The final few months of 2014 were a bit of a bummer for me running-wise due to a couple injuries but I also made some great strides toward my long-term goals this year. This is just a quick look back at what the highlights were for me in 2014 and what I’m building toward in 2015.
I had two goal marathons lined up in 2014 – Waterloo in the spring and then Hamilton in the fall. Running through the winter was really tough but I think it made me stronger and really made me appreciate the nice weather through the spring/summer/fall.
I started to train harder and more than I should have and that led to inflamed tibialis anterior tendon injuries before Waterloo. With several weeks of poor training, many missed workouts, and the entire week before the race spent not running at all, I barely made it to the starting line and set what is still my marathon PB, 2:41:39.
Through the summer, I trained occasionally with another fast, local runner – Taylor Kraayenbrink – and ran a bunch of successful 10K races, improving on my 35:01 PB from university (2007!) down to 34:09, 33:27, and 32:58. I switched gears back into marathon training, put in too many miles and too many crazy workouts in a short period of time, and got myself injured again. This time, even after tapping all my recovery resources, struggling through eight weeks of poor training and missed workouts, and even taking two full weeks off, I still couldn’t get in a pain-free jog let alone race a marathon. I missed my fall goal race and my target of a shiny new PB.
I learned some tough lessons about what my body can and cannot handle:
- Don’t increase mileage drastically while doing workouts. No more jumping from 60 miles/week to 95 miles/week as soon as marathon training begins. This time, I’ll build up a base of easy miles and once I’m comfortably where I want to be for the remainder of my training cycle (mileage-wise), I’ll start introducing workouts.
- Be careful about too many long runs in a short period of time. When I was feeling my best in June and July, I was running about 75 miles/week and I was knocking out some of the best workouts I’ve ever run. But I was only doing one long run each week. As soon as my marathon training cycle began, in addition to a huge jump in mileage, I started occasionally running two long runs in a week. The breaking point came at the end of August where I ran five long runs (totalling 95 miles) in a span of ten days. Immediately following that period, I ran my best race of the year at the Springbank Half Marathon but I think I had also compromised the remainder of my fall training plans. The six weeks after Springbank were filled with injuries, lots of physio/chiro, painful 2 mile jogs, and really poor workouts – if any at all.
- Cross-train. Since deciding to build my mileage up slower, I won’t be running as many miles this spring and I have the opportunity to fit in some cross-training to make me stronger, help me avoid injuries, and hopefully make me a better runner. Instead of running for 11-12 hours/week (at peak), if I run 7-8 hours/week, I should have room for strength-building and core-stabilization workouts. This is a hard habit to get into but the trick for me was to do a little every day. It’s much easier to squeeze in a 15 minute core session than it is to schedule an hour-long workout when you’ve already run that day. Basically, any time I’m watching a TV show, I’ll be sitting on the floor foam rolling or getting in a quick strength routine.
I’m looking forward to 2015 and hoping it will be a big year for my running. Accordingly, I’ve set some big goals for myself. I’d like to run something around 2:25 this spring (the closer to 2:20 the better) and improve from there in the fall. Someone running 2:25 would have been be the 11th fastest Canadian in 2014 and 12th in 2013 so it’s pretty exciting to even be thinking about running these sorts of times. I have no idea how things will work out but I’m going to give it my best shot!