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  • Richard Cash

169. A New Year and Old You - Reset Time

First of all, Happy New Year to all three of you! The last few weeks have seen me do very little training, and wild amounts of eating everything I shouldn't. The 300km took more out of me than I realised. Emotionally, Physically and Spiritually> I won't lie, it's been a difficult couple of months and I really did need the time out. When I think about it, it makes sense. I've monstered myself to build mileage, while fighting against the odds of age, physiology, injury and inexperience that have been stacked against me. I've been focusing for the last 3 years now on taking a powerlifting physique and doing something I have zero natural gifts for in order to run very very far. However... I have managed to run numerous 50k's, a couple of 60 + 80ks, a couple of 100ks and a 300k. I'm pretty bloody happy about that. It's certainly put in place a solid grounding for going long, and in pretty brutal conditions.

I'm looking into my next adventure. I have committed to running a 100km in the Peak District this summer, and between family breaks etc, it's looking like I'll need to postpone my Icelandic trek (or crazy alternative) until 2025 as I have a small 3 month window to do it in that is already stacked with plans. This leaves me looking at what to focus on next. I've managed to build this year to achieving wild distance, but it took a toll. Since taking the time off my eating habits slipped big time and weight has piled back on.

I'm not a fan of New Years' resolutions, but certainly intentions and resets. Having had time to heal and recover, it's time to get in front of the slippage and get back on the right trajectory. I'm now looking at how to get myself back onto the right track while training for the 100km I have in the diary for this summer. I've no intention to 'race' so this leaves me able to not commit as much time to running as I did last year; and allows me time to focus more on the following:

1. Body Composition

Dropping bodyfat is hard for me. Keeping it off even harder. I'm not happy with my body shape and my age means it's time to add more focus to getting this into a much better state. I'm looking at sustainable loss that really has to come from diet choices. Two big things I need to change in my eating... Increase my protein, change my carb intake. I also need to increase my water intake as I'm poor at drinking frequently through the day. Exercise shifts need to happen as well. Two weight/strength sessions a week need to go into my schedule, as well as early morning fasted (before eating) low intensity cardio. I will also add in two HIIT cardio sessions a week - probably 1 sprints/hill sprint session, and a bike sprint session. Better muscle mass improves metabolism, prevents injury, and keeps my healthy as another year gets added to my clock.

2. Strength Work

Building on the above I'm getting back to something I've always done well: Strength work. Compound Lifts (deadlifts, squats, bench, etc)

Kettle Bells

Plyometric work

Core training

Looking at working each main muscle group 1x per week. I have always found it easy to lift heavy, add muscle mass and strength, etc so have to balance this carefully as I don't want to add too much weight, but I recognise the value in muscle to help improve body composition. This week I'm working out what my strength sessions will look like for the next 3 months, and will post specifically about this soon.

3. Sleep

I noticed my sleep was dropping to around 6.5 to 7 hours per night over the last 6 months. It's not enough. Not for my body nor my mind. It needs to be 8 hours. This means a little more discipline in building an early to bed/early to rise habit so I can get early morning low intensity (zone 1 - 2) cardio sessions in. My body needs the recovery, and having a very hectic day to day life with the business, school runs, kids, family, etc I'm working on building better discipline here.

4. Habits

Consistency was the biggest change last year and I built a platform that took me further than I could have previously imagined. It was consistent training habits that got me through all 6 days of the 300k. It's what helped recover from injuries, drop 15kg prior to the challenge, and kept me moving forward. Sadly I let the good habits slip the last couple of months, but just starting today with clean eating and early morning running has seen me ease back in without it feeling a drama. The trick now is to keep doing this for the next year. Habits are best when they start small and are easy to build upon. Going to bed 30 mins earlier, then 60. Having a salad before eating a main meal. Getting up 30 mins earlier to have a slow jog, or walking for 30 mins at lunch time. All easy to implement habits that will yield positive results over time.

5. Making the process the goal (not the outcome)

This was something that really came home to me while stuck in a bog on a remote Scottish island, about 100 miles into the Ultra. I was setting my experience focusing on outcomes related to time, speed, and other runners. It was when I let go of all that, and simply enjoyed the adventure and process of each change in terrain, each mountain top view, and embraced the simple act of one foot in front of the other, that I really began to love what I was doing. Simply focusing on the discovery of what I'm doing and seeing what happens next changes everything. Yes, goals to cut calories each day by X, run a distance by Y, etc are helpful but it's too easy to miss all the progress you've actually made, by not finishing as quickly as you originally wanted or reaching that weight loss target to the Ib. Simply leaving myself open to 'what's possible if I...' makes a huge difference to how I feel. I'm only competing with my yesterday. I'm not racing. It's not why I'm doing this. It's to see where I can get to while also straightening myself out along the way. I ran/walked 2500km last year in structured training/challenges. That's almost 1000km more than I ran/walked the previous year! That's remarkable when I think about it. I have that in me, and that makes me confident that I have a platform to build upon. I'm stronger, faster and lighter than this time last year. If I can keep building habits that stick, then who knows? Will I run more? Unlikely, but the quality of what I'll be doing will be that much higher from the experience I gained. I'll also enjoy myself more along the way. At the end of the day, I'm a little older, and though I'm carrying a few niggles from what I put myself through, I can certainly improve. My intention is to get leaner, stronger and faster. Not for any other reason than I'm getting older and always feel better when I'm fit, strong, lean and healthy. I've been there before, and know with the right habits, consistency and approach, as well as a bit of a reset from today, I can can get there again. Who knows, maybe I'll also have some fun along the way. Thanks for reading...

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