Thursday, January 8, 2009

Point of Reflection - Part Two: 2009

Okay so this is essentially going to be shorter than the last post. I am a little irritated because the last storm was Snow to Ice to Rain, which means the carnage on the roads is ridiculous. I guess I am going to be upset either way - if I run, slip, fall, and get injured for multiple weeks, or if I don't run at all. Perhaps I will break down and use the treadmill at work...

Anyway, here is my Christmas list of goals. I once read an article in Runner's World where Bob Kennedy explained that he liked to set a goal for one area of his training that needed improvement, and he'd work on that during to course of a season. I tend to believe in a more holistic approach, as I have a lot that could be improved :-).

Goal One - Weight

I had a decent year with continuing to bring my weight down to better accommodate my desires to be a runner again. I finally made it under 200 for the first time in perhaps 5 years, and now it is time to go further. When I shed the pounds last spring I was really watching my choices for food and making sure I knew with accuracy how many calories I was taking in. Modifying that number and increasing my running mileage really did the trick. As I got comfortable with increased mileage and results from training, I loosened my calorie counting. I didn't gain it all back, but my utter ignorance over the holidays has added pounds I don't need. Starting this week I am back to monitoring caloric intake and making sure running is removing stored calories, instead of using those acquired by daily food intake. I am also watching those "anchor' foods that got me in trouble in the first place - chips, sweets, etc. I started the year at around 198, and where I am not going to set a specific pound goal, I want to be racing lighter in the spring, summer, and fall.

Goal Two - Increased Speed and Strength

I have to be careful with this one. Done too often, speed work can destroy a body and create those nagging injuries that make regular training difficult. My basic approach is to use the shorter mileage runs I am doing these days as impromptu speed sessions. As I have said in earlier posts, it isn't essentially the best way to do speed work, but it is what I have at my disposal. Believe me, I loathe track work, but if I lived close to one, I'd prefer running repeats on a synthetic surface instead of the roads. Basically the goal here is to make an effort to really bring my average mile pace for 5k and 5 miles down under 7:00. Obviously, accomplishing the first goal will help with this as well, but learning how to run fast again is necessary to the next goal.


As far as the strength goes, I guess my point is to be better about developing my core muscles, as well as my arms. I am mostly looking for less weight and more reps with the arms and upper body to help pull me along during races. I have never been a buff guy, and I am not looking for that, but clearly I need to get rid of some of that flab. Plus, I have found weight training is great for burning calories and controlling weight.

Goal Three - Running my First Ultra

Okay, so this probably sounds ridiculous based on the last paragraph, but learning how to run faster will inevitably make long runs easier. Perhaps it means that my 'ultra' pace drops down below 11 minutes per mile. The faster training will make the "comfy, hey I could run for hours" pace slightly quicker. Please, I am not talking about debuting and pushing Leigh Schmidt to the limit - that isn't going to happen in any form, over any distance, but I think it is just an attempt to go faster and/or further over the course of a trail adventure. Besides, for trail racing, added fitness is a great thing to have, and it has nothing to do with blazing times. Don't misunderstand, my goals aren't based on times to any degree, I am just trying to be a little less of a lard butt, to put it bluntly. :-)

As I have said before, Pineland Farms 50k and the Stone Cat 50 miler are my two basic goals for 2009. Yeah, I should run that prerequisite marathon, but honestly, I have a 25 mile road training run, and a 4 hour trail training run under my belt from this Fall, the road run I pushed through insane fatigue and was really at the end of myself and the trail run I ran through mounting pain from knee soreness, so I think I have a basic base and understanding of what I can and need to do. Nothing really prepares one for an ultra, but I feel like I am ready to try. Plus, I have no illusions, 50k is going to be far easier than 50 miles, and will require entirely different mentality and strategy.

Mostly, I have unresolved goals. I wanted to run the two marathons this Fall to have finally run a marathon, but it was also to do so in tribute to my paternal Grandfather, who passed away a couple years ago. He was the Grandfather that saved me. He provided me with ample encouragement and structure in life. He showed me that anything can be done if you really want it bad enough. He taught me about making smart decisions. He taught me about respect, honesty, and enjoying life. Work hard and be thankful of the things you have, are two ideals that have been instilled in me. Ultra events and trail racing, in general, seem to fit these ideals. Ultras require some degree of effort, but the races and the training can be enjoyable based on the vistas and the people you encounter along the way.

Goal Four - Run More Trail Events

I ran three races in 2007, and two in 2008 on the trails. Though, I did significantly more training on the trails last year.

This year I want to attempt to a few more races on trails, and look at the Eastern New England Trail Running Series (http://easternnewenglandtrailraceseries.org/) as a source of events throughout the region and the year. It makes more practical sense for me because I do not drive often with my eyesight being what it is, and I have the most trouble driving in unfamiliar places. Thus, when I race it becomes a family event, and with two small kids, my wife is quick to remind me that while I race, she has to entertain the youngsters. The Grand Tree series is also a source, but trips to Connecticut and Western Mass. are not practical based on the above.

I think I can get away with one race a month when the season starts up - hopefully beginning with the Fells 8 miler in March, or the Merrimack River 10 miler in April.

Mostly, in 2009 I am hoping to have fun, run healthy, and meet a few more of you from the trail running blogosphere.

Cheers!

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