2016 Goals and Training

We’re already more than a week into 2016. I’ve been thinking about my goals, but also a bit about how I’ll achieve them. It will be hard for me to have a better year than 2015, but it’s definitely possible to match it, particularly if I can remain injury free. If I can remain injury free, I fully expect to beat all my PR’s 10k and up. (My high school 5k (16:32) and mile (4:34) PRs aren’t going anywhere soon.)

My primary goal is to run faster than 3:00:00 in a marathon. My goal last year was to qualify for Boston. I did, but I didn’t qualify by enough and I ultimately didn’t make it into the race. I’d really like to make it in next year, or even just get to the point where I have the option. I’m pretty sure if I actually make it I’ll sign up and go as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

With a sub-3:00 marathon being my primary goal, how do I get there? I was originally thinking about running more miles and getting up to ~55 miles per week. However, as I’ve thought about this more, I don’t think it’s something I necessarily want to commit to. I’m fairly injury prone and injuries are the most likely obstacle to me reaching my primary goals. Right now my plan is to stick with the 3+2 regimen set forth in Run Less, Run Faster. Three days of running and two days of cross training. On the sixth day I’ll either rest, cross train, or do a recovery run. (I don’t exercise on the Sabbath, so I only have six days of training per week.) I got a road bike for Christmas, so I expect to mix in more cycling into my cross training.

Besides regular training and cross training, I really need to do more stretching and strengthening drills and exercises. I plan on doing these about twice a week for at least 15 minutes. I think I mostly just need to develop the habit. I can do some stretching at my stand-up desk at work or while I’m at home watching a movie or reading. Thus, it doesn’t take too much time and I don’t have a good excuse not to do it — I just need to develop the habit.

Another goal I hope to achieve this year is to break into the top 10 at the Race to Robie Creek. I think I can do it if I continue regular training. Last year, the 8th, 9th, and 10th runners all came in at 1:28:xx. The year before was fairly similar. However, I know that last year the top runner has some issues and dropped out in the last 5 miles. I also know another runner that beat me at Zeitgeist that will likely move into the top 10. And I’m pretty sure the guy that won Zeitgeist didn’t run Robie last year, and he could possibly win Robie if he shows up. I’m thinking I’ll need to hit <1:27 to make sure I’m there. That’s definitely possible, although it will take some work and a good training stretch. We’ll see!

One other option, depending on injury, is to do a Half Ironman. I now have a road bike. I’ve often done 20-30 minutes twice a week on the stationary bike for cross training. I’m fairly confident with 2 or 3 months of good training I could do a solid Half Ironman. My biggest obstacle is the swim. I’d have to get a gym membership and work on my form quite a bit, but I think I could survive it with some practice. The Half Ironman is a back up option, as I’m much more concerned with qualifying for Boston for the time being.

Basically, I feel like I still have 2-4 years of steady improvement before I peak. I’ve been improving for 3 years now, so assuming the general rule of 7 years to peak, I should have a couple solid years left. If I increase my mileage and avoid injury I can probably get a lot from these next two years. Even if I just repeat my training regimen from 2015 I think I can improve. I hope I can make the most of 2016!

2015: Year in Review

2015 was probably the best running year of my life. The only other year that comes close is my senior year in high school, but I’m not sure it was quite as good as 2015.

My recent running life reemerged in 2013. That year I cut 19 minutes off my time from the year before at the Race to Robie Creek. I also committed to run the St. George Marathon with my father-in-law, and then I surprised myself by getting a personal record (3:24), beating my PR set in 2001 when I was 18 years-old. I had a great experience at the marathon and immediately wanted to run another. I also realized that I could potentially qualify for Boston at some point if I worked at it.

2014 was a fairly disappoint year. I was plagued by injuries that cost me 3-4 weeks of training at a time. First it was a foot tendon issue, then it was a strained calf, then another foot tendon issue (I get these a lot), and finally a sore knee to finish out the year. I barely achieved a marathon PR (3:21 at the Phoenix Marathon) and it was in March — early in the year. Nevertheless, I think I improved my base endurance capability quite a bit, and I learned some valuable lessons about injury prevention and not being stupid.

In late 2014 I signed up for the Newport Marathon, which was going to be on May 30th. That gave me plenty of time to train and improve leading into May. I used the 3:05 marathon training schedule in Run Less, Run Faster and got to work. The schedule is for 16 weeks, so I had a few extra weeks built in. That turned out well because I was sick a couple times and ran the Race to Robie Creek in April (which required a small taper and some recovery).

A week before Robie Creek I achieved a post-high school PR in the 5k (18:48) at a little fun run my company put on. That totally surprised me.

Then I achieved a big course PR at the Race to Robie Creek (1:31).

While I didn’t do as well as I hoped at Newport, I still achieved a PR (3:13).

I continued training through the summer and picked up a half marathon PR at the Idaho Falls Half Marathon (1:23 — excluding the wrong turn).

Then in September I finally met my goal of a 3:04 marathon at Mt. Nebo.

I felt great and my fitness was better than ever, so in October I ran the Foothills 50k Frenzy, my first ultramarathon.

Finally in November, I picked up a course PR at Zeitgeist (1:28) despite a strained calf.

That was followed by a 10k PR at the turkey trot (37:27).

Like I said, my best year ever. I PR’d in every distance 10k and above, as well as a post-high school 5k PR. Unfortunately the year didn’t end on a high note, as a small Achilles strain kept me from training much in December. Nevertheless, as long as that heals up I’m looking forward to a good 2016.

What made the difference this year for me? First was consistency. 2014 and 2015 were my most consistent running years since high school. 2013 wasn’t too bad either. What separated 2015 from 2014 was the lack of injuries. I think before December I only had two or three weeks that I couldn’t run due to a strain. One contributor to fewer injuries was that I would adjust my schedule if something was hurting. I also did more cross training and was sure to adjust my effort (rather than going really hard every run). I also bought some cheap compression ankle braces which I felt helped prevent sore spots from worsening.

All of that led to logging about 1359 miles of running in 2015, plus another 344 “equivalent” cross training miles (basically I count about 10 minutes of cross training as 1 equivalent running mile). That was by far the most I’ve ever ran and trained in a year.

I’m hoping for a great 2016. I’ll post again regarding my goals.