2007 was for me what coaches with a losing record call a building year. I ran five races and performed ator above my expectations in only two. I ran a PR at the 2007 Woodside 50K. I truly enjoyed my first San Francisco Marathon and while I didn't run a PR I ran faster than my goal for that race. My focus was primarily the marathon and my training was designed to support that goal, lots of mileage, track workouts and tempo runs.
Especially in the last six months of the year when I was building up to Cal Int'l Marathon I never felt smooth or efficient when running at or faster than tempo pace. The spark wasn't there and I couldn't quite understand why. I was running the miles and crushing myself with workouts from Jack Daniels marathon training program. My speed and endurance improved somewhat over the year as evidenced by my performance at the San Jose Rock-N-Roll Half Marathon (1:24:11), nothing to write home about but better than I was running in the Spring. Despite some hard earned improvements running just wasn't fun. Slogging it out day after day isn't what I love about running. I love the feeling of gliding around the track or over the trail with each footstrike light and quick. I love the exhileration of acceleration but instead I felt like I was running through molasses.
2008 rolled aound soon after a disappointing run at Cal Intl Marathon. A I said earlier I would sooner forget that race. I spent the month of December and early January thinking hard about what to do differently. There were lots of threads waiting to be woven together into a cohesive plan for the new year.
Here are a few of those thoughts:
1. I run better when I'm cross-training.
2. Training doesn't make you faster. It is the recovery period that makes you faster.
3. Racing frequently can pay big dividends (from a fitness standpoint).
4. Road-racing doesn't make me happy.
5. The race I enjoyed the most in 2007 was the Woodside 50K.
6. Taking my running to a higher level would require a holistic approach.
7. My training needs to be more consistent.
8. My training needs to be sustainable, not one week that is so hard that I need to take the next week off.
9. Meticulously prepared training schedules often work against me and I need to be more flexible day to day and week by week.
10. And so on...
Slowly these threads drifted into recognizable patterns and I arrived at my plan of attack for 2007. Instead of creating a detailed training schedule I created a sustainable "model week" with a goal for the month such as "hill-climbing strength and power". I oriented each workout around this goal. I added cycling and weight training back into my regime. I renewed my focus on core strength. I scheduled my workouts to maximize recovery and sleep in between harder days. All this was to support at least one to two races every month in 2008.
Two races into 2008 and my first goal is already met. Running is much more fun! I'm no longer running under water and while I'm not always running on a cloud I can feel the spark is back. I'm looking forward to the rest of 2008.