Set yourself some exciting new challenges…

Fraser Clyne looks at a few inspiring ideas for making 2016 a memorable running year!

Run a marathon, run up and down a mountain, run across Scotland, run in Kenya, run in New York, Boston, London, run anywhere you like for as long as you like. The great thing about our sport is there’s no limit to what you can do, no boundaries, no lack of exciting challenges to experience or amazing and crazy people to meet. Just fire up your imagination and choose some vibrant new goals for the year ahead. There’s little better than having a set of fresh targets to keep the motivational juices flowing.

So, don’t restrict yourself to conventional thoughts or events. Be bold and creative like Jeni Rees-Jenkins, pictured, who has chosen her goal for 2016. She calls it ‘Jeni’s epic Scotland 5,000km runathon’ and her aim is clear. She wants to run 5,000km during the year, that’s an average of 14km per day, and she hopes to raise £5,000 for Motor Neurone Disease by running and racing over a variety of distances. So what’s significant about the number 5,000? She explained: “5,000 people are suffering from MND in the UK so I thought, why not run 5,000km to raise some well-needed cash and heighten awareness of the disease. My lovely family and some dear friends have been affected by the impact that motor neurone disease can have on those affected and their loved ones, and I always feel helpless when comforting those I love.

2016 events“On the last day of 2015 I start this crazy challenge with a peedy wee marathon on Rousay, Orkney. The island is 13 miles in circumference so we are running round the island twice, my equally-mad pal Zoe lives there and is joining me. It’s her birthday that day as well.”

5,000km in one year is no mean tally but Jeni is no newcomer to big mileages. She said: “I’ve checked up and I’m on target to have run about 4,000km this year so in 2016 I have to find another 1,000km on top of that, which is a bit daunting. But at least I have the incentive now to go out and do it.

“I’m lucky in that I’ve got some great friends to train with and lots of different people will be joining me for one or more of my races and runs.”

Jeni already has many of her races planned, including the Paris, London and Edinburgh marathons.  “I’ll be doing the 5km and 10km in Edinburgh the day before the marathon,” she said. The Highland Fling 53 mile trail race between Milngavie and Tyndrum on the West Highland Way is also on her list along with the Great Glen 78 mile race, The Glenmore 24 hour ultra, the Speyside Way 56km and the Glen Ogle 33 miler. Any one of these might be a key target for most of us, but she’s doing them all….and more. I wish her well.

But what a fantastic project, combining a series of running challenges while making a positive contribution to a charity which is close to your heart. This can be done in many ways and if you feel like undertaking something more global then perhaps a trip overseas could provide that spark of interest.

Myles Edwards, has been instrumental in establishing a charity to help underprivileged children in Kenya. He has teamed up with world class Kenyan middle distance runner Gideon Gathimba to form the Gathimba Edwards Foundation which has had an enormous impact on the lives of so many youngsters over the past couple of years. And it’s open for anyone to get involved. Myles is organising a tour to Kenya in March 2016 for runners interested in experiencing and contributing to the work of the GEF while also learning about life on the Kenyan running scene. Everyone making the trip will enjoy a safari, boating on Lake Naivasha, meeting world famous athletes, visiting schools and the various children and projects the GEF is  supporting throughout the country. You’ll also get the chance take part in a 5km, 10km or half-marathon at The Mount Kenya races.

A Kenyan training camp is exciting but there are also exhilarating running holiday opportunities closer to home which can be fantastic for regenerating the batteries and stoking up the flames of enthusiasm to keep your training on track throughout the year. I regularly participate in the weekends organised by Neil and Emma Stewart’s Running the Highlands company at Balmoral Castle on Royal Deeside. These are fantastic occasions, always attended by enthusiastic and positive folk from all over the country who never tire of enjoying the guided runs on spectacular trails through the grounds of the royal estate. The chat is great, the food excellent and the guest speakers are definitely A-list. Past participants include Dave Moorcroft, Charlie Spedding, Kathrine Switzer, 2016 events3Ron Hill, Sonia O’Sullivan, Dr Andrew Murray, Rosie Swale-Pope, and Gerard Hartmann. The next one is in March when Dr Barry Fudge, Head of Endurance at Britishathletics and a key player in Mo Farah’s support team, is the star speaker. Neil and Emma also organise guided multi-day running tours through some of Scotland’s most stunning landscapes. These offer a superb ways of building fitness while enjoying a stimulating change of environment.

Every running event is a social gathering and the spirit of camaraderie which shines through is all too evident wherever you go. It doesn’t seem to matter whether it’s a big race, small race, or even just a club training night. Whether you travel to the Rift valley of Kenya or the Dee valley of Aberdeenshire, there’s always a fantastic atmosphere, some great banter and bucket loads of encouragement being handed out when runners congregate. So, if you aren’t a member of a club or jogging group, then perhaps that’s another avenue to explore in 2016. The jogscotland movement, for instance, has been phenomenally successful in introducing thousands of runners to the sport and demonstrating how enjoyable it can be. And that’s the most important factor to keep in mind, whatever you do, at the end of the day – it has to be fun. The best-selling author, Stephen King, when asked what motivated him to keep on writing, replied: “I did it for the buzz. I did it for the pure joy of the thing. And if you can do it for joy, you can do it forever.” It’s the same with running.

Fraser Clyne

Fraser Clyne

Fraser Clyne is a former international marathon runner with a best time of 2 hours 11 minutes 50 seconds. Five times Scottish marathon champion, he competed in the 1986 Commonwealth Games marathon, finishing 10th.He has competed all over the world in 3K, 5K, 10K, half marathon and marathon races. He has run 22 sub 2 hour 20 minute marathons and is a sports journalist.

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