2014 was a poor year of racing for me both in the quantity and quality of my performances. They started to come around at the end of the year and I am carrying that momentum into the New Year. I am planning on racing as much as possible at a variety of distances. I am running the SDSU Alumni 1 Mile race at their invitational this weekend. I have never been fast at this distance and surprisingly, I am hoping to run my best time at the distance. My current best time at the full mile distance (as opposed to a converted 1500 or 1600) is only 4:33. I plan to set a good pace through 1000m to ensure a fast time. Hopefully my speed endurance holds out and allows me to run at least 4:33. After this weekend, I am going to truly begin training for the ultramarathon distance. I plan to run the Lean Horse 50 in August. I am going to incorporate some higher intensity work as well so I can run more road and track races in the meantime.
2015 is also the second year in a row that I have set the goal to average 10 miles per day for the entire year. Last year was pretty bad. I haven't tallied up my yearly totals but I would guess that I ran about 2000 miles. Since Danielle and I are expecting very soon, I am in "Money in da Bank" mode. I am stockpiling as many miles as possible right now so that I can take some days easier or off later.
In the last part of this first blog post of 2015, I want to reflect upon a few running lessons that I have learned in the last few months. Despite having run for a long time, I seemingly had no idea what my body actually needed to run fast and stay healthy. While looking at my collegiate results and mileage, you can tell that it is very sporadic. I would run 100 miles a week for a few weeks then be down to 50 then back up to 90. My performances too, were all over the place. Sometimes I would have a great race but I had some bad ones too. Most of them were consistently below what I thought that I could have and should have been doing. When I finished college in 2012, I wasn't sure what was out there for me as far as racing. I had done a lot of miles in high school and college and improved slowly. I thought that I may have peaked and wasn't going to see much more for improvement. In the last few months, I have found a few sources of motivation that lead me to believe that I have more in me
First, I have truly found meaning in rest and taking easy days easy. In college and high school, I ran fast every day. When you are fit, there isn't too big of a difference, aerobically, between 6:30 and 8:00 minute pace. The real difference is allowing your muscles the time to heal and grow stronger. Now, I spend a lot of my running time at paces around 8:00 or even slower. I also run trails as often as possible and that slows me down while providing stimulus in different ways. Hills, turns, snow, uneven terrain do a lot to slow you down but have a ton of benefits too. I have found that for me, rest applies more to effort than to volume. I can run 100 miles per week over and over as long as the effort is something that I can manage and recover from. Now, with freedom of schedule and no consistent running partners to pound into the ground, I can apply more intensity as needed but not too much.
Next, I am learning the value of healthy eating and body weight. In college, my weight varied from 154-177 lbs. Even on the lower end of that, I didn't feel like I was as lean as most of my teammates or competitors. Right now, I am at 157 and feel that I have at least 7 lbs to lose to get to an ideal racing weight. 150 is still plenty heavy for a 5'10" distance runner. In order to reach this weight, I need to be able to train consistently. So far that has been easier to do with less hard efforts and more freedom to do what I need to do on a daily basis. The other thing that I need to do is eat less sweets. Ice cream to candy to gatorade, it all adds up. I could also do without the frozen pizzas and cereal. Eating healthy should be easier for me now than it has ever before.
Finally, I have found the right workload for me to succeed. First, I need to trust the long run. In college, it was too easy to cut it short after a long bus ride the day before or after a night of drinking with friends. Now, I make sure that whatever I do the day before, I am out there for a long time. Time is more important than mileage and I always try to get on some softer surfaces for these runs. My other key workout is hill training. Doing this on treadmills is especially good for getting my heart rate up while keeping my legs healthy and fresh. Consistent high mileage with just a few hard efforts is going to propel me to success in 2015.