I know, it's not quite 2011 yet, but for me, my 2011 training has already begun. Thus, my year in review post that covers my progress this year.
This was when I first started running with more seriousness than years past. It had been 10 years since college and 14 since my last serious run in high school cross country. Time flies when you get old, fat, and lazy. I thought I made a good start and felt like I was making progress. Winning a trophy for third place in my age group really boosted my spirits. I mean, come on! A trophy! In my first race after a couple of months of training?! How can you beat that?!
This was a tough year. Very little progress was made and even though I tried to meet my goal of running all the local Grand Prix races, it never materialized. I also trained too hard and caught a bad case of shin splints. Needless to say, I was pretty crushed this year. I wanted it so bad it hurt.
After such a lousy year, I decided to get serious. Well, more serious than I had been before. And oddly enough, it was so much easier than I expected. But I had three big things that radically changed my training. First, I may have hit rock bottom mentally in 2008, but in 2009 I realized I needed to change my mindset. I needed to be more positive in how I look at myself and my running. Second, I joined a regular running group at the local YMCA. Having a group of people that you see every week helped keep me accountable. I didn't have to pay for the sessions and there was no strict attendance policy. But I gained so much from just having a group to socialize with. Third, DailyMile saved me and my running. In person, I'm very shy. But online, I'm very social. In the past, I've been called a "netvestite" because I'm so different in person than I am online it shocks people. Well, DailyMile gave me a social outlet for running.
So here I was in 2010, poised to do great things. I had my head on straight. I had a group in real life and online that was there to support me. I came up with concrete goals that were both realistic and were a bit of a stretch. I was ready for my journey.
What a journey it was. I learned so much about running and so much about myself, I get nervous sometimes. I was never very confident and quite socially inept. Running has helped me make positive strides in both areas. A few people have commented that I look like I lost weight, but I don't feel that way. When you only show a 5 pound loss on the scales and still have a big gut, it's hard to believe the positive words from others. The only proof that I have is I'm going to need new shorts and pants next year because my old ones are too big.
And best of all, the concrete evidence of my running improvements. Not only have I improved on my times, but also my distances and my stamina. Going out for a 5 mile run is no longer a daunting thing to plan for, it's now something I can do at the drop of a hat and with just a bottle of water. I've set 9 PRs this year, 5 of them in the last 3 months alone. Amazing progress. I can run 5 miles without taking a break and yet I started the year barely able to do a mile without a break. I struggled mightily with a half marathon early this year but easily conquered a second this month. And even though my first 50k was insanely difficult and slow, I learned enough to make next year's attempt so much better.
So where does that leave me to start my 2011 training? Confident that I can meet most or all of my goals. Flexible enough to not get too stressed if I can't meet them. Rested after a week's vacation from running. Excited about what I have on my list of goals for the new year. Anxious about getting sponsorships (more like hopeful but doubtful). And best of all, more centered and grounded than I've felt in ages. A life that was out of control a few years ago is now under control. And while I don't expect to be completely rigid with life and running, I know what I need to do and what I want to do well enough to make the right decision.
And with that, I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.