In 2013 I changed one thing and it changed everything

Last February I changed one thing and it changed everything.

This is a quick review of my year of running in 2013, but it's quite appropriate that I post it in February. That and I hadn't got around to writing it before.

What did I change? I'll get there in a minute, let's just quickly look at the effects of that change first.

For the last few years, I'd thought of myself as a runner. I'd done 10ks, triathlons, marathons, hell I'd even done Ultras man. Then I drew the graph below. Delusions were shattered. I ordered a recount but it was no use. Facts are so annoyingly inescapable.

What struck me most about the 3 years from 2010 to 2012 (apart from the actual lack of running) was just how up and down the monthly mileage was. It was feast or famine. With each coloured block representing a month you can see that some months the mileage was pathetically low.
And to make things worse, in 2012 my race mileage alone was almost 160 miles leaving just 330 miles of training. A runner? I probably had more showers than in 2012 than I ran in miles.

Excuse the crappy graph...
I decided that what I needed was consistency. It was pointless ramping up for an event then letting all that hard earned fitness trickle away through ambivalent inactivity. Starting all over every time, zig zagging along and getting nowhere. No, I wanted a smooth take off. Consistency was to be my new mantra.

So last February I started to do a little bit of running to get back into things. That isn't what I changed though.

I didn't want the pressure of any races, I just wanted to run and enjoy it, work on getting out there and running regularly. That didn't last too long though as when I felt my fitness levels returning around May I was tempted to enter some races. I ran a 10k in May though that was with the wife (her first ever race and fortunately she didn't whip my ass), but ran another 10k in July setting a new PB. Some time around June though I'd already cracked and entered the Amsterdam marathon in October. My consistency now had a secondary purpose.

My motivation was at an all time high and I'd settled into a routine of running in my lunch hour with longer runs at the weekend or Thursday evening. I ran a PB for a half marathon early September then beat that PB in another half at the end of the month.

The Amsterdam marathon was fantastic and I lopped about 20 minutes off my PB there. Just to prove my running eagerness, the following month I set an all time monthly mileage record of 193 miles. Things were going well. This was probably the crowning peak of the year.

With all this running going on, there were other side effects. Weighty side effects. I had to change my wardrobe. But that's not the one thing I changed. Getting warmer though, bear with me...

A much sexier graph from Withings

At the start of 2013 I was a lardy 97kg (15 st 4 lb) or so. Pretty much 'peak weight', ever. By the end of 2013 I was down to about 81kg (12 st 11 lb).
And the best bit is, I didn't go on a diet. I just ran. Sure, I tried not to completely pig out with monster size portions but otherwise it was business as usual on the food front. I've put on a few kilos over xmas, but hey, mileage was down, intake was up. Not rocket science.

So, 2013, what a year. I tripled my mileage from 2012. I posted PBs in 3 distances. I lost 16kg (35lb) in weight. I doubt I'll have another year quite like it.

So what changed then? Did I sell my soul to the devil?

Nothing so dramatic. But maybe I did claim it back. In February last year I quit drinking.

No, I was not an alcoholic (though very few people would say they are), I was pretty normally engaged in the usual social drinking and glass of wine after work etc. Etc. Etc etc etc. Etc...
Okay it was more than it should have been, more than it needed to be and I could feel it was starting to compete with my energy. At 41 it was perhaps getting less easy to shrug off every morning. So it was not hard to identify a prime candidate for change.
So I stopped drinking. Dry. Not a drop. I knew moderation would not suit me. It was all or nothing.

But I had no idea that it would have such a big impact. As I look back, I can see a chain reaction. I can see that feeling fresher meant I was more likely to run that day. More likely to be consistent. More activity meant more calories burnt and along with the lack of calories from the booze that triggered the weight loss. More running fed more fitness which fed more running.
And not spending hours in the pub left more time for running. Or writing a blog. Or thinking about running. Or DIY. Or whatever.
And I could throw in other intangibles as well such as feeling more energetic, more motivated, more positive.

But I'm not going to bang on and on about not drinking like some born again fanatic. We're all an experiment of one and what suits me might not suit you.

All I can share is that in February 2013, I changed one thing. Which, for me, changed everything.

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