Monday, Jan 1, 2024 13 minute read Tags: running

Well, it was a goal of 1500km, just like in 2022 but again I’m gone and exceeded my plan.

And as is becoming tradition, it’s time for me to reflect on the year that was in running and see what I’ve accomplished and what I’ve learned.

The raw stats

Using my Strava profile as the source of truth (for running only, I did track some activities such as walking, gym and stand up paddle boarding), here’s the raw stats for the year:

  • 1,645km distance ran
  • 133 hours and 56 minutes spent running (5 days, 13 hours and 56 minutes)
  • 10,909 meters of elevation gain
  • 223 activities logged
  • 109 PB’s, 3 King of the Mountains and 3 Local Legends

This is just under 100km further than last year, which surprised me as I hit my yearly goal at the end of November - so nearly a month early, and almost 2000m less elevation (12,719m was last year), again which surprised me.

My peak month was July with 182km covered, which tracks as that was the pointy end of training for City2Surf again.

Injuries and surgery

I started off 2023 with a slight calf injury as I chased the 👑 on two Strava segments at the end of 2022, but I wasn’t wearing good shoes for speed and that was not the best plan. But hey, I got the #1 spot, so it was worth it right 🤣.

Otherwise, 2023 saw me mostly injury free. There was a minor niggle around City2Surf which turned out to be an overly tight ITB, but I was able to run through it.

A lot of this injury-freeness I attribute to the fact that I kept up with my gym program the physio had me start, but I’ll cover that when I get to the training section.

The main reason I had a down period this year was having surgery on my right leg.


For as long as I can remember I’ve had obvious varicose veins down my right calf. I’m not a vain person (ha!) so it hasn’t bothered me and I don’t get any pain from them so it was something I generally ignored. But after the injuries over the past few years I decided to get them looked at as I thought they might be related (they aren’t).

I saw a surgeon in January and, to quote them, “those are some huge veins”. Since I don’t have any symptoms other than the visual ones, large veins and an increased diameter in both calf and ankle, surgery was considered optional but given I’m young, fit and in a financial position for it, I went under the knife in March.

This saw me out of running and the gym for a few weeks, but within a month I was back to easy running and within six weeks I was back to full training. Honestly, I was shocked at how much of a non-event it was to have had a vein the full length of my calf removed (plus a few other small ones), but since they are just surface-level ones they are seemingly not needed.

Because of the timing of this I skipped the May half marathon in Sydney, as while I’d be back to running for it I wouldn’t have had much training time, and given how last year went at that one I would prefer to train for it properly.


I set me sights on two races instead, City2Surf and the Sydney Marathon 21.1km (so… the Sydney Marathon Half Marathon 🤦) which was formerly the Blackmores half marathon.


Since there was only about six weeks between City2Surf and the Sydney Marathon 21.2km I was going to have to rely on the the training done for City2Surf as the base for the half marathon. This meant I had to be a bit more strategic with my training, but with the timing of the surgery in the end of March it was going to work out well for a slow build up and having consistency in my training.

I stuck with a similar training program to last year:

  • Wednesday workout - this was a fortnightly rotation of speed and hills. For hills, I kept pretty consistent on the 3.5km undulating loop at a local park (building to two then three reps) while speed rotated between 400m and 1k distances on flat, generally with floats between, before finishing off with a tempo run, generally netting 10km per workout.
  • Friday gym - I kept up with my gym program from the physio, which was focused on leg strength, but added a few core workouts to it as well as I have very poor core strength (the joys of being tall, skinny and inflexible). The program was 3 sets of 10 reps of each exercise, consisting of leg press, lunges, leg curls, step ups, calf raises, plank (1 min), squats, and situps. For the weighted exercises I kept the weights low-ish, I don’t think I even hit body weight, since I was more focusing on small building up and not trying to get huge. I’d also jog to/from the gym which would add about 5km to my running week.
  • Saturday parkrun - gotta have parkrun in there. My wife was injured much of the start of the year so she wasn’t doing parkrun too, which gave me an excuse to not run with the pram (yay!) and where possible I’d run to/from which would take the 5km to 11km.
  • Sunday long run - more often than not this would end up closer to tempo than “long and slow”, but I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s better for me to run at a pace that feels comfortable than to try and force myself to run slower. I’d generally aim for 15km.

As a general rule of thumb I wanted to run 30km per week, and then with the training ramping up I wanted to hit 40km come June and peak at 50km in July (by adding another run to my week) before tapering off for City2Surf.

This didn’t quite go to plan as part way through June I felt my calf starting to strain so I eased back, peaking around the 45km mark in July.


City2Surf results

I had another cracking outing at City2Surf this year with another PB (57.13), which seemed pretty on-point for where I’d been training-wise. Maybe if I hadn’t had the minor setback and been able to hit my 50km-per-week goal I could have pushed for a sub-57, but I’m not too fussed.

Going into the race I felt pretty good, with one exception - don’t have a pizza with chilli on it the night before a race. Yeah… the bathroom queues at the start were long and I decided to skip them, but clenching for 14km is not fun 🤣.

The race went pretty much to plan, I started at the back of the pack as planned, found my groove moving through the thousands in front of me and was able to hit my stride as the pack thinned out. I kept the pacing pretty consistent, low 4minutes for the undulation and hitting high 3minutes for the downhill and flat sections. The fact that Strava says I got my 10km PB during the event is pretty crazy!

I generally felt pretty strong out there, again a good testament to my training. I caught a friend at about 12km and gave some “gentle” encouragement (I thought you said you were racing this? 🤣) before leaving him for dead (he did run like a 58 and had run like 7km to the start plus was running home).

After finishing I headed to the pub for a few celebratory beers, nothing like drinking before 9am on a Sunday, before heading back to get the bus up to the trains, only to find around 10,000 people in the bus queue and deciding that “hey, I can totally run the 2.5km uphill to the train station” which was totally a good idea at the time.

I had booked a physio appointment for the Monday morning as I’d been having knee/quad pain in my right leg in the few weeks leading up, which weirdly disappeared after running City2Surf. The physio was equally baffled but it was clear that my ITB was tight, and the likely cause, so I was given some exercises to do and told to keep up with the gym work, so I could get through to the next race.

Sydney Marathon 21.1km

I’m going to start off by saying that I was not a fan of this event. I’ve run the Blackmores half marathon a few times, it’s always been my favourite course - beautiful scenery, some hills at the start and then a dead flat back third. But this year the organisers decided they want to be part of the Abbots World Marathon Majors and for that the only thing that matters is the marathon distance, which was made very clear in the lead up to the event. We had the course changed from a city loop to out-and-back to Centennial Park, the start time was super early (before 6am), cut-off was dropped to 2.30 hours and we didn’t even get to finish at the Opera House. All of this meant I went to the event with a sour mood and aimed to just get it done.

Sydney Marathon results

The results obviously speak for themselves, I had a very good race resulting in a new PB at 87.08.

But this was a really mentally tough race. The start was really congested, as we only had 10 minutes to cross the start line (the few thousand that was doing this event) which meant that you were running very bunched up until hitting the Harbour Bridge where everyone spread out. Hitting Oxford street was really tough as I was already running in a thinning pack and there was no one supporting on course, so it was just a long, straight, uphill slog. I passed a pacer at about 8km and thought it was the 95 minute, so going into Centennial Park I was waiting to see the 90 minute pacer, but the next one I saw was the 85, and I realised there wasn’t a 95 and I was already running ahead of where I was aiming to be, whoops!

The return out of Centennial Park was a fair slog, I was mostly running solo and I felt bad for the folks running the other direction as it was packed - the road was only one car width (plus a bit of shoulder) so there wasn’t a lot of space and I just felt bad for all the people running it.

As we hit the downhill of Oxford street I was struggling mentally, there was only a few people I could see in front of me (we were pretty thinned out) and there was no crowds to speak of. When I hit 16km I said to myself “only a parkrun to go, 21 more minutes” and then saw a lone spectator with a sign saying “One parkrun left” and that made me smile and cheer back to them.

For the final few km we had Lady Macquarie Chair to run down and up from and this was something I was not looking forward to. I caught a glimpse of the 85 minute pacers again and judged they were about 2 minutes ahead of me. Since there was an uphill to go I wanted to hold that gap. I looped the end and looked out for the 90 minute pacers coming the other way and I saw them at about the same spot I was at when I’d seen the 85, meaning I was sitting around what would get me 87 minutes (yes, I could have looked at my watch but I don’t like doing that in races, I prefer to run by feel). So with the final push I was able to hold the spot I was at and finish with a new PB of 87.08, but the really exciting one for me was finish 86th (75th male), can’t complain about a top 100 finish!


I didn’t do a whole lot of “racing” parkrun this year as I tended to stick it in the middle of a long-ish run, so it was more a tempo workout than anything. But what I did notice as training was getting underway was that I was able to run it harder for the same amount of effort. I ran 3 sub-20 St Peters parkruns this year which nearly doubled the number of times I’d run sub-20 there, and I had a few others that were close to it. In fact, for my last hit-out at St Peters this year I ran a PB of 19.11, which did feel like a 19.11, but mostly because my wife was tail walking with the kids and she said I had to run hard to come and pick them up from her - so I did 😅.

But the main parkrun goal I’ve had for myself was to break 19 minutes. Last year at Mudgee I ran 19.19 on a freezing cold day so I know in the right conditions I should be able to, but even shaving 20 seconds off would be a struggle, that’s 4s per km average.

During the October school holidays we were camping down at Huskisson and I decided to do the Huskisson parkrun. I’d heard it’s a fast course, pretty much flat out and back, so I thought I’d give it a crack. I packed some of my faster running shoes, not the carbon-plated ones, but ones with a ridged plate in them.

Huskisson parkrun results

Well, I did it! Official time of 18.51 (although I like my watch time better 😜). It was pretty tough though. At around the 3km mark I tried to pass someone who I’d been sitting on the heals of, pulled up beside them and realised I wasn’t going to be able to hold on to the pace they were running (they ended up about 20s ahead of me at finish) so I went back to trying to find my groove and not crash and burn.

Then at the start of December when we were up at Coffs Harbour and doing parkrun I decided to give it another crack. It was another nice morning and I was feeling good, so I went hard and was able to pull a 18.57! So, now I’m ready to retire 😁 (or maybe I can do a sub-19 St Peters after all).

Wrapping up

2023 has been another good year for my running. I’m finding my groove when it comes to training, both running and strength, that sees me avoiding much in the way of injury.

I’m happy with how my races have gone, even if the half marathon I had my sights set on was a bit of a let down (from an experience, not an outcome) - I’m not sure what I’ll do next year regarding this race, I have no desire for the full marathon and I’m not sure if they’re going to run a half marathon again.

I’ll probably be more relaxed in the goals as my wife is hoping to do her first marathon in 2024, so I’ll be supporting her in that. Maybe I’ll find a 10k and finally have an official sub-40 time.

But for now, I’m going to enjoy the rest of the holidays and get ready for 2024.