The 2020 20/20
It's December 31, 2020. The last run of the year is over, and all that's left is to pop some champagne and countdown at midnight ... so let's take a look back over the year that was.

2020 by the numbers

  • Total miles: 2,840
  • Biggest month: August, 355 miles
  • Biggest week: August 10-16, 89.5 miles
  • Fastest Mile: 5:30, as part of the 1:59 challenge (see on Strava)
  • Fastest 5k:
  • Fastest 10k: 38:38 at the Olympic Park 10k (see on Strava)
  • Fastest Half Marathon: 1:28-ish at the Virtual Hackney Half (see on Strava)
  • Fastest Full Marathon: Sub-3:15 at the Virtual London Marathon (see on Strava)

2020: Goals and Results

For the obvious reasons, 2020 was a disappointing year. I had an arbitrary goal of running 2,020 miles over the year, which I smashed, but the real running goals were to get my third Major Marathon star (Chicago), and get accepted to Boston 2021.

Not only did these not happen, but they were completely out of my control - every race I entered that was longer than 10k was cancelled this year. Two half marathons (one of them twice - deferred, then cancelled), two marathons, and what would have been my first ultramarathon were all cancelled in the fight against coronavirus.

It would be easy to feel very disappointed with this - I was hoping to be halfway to my six stars by now, with at least one more major in the calendar for 2021. As it is, I'm still at two stars - I've deferred Chicago to 2022, and no official races means no Boston qualifying time.

But that would be looking at it myopically - in truth, 2020 was great for my running. Every number that's in "2020 by the numbers" above is a personal best - the most miles in a week, a month, and a year. It also has my longest ever run (at 28 miles). Each of those times was a personal best - and those without properly measured and timed courses are big enough that I'm confident they're real.

(There is a possibility that I ran a faster mile or 5k as a teenager, but there's no record of any of my high school track or cross country times on the internet ...)

It's strange - one of my main reasons for loving running is to run in new places: new races, new cities, new courses. COVID-19 has meant a lot of miles close to home, no travel, and no big races. But in terms of quality and quantity, it's definitely been a banner year.

Toppy in Berlin before the 2019 Berlin Marathon. No destination marathons happened in 2020.

2021: What's next?

What's next, indeed?

I hope to hit 3,000 miles in 2021. If I get through my planned training blocks without missing significant time due to injury, I think it should push me past the 3k mark.

I've got two key races planned in 2021: The Edinburgh Marathon on May 31, and the London Marathon on October 3.

I feel optimistic about London. The country should be immunised by then, and I've set myself a target breaking the three hour barrier. Edinburgh sometimes feels safe, but on many days it seems to be way too close. The goal in Edinburgh is to get a time that will get me into the Boston Marathon in 2022 ... interestingly enough, the extra year means that I'll be an age category older, meaning that my current best is good enough. I'll still be aiming for a new PB, as a stepping stone to a sub-3 London race.

Happy new year, readers - if you indeed exist.

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