Sunday, March 4, 2012

The Annual Goal Checkup - 59 Races in 2011

(Originally Published on Runners World Loop 1/1/2012)
On New Year’s Day, 2011, I wrote out my running goals for the year.  Twelve months goes by quickly, and I find that if I don’t put my goals down on paper, I can easily become distracted and lose focus.  I tried to keep things reasonable and achievable.  Normally I keep this goal list private, but now that 2011 is history I’ll share it below.  It’s probably only interesting to me, but maybe this can help some of plan out your own running goals for this year.  Also, I’d be interested in hearing how some of you set goals and track results.
As it turned out, 2011 went far beyond my expectations and I’m super happy with how my running developed:
1.  I finished the Rock'n'Roll Arizona Marathon, and went on to run 4 more marathons, including a new PR at The San Francisco Marathon in July.
2.  After reading the excellent book “Racing Weight” by Matt Fitzgerald, I made some slight tweaks to my eating habits and have stabilized and maintained my weight at around 160, which seems to be a good racing weight for me.  I definitely do NOT think runners should be obsessed with weight, and I believe that if you exercise regularly, your body will probably discover its own equilibrium point that is the best weight for you.  But, if you love chocolate and ice cream like I do, it can help to have a basic understanding of how weight relates to running performance, and this book is fantastic for that purpose.
3.  My training pace varies considerably, but in general I’m able to run a 7:20 pace without too much trouble.  I find that I need to vary my pace from day to day to avoid injury.
4.  15 races turned out to be far too low; my final race on December 17th was the 59th race I participated in during 2011.  That is by far the most I have ever done in a single year.  I managed to place fairly well in most of them and earned a bunch of age group awards.  Many runners would suggest that racing that often is foolish, but I love the event atmosphere and racing almost every weekend is about the best form of entertainment I can think of.  With proper planning, there are ways to keep the cost low – it’s likely cheaper than many other forms of weekend activities.
5.  I set several new PR’s, some of them lifetime PR’s.  Makes me wonder what I could have done in my younger years!  But there’s no time like the present, and it’s never too late.
6.  I did run a few sub-40 10k’s, but didn’t quite reach the sub-39 level (except on a non-certified course).
7.  The sub-3:20 marathon goals was broken in January, so I reset to sub-3:15, which I broke in San Diego in June.  I missed the sub-3:10 by only 26 seconds in San Francisco!
8.  Total mileage for the year was 1,658.8 miles.  That included 1,240.98 training miles and 417.82 racing miles.
9.  I did get more active with The Workout Group (WOG), a wonderful team of people passionate about running, coached by the always-busy Randy Accetta, who also serves as Race Director for many of Tucson’s largest events.  “Woggers” meet on Tuesday and Thursday evenings at Reid Park.  I don’t make it to every practice, but when I do, I really appreciate being around other people who truly love running.  If a training group is available to you, I highly recommend joining them.
10.  Most of my speed work is done in races, but I did get in some interval training at WOG.  Racing most weekends leaves little time between for speed work, and I try to be careful not to overstress the leg muscles.  My routine training run routes are almost always at least slightly hilly, and sometimes I purposely run larger hills.
11.  I did do more long runs.  Actually I always look forward to the days when I have a long run scheduled.  The peaceful feeling of running for a couple of hours or more can’t be matched.
12.  The only goal I didn’t follow through on was determining my VO2 max.  When I wrote that, I thought it might help but currently I’m not so interested in this information.
13.  The primary method that I use for workout logging is TrainingPeaks.  It’s very easy for me to upload the data from my Timex GPS watch, and over time it’s easy to see trends.  I also find that logging helps tremendously in making my detailed running plans.
Now that it’s January 1, 2012, I’m going to write up a new sheet titled “2012 Running Goals”.  I won’t share the whole sheet now, but I will reveal one of my major goals for the upcoming year.  I want to try to run a marathon each calendar month this year.  I don’t plan to push each one to the max; instead, I’ll have “A Races” that are most important, and “B Races” which will basically be long training runs.  Many of them will probably be in Southern California because I can easily drive there and stay with relatives, to keep costs low.  I’ve already scheduled races through July.  My first “A” marathon is only 2 weeks away – the Houston Marathon.
Happy New Year, and my hope is that all of you who read this achieve all of your 2012 goals!

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