cliches like “go on mate, keep going, you’re nearly there” I gave myself one hell of a talking to: suck it up and crack on!

I still managed to cross the finish line in my second best half marathon time but the disappointment was huge.

And so, this year I needed to treat the distance with a little more respect.  I put together a training plan in the same way I would for one of my own coachees.  12 weeks of focus and effort have followed.  Don’t get me wrong, there have been a few curved balls that meant I had to juggle long runs and switch things around but that’s what you have to do to fit around life.

With my final run last night I’m now reminding myself of all the advice I pass on to others:

  • trust the training – I’ve averaged a marathon a week for the last 12 weeks
  • remember the strong sessions and great runs – I’ve PBed both track and road mile, 5k, beat my best around all 4 of the Mota-vation races this summer and hit my highest RunBritain ranking score ever
  • don’t worry about things you can’t control – fortunately the weather is looking kind
  • enjoy the day and do your best – and this doesn’t necessarily mean run your fastest…
  • keep calm and stick to the plan

And this is what inspired me to put the figurative pen to figurative paper tonight.

I’ve sorted my SHE targets and plan:

To be SATISFIED I need 4:53/km which would beat last year’s time

To be HAPPY I need 4:48/km which would be a new PB

And to be ECSTATIC I need 4:44/km to see me under the magical 100 minute barrier

The first step of my plan is to not run any of the first 10 kilometres quicker than 4:44.  It sounds obvious but considering last year I ran 7 of the first 10 quicker than that time (including a 2nd kilometre of 4:27) I need reminding!

At halfway the plan is to assess the feel of the effort I’m putting in and check out my heart rate.  Having based my training around heart rate this year I know what sort of BPM to expect in different circumstances so if it’s lower than I expect I can start to up the pace a little.  Otherwise it’ll just be about being careful not to go above my threshold for any length of time.

As the finish comes closer I can up the cardio effort and tell the legs to behave themselves!

All the while I’ll be reminding myself every kilometre to stand tall, keep my shoulders open and relaxed and to recover those heels up to my bum to make full use of my stride.

I’m very much looking forward to putting myself to the test, both physically and mentally.  Don’t wish me luck, wish me well!


7 thoughts on “The Race Plan: Oxford Half 2016 Preview”

    1. Let’s say I’m satisfied; nearly happy. 15 seconds away from a PB but put last year’s ghost to rest. Already signed up for a November half to have another go at a PB. I’ve got it in me.

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