This past Sunday I had the TV on, mostly for background noise while getting a few things done around the house, when I happened to pause and watch for a few minutes while the local news played a clip of a football player being interviewed prior to his game that evening. I’m assuming because it was New Year’s Eve, and the outcome of this game would determine whether or not the team would make it into the playoffs, a reporter asked the player a question about whether or not he had spent time reflecting on the year and how that might influence his decisions in the game that night. Now, if you know me, you know I generally dislike the NFL and football, and there are very few professional football players for whom I have much respect; this happened to be one of the few, however, and I found his response to the question interesting and relatable. Essentially, he said that he hadn’t spent much time at all reflecting on the past year because he was focusing on where he and his team were at that very moment, and how they would handle the specific game and opponent they were about to take on, which didn’t have much to do with how the rest of the games that season had gone. Well then.
The coming of a new year often makes us feel like we have to take some time to reflect on the past year, either to simply enjoy looking back on what we have accomplished or to glean some sort of lesson learned that we can take with us to better inform our future decisions. However, like this football player, I find myself very focused on right now, with little desire to spend too much time dwelling on how I ran over the past year, yet unable to project far enough into 2018 to set out detailed running goals for the entire year.
Brief Highlights of 2017
- I returned to running in late April after giving birth in early March. “Running” at this point mostly consisted of very short runs, or run/walk intervals.
- In July, I began training for the Wineglass Half Marathon using Hal Higdon’s Novice 2 Half Marathon plan. I chose this plan because I have used Higdon’s Intermediate plans in the past with some success, and I figured the Novice 2 plan was gentle enough to build up my mileage without causing injury, while still enabling me to get across the finish line. I had no intention of setting any sort of time goal for my first race back after giving birth.
- Despite a rough training cycle and low expectations for my performance in the race, I managed to set a PR of 1:59:32 and break two hours in the half marathon for the first time at the Wineglass Half Marathon. I have to credit this unexpected accomplishment with reigniting my passion for running. Prior to this, I was struggling to really “come back” to running postpartum.
- October and November were spent trying to increase my mileage and build a strong base in advance of my spring training cycle, but ended up with disappointingly low mileage due to minor injuries/”hurts” and a rough recovery from the Annapolis Classic Half Marathon.
This brings me to December 2017, which is my “now,” and what I’m focusing on as I fine-tune my goals for early 2018. December was a surprisingly good training month for me. My rough goal for December was to build my weekly mileage to 28-32 miles per week, with at least one faster-paced/speed workout each week. I nailed this goal, hitting 134.3 miles for the month, with an average weekly mileage of 33.6 miles, according to my Garmin. I have also seen the paces I naturally fall into for both easy runs and tempo runs start to drop down a bit, which is especially exciting given that my main focus for early 2018 will be to increase my speed.
Current Goals for 2018
As I mentioned, I find it difficult to look far enough ahead to set running goals for an entire year. So much of what I hope to accomplish in the second half of 2018 will depend on how I perform in early 2018.
It took me awhile to settle on a race for the Spring, which is unusual for me because I typically have a general sense of where and when I want to race well in advance of each race season. Ultimately, I ended up choosing the Shamrock Half Marathon in Virginia Beach, which will take place on St. Patrick’s Day weekend (March 16-18, 2018). Two of the major factors that led me to sign up for this race were 1) its proximity to where I live, and 2) my hope that the temperature on race day will be relatively cold since the race is a bit earlier in the season. One thing I have taken away from my training and experiences in 2017 is the realization that I perform best in colder weather, specifically with temperatures in the mid to upper 30s.
While I don’t yet have a specific time goal in mind for the Shamrock Half, I do know that I hope to improve upon the PR I set at Wineglass this past Fall. Just how much time I am able to take off my half marathon pace will play a major role in determining what I do the rest of the year. Loosely speaking, if things go poorly for me at the Shamrock Half, then I will likely try to race a local half marathon later in the Spring. However, if things go very well, I have toyed with the possibility of tackling a marathon later this year. More than likely, though, I will race another half marathon in the Fall and try to improve again on whatever time I am able to achieve in the Spring races.
Although I have a tough time making plans too far in advance, much of my 2018 planning is revolving around a goal I’ve had for several years: to run the Myrtle Beach Marathon, which usually takes place in early March. Due to various factors over the past few years, I haven’t been able to run this race yet – and unfortunately won’t be able to participate this year, either – but, I am hoping to finally make it happen in 2019. We’ll have to wait and see. As the saying goes, “(Wo)Man plans, God laughs,” and I have found this to be oh-so-true over the course of my adult life. Hence why I tend to focus on the here and now – you just never know what’s coming your way.