Wednesday, January 1, 2020

2020 State of the Run

Before we get started
I am not qualified to give advice on any subject let alone running.  This is what works for me and the trials and errors that got me here.  The only thing I know for sure is that you should do you.

My Running Plans for 2019 (here)
  • Run > 1,000 miles
  • Do the Strava Lululemon challenge in January
  • Run six races: my first half marathon (!), another half marathon, two 5ks, a 10k, a marathon relay (5 miles) for 43.6 miles of racing.
What actually happened in 2019
  • All of the above and so much more
Why I Run
Because it's awesome.  My running backstory is here.
2019 Race Recaps
11 Races, 82.2 miles, a 5k PR and all the firsts==>first half marathon, first 10 Miler, first 5 Miler
  • April 10k on a difficult course, I finished just 4 seconds over my PR
  • April 10 Miler, which I registered for on a whim to judge how my half training was going and it ended up being my best race of the year.
  • May 5k, my other best race of the year.  PR 30:41. 
  • May Half Marathon.  Just because you plan for a race six months in advance and show up in great running shape doesn't mean that there won't be a freak heat wave on race day.
  • June 10k, I'm not even going to bother to link to the two sentences that I wrote about it at the time, I laid an egg at this one for no particular reason.  Worst race of the year.
  • September Half Marathon/Marathon Relay.  I "double bibbed" at my hometown marathon, running the half and the first leg of the relay team.  It was my 5th year running the relay, so "technically" I've run a marathon with a finish time of 5 years and 2 days.  My training for the half didn't go well BUT the race was a dream.  I ran at a "just finish" effort and this is my current half PR of 2:38:47.
  • November Half Marathon.  Just because you've been looking forward to running a race for an entire year doesn't mean that you won't have a cold on race day.  I can't say that I regret the race but I do regret pursing a time goal instead of running at a "just finish" effort.
  • November Turkey Trot 5k.  Nothing to say about this one besides it was fun.
  • December Christmas 10k.  Another fun one.
  • December Christmas Eve 5 Miler.  Fun and hilly.
  • December New Year's Eve 5k.  Holy Hills Batman!  And Holy Snow Storm!  But I wouldn't have ended the year any other way.
Biggest Takeaway from Racing
Bad races happen.  Deal with it.  The only thing that a bad race means is that is was a bad race. 

Biggest Takeaway from Running Half Marathons
They are awesome.  As tough as my first half was, there was something about crossing the finish line and finding a medal around my neck.  I don't like to tell anyone else what to do, but...if you've ever entertained the idea of running a half...please do it.

Other Running Things That I Did This Year
  • The Strava Lululemon Challenge (here and here).  It was a nice change up to my treadmill heavy winter routine.  Pros: bragging rights and mid day running highs from running over my lunch break.  Cons: lots of laundry and the time commitment of trying to squeeze running into daylight hours.
  • Got a Second Opinion.  I went through a running program at a local PT Clinic.  The PT said that there is nothing inherently wrong with my running form and gave me a couple of tweaks.
  • The Women's Running 10 Week Speed Program.  This was recommended by the PT and was a nice change up for summer running.  This was also the first time that I ran six days a week instead of my normal five, and I kinda liked it.  My mile time dropped from 9:48 to 9:16 over the course of 10 weeks, but the biggest takeaway I got from the program was the art of the cutback week.
Running Issues that I Dealt with in 2019
Few and far between.  I was blessed with no injuries and very little sickness this year.  Some of that is common sense (if something hurts I back off) but a lot of it is sheer luck and good fortune.  Every step is a blessing and I am overwhelmed with gratitude that I get to do this.

Apart from the sports psychology issues that came up from my first half marathon and the terrible 10k the month after that, my biggest issue was burnout from trying to run All The Miles.  I dropped my mileage toward the end of the year and have definitely been getting More from Less.

Best Running Tips of 2019
  • Deodorant to prevent chaffing (I don't have an exact link, but it's been mentioned on Hungry Runner Girl several times).  The only chaffing that I've ever experienced is on my inner thighs in races, and a swipe of Suave has been 100% effective for me.
  • 3-Minute Mountain Legs routine from Trail Runner Magazine.  I really think this is making a difference in my hill running.
Pairs of Shoes Purchased in 2019
Only 2!  And I haven't used the second pair yet, I got them a few weeks ago because they were on sale for a price I couldn't pass up.  I can't say enough good things about Brooks Launch, my first pair lasted 500 miles (my outdoor shoes), and to be honest I'm only retiring the 2nd pair (my treadmill shoes) based on mileage to be conservative.

Speaking of the Treadmill...
I got outside a lot in 2019!  I am shocked, shocked that I only ran 405 treadmill miles, I would have expected the number to be much higher.
Bear with me because I've said this before, but the reason that I run on the treadmill so much is that my primary goal of each run is to come home safe to my family.  I just do not feel safe running outside in the dark, it's not a "people" issue, it's a little bit of an animal issue and a lot of a tripping and falling issue.  I haven't found a running light that's bright enough for me to see my way in the dark, so I opt inside on weekday mornings for most of the year (OK, OK I'm also not the biggest fan of the cold).  The tready can be tedious but to my mind it's a lot less tedious than recovering from an injury.  And I get a lot of my TV watching done on the treadmill, so there is that.  Emily Toia does all of her training on the treadmill and Jared Ward did a lot of his Boston training on the treadmill, so I feel like I'm in good company every time I hop on.

Best Running Blogs of 2019
What's in the Forecast for 2020?  Imma keep running
  • No mileage goal for 2020 - I don't plan to run any less but my focus is on running as much or as little as I want to run.  It was fun to set the goal of running more than 1,000 miles in 2019, but it was also kind of like the Strava Lululemon challenge - one and done.
  • Run a sub 9 minute mile, continue to push the speed.
  • Run all the races!  My very lose goal is to run 12 races in 2020, an average of one a month.
    • I plan to run 4 half marathons in 2020, with the first being in early April.
    • It's a given that I'll rerun my favorite 5k in May, and I've already registered for the 10 miler and the Christmas 10k - both races had incredible Christmas sales and I got in for cheap.
    • And...wait for it...if the stars align I will be running the iconic Shamrock Shuffle in Chicago in March.  We've been in Chicago on race day for the past two years and I'm pretty sure that we'll be there again this year so I went ahead and registered for 2020.  I've got a serious case of FOMO with this race.  I have literally drooled from reading other folks' race recaps on this one.
(Side bar: I've gotten through nearly nine years of blogging without saying where I live and the only time I regret it is when I write about hometown marathon is the best race in the world and I'd love to brag on it, and there's a really unique historical aspect to the Christmas 10k that I'm dying to talk about...I've gone back and forth on the location issue and for now I'm sticking with it BUT with that said it feels so good to finally put a name on a race.)
    • And other shorter races as they come along and fit into my schedule.  As much as I adore half marathons, I believe that 5ks and 10ks are the foundation that builds the racing house.
Happy Running Everyone!


  1. You had a great year of running, and like you said, not all runs can be perfect. I think those "not so great" training runs and races provide us with a great feedback.

    Happy New Year!

    1. Happy New Year to you Deb! I love your blog and I can't wait to see what 2020 has in store for you.

  2. Great post! I have run the majority of my runs outside this year (yep, 2 out of 2 so far haha!) . I don't set a mileage goal for the year, although I did end up with my 2nd highest mileage year. Marathon training will do that! I'm certainly no faster than my previous year and that might just be the trend now. I'm good with that :)

    1. Amen! Of course we both have goals, but it's the journey, not the destination. It's just so good to get out there and run.

  3. I love this unique yearly recap. What a fantastic year for you! I will probably run the Shamrock Shuffle, so we need to make plans to meet up. Maybe THEN you'll reveal your secret location to me. I've been trying to figure it out. My uncle had a summer home up north in Wisconsin in Birchwood, but I don't think that is where you are.

    PS Thank you for mentioning my blog! I'm glad you enjoy it! Isn't it fun connecting like this?

    1. Your blog is great! I hope you won't be underwhelmed when you find out where I live;-) I lived on Birchwood St when I started the blog and used it as a working title, 9 years later I haven't come up with anything better. I'll definitely get in touch closer to Shamrock time.

  4. Awhhhhh :-) Thanks for the kudos :-) I LOVE your blog, your sense of humor cracks me up on the daily (the days I am reading about your adventures, that is). We are like the ying/yang of indoor/outdoor running, and I enjoy running (mostly) vicariously through you with the treadmill. I'm quite lucky to have a safe outdoor place for running, day AND night...believe me, I do not take that for granted. You had a great year...great mileage and awesome progress :-) CoNgRaTs!!!!

    1. My vicarious pleasure is reading your blog right after workouts. Happy 2020 Kim!

  5. SAfety -- whether privacy or night running is so important. What a great running year you've had. Glad to have "met" you and look forward to continuing to read you

  6. I so appreciate the shoutout! Happy running in 2020!