Monday, January 16, 2017

Racing Goals for 2017?

I posted my basic running goals for 2017 last week. They were not very specific and didn't include any races. Now it's time for racing goals! Or not. I'm not ready to commit to a full schedule of races, but I am registered for one spring race. Let's talk about that one.

On April 22, I'll toe the line at the Illinois Half-Marathon. And this is not intended to be an easy training run. I want a new personal record! My current half PR is 1:32:35. By mid-morning on that Saturday, it should be a faster PR. I'm thinking 1:31, but I'd love to break 1:30. If I ran 1:29:59 I'd be happy to retire from half-marathon racing. I've only done 4 half-marathons so I'm still learning. This distance is an interesting combination of speed and endurance. Maybe it'll take a few more attempts before I achieve my potential. Still, I can dream.

Why am I optimistic that this could be a great race for me?

First, it's fairly low-key and local. I live just outside of Champaign-Urbana so there is no long drive or flight, no hotel, no odd dinner choices, no stresses. I can relax at home and head to the race at my leisure. Plus, the race has tons of free parking and starts/finishes on campus at the University of Illinois (where I work). I know the campus and the race route. Heck, it runs right by the building where my office is located in campus-town on Green Street. The race is basically a tour around my second home. Let's just call it home-field advantage.

The other thing that makes me somewhat confident heading toward this race is my understanding of, and commitment to, actual half-marathon training. I've finally wrapped my head around this distance (rather than my typical ultra mindset). I'm not following any set schedule, I am simply listening to my body and running hard when I can. I'll skip the ultra long runs and replace them with steady-state tempo runs and medium long runs that should provide speed, stamina, and endurance. Eye on the prize!

Finally, I have extra motivation to excel. My friends Gregg and Joe are running and I plan to crush them both. Unfortunately, that isn't hard--they will both be lucky to break 1:40. I can do that in a training run (almost). Still, I'd like to run well (hope they do too) and show what I can accomplish. In terms of pushing my limits, there are two faculty on campus that I'd like to beat--Jonathan and Pascal. Jonathan ran a 1:35 last year and we ran the first 2 miles together...until he realized the pace was too slow. He shot off like a rocket and finished 5 minutes ahead of me. That won't happen this year. Pascal is my other target--he ran a 1:29 last year. Can I hang with him? I can try! So, I am motivated to beat two faculty colleagues and two running friends. Time to train.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Running Goals for 2017

I haven't done very well with my outcomes-based running goals the last few years...so, no more goals based on outcomes. This year is filled with process-based goals. Here they are:

1. Run more miles. Last year I ran 1,269 miles. This year? More.

2. Run more frequently. Last year I ran 235 times. This year? More.

3. Run faster. Last year my average pace was ~9:40 pace. This year? Faster.

4. More long runs. Last year I had 11 runs of 13+ miles. This year? More.

In summary, I will run more often, longer, and faster. Simple. 2017 is going to be a fantastic year of running!

Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016 Running Summary

Last year (2015) was one of my worst years for running. This year (2016) was just as bad, maybe worse. I didn't accomplish any racing goals (more on that when I set goals for 2017). I was injured once with a twisted ankle and sick twice with a nasty cold. My overall miles were low. Not very many long runs. No personal records at any distance. My longest running streak was 26 days. Longest non-running streak was 9 days. One positive compared to 2015? My longest run was 36 miles instead of 30 miles! It was supposed to be a full 50 miles, not a DNF at 36 miles, but who's counting? For 2017, I'm going for process goals rather than outcomes. If I get in a good number of miles with no injuries, the outcomes should follow.

Here's a summary of my 2016 running statistics:

Count:235 Runs
Distance:1,269.25 mi
Max Distance:36.56 mi
Avg Distance:5.40 mi
Time:205:06:48 h:m:s
Avg Speed:6.2 mph
Avg HR:131 bpm
Calories:157,926 C
Elevation Gain:52,997 ft

Not terrible. Not great either. I can do better in 2017.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

2017 Key Races and "Training Seasons"

I feel excited and motivated to THINK about running in 2017. I'm not ready to COMMIT to a full training and racing schedule for 2017, but I have thought a little bit about what my key races will be and how I might organize my "training seasons" to emphasize certain aspects of running development to prepare for those target races. Here are preliminary ideas for next year.

Three primary races:
  • April 22: Illinois Half-Marathon. I'd like to set a new personal record (currently 1:32:35). In my dreams, I'd like to break 1:30. That's a stretch. I'd be happy with 1:31:59. This race should motivate me to train through the winter and keep a reasonable endurance base, with a touch of speed and stamina. 
  • August 12: Howl at the Moon 8-Hour Ultra. This is a yearly event for me, but I'd like to actually run well this year! The last 2 years have seen me crash and burn. I'd like to achieve 45+ miles in 8 hours, with a dream of 50 miles if weather and my preparation come together. I've run 47 miles more than once, but those efforts were a few years ago. Getting older doesn't make PRs any easier. If the Illinois half-marathon goes well in late April, I'd have the speed and simply need to add lots of aerobic endurance (and heat training) over the next 3+ months. 
  • Fall: Boston Marathon qualifying attempt. I'm not ready to give up on Boston. Fall usually brings cool weather. I'd like to find a local marathon (within 3 hour drive) that I can target for a BQ attempt. Maybe Indianapolis? Saint Louis? Chicago? Naperville? I'm open to suggestions! If I pull off a good Howl at the Moon ultra race, then I'll head into marathon training with a fantastic endurance base and just need to add tempo (lactate threshold) and speed work (VO2max) to prepare for a BQ marathon in the fall.  
My overall training plan will keep these races in mind and basically divide the year into three big seasons:
  • January-April: Half marathon training focused on endurance and stamina with tempo and speed work to be in peak form for the Illinois Half-Marathon. Long runs in the 10-15 mile range, tempo runs of 3-7 miles, and 800-1600 meter repeat intervals. Easy recovery runs too. 
  • May-August: Ultra focused training for Howl at the Moon. Lots of easy aerobic running with long runs in the 18-30 mile range. Maybe even some low-key 50K races as part of training. No more short speed work, but I would incorporate longer steady-state tempo runs to maintain stamina. Heat training would need to be part of the mix.
  • September-November: Marathon preparation for a BQ attempt. Shorten the long runs to 16-20 miles, add in long intervals (1-mile repeats), and medium length tempo runs. Regular marathon-pace efforts too. Taper and race hard! 
  • December: Rest and celebrate the year's victories and new personal records. Make plans for 2018.