The Year Behind and the Year Ahead

The year of running in 2015 ended up looking a lot different than I thought it would at the start of the year. I made a bold declaration that the only goal I had for the year was to BQ. I was so close and got even closer with Rome, only 4 minutes from that goal.

However, as has been clearly evident by the last quarter of the year, injury forced my hand and prompted a DNS at Chicago and a slower than anticipated build up back to regular running.

While I’m not a fan of the injury, it did force me to step back and fix some fundamental structural issues that could have caused serious long term problems. If I had kept on like I was, a BQ probably would never have happened because I would have injured myself further and a BQ is not worth that.

Even though the injury has been the focus of the past few months of running, 2015 did have some highlights with major PRs in both the half marathon and marathon as well as taking down a really old one in the 20k just a month ago. I am still so thrilled with those times and amazed that I was able to run them.

That being said, as I glanced over my running journal recently, I noticed that I mentioned right knee tightness in passing, even back then. That confirmed for me that taking this major step back to make sure that I have the fundamentals taken care of is the right step to take.

So where does that leave my goals for 2016?

In the past I’ve listed some rather specific and numerous goals. This year, I’m not going to do that.

This is the year of getting stronger, healthier and fitter. I want to be able to run and run well for many decades to come. I have plenty of time to snag that BQ and making it to Boston.

Here’s what that’s going to look like next year.

1. I put a (possibly) temporary hold on coaching. Matt’s coaching has helped me tremendously over the past year and a half. If I go back to being coached, it will definitely be with him. However, at this point, with my new focus, it seemed better to save some money and create my own training plans using what I have learned thus far. (It’s a lot!)

2. I will be adding more strength training back into my training plan. I hope to execute at least two dedicated ab workouts per week, or at the very least a 10-15 minute focus on abs in my strength training workout. I also plan to continue with the PT exercises and incorporate them at least 2 or 3 times a week. (These are exercises like single leg bridges, side planks, and walking lunges.) I will also be looking into good short exercises that I can do every day to strengthen my calves, hamstrings, abs and quads, especially things that I could do while at work.

3. I will continue to make stretching, foam rolling, warm up and cool down a priority. I want to make that package (warm up, run, cool down, stretching, foam rolling) to be the norm for me when I run. This will likely mean adding in a couple good stretches for the calves and quads.

4. I want to clean up my diet which means a focus on more whole foods like fruits and vegetables and less sugar. This has been something that I have been meaning to get to for a while and just never get around to it. I’m not putting restrictions here, especially since I want to stick with eating when I’m hungry and not becoming obsessed with calories. However, I also want to make an effort to make sure that those calories are at least 75% healthy/good-for-you foods. This also means that I’m going to be putting a little more time into meal planning aka beyond planning just lunches. Too often I ended up grabbing something quick and easy (not necessarily healthy) in the evening because the only “meal” items we have in the fridge are things I’ve already dedicated towards work lunches.

5. I still plan to train and race but without the added pressure of a PR or other challenging time goal. I may end up with a few PRs next year. I may not. That’s okay. I did not race as much in the pre-injury portion of 2015 mainly because the majority of the races I did race were goal races. For example, I raced only 1 half marathon this year and that was all the way back in February. Granted, I would have raced 2 if not for the injury, however, that’s still my lowest number since the first full year after I started running. In 2016 I’ll have two half marathons under my belt by the time the end of February comes since I’m running one in both months. As for the marathon distance, I have ideas but nothing concrete. I will be running the Tobacco Road Marathon in March. I’ve heard that this is a great course so there may be an outside chance at a PR and/or BQ but that will be a decision made much closer to race day when I see how training ends up. I also, if we can get all the travel arrangements made, will be running the Dublin (Ireland) Marathon at the end of October. The really ambitious part of me wants to also take another shot at Chicago and then just run Dublin for fun. If travel works out, I may run both either as described in the previous sentence or both for fun. Who knows.

Here’s to 2016 and regaining a love of running.

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