I’ve done a lot of thinking lately, as to how I can better myself in this new year (and new decade!) I’m looking at this through the lens of a runner (acknowledging I can better myself in other areas as well, but not the topic of this post!)
First I think it’s important to look at how far I came in the last ten years, in terms of my running abilities:
- In January 2010, age 24, I was slightly depressed (coming off my 15 month deployment to Iraq in 2009), and had gotten out of shape. Basically, I had stopped running altogether in the fall of 2009, unless the Army made me (for the physical fitness test). One day that month, I was just sick of it. Sick of feeling like crap, and tired of my own lame reasons why I let myself go—It’s too cold/dark/depressing outside. I just don’t feel like running or doing ANYTHING! I finally said to myself NO MORE EXCUSES. That became my turning point. I still think of that day, a decade later. And generally I have lived up to my “No more excuses!” mantra for the better part of the last ten years. I didn’t track my miles the entire time, but in the past 5.5 years, I ran over 4,000 miles. I consistently ran or trained through my second pregnancy (and did OK on my first!). I swam, I biked, worked through minor injuries. I tried Spartan races and triathlons, varying race distances from 100 meters to the marathon.
- I ran 14 half marathons since 2010.
- The two I ran in 2010 were magical… the first was the Weinstrasse half marathon (German wine road), in 2:03, a new PR. I was proud of that time, but knew I could do even better. So I ran another the next month, the Mannheim Dammer half marathon, in a PR of 1:57. Little did I know, my life was about to change in a HUGE way, as I was a few weeks pregnant with Gabe during the Mannheim race.
- I dropped nearly 9 minutes from that 2010 PR, seven years later, and ran 1:48 at the age of 33 at the Raleigh Rock ‘n’ Roll half in 2017. Javi and both of my sons cheered for me right at the finish, and it’s a feeling I will never forget!
- I had awful GI distress in 5 of the 14 half’s, which led me to believe that long distances were not for me… so I focused on the 5K, and speed.
- I ran 37 5K’s since 2010:
- My best pre-2010 was an unofficial, super-hot, paced by a friend, 5K of 24:45. I was VERY proud of that time for years.
- After having my second son, I shocked myself by going under 25 minutes (Popsicle 5K in 2015), then under 24 (4th of July 5K, then others), then under 23 (Turkey Trot in 2018, but course was long)!
- I averaged 24 minutes for those thirty-seven 5K’s over the last decade, which isn’t bad for a person who considers sprinting to be her forte!
- Other races of note:
- One marathon (Raleigh, 2012)
- Several Spartans (the good, the bad, the ugly)
- A handful of 10K’s—a great distance if one is trained. If not, then ugh to 10K’s
- 7 milers at my favorite old training spot
- The Army ten miler (both fast and slow!)
- Trail races! Again, good and bad (and good & muddy!)
- Ultimate Runner… and taking the good with the bad hot/sweaty/challenging!
- A few tri’s, before I decided triathlons are not for me (at least not right now)
- I met some amazing pro’s… Ashton Eaton, Matthew Centrowitz, Des Linden, Deena Kastor, Hillary Allen!
- The Greensboro paper’s column Running Shorts featured me.
- Runner’s World Plus also featured me… feeling very honored, humbled, happy!
- I ran a race with Gabe & Asher (and still trying to gently nudge them to want to run more… so far unsuccessfully, but I won’t give up!)
After nearly 80 races in the past decade, I can honestly say my love for running—and racing—has only gotten stronger. I can see I have potential to do even better! With my share of good and bad days, and everything in between, I have no regrets. I am thankful for each and every mile—even those very painful ones. Those slow, arduous miles make the fast, strong miles feel especially amazing.
Heading into a new age group this year (35-39, in April), I am ready to make some changes to my training:
- Run more miles. I finally realized that I am missing a huge component of my training. All the GI distress made me think long running just wasn’t for me. But I need to do it to get faster. To make it possible, I am going to be sure to hydrate (yay for Nuun!) and not run on an empty tummy very often. Even more so, I am going to…
- Run slower. This sounds so weird, run slower to run faster, but I finally GET IT. Most of my training has been at too high an intensity. Not only does that make it harder to keep going,, but also makes the body prone to injury—like my shins that still twinge and flare up on occasion. This article perfectly explained it, and I’m so glad I read it at just the right time.
- Stick to the plan. I’ve made excuses, like “I don’t have time” or “I don’t have the energy” and I’m addressing both. We all have the same 24 hours in a day to make the most of, and when I think about my choices, I would rather choose an extra 10-20 minutes of running (or stretching, or foam rolling), vs. watching Netflix or whatever it is I’m wasting my precious free time on. I will try to limit myself to one hour or less of TV per day. That should give me time to relax, but also get in bed at the right time (around 9 AM, for a 5 AM wake-up).
Big Goal for 2020:
Be the strongest version of me!
Now how to measure and define that…. I don’t want to measure it in times, or PR’s, or even miles really (since I’ve wanted to run 1,000 miles per year for the past 4 years, and every time came up short!) so I came up with other, more behavior-related, sub-goals. I also don’t want to obsess over every little thing, so if I can get to 80-90% of where I want to be, I will call that goal achieved!
Trying to make these simple and easy to stick to!
- Average 200+ minutes of running per week
- Run 60 minutes or longer once a week
- Do one yoga class per week
- Do 1-2 strength sessions per week
- Meditate daily (also working on practicing Spanish daily)… and journaling for a few minutes daily
- Stretch, foam roll, or massage for 5 minutes per day
- Eat 4+ different fruits/veggies per day
- Eat 2 (or less) small sweet treats per day
- Stay consistent with 9-5 sleep each night (+/- one hour on either end)
- Stop yelling at the kiddos! Take deep breaths and remain CALM.
I need to come up with a way to measure/test this, but still thinking on it.
I’m also feeling the desire to help others, through running, so I might explore more volunteer opportunities, and/or coaching in some capacity (even if it’s just for the kids’ running club at school, once a week).
It’s been an AMAZING decade in running, and in life. Here’s to spreading the RUN LOVE 🙂
What are your running (or athletic) goals for this new decade?