The end of December means a few things.
It may be time to stop with all the holiday nog.
You’re going to have to do something about that dead tree in the living room.
And the kids are already sick of their Christmas presents and the holiday break was as many days too long as it is past Dec. 25.
‘Tis the season, right?
It also means taking a look at your year-end running stats to see if you did what you wanted to do as well as you wanted to do it. For me, I had a slow start to the year, a giant bump in April with Zumbro and then a paranoia about a broken foot for about a month (it was fine). This summer and fall were all about forgiving myself for whatever days off I took and focusing on building a base and being consistent.
I ran almost always for time, telling myself I would go for 45 minutes, an hour, an hour and 20 minutes, whatever the day called for, and then logging it all for a while as a straight 10-minute mile – this is what I always do when I’m trying to just focus on going and not worry about how fast or slow I am. Sometimes it means I probably overtestimate my mileage, sometimes I underestimate it. But it’s how I’ve done it for years, so I figure at least my running logs are consistent in their inconsistency.
After a few weeks, when I got that feeling that every run was easy, I started using Strava again, just running in the background in my pocket, checking it when I got done. It’s easy to get discouraged until you do a check like that and realize, OK, I’m putting in the same effort, but getting in more mileage. It’s a good reminder that this is what happens when you just persevere.
This year, I barely got over a thousand miles – I’m at 1,061 as I type this, my lowest mileage year in a decade, I bet. It’s OK. You have to start and restart somewhere, and this is where I am. I confess to hoping I can somehow make it to 1,100 by the end of the month, but considering I’m eating cookies and not running right now, it’s probably unlikely.
In 2017, I ran a stack of races – all of them trail, from 50 miles in Zumbro to 25K in Afton to two different stints at Newton Hills, a race at Good Earth. I did two bike races – first time for that. I went on a few walks, did a little yoga, taught some spin classes, rode my bike to the library and pool and neighborhood pizza joint.
It all turned out OK.
Next year, I hope to stay consistent, keep trail running, do more bike races. I have this tiny idea that if I spend the first half of the year just running a lot, I can use the second half to fine-tune and see if I can qualify for Boston again. I used to think I would never go back there, but I’ve started to want to again, and I’m not sure why. We’ll see what the year holds.
Right now, my calendar has cross-country skiing in the Black Hills in January (wish me luck), the Zumbro 50-miler again, another 50 in the Black Hills in June and probably some distance in Afton in July. Beyond that, I’m not sure.
Keep running. Keep showing up and meeting new people. Keep stepping onto my treadmill on the days I have to, when I can’t get outside. Embrace my new work schedule that basically ruins any chance of running at noon – one thing I miss terribly every day.
See you out there.
Jacqueline Palfy is a longtime runner, reader and writer, marathoner, mom and board member of the nonprofit Sioux Falls Area Running Club. Her contributions to the 605 Running Co. blog will appear each Tuesday. You can follow her on Twitter @runnerJPK or reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Story ideas are encouraged.