Once upon a time I had high aspirations for this year. Now, I'll be lucky if I avoid another new low in my monthly mileage.
My goals for this year were to set new PRs in every distance I raced and to average 20 miles per week for the year. One these goals was a solid success with an asterisk and the other was a laughable failure.
Let's revisit the highlight reel:
Tallmadge Memorial 5-K: I didn't have nearly the same training strategy to this year's race that I did in years past. With more of a focus on hill training and totally abandoning interval training on the track, I bested my previous PR by three seconds, finishing in 22:26.
Buckeye Half Marathon: My watch had died, and I abandoned my strategy of running with a pace group. Instead I ran completely by feel and completed what I think was my best ever all around race performance, finishing in 1:44:27.
Akron Marathon: My race plan went in the shitter when I had to make my first-ever bathroom stop during a race. But that wasn't the only new wrinkle I had to overcome to set a new PR and beat four hours with a 3:58:46 finish.
This year was a very enjoyable racing year. I set three new PRs and finally broke four hours in the marathon. However, I didn't enter as many races as I have in the past. I missed the 15-K I wanted to run, though I did run the course. My usual 10-K was canceled, and I never found a replacement. Maybe next year I can update those PRs left over from 2009.
As for weekly mileage, I'm sitting at 16.4 miles per week and falling. I was right on track until the marathon, and then October happened. My mileage never recovered. This year will be my lowest total mileage on record, but who gives a rip? I'm over it. I had a damn good year racing, and I feel good about 2011.
Also-Rans of the Year
Despite not racking up the big mileage I had hoped for, this was a year of revelations about how to run better. A combination of improved form, higher peak mileage, and running on hills resulted in better overall performances on race day. I not only ran faster, I felt better doing it.
First thing I did was ditch the cushioning. Early on this year, I made the switch to only running in racing flats. When the weather got warmer, I started mixing in barefoot running. By the time I got to the marathon, I had run almost 10 percent of my total mileage without shoes. I believe this approach improved my running form, allowed me to avoid injury, and strengthened my essential ambulatory muscles and ligaments.
The second change I made was to how much I ran during my training cycle, peaking at a higher weekly mileage (50) and including more 20-mile runs (three) than ever before. Nothing prepares you better to run lots of miles than running lots of miles.
In addition to the higher mileage, I also changed where I ran. In years past I included weekly track sessions with 400- and 800-meter intervals. This year, I decided to instead run on hills as often as I could. This extra attention to hilly terrain prepared me for the hilly Akron Marathon course, and as Frank Shorter said, "Hill repeats are speed work in disguise."
Biggest Highlight of 2010
The best thing that happened this year has nothing to do with running. In June, the Enthusiast agreed to marry me. Next year at this time we'll be married. I can't wait.