Year End Review-ish

I feel like every runner I know, or at least every runner with a blog, is gearing up to regale their readers with the highlights and lowlights of their previous year’s running.

Well I, dear reader, am going to do that exact same thing…

One of my goals this year was to get my overall mileage total up. I’ve never really had a full year of consistent running. Sounds strange even to me, but I’ve always had extended breaks at some point in the year mostly due to lack of motivation. This year I actually kept my running log, and even though I wish I’d run more (who doesn’t?), I managed to get in 2744 miles. That’s about 7.5 miles per day on average. I didn’t start keeping my log until the second half of 2013, but I’m certain that I didn’t run over 2000 miles in 2013 based on the info I have. So of course I’m happy with the relative consistency and overall higher mileage this year, but this is the point that I tell you my 2015 goal is to run more like 3500 miles. Seems like a reasonable jump, yea?

Another goal I had this year was to race more often. I got in 238.8 race miles this year. I don’t know exactly how much I raced in 2013, but according to the results that Athlinks has, I raced at least twice as much in 2014!! I guess it’s no surprise then, that I ran several PRs this year as well. My 10k, marathon, and 50k each improved. I’m still pretty terrified of racing, but I’m working on getting into focused race-mode. For 2015 I want to keep up with racing more often, and I really want to tackle some of my shorter PRs (5k-half) in the first half of the year before turning my attention to another marathon PR in the fall.

One thing that I think is largely going to be on the backburner in 2015 is…ultrarunning. And, by extension, trail running. It isn’t so much that I really want to avoid the ultra races as it is that I really really really want to get speedier. This means more track work, more tempos, more doubles, and less time just slogging around town like I’m wont to do.

From a running-related standpoint, my last goal for 2015 is to continue, and get even more consistent with, lifting weights. I have seen a lot of improvement in my fitness just from picking up heavyish things now and then, even though my ectomorphic body type means I’ll never really put on much muscle. I do like how I feel when I’m lifting frequently, and I would say that being relatively stronger definitely helped my running this year.

So, that’s that. 2014 was a big step forward for me, both running and non-running related. I have some doable but scary goals set for 2015 (the track! the horror!), and I’m excited to use the pretty awesome base from this year to help meet those goals. Also, I’m super interested (fine, I’m just nosy) in other runners’ mileage totals and goals and stuff, so y’all better update your blogs/Facebook/other preferred social media site so that I can use your awesomeness as motivation for next year. See y’all in 2015!

I couldn't decide on a running picture, so here is Shelby with her derp tongue. Happy New Year!
I couldn’t decide on a running picture, so here is Shelby with her derp tongue. Happy New Year!

Race Recap and Weekly Roundup

Soooo…I already failed at my challenge to blog everyday this month. However, dear reader, I’ve done you a service as the last couple of days would’ve been just some variation on being cold/tired/hungry. I have had a lovely little week of running everyday, so there is that. And hey! I’m writing now, instead of just dropping the blog-ball for weeks like I’d be inclined to otherwise, so I’m not too distraught over missing a couple of days.

On to the running week:

Monday: 13 miles

Tuesday: 12 miles

Wednesday: 12 miles

Thursday: 13 miles

Friday: 10 miles

Saturday: 15 miles including Paris Mtn 20k (more on that below)

Sunday: 10 miles

Total: 85 miles– I feel really solid about this week’s volume, and overall I think my training mojo is back! I ran VERY slowly most of the time (aside from a few pickups here and there, strides after Mon/Wed/Fri runs, and the harder effort at the 20k). Frankly, that’s the only way to build mileage: by slowing down…wayyyyy down, if necessary. I only tracked my pace during the race, and otherwise just ran known routes at whatever pace I needed to to make it through that day.

As for Paris Mtn. 20k…well, I went into the race a bit fatigued from the week, but overall I’m okay with how it went down. I ended up just 5th woman in 1:39:54 (this time means almost nothing, because MOUNTAIN. AND ROLLERS. AND MORE ROLLERS). Oh yeah, it was also raining and about 45*f. Not my ideal race conditions by any stretch. It was still a solid effort near the end of the biggest week I’ve had in months.

Somewhere after mile 11, I think. (Photo from Pace Running Magazine. The gallery can be seen here: http://on.fb.me/12BOFeq)
Somewhere after mile 11, I think. (Photo from Pace Running Magazine. Full gallery here: http://on.fb.me/12BOFeq)

I’m already looking forward to the next few weeks of mileage, now that I’ve got the rhythm of running a lot back in my system. Sleep, coffee, food, run, food, nap, stretch/foam roller/core, food, sleep. Rinse and repeat. Okay, so I do have to work and do chores and such, too. But the semester is almost over and I’m at the cafe only three mornings a week right now, so I have a pretty ideal running-centric schedule. And those naps are seriously necessary.

I’m not so sure if I’ll get back to blogging every single day (how much can you really read about the daily mileage grind?), but I will definitely be keeping things a lot more updated. Now, time for second dinner…

When the Runner Goes Out

She must run back.

Today was a good day. At least, I’m trying to convince myself of that. The weather was decent (cloudy, high 50s, no wind), I got my run done before sundown, I got to run, and other life things are going well.

That said, I wish I’d run a different route. I opted for an out and back run, heading out north on our rail trail system. This was all fine and well, except that once I reached my turn around point (located conveniently at a bathroom on a local college campus), I had ZERO desire to keep running. Too damn bad, Hilary, because you have to get home. It ended up being a decent 13 mile day, but I was so over it well before it was actually over.

I didn’t feel BAD and I suspect that my poor attitude was mostly due to needing food. Not only have I kept up my daily running, but I’ve run a fair bit of mileage this week and I am certainly operating at a calorie deficit. It’s always a hard adjustment to higher miles and getting in the nutrition I need. Sure, I could just eat a bunch of junk and make up the difference, but I do at least try to consume mostly healthful food.

I had some other blog post ideas that I was going to write on today, but I’m still a little hangry and beat up feeling from today’s miles, so I’m just gonna go eat some more and try to write something less grumpy and whiny tomorrow. Until then, folks.

Upcoming Races

I wasn’t sure what next to post, so it seemed easy enough to think about the races I’m running in the next few weeks/months. I’m actually running a race this weekend: the Paris Mtn 20k Road Race here in Greenville, SC. I don’t have much race-confidence going into this one since it’s a longer race, and up a FREAKING MOUNTAIN, amongst other concerns (like the 80% chance of rain on race morning). It’ll be a solid hard effort anyway, and fun in that masochistic way that  running races can be.

After that, I’ve got just two *goal* races coming up (I might hope in a few little other ones here and there): Harbison 50k in Columbia, SC on January 3rd followed by Myrtle Beach Half Marathon on February 14th.

I can barely believe it myself, but the half marathon is actually my major race focus through the winter. I have a very old half PR (1:32 from 2010), and I just know that I should give sub 1:30 a shot. I’ll be honest in that the 1:32 was something of a fluke. It was one of those days where I felt amazing, the course was favorable, and the weather was ideal. Basically a race-day that only comes along very rarely in a running career where everything was perfect. I want to prove to myself that I can race, really race, a half.

I’m definitely just running lots of easy miles through December which should send me into Harbison 50k with at least a decent base, if not speed. The plan from January through the half in early February is to beef up my track work and shorter (but faster) tempo runs. It sounds so easy written out like that doesn’t it?

Dec. 2nd

I’m already worried that I’m going to run out of blog topics and it’s only day 2! However, I actually had people read and comment on my post yesterday (THANK YOU!) and while I answered the comment, I thought I’d go a little more in depth for today’s post.

Essentially, I was asked if it is really a good idea not to take a day off of running at all. It was (rightly) pointed out that recovery is just as important as the running part of training. I explained that I felt confident in my plan, but I did want to expand on that a little more. Recovery can vary drastically between runners, AND it will vary at different points in a training cycle.

What that means for me, right now, is that I am running only easy, slow miles and thus my recovery needs are different than if I were doing 2-3 hard workouts per week (some combination of tempo runs, intervals, hill repeats, progression runs, and fast-finish long runs). If I was in a high quality phase of my training, taking a rest day every 10-14 days would be more necessary. However, because I am running just by feel right now, and likely only rarely even dipping below marathon pace, I can get away with running for 31 days in a row. Because pace doesn’t matter, and I don’t have any real mileage goals, just getting the time on my feet and letting my body go at the speed it wants to on that day means that I should be okay in this challenge.

Another thing I do want to note is that I’m also really, really lucky. While I’ve certainly had my share of little niggles and aches when bumping up mileage, or sore after a hard race, I’ve been largely injury-free in my running. This means that while I’ve struggled at times with consistency in my running due to motivation or time or burn out or whatever, I’ve only rarely been sidelined because of physical limitations. Many of my running peers are not so lucky, and they NEED those extra recovery days, no matter how slow and easy they are running (I will say that I don’t think many of those runners are actually slowing down ENOUGH on the easy days, but that’s an opinion piece for another day’s blog).

Anyway, I just wanted to expand on the reason that I feel pretty good about taking on this challenge of running everyday for a month. So far, these first couple of days have gone smoothly, and I’ll see you tomorrow dear readers (y’all are still out there, right?)!

 

December Challenges

I’m one of those people that gets really excited at the beginning of a project (or training cycle, or school semester, or…). That said, my enthusiasm wanes significantly as the novelty wears off and my follow through is somewhat iffy. As 2014 comes to a close, it’s easy to kind of write off December and look forward to what 2015 may bring. This is the time of year that a bit of gluttony and laziness seem more acceptable since we have our New Year’s resolutions coming right around the corner. However, I decided to set myself a couple of December challenges that will hopefully see this year ending on a positive note and set me up to begin 2015 with gusto.

Challenge #1:

Write a blog post everyday for the month of December. I enjoy writing, but I’ve never been very consistent at it. In particular, after finishing my Master’s thesis in May, I was so burned out on writing and editing and anything remotely academic that I’m just now beginning to feel the desire to write again. I’m not setting a word count goal or anything which means that some blog posts will likely be nothing more than a sentence or two, but I just want to get in the habit of writing. I’m also going to just force myself to hit ‘Publish’. I have numerous blog drafts sitting in my WordPress dashboard that I never finished, or never really started. Because this challenge is about quantity and consistency, I’m going to worry less about obsessive editing or second-guessing what people may want to read from me (not that I expect much in the way of an audience for this).

Challenge #2:

Run everyday for the month of December. This one is probably easier than the first challenge. I’ve gone weeks and weeks without a day off of running before. I just haven’t done so lately. As I mentioned in my marathon post, I sort of burned myself out before the race, and in the month following my 3:18 effort, I’ve let my running momentum take its sweet time to return. It’s the season for base mileage, but instead of getting in the 70-80+ miles a week I should be hitting, I’ve been quick to rationalize a day (or two) off each week and only hitting 40-60 miles per week. So, just to get myself back into good running habits, I’m not taking any days off this month (barring some catastrophic injury/illness, of course– I’m not trying to end up in the hospital). I don’t have mileage goals in mind; I just want to get back to the very effective, very consistent, very rewarding mileage and fitness that I experienced through mid-late summer.

So that’s it. Nothing crazy, but some good goals to end the year with. Until tomorrow, blogosphere…!