2015 Running Year in Review

Again, this year was my highest-mileage year yet. I set PRs in marathon, half marathon, 3-mile, 5K and two new ultramarathon distances. And I ran in the Cherry Blossom 10-miler on pace to set a PR if the course hadn’t been cut short. I know these kinds of gains won’t continue forever, and the gains I’m seeing right now are incremental compared to the leaps I’ve seen for the past five or so years. I was injured once with a hamstring strain and can chalk that up to running like an idiot. I just looked over my training log, and damn it if I wasn’t consistent. Again, I ran every day and kept up my 10-mile Tuesday streak for the fifth year straight. I made some resolutions last year, but I sucked at keeping them. By March, I’d forgotten most of what I’d planned, but I still managed to run well.

Dec. 27 in D.C. looks like this. Too humid for a shirt after about six miles.

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  • Total distance: 4,371.3 miles
  • Total miles raced: 277.92
  • Marathons raced: four
    • Austin (3:16:40)
    • Boston (3:01:26)
    • Big Sur (3:15:36)
    • Hartford (3:14:01)
  • Ultramarathons raced: two
    • The March 50K, actually 33.25 miles (5:09:28)
    • Stone Mill 50-miler (10:22:47)
  • First female awards: 1st female High Cloud Snapple Half Marathon (1:29:09), 1st print female ACLI Capital Challenge (18:59), 1st female The March 50K (5:09:28), 1st female Teddy Roosevelt 5K (19:55), 1st female Christmas Spirit Classic V 5K (19:34)

Top five runs

Last year I had a tough time coming up with five runs. I had the top three, but the rest were a little meh. This year, I had a hard time narrowing down this list to just five. This was a big year for scenic, fun runs. Wow.

  1. Forest Park proposal run: Some dude proposed to me on a run this year, guys! Michael and I run a lot of trails together. We run long together. We know the drill with the fueling and the GU and the probable getting lost. Even in new places, we kind of go with the flow and expect the runs might not go as planned. This run in Portland felt different. We’d never been to Forest Park before, so we took the light rail to the bus to somewhere close to the park. This was supposed to be a 24-mile trail run, but the significant ups and downs quickly told us otherwise. Around 10 miles in, Michael started saying he wanted his GU in a little while and that we needed to stop soon. He never broadcasts when he’ll take his GU. A mile later he said I needed to remind him to stop. OK? Then he stopped near a bench. I took a panorama of the forest because it was damn beautiful. I turned around to see him down on one knee. It was a short run. It was the best run.
  2. Ophir Creek to Flume Trail: After Portland, we went to Tahoe. Two of my favorite runs are from our week here. This is one of those runs where we spent 15 minutes taking pictures. We cheated by having my mom drop us off at the start and then running back downhill to Incline Village. I love this run so much, I’ll be doing it on my wedding morning.
  3. To the top of Squaw: We gained almost 3,000 feet in this run. Also busted my elbow wide open and didn’t care at all. I don’t know if my smile could be any bigger in this photo. Tee hee. You can’t even see where we came from down there.
  4. Boston Marathon: The weather sucked, but I ran the fastest marathon I’ve ever run. And I was smart about not going out too fast. This result is what is keeping me going toward that sub-3 goal.
  5. Tennessee Valley Trail: The shortest run on this list but the most beautiful one. It was a simple five-miler in the Marin Headlands with the ocean in the middle. This was the kind of run I should have been doing all week in San Francisco between Boston and Big Sur instead of the crazy running I was doing.

Best running discoveries

Trigger point massage: I now sit on top of a tennis ball some evenings and wait for the muscles in my ass to loosen. I make noises no human should make, but man, you wouldn’t believe how good that release can feel.

Salt tabs: My coach got me hooked on salt tabs when I was wiped after my first 50K training run. For my first 50-miler, they brought me back from the dead several times, and they helped power me through a few longer training runs.

HOKAs for recovery runs: Every shoe can’t be a lightweight racing flat or a midweight almost racing flat. Every run can’t be a trail run or a speed workout. HOKAs are perfect for slower runs where I need a bit more cushion. They slow me down a bit and remind me to straighten up. I’m trying to get better at engaging my core when I run, and the Cliftons seem to help with that.

Chamois Butt’r: I tried out about five different anti-chafe products this summer when I was spending three or four hours sweating and had trouble with red marks on my sports bra and shorts lines. This product seems to work best. It’s a cream, so it absorbs better for me.

2016 health resolutions

  1. Strengthen and stretch: I’ll continue to develop core strength and strengthen my glutes. Compared to last year, I do at least 200 percent more strengthening and stretching every week. When I don’t do it, my legs feel tight, and my form breaks down. I guess this is what getting older and being smarter feels like.
  2. Arrive at the Comrades starting line healthy: This might mean not running junk miles in April and May when I most want to bask in the spring running weather. When I came to the Boston starting line healthy, I ran a PR. The Boston taper was the best taper I’ve ever had.
  3. Take easy runs easy: The next day’s run is better if I run slower than I think I should the day before. When the training plan says easy, I run easy. Period.
  4. Sub-3 for the marathon and sub-10 at Comrades: I’m putting time goals on my resolution list. I know I can pull off a sub-3 if I let the marathon come to me instead of getting worked up before the race. It’s a mental issue. I have no problem putting in the work for this time goal, but I need to concentrate on staying calm during the taper and before the race. And gosh, I should be able to run a 50-mile PR on the road if the weather cooperates.
  5. Continue with steady mileage: I don’t want to set a mileage goal for next year. Something like what I ran in 2015 is probably reasonable. If I can continue to run healthy and stay consistent, I’ll be happy. Looking back over the past six years of running logs, my biggest strength has been consistency. I see big gains when I put in hard work balanced with easy days. I’d love to keep that up.
    Year Mileage Avg./Day Avg./Week
    2010 2,492.5 6.83 47.93
    2011 2,653 7.27 51.02
    2012 3,136.5 8.57 60.32
    2013 3,328.5 9.12 64.01
    2014 3,968 10.87 76.31
    2015 4,371.3 11.98 84.06

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Amanda runs nearly every day. She likes data and avoids deer at all costs.