2016 Running Totals

2016-calendar

According to my Garmin, I ran 1,184.5 miles in 2016. That is spread out over 202 activities (all runs outside or via treadmill, which counts, damnit!) for an average of 5.8 miles per run. (Side note: two years ago, I had never run 5 miles consecutively in my life.)

I ran every day in January last year despite fighting bronchitis. It seemed like a good idea and a good way to keep motivated. I will not be doing that again this year… days off are good.

A good portion of March and April was spent either trying to run through a nasty calf injury – which exacerbated the problem and caused knee and Achilles tendinitis – or taking time off to recover from the injury. This was my worst and most frustrating running-related injury.

My longest run last year was 31 miles. I also ran two marathons, and a good portion of the early months was spent training for my first. I am most proud of finishing the Rochester Marathon.

Last year, I started 2016 by running around Irondequoit Bay (13 miles). I plan to do it again this year.

It’s good to look back. More good things to come in 2017!

(Another side note: I originally typed 2017 everywhere in this post, as if I have already forgotten 2016. It was not a very good year. My brain is clearly ready to move on.)

Running Resolutions

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My running experience in 2016 was pretty successful. Despite an early-year injury, I ran two marathons (one on trails in 93-degree weather, one on the roads) and a 50k. I completed a number of other crazy races and felt stronger than ever for most of the year.

But I ended 2016 on a low note. As winter comes in, my mood always lowers. Running outside gets more difficult mentally and physically due to the conditions. My last race was a 15-mile one, and I dropped after 10. I was checked out mentally, and that left me feeling worse about the experience. I’ve been in a rut.

So for 2017, I am making new resolutions for many things in my life. Some are not worth discussing here, but my running resolutions for the year certainly are! And they say the best way to accomplish a goal is to make it public so that you work for it.

  • I am already signed up for two marathons in 2017 (again one in spring and one in fall). I would like to run another 50k trail race this year as well. Not the same one, hopefully, as that one featured five loops.
  • I want to feel better while racing. I don’t need to be faster, but I want to be stronger physically. I want to suffer less. I understand that running long distances will always mean suffering, and if you’re not suffering enough you’re not pushing yourself enough. But I think I can get stronger to make the difficult times less difficult.
  • I will improve my attitude and thus my mental strength as well. The more you complain, the more you believe that you can’t do something. Similarly, the “fake it until you make it” mentality is true. If I act as if I’m having fun, even when it sucks, I will have more fun.
  • Speaking of which, I’m going to have more fun. If I’m running a race and come to a beautiful scenic area, I’m going to stop and appreciate it. If I want take a new direction on a training run to see where it goes despite it adding miles, I’ll do it. If I can run with different groups, even people significantly slower than I want to go or have time to go with, I’ll join them. This is, after all, supposed to be fun.
  • I’m going to meditate every day. That’s another good way to build that mental strength and reinforce what is important to me.
  • And speaking of that, if it’s not important to me, I’m not going to do it. I may not run a race that all my friends are running. There’s no shame in that.
  • I’m going to run more hills in training. Every week, I will run hills. Have to build up those muscles for the hardest part of racing.
  • I’m going to use my off days for other productive activities, like yoga or strength training. Build those muscles, after all.
  • I’m going to volunteer for a race or activity that I won’t be running. Never done that, but volunteers are the real heroes of these experiences. Especially those out there in crummy conditions.
  • I’m also going to eat better. More protein, less fat. Not just before a race but all the time. This will help me with all of the above.

A local running-related podcast and radio show did an episode about resolutions versus goals and how to properly create goals. It is not by doing what I did above – making bold, sweeping statements of things I will do or not do. You’re supposed to break them down into measurable pieces and put criteria to them, such as running 15 miles every Saturday or such.

But I am not that organized, and I know even the best intentions may fail. These are resolutions, not just goals. They will be adjusted and fine-tuned daily. And I’m sure my moods and frustrations will get the best of me often in the coming year. I have to be prepared for that. I think making these kinds of resolutions will work for me, and the goals to meet those resolutions will come with time.

Now I have to get started!

A Running Story

runnerIf you are a runner and ever read running websites or related memes, you’ve surely seen those that say something to the effect of “You run, so you’re a runner.” They’re intended for people like me.

I didn’t run in school. I didn’t run after graduating. Running was hard and boring. But a few years ago, in the midst of getting healthier and using the gym regularly, I visited Colorado for a week. And when I returned, flush with all the extra oxygen for a day or so, I hopped on the treadmill and jogged while watching ESPN. It didn’t kill me.

I think what turned my perspective around on running was realizing that the most solitary sport in existence was a lot more fun when doing it with other people. When I started running with the Borough Runners at the Lost Borough on Thursday nights and training with some similarly beer-fixated friends, even the long runs became fun.

When training for a marathon, we slogged through 17 miles of mud and slush on the Seneca Trail and finished with a cookout in the park’s lot despite shivering in 30-degree temperatures. Even morning runs have been known to end in a beer. (Often I tell people that I run so I can continue to drink beer and stay in shape.)

In 2014, I ran my first 5k in May and was hooked. I think I found a different 5k every weekend for much of the summer. I was even getting reasonably fast. My first 10k closed the running season at the end of October, and I won my age group. First and last time I would win an age group medal.

In 2015, my goal was to run a half marathon. I accomplished that mid-summer. I also started running trails. My first trail run was a 10-mile trail race, and I ran it in road shoes. Trails were so much fun that I ended the running season in December by running 15 miles on trails.

stage-race1A half marathon seemed like a completely reasonable distance. But something seemed wrong about doing a “half” of anything. So in 2016, my goal was to run a marathon. I signed up for two: the Sehgahunda trail marathon in May and the Rochester road marathon in September. Both turned out to be unseasonably hot – Sehgahunda topped out at 96 degrees – but I finished them both. And I capped the running season off with a 50k (31 miles) in November on trails.

I am already signed up for two marathons in 2017, and there may be other crazy races. Another post will talk about my resolutions and goals for the year. Part of the reason for starting this blog is because I’ve been in a rut. The hard races feel harder lately. The mental intensity isn’t there. I need to get that back again in 2017.

 

Introduction

http://www.forestwander.com

This site is more for me than for you. But you’re welcome to read it.

This is not the first blog I’ve created over the last decade or so. Every so often, I get the urge to keep some type of record. And writing a journal for me and me alone has never been satisfying. There is something final and cathartic about putting words out there for others to see.

I thought I’d start a running blog to keep track of my current hobby. It seemed a way to organize my thoughts and keep me motivated in the coming year. But a blog about running alone would be unfulfilling. I’m more concerned with how the running experience fits into my life. And I’m sure I’ll have other things to say.

So rather than pigeonhole the site into one specific area, I thought I’d allow other ramblings to enter. Perhaps beyond motivating me to run, this will also motivate me to write.

A few promises here:

  • This site is for me; therefore, I will write what I want. If you don’t like it, you can go elsewhere.
  • I will be honest. Putting the words online is meaningless if one is not honest. Part of experiencing life is doing things that scare you.
  • There will imperfections and factual inaccuracies. This is a destination for my thoughts, not a media source.
  • I will use images found online where they seem necessary. Most of these are freely available and not used for monetization. If you find an image of yours is used incorrectly, let me know and I will remove it.

They say the first post is the hardest. More coherent ramblings to come…