Plans For 2018 – Stepping Up

The new year brings with it new races and fresh goals. I enjoyed a great 2017, my first of proper training, but for 2018 I’d like to hit a whole new level. I want to test myself against great runners and on hard courses. I want to run fells, mountains and step out of my comfort zone.

I started last year running 17-20 miles a week and slowly at that. I was still building my base, but I enter 2018 off the back of a 45 mile week including plenty of speed and endurance work. This should offer me the chance to test my ability and that will all begin with my first ‘A’ race, one I did last year. But not before I enter some tune up races.

While setting my goals for 2017 I asked myself, what race scares you and excites you in equal measure? Setting my ‘a’ goal this way worked wonders in helping push during training, and stay motivated when tired. I am hoping to take this same approach into the new year. Below are my plans, priorities and goals for the year.

Tune Up And Strength Building

I will start the year with some Winter fell running. Some of my goals later in the year will benefit from fast feet and the fells are great for building character. With strong competition and tough courses this should help fine tune my speed.

January – Commondale Clart Fell Race

Distance/elevation gain – 5.16 miles/721ft

Running the Moors near Castleton this is a short but hard going race. Just hope I can stay on my feet this time.

February – Heartbeat Hobble Fell Race

Distance/elevation gain – 6.84 miles/853ft

Similar to the above in length and climb, I also expect tough going racing on the Moors near Goathland.

March – Blakey Blitz Fell Race

Distance/elevation gain – 10.6 miles/2805ft

No doubt about it, this will be a tough race and well contested. Lots of climb and an awkward distance to pace. This will be the final tune up before my first ‘A’ race of the year.

Goal Races

April is where my year really begins. I have three big races planned for 2018, all ambitious in their own way. Its also an introduction into a new type of race.

April – Hardmoors Wainstones Marathon (A Race)

Distance/elevation gain – 26.85 miles/4500ft

Having raced this last year in 4 hours 50 minutes finishing 24th, I wanted to compete in 2018. The goal is sub 4 hours 10 minutes, but I’d also like to break into the top 5. Last year was a very strong field.

June – Keswick Mountain Festival 25K Trail Race (B Race)

Distance/elevation gain – 25km/2841ft

My first race in the Lakes, this will be competitive for sure. 450 ran last year and Salomon’s Tom Owens finished second. The terrain is new to me so I can’t set a time goal, I’d like to finish in the top 5% but will use this as experience to see where I am at among some top runners.

September – Salomon Ring Of Steall Skyrace

Distance/elevation gain – 18 miles/8200ft

Part of the Salomon Golden Trail Series, this race will draw the best of the best. Ridge running, scrambling and ‘the most technical’ of the five golden races. Its the equivalent of climbing Ben Nevis then turning back and doing it all over again. Of course I’ll be there for the experience and to measure my ability against the best.

Preparing For 2019

After plenty of recovery I want to start the building phase again for 2019. Jayson has recommended Cross Country racing for the Winter so I may well give it a go. The long term plan is to race The Yorkshire 3 Peaks in April of 2019.

2017 was a building year, 2018 is about testing my self and measuring where I’m at.

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Darren Smith

Training with purpose since October 2016 Darren has gone from trailing the pack to winning local races and the times keep on falling. A true believer in hard work over natural talent he writes to help others realise their true potential. Darren's race schedule for 2018 includes the Hardmoors Wainstones marathon (1st place), Keswick Mountain Festival (10th place), Scafell Skyrace and Salomon Ring Of Steall (World Championship race.)

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