What am I Doing this Season Anyway?

I’ve been kinda vague about this one so far not because I’m being dramatic or building suspense or anything but because I really didn’t have it figured out yet. I mostly do now, sorta kinda a little bit at least. It’s one of my first posts on here was about how to plan a race season and it’s still a good one so check it out. But it is super important. If you don’t plan you risk either lacking direction and falling short of your potential for the season or taking on too much, burning out and/or getting injured. Last year was a huge year for me a half PR and then my first olympic and it was all well planned out by October 2017. At the end of last season I really didn’t have any direction for this year and I’ve only gotten a little more recently. I decided at the end of last year not to have another huge year this year because last year was a lot. So here’s the direction my season seems to be heading.

Last year’s lessons

Last year I spent 5 months in training and I’ve been mouthing off around here since that last year was a lot to ask of my friends and family and especially my partner. That’s true and all but even though I wrote this post about why I’ll probably never run a marathon by the end of last year I was starting to think about it. Just not this year. I did realize though that the PEI Marathon might be the perfect place for me to marathon though if I ever did. So I want to save that hell for everyone for another year. Plus I’m not quite ready yet, can’t explain it I’m just not. Even part way through the olympic I knew I wanted another shot at it but again not quite yet. With all those realizations last year I was at a bit of a loss for what I was going to do this year. 

Races with others this year

I knew last year that I’d be doing a 10k with my mom at the start of June this year, plus a 5k at tire trot in June because who can refuse a free race? Other than that there was a non-zero chance that I’d be doing a half-marathon, or at least doing a lot of the training for one with my step-dad at the start of September, but where did that leave me otherwise? No new distances, a few slow races scheduled where did that leave me? I thought about it, and thought about it over the winter and then thought about it some more. I figured that left me with a smattering of 5k’s and 10k’s and maybe something else. Was this the year to try to break some standing records then? Could I even do that? 

Thoughts leading to goals over the winter

My last ‘real’ race last year was a last minute 10k in PEI and since mid July I had just been working out for fun with no real #goals along the way. I actually tried to hold back since I knew I had a long drive home ahead of me. I was surprised after all that to be within a minute of my PR even though I stopped to take a picture or two. That was my first clue that those records might be breakable if I gave it a good try. That 5k though, that sub 30 I already held looked pretty good to me still over the winter. This winter was two things cold and icy but I got out there every week at least as planned and kept my milage above 50 km per month since the beginning of the year. I also spent a lot of time in the pool and on my new trainer.

Early this spring Parkrun came to this neck of the woods so I ventured out for the inaugural run in the rain and the cold. Due to silent peer pressure and lots of running club shirts there I went out hard and ended up within 25 seconds of that 5k record way before the real start of spring and still doing a good ice shuffling on my regular runs in a big way. The volunteer that scanned my bar code even noted that I was hardly out of breath at the end. When I broke that old 5k record I was well and fully done and sat down on the grass for a spell to re-coop and I was wearing a tutu, a big one but I digress. 

Now there’s no runner out there that doesn’t want to get faster despite what they might be telling you and now I’m toying with the idea of a marathon. Naturally what would my marathon time be? Well even though I’m not the fastest runner out there I’d still like to be comfortably under 5 hours. So if Im going to do it then I’d like to get a hair faster first. My recent races and passing comments from strangers led me to believe that really at this point in the journey that’s a real possibility so for the most part that’s what I’m going to do this year. Work on getting faster, maybe (hopefully) break some records and start planning for my first marathon in 2020, maybe.

Firm(er) plans for this year

Even though I’ve done quite a few serious (for me) races and worked more than a couple of training plans in the past I’ve usually gone for new distances over quality repeat training. Also I’m starting to realize I’m running out of new distances faster than I’m running out of years of life. If I keep going for a new distance every year I’ll be working on my ironman by the time I’m 40 in just a few years. I’m not sure that’s a place I ever want to get to truth be told. What comes after that? Forest Gump style running? Doing a new distance year after year is great, nothing wrong with it really, but I find I end up working a new plan and just ‘get through’ the workouts. Re-doing the half last year showed me that when you circle back on a plan the work you do in training is of better quality. 

So this year I’ll be running lots of hills, cross-training like a mofo and running lots of manageable 5k’s and 10k’s along the way. Which is great because there are lots of those sorts of races to choose from close to home, they’re way cheaper and I can do lots more of them, plus Parkrun! In a case of never say never I think I will actually be employing my bare minimum half plan to train for an easy half with my step-dad in September just in case I should be needed but that leaves me without something bigger and fun to focus on for myself. But I’ll be adding a good long bike ride a week and hopefully doing lots of swimming.

I loved the variety and getting to ride my bike all the time last year triathlon training, plus evening swims and it was just so lovely. Living where I do combined with our summers getting warmer and warmer not swimming at the beach every night seems like a wasted opportunity. I haven’t done a sprint in at least 4 years now so I think that will be my one big thing this year. I really want to go back to my original course at Shubie-Dooby but whether or not that race happens in a given year is pretty hit or miss. I also get that if I do decide to go for the marathon one year that will be pretty much an only running year and I’m not feeling that for this year at least.

Season reasoning and planned races

Above are the rambling thoughts that started to form my season plan but fall short of an actual plan that is focused, has goals and won’t lead to injury. So here. Is the more focused version of that. I want to get faster this year and I think there is lots of room for my base level of intensity to take a step up generally. I’ve already been just going for it a bit more this spring shaving roughly 20 seconds off my per/km time by going out harder and just letting the odd walk break happen without much thought when it’s feeling hard. Those walk breaks are mostly gone now at my new faster speeds so I’m ready to start mixing some speed work into that new intensity level. Now a word of caution here just going out faster ever single run to get faster can be a recipe for overtraining and injury. The established method for getting faster safely is to do your long runs slower and focusing on the quality of your speed workout once a week which is what I’ve done for the past 2+ years and it’s been working. I find myself now in a place where during periods without doing any sort of planned speed workouts and long runs I’m brushing up against PR’s while just planning to have fun during races. After those races I also have a lot left over in the tank. I’ve done some thinking and I realized that I’m not really living up to my potential as a runner and I’ve come to a place where with a bit of work and focus I could probably go a little faster overall and start on a new chapter. Am I aiming for elite speeds or to win my age class at small races even? No but if I can step it up a notch why not?

So… that half that’s coming up in September will I be going for a PR? I’m probably not running it with my step-dad at this point but if he’s going to be there that day, why wouldn’t I go. After all there’s a pretty good chance someone will buy me brunch after if I do. I’ll be happy to go at his pace if he needs me but if he doesn’t I think I’ll just run, have fun and let the pace cards fall where they might. The medals for Maritime Race Weekend kick a$$ and umm… you get to dress like a pirate so count me in! Where I will be going for a PR is in the Sprint distance. If Shubie doesn’t happen that leaves Aylesford Lake at the end of August or Keji the first week of September as possibilities but I’d rather not stay over and there are more logistics for a race further away to consider. Possibly camping? Yuck but I might have to suck it up, it’s a shorter race after all. I can’t believe I’m saying this but uh… does anyone have a tent I could potentially borrow?

In the meantime I’ll be upping the quality of the running I do and registering for lots of fun 5k’s and 10k’s when I feel the urge and like the stars are aligning after a pretty full June. That’s when I’ll be starting bare minimum half training and adding a long bike ride a week for cross training, triathlon training and fun! Another thing that’s potentially making it onto the bucket list for a year in the distant future is trying a long distance swimming race, after all it’s my first sport, so I want to go for some longer sunset swims too. I really enjoy them so much when I do and with another hot summer forecasted (and a sprint on the race calendar) why not enjoy? All of that adds up to lots of good quality cross training so hopefully it will also help me smash those 5k and 10k records. See it’s a well thought out circle.

Other races on my radar are a 65k fun ride in my little community around my birthday week. Planning on participating in that one (even though it doesn’t seem a medal is part of the package, sad face) should keep me honest enough to actually make the time to get out on the bike. Finally honey and I enjoyed out PEI weekend poker/running getaway so much last year that it seems a shame not to do it again. If his poker tournament lines up with marathon weekend again, maybe they are designed to, I would love to close out my season having some fun there again. 5k, 10k or even half. I do really care but making the time to support him in his passions for more than an hour or so at a time (with a side of racing). That getaway was a really great fit for us!

So for a season without a really exciting new distance planned it turns out I had a lot to say. Not having a clear focus for this year made me really antsy and less serious feeling over the winter but that’s okay. Thinking about what I really wanted to accomplish this year and in the years ahead helped me craft a season for myself that gives me some rewards (and lots of medals) in the short term and will set me up for some exciting new distances in the years to come. What are you planning for this season? Any tips for getting a hair faster overall while still having lots of fun?

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