It’s easy at the end of the year to really get caught up on the last racing season. When I put together this year’s running stats, I came in to it with a bit of a pessimistic attitude. My mileage isn’t its highest ever. How could it be when last year was a gradual buildup toward Comrades and I took the month of June quite easy? I dealt with a bum hip in the middle of the year and again near the end, and I still didn’t break 3:00 in the marathon. But I came out mostly unscathed. This year, despite running like an idiot for about six weeks in the spring, I even ended up with PRs in several distances. I’m 33, so running faster is not getting any easier. That tells me I’m getting smarter, maybe. Or lucky.
Maybe a better way to look at this year’s training is see how I did with the goals I set last year. Ready?
2016 health resolutions revisited
- Goal: Strengthen and stretch
Grade: A! I stretch, foam roll and do 10 to 12 minutes of planks nearly every day. I also discovered the magic of a lacrosse ball and sports massage every six to eight weeks.
- Arrive at the Comrades starting line healthy
Grade: D- Damn I really didn’t listen to my January self on this one. Wise December 2015 Amanda said, “This might mean not running junk miles in April and May when I most want to bask in the spring running weather.” Guess who raced a whole bunch in May and decided she needed to run a 35-mile long run the week after Boston? And who arrived on the starting line at Comrades unsure if she was going to be able to even run a single mile downhill because she had the beginning of a labral tear?
- Take easy runs easy
Grade: B Solid B here because I stopped calling 7:30 an easy pace. For me, “easy” doesn’t just mean I can hold a conversation. It means my heart rate is around 130 bpm. Running easy is hard. I got better at slowing down and listening to my body this year, but there’s room for improvement.
- Sub-3 for the marathon and sub-10 at Comrades
Grade: C Well, I ran a 9:31 at Comrades, so there’s that.
- Continue with steady mileage
Grade: B Most of my training weeks were consistent. No major mileage jumps except when I was coming back from injury. Plus I forced myself to run fewer miles than I wanted to in the weeks following my fall marathons.
- Total distance: 4,150 miles
- Total miles raced: 293.96
- Marathons raced: five
- Walt Disney World (Goofy Challenge) Marathon (3:37:46)
- Boston (3:26:52)
- Pocatello (3:03:11)
- Chicago (3:03:59)
- New York City (3:15)
- Ultramarathons raced: two
- Cowtown 50K (3:53:40)
- Comrades Marathon – 56 miles (9:31:20)
- First female awards: 1st female PVTC By George 10K (45:08), 1st print female ACLI Capital Challenge (18:47), 1st female Seashore Five-Mile Run (33:26), 1st female Gar Williams Half Marathon (1:26:49)
Top five runs
Looked back through the Strava log for this one. This is a combination of runs where I had fun and emotionally fulfilling stuff.
- Wedding day run: Imagine running around Lake Tahoe with your closest friends on your wedding day. Dressed in a cutesy outfit! I used this as my long run. It wasn’t fast. It wasn’t supposed to be fast. It was fun. And given that I wasn’t sure I would even run on my wedding day a few months before, the fact that it felt amazing was even better.
- Cowtown Ultramarathon: I wrote about this already, but perfectly executed races don’t come easily. I hit my goal pace dead on, and I hit the finish line with almost nothing left. Recovery was great after the race, even. For me, running a road 50K so well let me know I could complete Comrades.
- 18 miles after injury: I didn’t write much about my labral tear because there wasn’t really a good time to write about it. At no point was I positive it was actually going to go away. I thought I would turn a corner and have it feel amazing after some rest. But the next day, I would have a familiar pulling, aching feeling. Here’s a summary of that injury and why I put this random 18-miler on the list. The aching in my hip started in early May after my longest training run ahead of Comrades. Then I tried to will my way through two short races in May ahead of going to South Africa. Hell, I PR’ed at those races. My fitness was there. I could tell in the week heading to Comrades that something still wasn’t right. My easy runs felt labored. I freaked out when faced with a 15-hour flight where I wouldn’t be able to stand up. I sprung for business class seats. I ran Comrades on a combination of hopes, dreams, adrenaline and willpower. When I got home, I kept my ten-mile Tuesday streak alive and pounded out that run the day we landed. It wasn’t pretty. In the middle of this, I drafted a blog post about the month of June and how it was going to be an easy month. In that post, I made some resolutions about pool running and not running too many miles and listening to my body. I got better at listening to my hip. The next time the hip started talking to me was in September right before Chicago. I listened. I cut my long run and went out the next day. That helped. This 18-miler did not hurt. It took me about a month of easing back in to running to get to this point. I can’t explain how happy I was that day.
- ACLI cooldown: For the past three or four years, I’ve come in first print female in the ACLI Capital Challenge. This year I swear there was a woman with a media bib ahead of me. I shrugged it off and said better luck next year and trotted off for my cooldown. I was coming down a bridge on my cooldown run and heard the faintest, “Amanda Hicks?” over a loudspeaker. Then I saw a tiny dot of Meb waving his hands and shrugging his shoulders. I sprinted down the hill. Meb said, “Oh there she is!” and handed me the award.
- Epic 35-miler: Alright. Even though it might have led to an injury, I got to run with so many friends and fun people. The pacing on this run was great, and the fueling was perfect. This run, more than the 50K, gave me the confidence I needed to run Comrades and take fuel appropriately.
Best running discoveries
- Jasyoga: In the last month, I’ve added Jasyoga as part of my daily or every-other-day recovery routine. Just a few minutes a day of doing this in addition to the planks and strength training I was doing before has made me less stiff and more centered.
- Takumi Sens: Found some new racing flats and bought a whole bunch before they discontinue them. Thanks, Paul Karlsen!
- Nikki and Katy: I had been a pretty solitary runner before this year. Starting in late 2015, I got to run some great miles with Nikki, who pushed me to hit my MP splits, and in early 2016, I met Katy, who Strava tells me I ran 48 hours with! That’s two days! I still consider myself a bit of a lone wolf, but I really love ticking off miles with these two.
- Hot Hands: Nikki introduced me to Hot Hands, and I don’t know why my hands were so stupid cold before. Why did I use two pairs of gloves when I could have put these nifty packets into my gloves?
- Overnight oats: Pinterest has a million recipes for overnight oats. I prefer mine with unsweetened almond coconut milk, chia seeds, Sun Warrior protein powder and maybe some dried berries. My poops have never been more regular.
2017 health resolutions
- 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. Also, I need to continue to listen to my body. If something hurts, I need to stop. Missing one run isn’t a big deal, as much as my Type A, OCD self says it is.
- Continue with steady mileage: My training has gone best when I’ve kept my mileage consistent with a down week every four or five weeks. With a long training block leading up to Boston, consistent mileage is going to be key.
- Race strategically: I am promising myself to not sign up for another spring marathon. I injured myself worst when I raced far too often last May. This year, I am going to take a long look at my calendar before adding any random pickup races. And I’m planning on maybe just one fall marathon. Gasp!
- Whittle down my marathon pace: I plan to run marathon pace workouts at 6:45 instead of 6:52. I was locked in to 6:52 for a while, so this is going to take some work. I need to get used to going a little faster than the absolute minimum so I don’t have to worry about tangents for that sub-3 attempt in the spring.