2015: Going Farther and Longer

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With 26.8 inches of snow piling up outside, this weekend’s blizzard provided a nice, quiet weekend to finally reflect on the year gone by. It marked my third full year of running, and as I tallied up the numbers I couldn’t help but think how my love for the sport continues to grow and evolve.

Two marathons, one ultra marathon and more than 1,400 miles later, I’d run farther and longer than I could’ve ever imagined just a few short years ago. I spent far more days last year training for those longer distances, like the marathon, than not. And after taking more social rainchecks than I’d care to admit in order to knock out those weekend long runs, it was satisfying to see how the miles (and effort) stacked up:

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Over the course of the past year I also bettered my race times, particularly in the half marathon distance, but I know I haven’t cracked my potential yet, especially at the 26.2 distance. I’ve always posited that there is a lagging relationship between the pounding miles, improved fitness and PRs. This year, I look forward to putting that theory to the test, as I again strive to go far and long, but hopefully just a little bit more quickly.

Photo credit:freeimages.com

 

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2014: Measuring Steady Progress

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Photo credit: greatmindsthinkfit.com

The first few weeks of January are a stark contrast to the hectic holiday season.  The fleeting sunlight of those short, dark and cold winter days, once hidden amid the bright, festive lights, challenge us to dig deep for that endorphin antidote.

I’ve found a committed pursuit toward steady progress is a powerful motivator for layering and lacing up when the wind is blowing and the mercury is stuck below the freezing mark.  With the second turn of the calendar since I began running, I thought it would be a good idea to see whether the numbers supported what I thought: that my consistency, milage and endurance continued to steadily progress. After a “run” of the data:

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Fortunately, my perceptions weren’t too far divorced from reality.  Best of all, the numbers reveal there is still plenty of room for more progress in 2015.  For that, I will raise my glass of nuun and  toast to an exciting new year of miles and milestones!

2014 Fitness Goals Check-in

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Several years ago when a friend observed that once the calendar turns to August the year is basically over, I looked at him as though he had three heads.  After all, it didn’t take a mathematician to realize that we’d just passed the mid-year point.  I’ve come to realize since that he was right.

The second half of the year often feels like a roller coaster cresting the highest hill, ready to barrel down the tracks with increasing speed until, before long, it rolls into yet another new year.  So before the sheer momentum of the year-end descent takes on a life of its own, it seems appropriate to assess the progress I’ve made toward achieving my 2014 fitness goals.

  1. Set a sub-8:00 pace per mile PR.  Consistent training throughout this year’s polar vortex certainly yielded spring dividends.  April proved to be a milestone month, as I finally broke the 8:00 barrier.  The steady progress continued into May when I achieved my standing 7:52 PR.  Once the summer heat and humidity subsides, I’ll be excited to see how low I can go before the new year arrives.
  2. Stay free of injury.  So far, so good.  By taking stock of the factors that led to last year’s injury, I’m taking steps to ensure a repeat is avoided.  As marathon training progresses, adherence to the lessons learned will be key to meeting this 2014 fitness objective.
  3. Become a marathoner by finishing the 2014 TCS New York City Marathon.  While my excitement builds by the day, I am working to keep my eagerness under control.  Arriving at the start line healthy is “job one,” so I’m trusting the NYRR Virtual Trainer Program to get me there.
  4. Steadily gain strength through a consistent gym routine all year.  Striking a gym/running training balance has been a focus of mine throughout the year.  Hearing others comment on the noticeable muscle gain has certainly been a motivating factor.  As my marathon training regimen settles in, I’ll need to make sure to maintain adherence to the strength aspect as well.
  5. Develop abs that pop.  If I were perfectly on track to achieve all of this year’s fitness goals it would likely be a sign they weren’t aspirational enough, right?  I’ll admit my core hasn’t received the attention it should.  Or any attention really, to be more precise.  Well, at least the year isn’t over yet!

Overall, I’m satisfied with my progress so far – but it’s just that, progress.  As with most things in life, one can’t claim success until the finish line is crossed.  Time may be accelerating without abandon, but I know if I want to ring in 2015 with a maximum sense of accomplishments, momentum alone won’t get me there.  Rather,  I’ll need to remain fueled with persistence and dedication.

photo credit: venspired via photopin cc

Fitness Goals for 2014

I shun New Year’s resolutions.  I’ve always believed that if you want to make a change in your life, you should just do so regardless of the date on the calendar.  Besides, I’ve never really spent the turn of another year in the reflective mindset necessary to truly make lofty life-altering decisions.  I’d suggest that these so-called resolutions might be better termed mere aspirations.  By bowing to the calendar, these aspirations are more likely to lack the requisite thoughtfulness, plan and commitment required for success.  Not surprisingly, studies suggest that most resolutions don’t last an entire year.

In contrast, I do believe that carefully considered goals, backed by an action plan, are important.  Not beholden to the calendar, over the course of the last six weeks I’ve developed some fitness goals I hope to realize this year:

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  1. Set a race pace per mile PR.  In 2013, I hit an 8:00 mile pace during a July 5K.  This year I hope to drop that into the 7:00 range – even if it happens to be 7:59.
  2. Stay free of injury.  In 2013, I paid the price for making novice marathon training mistakes.  By learning from my boneheaded ways and staying diligent with cross training, I hope to make it to the start line for every registered race.
  3. Become a marathoner by finishing the 2014 TCS New York City Marathon.
  4. Steadily gain strength through a consistent gym routine all year.  Historically, I’ve found myself in a cycle of regular trips for three or four months, followed by a two to three month absence.  I’ve been consistent since August 2013, and I need to continue this trend.
  5. Develop abs that pop.  I know a strong core is key to maximizing one’s fitness potential, but it’s an area that I all too frequently ignore.  This year my core will become a priority.  After all, who doesn’t admire a popping 6-pack?

I have to admit, putting these goals down on the proverbial paper is quite invigorating!  And with a defined destination, it’s up to me to make sure I stay on track.  To hold myself accountable, I plan to formally review my progress mid-year.  In the meantime, wish me luck!  Or better yet, ignore the calendar and join me in setting some personally meaningful fitness goals.