Sunday, December 31, 2023

Year End Report 2023

My last run of 2023 was rain delayed into the afternoon, but not abbreviated, deterred or deferred to 2024.  I wanted to do at least 10 miles and was determined to see what yesterday's high tide and waves did to our local beaches, so there was a decent amount of elevation change.  I was especially glad I dressed for cold weather because the overcast sky kept afternoon temperatures unusually cool, noticeably dropping as I climbed towards my neighborhood.  With this final run, I managed to beat my annual average pace (not hard to do) and return home before the sun (which finally appeared through thinning clouds) dipped below the hill.

I clocked nearly 1,376 miles running in 2023, my third highest annual total behind 2021 (1,538) and 2012 (1,406) and easily beating 2020 (1,320).  If I factor in walking and hiking activities, I match 2012's running total.  Since I resumed running in 2007, I've totaled over 1,000 miles in nearly twice as many years as under 1,000.  That all said, I am somewhat disappointed in my performance this year.  As with last year, my goal was to focus on pace, not distance.  And I continue to get slower...10:33 per mile was my average annual pace.  In terms of total time spent running, this year is second behind 2021...I spent 25 more hours than 2012 to run 30 fewer miles.  I'd very much like to reverse this trend.  Reducing my total mileage and increasing my pace should help me get quite a bit of time back.

The two things that consistently help me improve pace are track intervals and registering for races. I entered my first race since the pandemic (The Hills Are Alive 10K) and finished in just under 51 minutes...not my best time, but certainly not my worst.  I barely did any track intervals in 2023, but did end the year with a 7:01 mile (beating the mile challenge I did in 2022 by a few seconds).  Still, I should be able to run in the 6's...and my annual average should be under 10 minutes per mile.  I will need to register for more 10Ks and maybe even half marathons before I attempt another 26.2.

I was really feeling the distance in 2023, especially as I approached the end of my second marathon training schedule. Though I was not planning to attempt a second 26.2 mile run within the calendar year, I felt I needed the routine to improve my fitness by October since my wife and I had planned a few high altitude hikes during a bucket list trip to Peru.  As our travel date approached, I started feeling like I needed more recovery time between runs. I started waking up with really sore heels and found wearing sandals with arch support helped reduce foot pain whenever I walked on our hardwood floors, especially on cold mornings.  Long runs were again aggravating an old ankle injury.

In mid-August, shortly after the Hills Are Alive run, I had a pretty hard fall during a 14 mile run.  I initially thought the way I tumbled into the fall had reduced the force of impact since I was able to resume running.  It wasn't until I lay in bed afterwards that I realized I had likely bruised or re-injured the rib I broke a year before. This injury didn't affect my routine as much as the previous one, but it did make sleeping uncomfortable until I found a position that didn't aggravate the least a month later.

I didn't run for two weeks due to our trip to Peru and then got sick shortly after we returned...a nasty cough made running impossible until I had completely shaken it.  And I had really been looking forward to getting a performance boost from having spent time approaching 16,000 feet above sea level.  Oh well.

So the trick in 2024 will be to increase pace but not so much that I accelerate injuries.  Increasing my ratio of trail to road runs should help (as will frequenting the track).  Not attempting a marathon training schedule until I'm naturally running faster will likely be the key to success.

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