Running goals for before the snow falls (and maybe a little after…)

Fall has arrived and the hills are currently shimmering with golden leaves. Although the scenery is glorious to run through or glad past on my drive to and from work, I know that it signals that only a couple few weeks of warm weather remain. With the arrival of October the leaves will brown and fall, and the currently glowing aspen groves and grass-covered hills will fade to gray, and then rapidly turn white with snow*.

Since the good running weather and Fall racing season are winding down I wanted to take stock of where I am and what my remaining goals are for the season.

So far, Fall is starting off well. I just hit another strong week and had the endurance to enjoy my longest run since November 2014 (14 miles, woohoo!). I’ve enjoyed a wonderful summer of racing and have gone from a fitness level where my legs could barely hold 7:mid pace for 5k to being able to hold 6:mid for the same distance. I have had a few setbacks, but have been healthy enough to enjoy many workouts, races, and exploratory runs over the local trails.

Moving forward, I have two main goals:

  1. Break 20 minutes in the 5k. I haven’t done this since Fall 2014 and would LOVE to break that barrier again. However, if I have strong races in my last few XC 5k/6k’s and don’t hit this mark (or the equivalent for 6k) I won’t be devastated. Cross-country is a whole different beast than track or road 5ks since terrain can make times for the same effort hugely variable.
  2. Break my half-marathon PR! My current best of 1:41:49 was set with stronger training, but on trails with some massive hills and plenty of mud. I’m planning to race in Moab at the end of October with a friend and am hoping that the drop in elevation and the mild road course will allow me to push under 1:40. I’ve added a few half marathon workouts to my training plan (from the Kara Goucher plan here) and have hit a few long runs of 12-14 miles to hopefully get some endurance and appropriate pacing into my legs for the attempt. We’ll see what happens – either way it’s a great excuse to spend some time enjoying the red rocks and warmer weather of Moab and to get a chance to visit and run¬†with a good friend.

Ok, now that I have some goals I just need the snow to hold off a few weeks longer so I can keep racing and training! Everyone please hold off on your snow dances until November ūüėČ Please share your fun/exciting Fall goals in the comments, I would love to see how everyone else is handling the last bit of Fall training/racing before the arrival of winter…

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*This may sound like an exaggerated timeline, but it legitimately snowed yesterday here. I live in the land of winter ūüėź

Running goals for the new year!

2013 is coming to a close and the time for new 2014 goals has come! ¬†I’ve been inspired lately by several of the awesome running goal lists¬†from fellow runners and I’m hoping I can come up with an equally awesome list of goals for the coming year. ¬†

I’m used to setting time goals for races during a season and then working to reach those times. ¬†However, it’s been really tough to focus on this kind of goal lately as injuries, illness, and grad school craziness keep leaping out of the bushes and making it impossible to get in the necessary preparation to race and hit fast times. ¬†Instead of performance goals, I think I need to aim for some goals that I can control no matter what happens as far as sickness, injury, or difficulty fitting in races between research/teaching responsibilities. ¬†So here goes!

1) ¬†Cross-train! ¬†I HATE cross training‚Ķmaybe because I tend to only do it when forced to by injury. ¬†But I know doing some non-running recovery will help with getting in some extra aerobic, strength, and flexibility work while reducing my chances of a running-related overuse injury. ¬†I’m going to aim for biking 1-2x per week in place of a recovery run, and will do yoga one day a week since free classes are offered at the local running store this spring. ¬†

2) ¬†Start lifting again. ¬†I stopped doing any sort of strength training this past Fall since classes and research pretty much took over my life. ¬†However, if I’m already at the rec center to hit the stationary bike I might as well stay and extra 15 – 30 minutes and get buff ha ha ūüėČ ¬†I’m planning to focus on muscle balance in my legs/hips and regaining strength in my back/shoulders. ¬†Time to counteract all those hours hunched over the computer…

3) ¬†Wear hat/sunglasses more often. ¬†Hats make my head hot, but I’m starting to get a little wrinkly. ¬†Plus, skin cancer does NOT look like a good time.

4) ¬†Think long term. ¬†It’s really tough canceling a workout or holding off on racing when my focus is just on hitting fast times in the next week or month. ¬†However, when I look at the long term picture, I’d much rather take it easy and give injuries a chance to heal now than not be able to run in years to come due to old injuries and imbalances.

Now I just need to print these out and staple my list somewhere I’ll see it on those days then x-training sounds miserable, it’s 100 degrees out and I’m scared a hat will literally make my brains boil, and I want to push through a niggling pain to make it to the next race!

Does anyone else out there set yearly running goals or season goals?  

Reassessing

I thought I’d spend this Fall slowly increasing my mileage and focusing on adding back in some core work and drills. ¬†I figured I’d be busy, but could find some time to get a workout, long run, and at least one other “quality” run in per week, and maybe a core/strength session or two.

Plans have changed – I’m TAing an extra section (takes up another 6+ hours per week of classroom and grading time), my advisor has decided to try a “high pressure” approach and berates me every time we meet for not working enough, and my two courses are a bit more work than I expected. ¬†I spend about 25 hours on my TA work, another 25 on research (about 15 hours less than what I *should* be putting in, ugh), and about 15 hours each week on coursework (and I’ve still run out of time on two assignments already…panic is setting in). ¬†I spend 6 hours in class, trying to keep my eyes open and head off of my very comfy looking desk. ¬†

The result is that I spend ~70 hours per week either in class or working. ¬†Add my ~2 hours of commuting time per day and I can barely find time to squeeze in a couple runs a week, much less extra work like drills. ¬†I’m disappointed, but I’m going to try and take this time as positive time to deemphasize the running. ¬†After all, I’ve spent most of the last couple years injured. ¬†Maybe this forced cut-back will give me time to heal…I can hope, right?

So, some new goals for Fall:

1) ¬†Get in 3 runs a week (for sanity’s sake). ¬†I plan to keep doing pre-season style workouts with Fish, but will take the other runs as they come – fast when I feel good, slow when I just need a few miles to zone out and rest my brain.

2) ¬†Do core 2x per week and 1 other “extra” thing at least 1x per week. ¬†After a week of time spent hunched over a (very unergonomic) laptop, some back work, hip-loosening drills, or balance work is exactly what I need. ¬†Last week I took a half-hour break during my 10 hours in the computer lab on Sunday and spent that piece of time out in the sun doing drills. ¬†It was seriously amazing and I felt soooo much better the rest of the day.

3)  Do foot work.  If I can do a few balance drills, golf-ball-rolls, and icing sessions each week, my foot might actually get back to normal someday.  That would be AMAZING!  Plus, I can do all those other things while working Рdoubly wonderful.

I think if I can keep some semblance of a focus in my running life, but have some more reasonable goals in mind, I might actually be able to keep from turning into one big ball of stress this semester…

Setting some goals

Cross-country season is looming and my subconscious, in denial about the fact that I haven’t run a cross-country race in nearly 2 years and have no team camp, time-trials, or 20-page NCAA “we own your soul now” document signing meetings in my future, is getting unreasonably giddy. ¬†Instead of focusing on how much I miss XC, I decided to focus on the races that I can run, and figure out what I want to get out of this year of running.

Goals for Fall:

  1. Complete foot healing – this one takes precedence, since I can’t run on an injured foot, and don’t want a persistent ‘niggle’ catching up with me later on.
  2. Use what fitness I have to do as well as possible in my upcoming races (a couple longer trail races and a couple low-key 5k’s)
  3. Half-marathon p.r. – shouldn’t be too difficult since my only 13.1 was on trails at 7000 feet elevation. ¬†If everything is going well, I plan to sign up for a half on the roads in October.
  4. Build a good base for some Spring track and road races.  

There are some small steps that I need to take in order to reach my goals.  Mainly, do my foot PT (have really been slacking on this lately and have the inflamed tendons to prove it), start doing drills before/after runs to improve form and strength, and keep gradually increasing mileage and intensity.

I’ll discuss some of the foot PT and auxiliary drills that I plan to add into my schedule in the next post ūüôā