2017 Year in Review

I cannot believe we are mid-way through December and almost done with 2017. As the new year has been approaching, I’ve found myself reflecting a lot on everything that has happened in the past year, running and otherwise.

On the non-running side of things, I changed jobs which was a little scary but ultimately a good move I think. I also adopted Callie (my kitty) which was 1000% a great move and I feel beyond lucky to have her fluffy little face to come home to everyday.

As for the running…. it was not quite the year I had hoped for. My goals going into 2017 were to run a big PR in the half marathon in the early spring and then train for the Philly Marathon, hopefully running another big PR. It certainly did not work out that way. Maybe this was ambitious of me but  honestly, I think it was mostly bad luck that did me in.

I did eek out a small PR in the half, but looking back, I still feel that my time did not really accurately reflect the fitness I had or what I was trained to do.

But the real kicker of the whole year were the injuries that plagued my marathon training. First the Achilles tendinitis and then the hamstring strain. The decision not to run the full at Philly was literally gut-wrenching, though I know it was for the best.

So I rounded out 2017 with a 1-minute PR in the half marathon and NO marathon at all. Not exactly what I had in mind when I was looking ahead to 2017 all starry-eyed and optimistic about the coming year.

Strangely enough, I thought I would feel more annoyed looking back on this. But honestly, I feel a confidence that delayed gratification will be coming my way. Yes, in terms of actually meeting my goals, this year was a bust. There’s no way around it. But it was also the first year I feel I fully trained to my best ability. It was my first year working with a coach, and I truly do feel that in many ways, this was a building year for me (isn’t that what they always say in baseball when a team has a horrible season?). For the first time ever, I ran truly consistent mileage (with breaks only after goal races… or when injuries flared up).


2017 Weekly Mileage

And with a coach:

2017 Weekly MileageJust to dive into these numbers a little bit, from August-September, I was averaging just about 40 miles a week. In 2016, I think I put in about 2 weeks in that range right before Baystate (I peaked at 49 miles for that marathon). This year, I learned it’s not really about what you hit during your “peak week” in training – it’s about steadily maintaining a high volume for several weeks (I averaged 42 miles/week for 4 weeks leading up to my goal half).

If there’s a secret sauce for improvement in running, it’s consistency. I KNOW the cumulative mileage I put on my legs this year has made me a stronger runner. And I’m also not afraid of running high(er) mileage anymore.

Going into 2018, I still have some major time goals for the marathon, but I also don’t want to make that my only focus. More than anything, I want to focus on becoming a stronger, more injury-resistant runner. I want to be disciplined about doing the small stuff that will keep me running healthy – namely PT exercises and general strength training.

In spite of all the disappointment this year, I still feel incredibly passionate and excited for this sport. I’m eagerly awaiting my next crack at 26.2 miles on February 25th (**fingers crossed because I’ve learned it’s better not to jinx things). After that, who knows? I just want to keep running with a smile on my face.

Thoughts on Hard Workouts

Happy Wednesday!

As you all know, I started working with a coach in early November. I was ready for some extra guidance to help me reach my goals and wanted a little more support than a training plan copied out of a book can offer.

Coaching | 2 Generations RunningSo far, it’s been an AWESOME experience. I used to think I understood what I was doing with easy days and workouts but looking back now, I feel like I was blissfully ignorant. I would do my workouts, but I always targeted paces I knew I could hit. I didn’t like to fail (and I still don’t). And then I would always follow up workouts with total rest days, which meant I wasn’t running as many easy aerobic-building miles as I could have been.Consistency | 2 Generations RunningThings are finally getting consistent.

But the thing about targeting paces you know you can hit is that it means you aren’t really pushing yourself as hard as you could be. My coach has given me workouts that excite me, but also sometimes leave me questioning whether I’ll be able to complete them and hit the prescribed paces. But I’m learning to trust her and just give the workouts a shot. Sometimes I nail the workouts and sometimes I don’t. Last week I had a workout of 2 x 2 miles at 7:36 followed up with 5 minutes at 6:59. I was pretty much right on for the 2 mile repeats, but that last 5 minutes? I was WAY off – I averaged 7:24, basically 30 seconds slower than what I was aiming for and I was spent. I knew going into that interval that I didn’t have 6:59 in me, but I was willing to give it my all. And if I wasn’t working with a coach, I don’t think I would have ever given myself this workout or pushed myself this hard.

Half Marathon Training

10K PR | 2 Generations Running

Casually running 10k PRs in workouts these days.

So I’m learning that these difficult workouts are supposed to ride that line between what you’re capable of at your current fitness level and where you are trying to get to. And that’s where the improvement comes from. Before I started working with my coach, I was thinking about targeting 1:41 in the half marathon (a 4 minute improvement for me). And even that I worried, would be too aggressive. And after a few months of coaching, I am pretty darn confident I can do even better than 1:41 (though I really don’t want to jinx anything by saying that). Just have to wait till March to see what happens though. For now, I’m going to keep trusting the process and giving it my all in those hard workouts.

How’s your week going so far? Any tough workouts coming up? 

Why I Signed Up For A Coach

Hey there, hope everyone’s 2017 is off to a good start so far!

Let me warn you in advance – I have a feeling this post is a little bit rambling, but I’ve been wanting to write this for a while and at a certain point, I think you just have to hit publish. So bear with me on this, I promise I’ll get to the point. Eventually. 🙂

When I was little, I randomly decided I wanted to learn to play the violin. I don’t remember what precipitated this decision, but once it was made, there was no changing my mind. I was fortunate enough to have a family with the resources to make learning a new instrument a viable option, so a few weeks later, I had a child-sized rental violin and my own private teacher. It probably became apparent after the first 150 or so renditions of Hot Cross Buns that I was no musical prodigy, but my parents still encouraged me to practice and continue with the lessons.

And so I did for roughly 10 years, only stopping the private lessons when my schedule became overwhelmingly hectic with school, college hunting, athletics, and various other extracurriculars.

Now if my parents knew I wasn’t going to be a professional musician after all the Hot Cross Buns performances, I probably figured it out a few years later. But I still enjoyed learning each new skill and steadily improving as a violinist so I stuck with it.

Now this is a running blog, and not a music blog, so I swear there is a connection here (that I’m getting to) and not just taking you all on a leisurely stroll down memory lane. I did say this was going to be rambling, didn’t I? 😉

2 Generations Running. Long Jump.(Fun throwback pic to my long jump days!)

In 2008 (I think?), I signed up for track and field in high school. Of course, back then I thought 3 miles was a death march of a run and the 400 meters was my “long” event. 4 years ago, I ran my first half marathon and realized that I was actually physically capable of running double-digit mileage and so began my “distance running career”.

First Half Marathon | 2 Generations RunningLike with the violin, it’s been pretty clear from the get-go that I will not be going to the Olympics for any form of running event, 100 meters up to marathon. But I enjoy races and running, so I have stuck with it anyway, steadily improving as I figured things out along the way.

Delaware Marathon Race Recap | 2 Generations RunningWe both placed in our age group, despite having rough days.

A few months ago, I started hearing about coaching from several different resources (Runners World did a great podcast on the topic of coaches for the average runner and Bibrave also did a Twitter chat on the subject). I had never really considered coaching for myself before because I was new to the sport and able to steadily improve doing my own thing. But as my goals have gotten bigger, I’ve realized a little bit of guidance/support might not be a bad thing.

When I was 6, my parents didn’t set me down with a violin and a page of music and hope for the best – they got me a teacher because they had the resources to make that possible.

Now that I’m out of college and working, I have my own resources. And I’ve decided to put some of that towards a running coach. I love the sport and I don’t see myself deciding to quit anytime soon, so I feel like it’s a worthwhile investment. Training and reaching goals brings me a lot of happiness, and I know a coach will help me blow those goals out of the water.

After a lot of consideration, research, and cost comparison, I signed up to work with McKirdy Trained, a group of 11 coaches formed by head coach, James McKirdy. I had reached out to James with a few questions before I signed up and was very impressed with his honest and friendly approach. The very next day I signed up to work with the coach, Mary Johnson (who also has a fantastic blog – It’s A Marython).

2 Generations RunningI signed up in November and so far, I’m really enjoying the experience. I’ve done a lot of different workouts and run a lot of easy miles. I’ve been in the base-building phase for my March half, but things are certainly going to pick up in January and February. I’ll be running higher mileage than I ever have for a half marathon before and I know there are going to be some killer workouts, but instead of being afraid, I’m so excited.

So here’s to a new year filled with new running friends, fast races, and big PRs! 2017, I have a good feeling about you. 😉