Paper etched in ink, a life engraved with memories: 2016, a personal story

A year ago I sat down and wrote a series of aspirations and hopes for the months to come. As I am wont, they were divided into headings: family/friends, running, life/skills, work. For those familiar with the SMART objective setting criteria, they were not all to the same standard, and ranged across a plethora of topics. One thing connected them all however: a desire to be a better version of myself, and to connect with the people that I love in a more consistent way.


Family: I wanted to build a more regular schedule for staying in touch with family, many of whom are far away, and as part of that, to write more letters. 2016 was actually a year in which I saw my relatives more than usual, but less than I would have liked. The regular schedule was a little less regular than a strict definition of such, but did mean that I had some lovely long chats, saw my sister and her fiancée (and cousin and friends), hooked up with the Devon and Welsh part of the family on a couple of occasions, spent quality time with my dad (even with me running and him on a bike!) and met my brother. So while there is room for improvement, I’m happy that everyone knows that I love them.

Running: There were some fairly specific goals here! I wanted:

  • To complete several marathon distances, maybe one overseas
  • To build confidence in longer distances; completing a 71k Ultra and preparing for/entering a 100k ultra
  • To complete an orienteering event
  • To join a run club to go on midweek runs with/do speed work with

I ran the South Devon CTS mara (in game force winds and rain that was falling upwards), Brighton mara, the Midnight Mountain mara (signing up the week before and loving it), and Istanbul mara (in a tense yet beautiful city). I ran the 72km CTS Classic Quarter from Lizard Point to Lands End, finishing in less than 10 hours on a sweltering hot day, then signed up for and ran the Race to the Stones 100km race a month later.

A friend and I completed the RAB MM in the North York Moors, and had an absolutely amazing weekend- and I for one am hooked! (and he is still my friend).

However, I have not joined a running club, and have mostly ran alone, except for a wonderful 3 weeks ahead of the Classic Quarter when I had a daily running partner and really built up my mileage and confidence. My excuse has been that I have an erratic schedule, which doesn’t fit well with a set meeting time for a running group. So maybe I could build in parkrun to my Saturday long runs in order to get more social running (and at least 5k at a fast pace)?

Life/skills: I wanted a January reset with multiple yoga sessions a week (2015 was an atrocious year for me, and I really needed to put it behind me and build something positive or I was ready to leave London). I also added in meditation – with a possible course. Additionally I wanted a more regular schedule of circuits/pilates at the gym, long runs at the weekend, and (reiterating) a midweek run with other people. I also wanted to maintain a body fat percentage of lower than 18%, and return to 53kg.

I added: do something nice or helpful every day, and be thankful daily. And learn Russian.

I did do the January ‘reset’ and have definitely enjoyed this year exponentially more than the one before. I’m considering another yoga reset as it is a wonderfully relaxing way to start the day, especially when it is cold and dark outside. I generally spend October to May being cold, so a hot yoga studio smelling of eucalyptus is my idea of heaven. I haven’t made meditation a habit, and may try again. I had a fairly regular schedule at the gym, then was away for a while and wanted to meet new people so changed gyms. In between (over the summer when lots of people visited) I fell out of the habit and damaged my hip and PF by focussing too much on running without core or other strengthening exercises. I DNF’d a race in agony and had to do physio, and build in Pilates, Body Pump, climbing, and yoga once more. That same injury lead me to reduce my long runs (remove completely for a while) and only now am I back out for more than an hour at a time. Lesson well and truly learnt!

Body fat has stayed below 18% but I have struggled to drop back to 53kg, hovering most of the time at 55-56kg. I say struggle, but I generally eat healthily 95% of the time, cook my own food with lots of veg (am veggie), don’t drink too much (except at Canadian Thanksgiving and this one time at a jazz club!), and do quite a lot of exercise (and I sit on a ball at work, take the stairs, wander away from my desk when I can and cycle/run commute always). So the dropping 3kg is not a major focus, just a ‘would be nice’. Currently I’m at 54,5 so maybe its just a slow path.

If I’m brutally honest with myself, I have not focused on the Russian, and some days have forgotten to be thankful. However, on the majority of days I have done at least one helpful or kind thing,  and I am generally thankful for, and notice, the little things in life.


All in all, 2016 has been a gentler, calmer year than the 5-10 preceding it. I have been kinder to myself, but also pushed against boundaries I never realised were there. I was initially disappointed because I have not been able to travel as much as I was used to before moving to London, and it felt as though I was missing out. However, I have had microadventures across the UK, ran and wild camped in some stunning locations, kayak commuted in London, took my sister up Pen y Fan, and jetted off to Morocco and Turkey. I run for pleasure, and live in a society that embraces that.

If I count my riches in friendships, then I am definitely wealthy.

So what comes next? What is the equivalent for 2017?

I want this to be a year in which I am not afraid to try things that terrify me. Multi day races, crossing islands on ancient routes, climbing (on rocks) to grades that include 7s and Es, love. I realise that these are not all new things, but perhaps tried again as new is even more of a challenge. They will all take trust, hard work, and the discipline to get back up again when things go wrong. I suppose it is the ability to be vulnerable because you admit that you want something, and I have been very carefully avoiding that for some time!

I like all the 2016 goals, and want to build on them in this new year, tweaking them slightly now that I know where I fell short, and what I can do more of. I want to make time for people I care about, and do more of what makes me happy (not what I think should make me happy). I’ll keep working on that family schedule! At times I use up all my emotional energy during the week and have nothing left to give at the weekend. I am going to say that this is OK, and try to schedule regular microadventures to escape from the city and just run around in the hills to recharge.

So running:

  • To complete several more marathon distances, maybe one overseas
  • To develop skills in longer distance events, competing in at least one multi day race, and several events in climatic conditions that are difficult for me (cold)
  • To complete another orienteering event
  • To always remember to do core and cross training to avoid injury

Climbing: I’m adding this in as it always brings me so much pleasure, and I have missed it while running away from it! I want to build back my strength, meet up with old and new friends to explore what we can do, and face fears of climbing outdoors in order to get back to the beautiful places that the rocks and crags of the world have to offer.

I want to raise money for the RAF Benevolent fund (as I have spoken about earlier), and the challenges are lining up. I’m still trying to figure out what the best way to get that sorted is, but that’s a work in progress!

I’ll add more as I go along, but these will do for now! Any ideas or suggestions are always welcomed. Have you found anything that works for goal setting or resolutions?

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