Training Purgatory Weeks 4&5

Well well well, just when you thought I’d already quit blogging, I make a comeback! Ok, you probably didn’t even notice I missed a week, but I won’t hold it against you.

Since I procrastinated so long on writing up the week of May 21-27, I figured I would just embrace the laziness and lump the last two weeks together. This is actually a decent moment to remember that training doesn’t happen in a vacuum. While we often tend to think only in terms of weekly mileage, it’s the larger picture that gets us to our running goals. The months on months and years on years of training are more important than any one long run or big week. In fact, someone asked me what I’d done to have recently gotten so much better from my previously lackluster results, and my response was that I finally started taking training seriously…in 2014. Yup, my breakthrough in the half marathon earlier this year was built on the consistent mileage and workouts I began running three years ago (and certainly even the sporadic training before then helped a little). That said, there’s still lots of running to do, and here’s what the last couple of base building weeks looked like:

Sun 5/21: 0 miles! I hadn’t had a day off in about a month, the weather was awful, and I planned this as a down week anyway.

Mon 5/22: 13 miles…hmm, I feel refreshed from the off day, so perhaps this week won’t be as down as I expected?

Tue 5/23: 10 miles with a relaxed fartlek on the back half.

Wed 5/24: 10 miles again, but easy peasy this time.

Thu 5/25: 18 miles. Errr, in my defense, the weather was absolutely beautiful with cool temps and lots of clouds. I couldn’t resist! I was extra naughty and even wore my GPS watch and looked at my pace. I kept it slower at 8:30ish on the first half. I may have gotten a little excited on the second half, but I felt good and didn’t go under 7:00s at least?

Fri 5/26: 10 SLOW. I actually felt fine from yesterday, but I knew I needed to slow my roll.

Sat 5/27: 8 only! It was hot, this was technically a down week, and I felt lazy.

Total: 69 miles. This balances out that odd 81 mile week two.

 

Sun 5/28: 13 miles. Time to crank it back up!

Mon 5/29: 12 miles. Oh yeah, I also lifted and did some drills. I have actually been doing a couple of days of weights these last two weeks, even though I forgot to mention​ it.

Tue 5/30: 13 miles total. Did 3 on my own, then met up with Hannah and we did another 10 with a little trip to the Greenville High track! We decided to do 12×200 with 200 jog. No timing the intervals allowed, but it was nice to open up the legs and move fast-ish.

Wed 5/31: 12 slow miles. I’m embarrassingly sore from squats on Monday combined with sprints on Tuesday. So maybe I haven’t been as consistent with the weights as I thought… My monthly ​total for May was 342 miles. Not bad!

Thu 6/1: 18 miles. It got a little toasty in the last couple of miles when I lost cloud and tree cover, but it wasn’t too bad. I resisted the urge to use my watch for this week’s long run, and I’m glad I did.

Fri 6/2: 10 miles. Felt decent, but of course I waited until it was stupid hot out to get going, but I survived.

Sat 6/3: 12 miles with a few pickups scattered in. Got out slightly earlier, mostly in an effort to avoid all the “weekend people” who descend upon my city. It’s not that bad, usually, but I’m so used to having Greenville mostly to myself during the week that it just grates on me. Plus there’s a whole rant about trail etiquette in me, but I’m preaching to the choir here, so I’ll refrain.

Total: 90!! In singles! I’m really not feeling too beat down, which is good because I’m planning on another big one next week. I do think I’ve hit my threshold for mileage in singles though. I aim to experiment with a few doubles next week and maybe get into triple digits, but I’m also conscious of the dangers in spiking mileage just for the sake of it. I feel like I got in a decent amount of quality for a base phase week and I’d much prefer to have 5-7 more weeks like this one rather than one huge mileage week that I have to come way down from to recover from. So we’ll see. Mostly I’m just pleased with how good I feel, which means I’m doing the right things as far as food/water/sleep goes and I’m excited to tackle another week!

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Training Purgatory Week 3: Don’t Count Your Chickens Before They Hatch

And don’t count on timely blog posts from me, ever.

This week, that metaphor became literal as one of our hen’s hard work of sitting on a clutch of eggs was rewarded. We don’t have a rooster, so when the bird turned broody (for the un-chickened, that just means every now and then a hen will decide it’s time to incubate some eggs and be a mama) we quickly swapped out her unfertilized eggs with five fertilized eggs from my sister’s flock. Of the five eggs however, only three hatched out. Unfortunately, the last chick to hatch was obviously unwell and didn’t make it past the first day. That’s just the nature of…well, nature. We now have two healthy baby chicks running around as an adorable addition to the chicken party happening in our backyard. I spend an inordinate amount of time sitting outside and just watching them all run around and do chicken things. Not even a little sorry, because it’s so damn cute and funny!

Anyway, now that I’ve bored you with poultry-talk, let’s get to last week’s running, shall we? In actuality, the running stuff was significantly more boring than the chicks hatching, but that’s what you’re here for, so…

 

Sun  5/14: 10 miles. Like last week.

Mon 5/15: 13 miles. Also, like last week…are you sensing a theme here yet?

Tue  5/16: 10 miles with 2 sets of 8xhill repeats in Cleveland Park with Hannah. Then we went to trivia after and WON! Okay, fine, it was entirely due to the fact that my husband came with us and knew the final question to double our points. But still.

Wed 5/17: 13 miles.

Thu 5/18: 10 miles. I genuinely don’t remember a thing about these two days of running at all. I think that’s a good thing, actually. If I remembered too much about all these miles I’d probably realize how insane I am.

Fri 5/19: 16 miles. This run was a lot warmer than last week’s, but I still felt pretty decent. I’m not sure when I want to start stretching out my long runs, but I guess it’ll be about the same time I find the motivation to wake up early enough to not be out running in 88°F with 88% humidity. So, it might be a few more weeks.

Sat 5/20: 8 miles. Oh hey! The struggle bus! I wondered when it was going to come by. I was expecting some fatigue to catch up to me this week, as the third week of higher miles and hotter weather, so even though I mentally wanted to get in a few more miles to bump my weekly total I could tell I was pushing the limit a bit physically.

Total: 80 miles. One less than last week, and about four less than I was aiming for, but I can’t be mad at an 80 mile week, y’know? And I am happy to report that I lifted weights TWO times and did core work THREE times! It is almost enough!

Looking ahead to next week, methinks that my grand delusion of continuing to add miles indefinitely might not work. Turns out, my body does need a bit of a rest every now and then, despite my best recovery methods and trying to tell myself “it’s mostly slow miles anyway, it’s not that taxing”. Thus, I’m allowing for a bit of a cutback week, but just a little bit! The weather is getting more brutal (because duh, South Carolina in the summer), so I know I’m going to have to be more vigilant about hydration and continue my streak of paying zero attention to pace at all right now. All in all, I’m feeling good, healthy, motivated, and excited about the fitness gains, so that’s where I’ll leave you this week!

Happy Running!

A Win, a Fail, and I’m Bad at Math

Sadly, I am not here to report my triumphant new 5k PR of sub 20. The somewhat manageable temps at the Red, White, and Blue Shoes 5k did not carry over to this week and by racetime on Friday evening it was 93°F with 60something % humidity(I remember looking just before the race but I can’t remember exactly; I probably blocked out such trauma). I mean, that isn’t all that uncommon for summer in South Carolina so I wasn’t surprised, but I decided to go for it anyway. First mile= 6:20. And then I was toast. I turned off my watch and just began managing my efforts. I was first place woman at that point, so I kept an ear out for anyone coming up behind me for the next couple of miles. Near the very end folks cheering on the side of the road yelled “Go girlS” so I was clued in that she was close and since I was running SO SLOW at that point, it didn’t take much of a kick for me to keep the lead and get the win.

I won beer! And a nice little metal bar sign. I have nowhere to put said sign, so if anyone wants it let me know!
I won beer! And a nice little metal bar sign. I have nowhere to put said sign, so if anyone wants it let me know!

Side note: I don’t look back during races. I don’t know why, but it freaks me out to know what is looming behind me. I think that is probably a metaphor for life about keeping my eyes on the road ahead and not worrying about the past, but it’s also legit abject fear of knowing what lurks just behind me…which is also probably a metaphor for life.

Anyway, I won! But also failed in my pursuit of the sub 20. I have a couple more shots at it before training turns to the marathon in earnest, but the courses aren’t that ideal and it’s still summer in South Carolina. I am going to give it a go, but I also know it might be November or December before I can crack the (mostly mental) 20 minute barrier.

Finally, I guess it’s a good sign of your training when you think you haven’t run very much that week and you then realize that you hit 54 miles. I honestly thought my mileage was WAY down last week and that I’d have a hard time even getting in 40. Lo and behold, I’m very bad at math. Come Sunday, I got back from an awesome 16 mile cruise around town to see that I ran an actual decent amount! It’s not the mileage I’ll be hitting the the next few weeks for marathon training, but the low-50s is what I’ve averaged in the two months since Cleveland Marathon and I’m clearly stronger for the consistency.

Also, my poor math skills continued when I was convinced, absolutely convinced, that I had 14 weeks til Spinx Marathon this past Saturday…except it’s 15 weeks.

Good thing I teach English.

Running Lessons

I never really thought I’d be a teacher. But, this is my second semester as an adjunct English instructor for a local technical college. Last semester felt a little like drowning, and I was determined to have a better go of it this time around. Today I realized that part of my growth as a teacher has come directly from the things I’ve learned as a runner:

 

1. Experience Matters. Walking into class for the very first time was easily as nerve wracking as when I toed the start line of my first marathon. I had no idea what to expect, if I had hydrated properly (yes, for class, too!), if I was going to blow up after the halfway point, and generally if I would survive it all. Nowadays, even though there is no way to predict exactly how class or a race is going to go, I am not nearly as terrified because I’ve done it before. I can rely on having been in the scary last 10k of a marathon or in front of an unresponsive class before and making it through. Not without a few battle scars to show for it, though!

2. Be Prepared. Just like it’s a terrible idea to show up for a race without having trained, I definitely can’t roll into class without a lesson plan. My planning hours are just as precious to me as my hours spent logging miles. And just like I tweak my training over the course of a racing cycle in order to get faster and better, I have changed up the way I prepare for class over time. It’s not always the most fun thing to do, but I don’t really like track workouts either. It’s worth it though, to have a smooth running class period and a faster running race.

3. Dress the Part. I’m no fashionista, but the performance aspect of running and teaching have created something of an evolution in my clothes choices. I still aim for comfort above all else, but comfort with a purpose. I need to feel fast during a race, so I dress to inspire that feeling. I need to feel like a seasoned educator during class, so there too, I dress to evoke a capable persona. Of course, I’m usually still nervous before a races and class, but by wearing my running or teaching “costume” I can at least sort of fake it!

4. Participation is Key. I struggle with this one. I train mostly alone, and I’m wont to spiral into monologues during class. However, I see a real difference in my own running when I’m more involved with the Greenville Track Club or get to run with others. And of course, class is a lot more energetic and successful when I’ve got the students moving about and talking with each other. I have to really work on this, but I’m trying.

5. Roll With the Punches. If you’ve ever tried to follow a training schedule to the letter, then you know that is pretty much impossible. The same goes for following lesson plans– which is why I make sure to note that the schedule is tentative right on the syllabus! With running, there is always the possibility of injury, unexpected travel, feeling burned out, or prohibitive weather issues. In class, the students might be burned out, or just super uninterested in the material, or a seemingly great lesson plan fizzles out in practice. During all of these times, it’s important to be able to reassess the situation, change tactics if necessary, and most importantly, don’t give up! Things rarely go perfectly, but just keeping at it as best you can is often enough to get through both a rough training patch and a rough class day.

6. Setting Goals. I know what I expect from myself when it comes to running, and I extend that same level of expectation to my students. Having clear goals laid out at the beginning of a training cycle or new semester is so helpful when the inevitable rough patches hit (see #5). Then, even if you don’t exactly go straight from Point A to Point B, you at least know where Point B is, and know that you should end up there eventually. Goals are also built-in accountability managers. My students want to achieve their high grade, and I want to achieve a new PR. Goals are important, duh.

 

I still have a LOT of growing to do as a teacher– and as a runner! I do love that being a teacher means also being a student. I have learned so much from my students and other instructors/professors and I’ve gained a sense of accomplishment that is not unlike running. It takes hard work to do it right, but it’s so, so worth it when I cross a finish line with a new best time or know that I’ve made a positive impact on a student’s life.

Harbison 50k: 2015 Edition

Is there really any better way to kick off your racing year than by playing in the woods with a bunch of other weirdos for a few hours? Of course not, which means I registered yet again for the Harbison State Forest 50k.

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Course map and bib from packet pickup Friday evening. It’s a simple but nice touch to have names printed on the bibs. I’m not one for race keepsakes, but I can appreciate the effort for those that are.

Saturday January 3rd dawned…wet and foggy. But, it was warm unlike last year! Also different from last year is that we weren’t going to run the Lost Creek section (that’s the super squiggly bit on the far left of the map above. Squiggly bits are slow and sad). The wet conditions weren’t really a concern as my only goals for the race were to finish and remain in one piece. It’s very likely that Harbison will be the only ultra I run this year as I shift my focus to road racing and shorter events so I wasn’t about to take any unnecessary chances on trail that might derail the rest of my race plans. Deciding to take the pressure off earlier in the week ended up being the best thing I could have done for myself due to the conditions of the trails which got progressively worse as the day went on.

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I had to stop by a Fleet Feet in Columbia because I’d completely forgotten any Gu. Luckily, they had my two preferred flavors in stock!

Despite (or because of?) the rain, mud and muck, IT WAS SO MUCH FUN! I didn’t wear a watch, but the few little time splits I heard after the first loop told me that I managed to stay pretty even paced on the second loop even though the rain began coming down in earnest and some sections of the trail got downright treacherous (I’m looking at you,Midlands Mountain Bluffs). I ended up 6th woman (29th overall) and a time of 5:38. Full results are here. I chose to have the four Gu that I brought with me, plus some water, Coke, and pickles from the various aid stations. I saw that the aid stations were more than adequately stocked with the ultra runnings classics like pbj sandwiches, chips, fruit, Tailwind products, and more I’m sure. I just tend to stick with my own little tried and true options since I know they work. Also, I didn’t carry any water with me, but the aid stations were placed evenly enough apart that I knew I’d be okay just grabbing a cup of water every few miles.

The course itself was great. I REALLY like that Lost Creek had been removed. That meant we reached the fabled SpiderWoman and SpiderWoman II trails much earlier in the first loop and they were…dare I say it, manageable! Of course it was somewhat (a lot) worse on the second go round, but I would say that the newer course allowed for lots of recovery time between sketchy/technical sections. As alluded to earlier, the bluffs section of the Midlands Mountain trail (I think that’s what it’s referred to. Either way, it’s the far right of the map that is beside Broad River) was probably the worst part. It’s a single track section with a steep banking and a severe drop off. Also, it was super slick from the rain. Also also, it got beat up pretty badly the first loop from all of us. Also also also, being already brain dead from the several hours of running prior means that Slip ‘n Slide OF DOOM is a far more accurate name than the lovely imagery that the name Midlands bluffs conjures up.

Overall, I’m a huge fan of the course. I am also partial to loop courses and out-and-backs, but I understand that I’m in the minority with that preference. One downside to the day is that I heard of a few people getting off trail. I know I did that briefly last year so I don’t have much room to talk, but I have a hard time understanding how that happened this year. I never felt confused when looking for the surveyor’s flagging, and the directional signage seemed very obvious to me. Frankly, I feel like someone gets turned around or lost at every ultra I have run on a trail system. There’s got to be some kind of Vegas odds that dictates that sort of thing. Again, it didn’t happen to me so I don’t know the circumstances behind folks getting confused, but I felt like I should mention it for the sake of full information as I have it. On the upside, that’s easily the only negative thing about the entire day I can think of.

My personal favorite part of the day is that I inadvertently ended up running most of the way with a couple of fellow Greenville Track Club members. Getting to chat with Brian and Kerrie through the early and mid portions of the race made it much more bearable when I was on my own for the last miles. Also, the HAM radio folks that volunteered their time to keep tabs on us runners meant that I was never too far from human contact– a reassuring thing to know when the going got tough! Actually, ALL the volunteers were absolutely awesome! There were motivating signs (“Run now, poop later” was the obviously best one), cowbells (so glad to know I wasn’t hallucinating ringing in my ears), and cheerful encouragements (“Good job, and hey, you don’t have to see me again!” from one gentleman later in the second loop).

The finishers, like last year, get these trail/tree motif medals that double as a bottle opener:

Photo Courtesy of Nathan Maxwell <--- Another 50k runner!
Photo Courtesy of Nathan Maxwell <– Another 5ok runner. Thank goodness other people remember to take pictures at races because I am terrible at it!

After the race there was a new challenge if getting the mud out of places that mud shouldn’t be. I didn’t even fall down, but there was gunk everywhere. Everywhere.

While I can’t say what my future in ultrarunning will be given my other goals and life and such, I can comfortably say that I plan on being back to Harbison 50k for the 2016 edition. Thanks again to all the volunteers, the RD David Nance, and to y’all that put up with my running and writing about it!

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.

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…!