Now that 2010 is behind us, I wanted to take one quick glance back to consider the year that just transpired. For me, it was a big stepping stone in many ways of the things that I hope to come in 2011 and beyond. After reaching deep into my head for some serious reflection, I realized that I'd need a year to get back to the basics - and that is exactly what 2010 was.
I started off the year with several months of focused base training. After looking back at my training over the years and reflecting on some of the books I had read, I realized that it was in my best interest to build myself back from the ground up. This began in 2009, but continued through April as I steadily became a stronger runner through consistent running and strengthening exercises. I started off the race season with the Monument Ave 10k and the GW Parkway Classic, having only run my base miles, and not focusing on any speed at the time. The fitness gains from that base foundation alone carried me to massive PRs (and a trip to the med tent!) in both distance and gave me a verification that what I was doing was working. The period immediately after this also coincided with the time I started training with Marathon Nation, as the approach for getting faster fell directly in line what I was looking for at the time.
Despite having raced just the week before, Rebecca, some friends, and I headed to a 5k race, because it was one we've done before, and which raises money for Celiac Disease. The course was tough and hilly, but the result was pretty good - a course PR of 5s, tying my 5k PR, and placed 2nd in my Age Group. A couple weeks later, Rebecca and I raced in a local 5k that was only a mile from our house. Determined to run a smart race, I developed a race strategy for the 1st time for a 5k race. The result was a true breakthrough performance - a PR of 34s and an Age Group win! This race set my confidence to an all time high that I was training right, getting faster, and still having fun. Throughout the rest of the summer, I continued to just run without adding any more immediate races. I added some cycling to my schedule to mix things up and did most of the Reston Century (link from last year's ride), despite not really training much for it. I could have finished it, but because I didn't want to significantly impact my recovery to continue running, I called it quits at 75 miles this year. At about the same time, the opportunity came up to register for a 1/2 marathon through my work (free!). So that became my focus for the rest of the summer and into fall.
My training for the 1/2 marathon was going really well until I hit a minor setback. I had taken a slight break from writing here at the time, so I didn't share, but I was developing some peroneal tendon issues. I was still able to run, but I took the conservative approach with the race looming only weeks away to focus on RICE, because my hard training was essentially done. Race day came and I pulled out what I consider my best running performance yet, exceeding my expectations on a hilly course by running a 1:31:35 and placing 2nd in my Age Group. Despite my race day success, I also had a recurrence of my peroneal tendon issue as I was cresting the last big hill of the course. I took the next 3 weeks to fully recover, only for it to come back again once I got back to running. It was then that I realized my running shoes (despite being neutral like my previous pair) were causing the issue. The onset of the issue coincided with a change in shoe and I quickly went back to my previous shoes, which seemed to clear up the problem. Despite some nagging issues occasionally, I am consistently working to get better. Lastly, through the semi-frequent 5k baseline tests we run inside Marathon Nation, I was able to further lower my 5k time to 19:05. For those of you keeping track at home, that is an improvement of 1 minute between May and December. Considering that I had been stuck on 20:05 for nearly 8 years, I'd consider a 1 minute improvement this year to be a huge success.
The end of the year also brought about something new for me - coaching. I was so excited to be able to share my experience with others and am having a blast each week working with the runners in the program. I can't wait till we get closer to the race and see how things are going to play out and see the progress that people make.
Year over Year Comparison
I hate doing this, because all miles are not created equal, but it is the only high level comparison I can make. Let's just say that aside from my early year base miles, nearly every mile run, from April - December was a quality run. Each workout had a purpose and a goal, whereas in previous years that was not the case. It is certainly one of the benefits of a program like Marathon Nation. However, my consistency this year was unlike any previous year, allowing me to score more miles that any previous year.
Here are the stats:
2009: 942 miles
2010: 1374 miles
My hope last year was to increase my overall mileage to more than 1000 miles. I knew with consistent training, it wouldn't be an issue. I definitely accomplished that. And since running was my focus, more of my training time was devoted to running, rather than cycling or swimming. In any case, if I can stay healthy again in 2011, I expect more of the same!