One of the many benefits of being a runner is the amazing beauty you get to see every morning. Usually though, all of the tough questions have been asked and serious conversations occur long before the sun comes up leaving you ready to fully receive the day. Except for when your running partner says this: “So, what are your running goals for next year?”…
My run goals for 2016? Wait, is it that time already? This is the same running partner that already has us doing a marathon in April and a century ride in June. So you can imagine my confusion when this question came up. I mean, isn’t that enough to accomplish in a year? I know why she asks this question though. She know me. She knows I want to get faster and that I love racing. She asks, because she wants to know what kind of crazy she is signing up for in the next year. Fair enough.
So for the last 4 days my brain has been rolling this around because, what are my goals anyway? I thought about this past year and my running, but first a little background. In December 2013, on Friday the 13th, I had surgery on my left ankle. A peroneus tendon repair and micro-fracture to the calcaneous to drain a bone bruise that was not healing on its own. A two for one surgery so to speak. The same amount of time off the doctor assured me. The problem was everyone underestimated the age of the tendon injury and rehab did not go as expected. 2014 was spent trying to get back on the road with some sort of consistency.
The tendon injury, it was finally realized, dated back to high school when I was in ballet. It was never a problem because I was overweight and inactive throughout my mid 20’s to early 30’s. Life happens and in my case events happened that led to depression and my weight gain (another later possible post). The injury did become an issue though, when I decided to take my life back through running. As I became more fit and focused on becoming a competitive masters runner- still working on that- the chain reaction of muscle imbalances and other issues from that injury became more glaringly apparent. My left foot does not always want to flex and follow through. For years it would simply plant itself flat as I ran, because I wasn’t getting the proper proprioceptive feedback. This led to various hip, hamstring, and low back issues. Issues I am still working through two years after the surgery. Apparently, 15+ years of patterns cannot be undone in a year.
My running life is now divided: pre and post surgery. In January 2015, I ran the Houston Chevron Marathon using a deferment from where I was entered to run 2014. Originally when I signed up for Houston, pre-surgery, it was to be run with Boston in mind. Post surgery, as the rehab and injury issues came to light, I ran to complete and for fun. Once Houston was done, I decided in 2015 to focus on the half marathon. I wanted to better my speed and endurance so I could return to a more successful and hopefully Boston or NYC qualifying marathon. That was my main overall goal. My specific goal was a little more ambitious: to lower my PR (pre-surgery) from 1:41:17 to under 1:40:00.
My goal race this year was in October, allowing time for base building and for the first time some speed work. I also entered a race series put on by the local multisport club. The series allowed me to use races for speed work and race practice. My goal race was horrible. Physically I struggled early on with GI issues and mentally I didn’t have my head in it. I had psyched myself out before the race weekend even happened, spending too much time in my own head. I came in at 1:47:55. The overall female, Heidi S., was 49 and came in at 1:25:15… Heidi doesn’t know it, but her amazing race time plus the fact that she is 8 years older than me, renewed my hope and determination after that dismal run.
Two days after my goal race I received an email from fleet feet with this blog post:
I was inspired after reading this and I ran another half marathon on November 7th. I ran it not with a time goal, but simply the goal of a better second half with a negative split. With this plan firmly planted into my stubborn brain, there was no more room left for self sabotage and it worked! Not only did I run a negative split, I came in at 1:47:07- faster than my goal race. The best part, it was a much more pleasurable run. Thanks Coach Tim Cary!
It is now November 28th, 2015 is coming quickly to an end and my PR goal hasn’t happened. I may try again in December, but I haven’t decided yet. So for 2016? I think my goals are the same as any runner: Run faster and avoid injury. I still want to drop my half time under 1:40 and Heidi is proof that I am not too old at 41 to have that dream. Again, pre-surgery my running goals were more sharply defined. Now, post surgery, I am just as determined as before, but I have also learned to be more flexible and listen to my body more. I still have the long term goal of being a competitive masters runner and there are plenty of examples that tell me this is also a possibility. So, 2016 will be a year of incorporating more cross training by exploring new things with the century ride (I am new to cycling- that’s another post) and continuing on my journey towards becoming a stronger, faster and more competitive masters runner. I have a lot of possibilities there for improvement. I look forward to pursuing this and researching different ideas. One being, the possibility of a coach to help concentrate my focus and training. Did I mention I work full time and also go to school? These things make planning even more challenging, but the rewards that much greater.