2015 in Review

A great year in running comes to a close on Friday, so there’s no better time than the present to take a bit of a look back.

Last year I ran 24 straight days as part of an Advent running calendar. The goal was to run everyday from December 1st through Christmas Eve. This year I’m did things a bit differently in an effort to get a little rest in before training starts again.

My goals for the year were all accomplished in mid-December so anything more was just bonus for me. I’ll likely end up the year very close to 2,100km assuming I squeeze in a couple more runs. That easily exceeds my biggest mileage year ever and gets me well beyond the goal I set at the beginning of the year of 2,015km.

PB’s and good races

On the racing side, I ran a personal best at the 30km Around the Bay Road Race in March and then another personal best at the Ottawa Marathon in May. The Ottawa Marathon was a breakthrough race for me as I took 12 minutes off my marathon PB and now 3:30 seems attainable. With a Boston Marathon qualifying time of 3:25 coming in May when I turn 45, all of a sudden that seems reasonable as a goal for the next couple of years.

I kept things going throughout the summer and ran the very hilly Pints to Pasta Half Marathon in Portland in September. Last month I ran another, hillier half at the annual Marquis de Sade around High Park in Toronto.

yearly-goalIn early December I ran my third personal best of the year at the Tannenbaum 10k. At the 9km mark of that race, I reached 2015km run for the year and ticked off my last goal for 2015.

Looking forward to 2016

2016 promises to be a very busy year of running. I’ve already signed up for Around the Bay and I’ll be a part of Team Awesome for the Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend again, leading up to my ninth marathon and third Scotiabank Ottawa Marathon on the last Sunday in May.

Meanwhile, we’re kicking off a big renovation of our house starting on January 11th. We’ll be living at my parents on the other side of downtown for about three months while our house gets ripped apart and put back together. That’s expected to take until April, so squeezing in a marathon training program is going to be interesting.

That left the last few weeks of December to rest and relax. I kept running a few days a week, but there were no goals, no schedule and no pressure to get out there. Once the calendar flips over to the new year, I’ll get back into the swing of things and kick off training the same way I’ve done many times before.

2015 was a great year of running and 2016 promises to be more of the same.

Getting Ready to Go

The start line for the marathon isn’t just something you toe on race day. The real start of your race comes months before when you begin your training program.

The 18-week Ottawa Marathon training schedule from the Running Room kicks off the week of January 24, 2016. I’ll be putting in a couple of pre-season weeks prior to that to get into the swing of training meaning that my first “real” training run is on Tuesday, January 6th – a 6km tempo run.

From that week until the end of May, it’s five days a week of running – Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and a long run on Sunday. Things start slow in the marathon training plan with 10km Sunday runs for the first few weeks. After that it gets really serious, really fast.

With that rapid escalation in mind, I’ll provide this key piece of advice: The most important thing you can do in January is to establish good habits and a solid training routine.

Start strong, stay strong

Now is the time to get your plan together and also to commit to sticking to it from day one. Run all the runs, no excuses. Make it happen.

I’ve put my runs into an online calendar so I know each week what I should be running. My phone reminds me every morning what the plan is (including rest days). No surprises!

march-training-plan

When I entered the schedule into the calendar, it gave me a chance to see how life will wrap around training too. Notice that I said that life wraps around training, not the other way around.

My biggest challenge is likely going to be the fact that we’re renovating our house this winter and we’ll be living elsewhere for a few months. That will wreak havoc with our usual family routines. Having the schedule in place now will help mitigate some of that (I hope).

We’re also heading to Hilton Head Island, SC in March for our annual March Break pilgrimage and I already know I’ll be squeezing in a 23km and a 26km long run while we’re there.

Know what you’re in for

Now is the time to wrap your head around what you’ve committed yourself to as you train for a full marathon at the end of May. Spend a few hours this week laying out the full plan and see what you have in store.

Plan out your next few months and see where the challenges in your schedule are found. Know where travel, or work (or anything else) might interfere with your running. Figure out how to adapt your life to fit it all in.

The more you know now, the better.

By the end of May, if you stick to the plan and do the work, you’ll be ready to run the 42.2km of the Scotiabank Ottawa Marathon.