Running-wise, this year really didn’t go as expected. I just started a new training log this week (the old one filled up just shy of the new year), so spent some time today flipping through the old log and thinking about all the unexpected bumps and interruptions that impacted my training and racing.
Looking back at my ‘Goals’ page made me a little sad. My main goal had been to qualify for the USATF National Club Track & Field champs in the 5k, which would have required an 18:50 5k. It seemed like such a good goal – tough but not impossible, fun (road trip if I made it, woohoo!), and would require both dedication (adequate training) and taking care of myself (rest, pre-hab, time for fitness and relaxation).
I started off strong with lots of core, hip, and foot exercises/care and several encouraging workouts in December.
However, several things got in the way. First, a weird, lingering calf injury that started in January (‘Achilles NOT feeling good Crap…’) and kept popping up until late March.
The plus side of this injury: Got majorly into the biking, which has never been something I’ve stuck with past the injured-and-must-cross-train period before. I ended up doing my first 20+ up to 80+ mile rides this summer and met an awesome group of cyclist gals along the way. I bought a bike trainer to get through the more brutal Colorado winter days and anticipate attempting a century next summer. I’ve ridden just over 2,000 miles this year and have gotten to see much more of my new town and state than I would have on foot.
The second injury, an IT band flare up, came from too many hills and not enough stretching/hip strengthening between all the running and biking. Downside – big chunk of summer trail time missed. Upside? Got back into strength and core routine.
I finally squeezed in some solid run training and got in a few great workouts and even one trail race (HILLY 5k at 10,000 feet, oof!). I was hoping to get in some Fall XC races when injury #3 struck with a post-workout calf cramp right at the end of August. The calf cramp took it’s leave for a month and then reappeared after perhaps too many hilly trail runs and my highest mileage week in months in late October (31 miles that week, nothing crazy. I do have a problem with moderation on the trail runs, I absolutely adore the trails here…). November and December have consisted of 0 – 14 mile weeks and many calf raises, stretch sessions, and painful calf roller/massage sessions.
Luckily, it’s been so freaking icy/snowy/dark that limited running is bearable. I’ve been heavily supplementing with Nordic skiing, bike trainer rides, body-weight exercise circuits, and random snowshoes/hikes with MountainMan.
This is actually the happiest cross-training period I’ve ever gone through. Yes, there have been moments of angst and panic that I’ll never run again, but the ability to rotate between multiple cross-training activities, stay occupied in spite of run-discouraging icy roads, and watch the other runners of ski-town switch to other sports for the winter has kept these dark moments brief and shallow.
I’ve still been hitting about 6 hours a week of working out and my calf is improving enough to let me get out for a few miles of glorious sunshine when I get a chance to run before the sun goes down.
As I go into the new running year I’m feeling pretty good – my running total mileage quantity for this past year is much lower than I would have liked, but the quality of those miles came from much more meaningful parameters than pace.
My ~750 running miles were filled with the emotions of finding and being hired for my dream job, saying goodbye to running club and grad school friends in grad-school city, and exploring new roads and trails in my new town. I ran through a long, sometimes lonesome summer without MM and an Autumn made more solemn and sharp by runs spent in sympathy with the grief of a close friend while surrounded by contrastingly cheerful Fall foliage. I’ve spent the last few weeks slogging through the snowiest, iciest, and most frigid early winter that I’ve ever experienced while savoring every minute due to my limited-mileage injury-recovery status.
I have new goals for this new year. I want to run a road relay with one of my best friends, but I also have cross-training sport goals to balance out my running in case my legs and feet keep getting in the way of being purely a runner. I’m actually looking forward to challenging myself via Nordic ski racing this winter, a bike century or two this summer, and maybe even a triathlon if I get in the pool this summer. Here’s to being ok with being more an athlete than a competitive runner, and enjoying whatever movement and outdoor-exploration opportunities come my way (though let’s be honest, running will probably always be my favorite, even if it hasn’t been loving me back of late…)
Anyone else out there have some fun or unique training/competition goals for the new year?