Friday, November 11, 2011

Setting running and training goals - can my past predict my future?

2011 is almost done, time to set my running, and training, goals for 2012. Can my past goals help shape my future? Setting training goals has been a mixed bag. Too big, and you end up hurt, Too small, and you under reach for your goals.

Three weeks and five days after running my last race of the year, the IMT Des Moines Marathon (a great race that I recommend), my mind is constantly working. Not thinking about work, or chores to do, or how I keep forgetting to turn the TV off after turning off the cable box for the night (again!), but about 2012.

What does next year hold? Will I run more races? Will set a new marathon PR? Can I actually give up a few days of running and train for a multi-sport event? Or run an ultra?

Looking back, my training record is not great when I try to add volume or more activity. I'll be the first to admit that my attention to proper recovery has not been the best. Sitting still is not my strong suit, and there have been many a Sunday morning where, on what is to be my one day off to recover, I've squeaked in a quick four-miler or logged an hour or so on the road bike. There is a difference between aggressive and dumb, and I was/am just dumb.

Numerous injuries have sidelined me; from the constantly recurring Achilles tendinitis (which has a new name now? ) to runners knee ( ), to frostbite (still have all of my toes - was touch and go there for about a day), brief bouts with motivation-loss, and even running myself sick, literally. The record is not good.

My best year to date was 2008 (for those from my area, you know that is odd). Ran five races, set PRs in every single one, and proposed to my wife after crossing the finishing of my last race of the year, a marathon, in which I ran in a PR. My worst year to date was 2010, where I set a set a new marathon PR, but not for lack of not-trying. My lowest year for mileage since my first full year as a runner (2007).

2011 was a good year. No PRs (technically one in the 5k) to brag about. But training became more consistent. Waking up and pounding out a few miles began to feel not like a chore, but a release. Jumping on the bike after work a few days a week was exhilarating, a change of pace, much higher speed, much lower impact, and a feeling of exhaustion afterwards that was energizing rather than tiring.

So 2012 is going to be great. How can it not? I'm logging miles and hitting workouts and expanding my fitness portfolio, it is setting up to be AWESOME. Which is probably my favorite, and most overused, word. My Achilles tendinitis is going away - again, not that I have been smart and let it recover, but it has anyways.

I am setting up a page on the blog ( ) for my goals for next year, which will be constantly evolving until registrations are completed and training plans are drawn up. But I will stick to the decision that gets made. I have only planned for and missed a race once - my first bout of Achilles tendinitis in 2007.

The goals are in order, from "acceptable" to "ideal", # 1-5. Each time I run a marathon, I prepare for and set goals, from "acceptable", which is a time that I can still accept as a victory and usually involves poor weather or practical issues make running a great race unlikely, to "projected", usually the time I believe I can hit, to "ideal", if everything falls into place and I run my best possible race. That is what I doing with my goals.

Sometimes things don't go as planned. 

Accept it.

Move on.

Do what you can do with what you still have.

With that, I hope you all set YOUR goals high, do the work, and if things don't shake out the way you want, you still stick with it and make the best out of each and every situation.

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