Tuesday, January 13, 2015

It's Go Time! The Obligatory 2015 Goal Post

I know this post is a couple of weeks late, but in my running life, January 12th is the start of my 2015 Year of Running.  Yesterday marked the first day of training for the Cellcom Green Bay Marathon to be held on May 17th.

You know it! Image found here.
Since my half marathon PR on November 29th, I have put myself on a base-building offseason. This has meant lots of easy/recovery-paced runs outside and on the treadmill, done primarily to maintain my endurance base and ward off holiday weight gain. I am pleased to report that my weight is exactly the same as it was in late November. That would be about 4-5 pounds above my racing weight in Chicago, but a weight that my body seems to more naturally prefer, so I'll take it.

I am not pleased to report that my speed seems to have slowed in the intervening month. I attempted a set of mile repeats on January 2, when I realized that my next race, the Icebreaker Half Marathon, was less than a month away. There is only one word for my performance: Oof. About 20 seconds slower per mile than I was six weeks prior, when I did my last set of repeats.

I moped around for the rest of the day, Googling "base-building" and "offseason," and reading articles that reassured me that constant speedwork will bring diminishing returns and periodization of training is a real thing. Perhaps it would have benefited me to stick in one or two tempo runs during December, but there was nothing I could do about that now. Onward and upward!

Which brings me to the goal-setting portion of this post. 2014 was the year that I hit my stride (so to speak) in my running journey. I ran two 5Ks, three 10Ks, one 8K, one Ragnar Relay, five half marathons and 2 full marathons. Through it all, I set PRs in all of those distances and won age group awards in the 5K, 10K and half marathon. I also snagged a Boston Qualifier for 2016 at the Chicago Marathon. And along the way, I cemented old friendships and gained precious new ones through my Facebook page. Runners truly are just friends you haven't met yet!
My 2014 Running Year in Photos (clockwise from top left): Polar Dash 14 Miler; March Madness Half Marathon; Wisconsin Marathon; Swirlgear Event with fellow Facebook Page Administrators and friends; Huntley Run Thru the Sun 10K (1st in age group); Ragnar Chicago; Sunset Half Marathon (3rd in age group); Zooma Chicago Half Marathon (1st in age group); Red Run Algonquin 5K (1st in age group); Chase the Bear 10K (1st in age group); Long Grove Turkey Trot 8K; Schaumburg Half Marathon. Center Photo: Chicago Marathon.
The big question in my mind is: Have I peaked? I am, after all, 40 years old, and I have no athletic background whatsoever. I know my times aren't fast, objectively speaking, but for me, they are faster than I ever dreamed of running. So when I made my goals for 2015, I continued to be cautiously optimistic that I can reach new PR heights, but I chose many of my goals because I feel like it is time to step up my game, based on my 2014 year. Things that I thought I didn't need to do or deal with in 2014 because I wasn't a "real" runner yet. Well, guess what? I'm serious and here for the long haul, so it's time to act like it with some of these new habits.

So my goals for 2015 are:

(1) Run two marathons, and shorter races as tune-ups. My spring marathon is looming large already. I will most likely do Chicago again for my fall marathon. I do not know how these training cycles will go, so I am a bit scared to speculate on time goals and any future BQs right now, although I'm sure I'll do it later. Of course I will always hope to PR in every race, but in 2014, I had a laser focus on the clock. In 2015, I hope to... 

(2) Never lose sight of the joy that I feel while running, and do not let go of that feeling even if the PRs do not come as often this year. I want to be able to run the lap around Lambeau Field at the end of the Green Bay Marathon, and delight in it, even if my race thus far has not been delightful. My reasons for running go beyond medals and awards. The most important reason is to keep stress and anxiety at bay. Someday I will do a post on all the reasons I run, but the competition factor is just one reason among many. I need to put that reason in its rightful place. 

Running a lap around mecca...er, I mean, Lambeau Field, and waving to my family in the stands. If I'm in the pain cave when this happens, it's going to be a major bummer! Image found here.
 (3) Continue to take part in the running community by nurturing friendships, delighting in the successes of others, and maintaining my Facebook page and this blog as well as I am able. I'm not one of those bloggers/page administrators that can adhere to a certain posting schedule, at least right now; life gets in the way too often. I can always make time, however, to interact with my friends on social media and in person.  My running friends are gearing up to crush some great goals this year, and I can't wait to cheer them on!
My sweet friend Michelle at This Momma Runs made this from a photo taken at the Zooma Chicago race.
Where are the "step up my game" goals, you ask? Here they are:

(4) Respect recovery runs. In 2014, I often tacked on extra miles to my recovery runs, just because I had a little extra time, so why not use it? I have made a pact with myself to do only the miles on the training plan on those days. I'm hoping this will result in better quality workouts on other days of the week. If it doesn't, disregard this goal, but I'm thinking it will!

(5) Make time for at least one core workout per week. In 2014, I thought that the "plank challenges" and "core workouts for runners" that filled up my Facebook and Pinterest feeds were meant for someone else. My core was strong enough, I thought. In 2015, however, I am trying to shave seconds per mile however possible, and I think better core strength can help with that. I'm not sure I'm going to become a Jillian Michaels devotee, but I'm going to try to plank and do some other core exercises at least once per week. I have to start somewhere!

(6) Eat cleaner. I try to eat a lot of veggies and lean protein, but processed foods (especially grains) are my nemesis. Part of my love for processed foods comes from the fact that I track my calories, and if the calories are written on the package, they are easier to track.  But I'm slowly making veggies, fruits and protein a bigger portion of my diet. It is only January 13th, but I hope to continue, and I hope I begin to see results from it in my running!

I'm looking forward to where 2015 will take me. I'm not quite sure where it will be yet, but I know it will be interesting, and I know I will have friends to share it with. What more could a girl ask for?

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