There are still a few weeks left in 2018, but with no more races on the calendar, I figured I’d write down some thoughts on how the year has gone.
It's been a good year of running. First, no major injuries! Second, perhaps as a direct result of the first point, I improved as a runner, despite getting a year older. Third, and most importantly, I’ve enjoyed running this year. Never really had any long-term motivational issues or struggles. I enjoy the daily “grind,” and it feels like I’ve found the right balance in terms of time spent running without feeling obsessive about it.
More granular thoughts:
- I’ve run 1853 miles this year as of this morning, so I may or may not make it to 2000 miles on the year. Last year, I ran over 2800. That’s a 28% reduction in volume, with a significant improvement in racing performance year over year. (You reading, GZ?)
- That said, this was not quite as light of a volume year as it may sound. Living at 7800 ft., unless I’m running on the track, every single run I do, including my “flat runs,” has at least 500-1000 feet of climbing. In the summer and fall, most of my long days are over 12,000 feet. Right now, 75% of my runs require screw shoes to get traction on all the snow and ice. So mileage isn’t a key driver for me. I track mileage, but it’s just a reference point. It’s not a focus of training.
- The main reason for the improvement this year, I think, is that I’m doing two workouts a week, damned near every week. Tempos, long intervals, short intervals, hills, track workouts, speed development, time trials, cruise intervals, 800 m workouts, whatever. I have one full year of regular workouts under my belt, and I can tell the difference in terms of fitness.
- I’ve actually been following online the training philosophy of an old college teammate of mine, now a nationally recognized HS school. He’s fond of saying for his runners (who ran sub-7:46 for the 3200 meter relay four years in a row), “our feet move fast every day.” And “Everything is present. Always.” I like that. And so I try to throw a few strides into nearly every run. I think that’s helped, too.
- At least one day a week now, I’m doing at least one or two full-on 100-meter sprints. As a master, I think it’s good to do a little bit of speed development every week.
- I’ve played around with different training philosophies, but my training right now is fairly conventional. One easy day with maximal hill sprints, one tempo run, one medium aerobic trail run, one track/speed development day, one long trail run, and the rest of my runs super, super easy (almost always slower than 9-minute miles, sometimes slower than 10-minute miles). If I feel any niggles or what feels like an injury, my easy days become off days.
- In terms of racing performances, I’m most proud of my 1:21 half at the color run. That’s an 8-minute half marathon PR as a 40 year old! That’s the race that makes me most excited about what I can do in 2019.
- I didn’t get the 17:30 this year, but I’m cautiously optimistic I’ll get there eventually.
- I don’t have any specific goals for this next year. But what I’d like to continue to do, is not just to maintain, but to improve as I get older. That's not easy anymore. But I’m hopeful that I’ve got a few more years of that left in me.
- For 2019, I think I might run some bigger and more competitive races. I ran five races this year. I got first, second, fifth, first, and then an unknown place (40th, maybe?) at the Emma Coburn Elk Run 5k. (Because it’s other people’s job to time Emma Coburn. Not Emma Coburn’s job to time other people.)
- As much fun as it was beating up on old ladies walking with their dogs in Salida 5ks, it might be fun to see how I measure up in bigger races.
- With that in mind, possible races on the agenda in 2019 include: Moab Red Hot 33k, Salida Run Through Time, Cherry Creek Sneak, Bolder Boulder, Spiral Drive, Grin & Bear It, Pikes Ascent, Grand Traverse, and Canyon de Chelly.
- Those last two races are big maybes, as they are ultramarathons, and I haven’t done any of those since 2012. I love the idea of long days in the mountains in beautiful places. I don’t love the idea of slogging through back-to-back 4-5 hour training runs week after week. So if I run ultras this year, the thought will be to dip the toes into those races without any competitive aspirations and without changing my training too much, just to see if if I can enjoy myself getting out there without turning my life into a black hole of ultrarunning. We’ll see.
In sum, 2018 was a year of good health and good fortune (knock on wood), so I’m grateful for that. I try not to take that for granted. Here’s to hoping for more of the same in 2019.
Best wishes to all.