fredag 13 december 2019

Summarizing another year of running - the 2019 take home messages

I usually summarize my season with a blog post. Every year I try to shorten this post and every year it still turns out to be quite a comprehensive novel...

With a couple of weeks left of 2019, a full decade of running as well as ten year as a runblogger also comes to a close and I'll probably want to write one or two separate posts about those.

I am happy about my 2019. As compared to 2018 which saw the death of my best friend and long term running partner and the long aftermath of that, I had one main goal for 2019 - making it a normal year and a normal running season again, obviously a terribly bad formulated as well as a non-SMART goal. Nevertheless I will say that I have met my objective.

The very sad event of 2018 really took a toll on me and my running! Less running, less racing and in 2019 I have again increased my mileage to a level I am happy with. Because of what's happened in 2018 I set a goal to run a total of 2600 kilometer (1662 miles) in 2019, which equals to 50 km (31,25 miles/week. This will be accomplished with a couple of weeks remaining of this year. This is not a record but a level I have been maintaining very consistently the last five years (with the exception of 2018 and 2015 when I was injured during the spring) with only minor variations.

2600 kilometers equals the distance Stockholm-Barcelona in running shoes during 2019. Perhaps not a lot seen in this way but a decent mileage that I can fit into my daily life without feeling of sacrifice or giving up something else I want to spend time doing.

The "comeback" in 2019 visualized by kilometer and hours (extrapolated data until year end).

Regarding the training I am very happy about how I executed during the spring, high mileage, focused high-quality long runs, in fact I did the best long run before a marathon ever in the end of april of this year, 37 km of which 17 km were at PR-marathon goal pace and it felt very good!

Finishing the best pre-marathon rehearsal long run ever outside the house in the end of april 2019...

Then I did a mistake and this is probably the biggest learning to make from this year! The focus during the spring was set on running Stockholm Marathon for the 8th time and run in fast. As shape peaked and self-confidence grew, a bit too much, in march and especially in april I came up with the idea of also running the half marathon Kungsholmen Runt in Stockholm, and not only that. I started to consider running a "sub80" half, something I have thought of as an unrealistic time for years with a five year old PB of 1:21:24. So, I threw in some very hard sessions of long intervals at target pace for a sub80 half-marathon in the training mix on top of my marathon training. It didn't turn out very well! I became worn out, had one of the hardest training weeks ever in april with a 10k race, the long run described above and a hard half marathon interval session. Stupid! No wonder I was worn out when attempting an easy pace long-run the following weekend and I also got injured and eventually DNF'ed the half...

When it comes to racing, there's been a mixture of results and perhaps the race season hasn't really turned out the way I had hoped for, with a couple of exceptions. Only four finished races was less than I had planned for, and also one DNS and one DNF was dissapointing.

Påsksmällen 10km in 38:10 in april. Not happy with that one, too defensive, almost like half marathon effort. Running the same time as I did ten years ago is not bad for a 47-year-old, being one minute slower than my best race on the same course in 2014 despite very good training, was howver bad! 

Kungsholmen Runt Half marathon in May and DNF due to calf pain. Perhaps the most dreaded three-letter abbreviation for runners? This time however it was a wise decision, one month before the biggest goal of the season, Stockholm Marathon.

Stockholm Marathon in june, here cheering on my dear family. Very happy with this one finishing in 2:53. Very stable performance and a great feast through-out and no calf pain! So many people cheering at me or the "wasp" as the kids say when they spot my club singlet. Very very fun and energizing!

Second disappointment of the year came in august. Following Stockholm marathon I usually enjoy some recovery and then focus the summer training on speed, running shorter intervals at higher speed. This summer saw no exception with the aim at competing at Stockholm Olympic Stadium at Sommarspelen 5000 m. Due to common cold I unfortunately had to cancel this race with very short notice. I had even my running gear packed and ready to go, this was very disappointing because I was in a very good shape.

Stockholm half marathon in september. Pleased also with this one. After a summer where I didn't train as much as during the spring I set the goal of running sub 4 min/km (1:24 finishing time), which I haven't achieved since spring of 2017 and this was accomplished through 1:23:38. This race is also one of my favourites, very well organised and friendly and with a lot of running friends participating, although Rikard pictured with bib 1937 was inpolite and pushed the pace at 11 km leaving me behind setting a new PR, congrats Rikard! .

August through october again turned out very solid with mileage in the 250 km range every month, I was motivated, injury-free and in good shape before november hit me with a stubborn cough and sickness requiring me to take antibiotics and rest from running. I was nevertheless able to bounce back quickly and thanks to the solid training from august-october I ran a decent local half marathon in Strängnäs on wet, muddy gravel roads hitting almost the same finishing time as last year.

Strängnäs half marathon, a fun low-prioritized race ended the racing season of 2019.

December has mostly been about easy running, some spontaneous fartlek and hill sessions and a few easier speed sessions on the treadmill.

Take home messages for 2019 are as follows:
  • I have accomplished what I set out to do after the mournful spring and summer of 2018. I am one year older and nowadays that's something I take every moment to celebrate rather than feeling sorry for!
  • I have executed my training quite well for the full year of 2019 indeed very well during the winter and early autumn. When I manage to balance running with the requirements of every day-life, I still perform very well, with my standards. I am able to maintain a decent age group level and I never fall through and run a terribly bad time at races. As I have written previously I have yet to see a deterioration in my running from age alone and I firmly believe I am still able to run some PB's if I am able to execute 10-12 weeks of uninterrupted, focused training with higher mileage before a prioritised A-race!
  • Follow the plan and trust the process. Make it clear which race(s) are the important ones and structur my training accordingly. On top of that it's perfectly fine to throw in a few extra races but consider running them for fun or as high quality training sessions with a focus on learning to run by effort and let the finishing time be whatever it turns out to be on that particular day, rather than the main focus itself. 
  • Changing running club last year and joining Enhörna IF, a well known running club with local presence and impact as well as a lot of tradition has had a very positive impact from a social point of view. Although my family schedule has made me take part in less than 10 training sessions throughout the year, I appreciate the opportunity to take part, the friendliness and camaraderie, the high quality when training with fast(er) runners and the fact that many runners, race volunteers and spectators recognize the yellow-and black striped Enhörna club singlet and cheer during racing!
  • Racing results were mixed with a couple of stable results in Stockholm with my second fastest marathon ever (albeit with only eight seconds) as the highlight. This made me hitting the qualifying times with great margin for several major marathons including New York, Boston and Chicago and next year I have choosen, and been accepted as a time qualifier, into the Bank of America Chicago Marathon in October, somwething that I of course look forward to very much! I visited the windy city 20 years ago and look forward to running a very fast and flat marathon course for the first time!

A few Enhörna training sessions during the year, high-quality training runs with lots of fun with friendly people!

I am continuously inspired by the positive impact running has on my life and by the great camaraderie in the running community, following runners on social media and meeting them at races. Training with club friends, posting runs and interacting with fellow runners on as well as sharing posts about my running on this blog and through other channels. To everyone that I have met during the year and to you that have read the blog for another year,

Thank you and hope to see you in 2020! Keep on running!