2019 Running Recap

As always, thanks to Kim for the inspiration!

Races participated in: 5
Races “raced” (of x amount above): 0
DNFs: 0
DNSs: 0

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This was FAR and away my lightest racing year in my running life. I typically do 10-12 races annually, so this was a very big change for me (and my wallet, ha). A variety of things contributed to this: moving out of the city, group leading, needing to adjust my budget for other priorities. I didn’t realize how few races I had run until I actually looked back at it, so I guess I didn’t miss it much!

Distances
8K:
1
10K: 1
10 Mile: 1
Half Marathon: 1
Marathon:
1
States Run In: 4: Illinois, Michigan, California, and Washington.
Countries Run In: 3: United States, England, and the Netherlands. In case you’re wondering, my run to/in Vondelpark in Amsterdam was my favorite run of 2019.
Months Run In: 12, barely. I’m finally trying to clear up my foot woes, so I only ran three times in December, but that counts!

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Participation medals received: 5
AG medals received: 0
Favorite medal: Bank of America Chicago Marathon. I’m a big fan of the south view of LaSalle, so I love that it’s on the medal.

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PRs:
8K:
40:24 (1:08 PR)
10 Mile: 1:28:20 (3:12 PR)
Half Marathon: 1:57:27 (5:23 PR)

Obviously, last spring was a bit of a banner season for me. While technically the 8K and 10 mile PRs were icing on the sub-2:00 half cake, I’m almost prouder of them than I am of my half time, since I wasn’t working for those times specifically. I put in a ton of work during my 12 week training cycle for the half, and it felt great to see that work pay off. I’ve never trained as hard as I trained for the first three months of 2019 (though marathon season 2018 comes awfully close) and have never run as fast as a result. On the flip side, I’ve also never had as chronic of an injury as the plantar fasciitis (or whatever) I developed as a result of that volume and intensity. My right foot has been a little more cooperative recently, but from the end of February through the beginning of December, it constantly hurt to one degree or the other. Three days of running is definitely my sweet spot, and I doubt that I’ll ever go back to four days a week like I did during half training.

Miles run in 2019: 808.01. I’m a little disappointed that I ran fewer miles in 2019 than I ran in 2018 (16.01 fewer), especially since I ran SO much more from January to April than, you know, ever. Had my plantar fascia been a bit friendlier, I definitely would’ve surpassed 2018. I did run five more times in 2019 than in 2018, and had I been able to run through December like I wanted to, I would’ve run 12 more times in 2019 than in 2018. I feel like that does a better job of reflecting how much more running I (intended) to do in 2019 than I did in 2018.

What’s Next

Ever since I started running in June 2011, I’ve always had a race on my calendar. At times the race has been months away (hello, marathon season 2019), but I’ve always been working towards something: a finish, a goal, etc.

For the first time in over eight years, I don’t have any races on my calendar, and I don’t know when that will change.

I’m on the cusp of moving into a more unpredictable season of life. Because I don’t know exactly what the next few years might hold, I’m hesitant (read: unwilling) to put down big bucks on a race almost a full year in advance (read: the Chicago Marathon) when it’s totally possible I might not be in a position to participate in the event come race day. I don’t feel comfortable committing to year-long race plans or goals right now, and since you have no choice but to commit to something like that with the Chicago Marathon, that means that race specifically is out of the question until things settle down a bit for me. Obviously every race isn’t the Chicago Marathon, but since I have a lot of uncertainty about how things may shake out in the coming months and years, I’m not particularly interested in committing to any races or running-related goals for the time being.

My priorities with running have shifted, for now, from chasing goals to maintaining a base. For the first time ever, I might be able to accurately answer the question, “How many miles do you run per week?”! Finally! (Previously, the answer always depended on what particular race I was training for at the moment.)

I’m actually not running at all right now. I used to always take a full month off of running after a marathon, and I’ve returned to that habit this year. Though I didn’t bring it up much (at all?) during marathon season, the plantar fasciitis that started in my right foot in February hasn’t really improved (imagine that! Continuing to do the same thing that hurt me with absolutely no rehab didn’t magically make it go away!). Because it’s always been more of a nuisance than an actual problem, I haven’t been overly motivated to do anything to try to make it better. In the limited time I’ve taken off since February, however, I’ve noticed that the one thing that consistently eases my plantar fasciitis is not running. So, I’m not running for a month. If it’s STILL bothering me after that point, then I’ll go to physical therapy. Maybe. I’ve known I could probably benefit from physical therapy for over six months now, but since this hasn’t really gotten in the way of my running (or my daily life, outside of having to hobble out of bed every morning due to my sore sole), I haven’t wanted to make the commitment to taking care of it. I don’t really want to deal with this for the rest of my life, though, so if one month off doesn’t fix the problem entirely, I should probably seek out additional help.

Once I do start running again, I’d like to maintain a running base that would allow me to run a 10K or shorter at any time, and allow me to be five or six weeks away from running a half marathon. I plan to do two weekday runs in the three to four mile range and one weekend run of six or seven miles, at least for the remainder of 2019. If I feel like I’d be happier running slightly more than that (three to five miles on weekdays, six to eight miles on weekends), I’ll make adjustments in 2020. Six to eight miles feels very manageable for a consistent long run, as does three to five miles for a weekday run. Anything more than that is when I start to feel like my runs are eating up a bunch of my time, which is one thing when I’m training for something specific, but another thing when I’m running just to maintain fitness. I’ve always used goal races to motivate me to run, and that helped me get through more burdensome longer runs. Since I won’t have a goal race to work towards, I don’t want to put myself in a position where I resent running in general or feel like it’s just one more thing to check off my to-do list. I think keeping my weekly mileage in the 12 to 18 mile range should keep that from happening. Of equal importance, these are all distances I feel like I can handle on the treadmill if necessary. I don’t know what the outdoor running situation will be like in the winter around my current apartment, so I want to keep my mileage at a treadmill-friendly level until I have a better idea of how good my area is at cleaning their sidewalks. If it’s anything like the neighborhoods where I lived in Chicago, I’m not exactly optimistic I’ll find ice-free conditions 😛

In the mean time, I’ve renewed my focus on strength training, this time with an emphasis on my upper body. I have an event coming up in January where I’ll be wearing a dress that shows off my back and arms, so I’d like to see if I can coax a little more definition out of them. Over the past year and a few months of strength training, I’ve done two days of legs and one day of upper body per week. I’m flipping that between now and January, doing two days of upper body and one day of legs. I’ve found that consistent strength training over about three months or so does amazing things for the muscle definition in my legs, and I’m crossing my fingers that the same thing will happen to my back and arms if I work on those twice a week instead. I’m not unhappy with how my arms or back look right now, so if nothing happens it’s certainly not the end of the world, but I figured it was worth a shot. I’ve also been doing some light cardio (like, 20-minutes-on-the-stationary-bike cardio), and doing HIIT workouts from Fitness Blender once or twice a week. Those workouts are no freaking joke, so once or twice a week is perfectly sufficient for me.

It’s weird to not have any definite races coming up (I might do a turkey trot on or around Thanksgiving. TBD.), but it’s also nice to be able to take a little bit of a break from the constant grind of training. I have a few weekdays during the remainder of the year where I know I won’t be able to get a workout in, and it’s nice to have the flexibility to rearrange my schedule or take an additional rest day to accommodate other life things (like getting a crown next week, ugh. I’d rather do a HIIT workout!). I’m looking forward to a more low-pressure fitness life for awhile and am interested to see how running for running’s sake works out for me.

 

 

OOFOS Review

I received a free pair of OOFOS sandals for review, but all opinions are my own.

I mentioned it a couple times in passing earlier this year, but back in February, I developed a case of plantar fasciitis in my right foot. I don’t know what exactly led to it–I suspect it was a combination of my new running shoes and my newly-increased running volume–but why I came down with plantar fasciitis is less immediately important to me than the fact that I’m dealing with it.

Fortunately, the pain hasn’t been severe enough to keep me off the roads, but I’d be lying if I said my foot is pain-free these days. I’m sure walking 20,000ish steps per day in Europe (in the aforementioned running shoes) didn’t do me many favors, nor has my refusal to quit running, nor has my apparent inability to stick to any sort of rehab program that might help me, nor has my lack of interest in actually seeking out professional help (i.e.: physical therapy).

When I received an email from OOFOS days after I started feeling pain in my foot, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to give them a try. I know several people from my marathon training groups that swear by them, and while I have a pair of supportive flip flops, they’re not the most comfortable shoes I’ve ever worn. OOFOS, being made with their proprietary OOfoam, sounded a lot softer.

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On top of that, the sandals are molded to support your arches. If you ask the internet what you should do to remedy plantar fasciitis, one of the things it mentions is to avoid walking barefoot, even inside. Arch support is supposed to help relieve symptoms, so once again, OOFOS sounded like they might help me out. Being February, I wasn’t all that interested in wearing flip flops outside, but a brand new pair of OOFOS could serve as my indoor, supportive footwear.

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I’ve been really impressed by how much these sandals have helped. Have they cured my plantar fasciitis? No, but I don’t think you can really expect sandals to cure plantar fasciitis when you continue running high mileage in shoes your feet don’t like/walk around Europe in those same shoes/don’t consistently do foot strengthening exercises/don’t wear your night split/don’t pick up the darn phone to schedule a physical therapy appointment. They do, however, dramatically reduce my symptoms when I wear them at home. They also make me an inch or so taller, which I don’t hate 😛

If you have issues with plantar fasciitis, I’d definitely suggest giving OOFOS a shot. For me, they’ve certainly been a better alternative than walking around my house barefoot, and I’m sure they’d be equally great outside. Like I said, I already own a pair of supportive flip flops from another brand, and while I like those ones as well, the OOFOS are light years ahead in terms of comfort, which, when you’re dealing with plantar fasciitis, is a pretty big selling point. If you’re interested in checking them out, you can read more about their OOfoam (and purchase shoes, which come in everything from boots to flip flops) on their website, or locate a store near you that sells OOFOS.

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