A couple months ago, I wrote about being sidelined from running due to knee injury, so I wanted to write a quick update about getting back to running life post-injury. I started easing back into running regularly at the beginning of March and have been ramping up. Fortunately, my knees continue to behave well even as I’ve put them through increasingly rigorous load each week. I’m doing what I can to make sure it stays that way!
Now that I’m a few weeks back into regular training, I’m out of recovery mode, back into a full training plan, and getting pretty stoked for the season ahead. Here’s what’s in the works for me.
Outfit pictured: Tracksmith
Last year, I had too many short distance races that seemed to interfere with my ability to train at consistent volumes. Although it was good to get experience racing, every race was treated like a goal race, which meant I scaled down volume frequently. This year, I’m skipping the shorter distance races and doing fewer races in general. This way, my races are basically just goal races and races that will work well with my workouts.
The first race I plan to run this year is the Hearts 911 Ultimate Elden Run on July 14th. This will actually be one of the most physically demanding races, but I’ll be treating it more like a training run rather than a goal race. It’s a 10.3-mile course up and down nearby Mt Elden–the peak that keeps watch over my house–to the tune of >2,000 ft of climbing. Last year I ran the 10k distance at this race, but this year I’m going for the whole enchilada. It’s a huge volume of climbing, but it’s not a stretch based on the type of training I do (typically, 1,000+ ft during my long runs) and will be good training for my goal races.
My goal race for the year will be the Dave McKay Memorial Half Marathon on August 11th. This race will be new for me, but I’m relatively familiar with the area. It’s a primarily off-road race with a mix of forest road and single track. Although there’s some climbing, it’s not particularly brutal, which means this should be a fairly fast course for me.
After that, I plan to see if I can hold onto that training peak for another race on August 25th. That race, Gaspin in the Aspen, is a 15k that I ran last year and really loved. This race is almost exclusively single-track on hilly terrain, which is my bread and butter. My time last year was 1:48:17 and I placed 11th of 15 in my age group. I’m hoping to best that this year. This is the only race that will be a repeat of last year.
Lastly, I snagged a spot in this year’s Soulstice, a small but sought after trail race held on October 13th. I’ll be running the 11 mile distance. This race will be primarily for fun and won’t be a peak race. Any performance I can pull off will be gravy.
Sadly, I won’t be running this year’s iteration of the half marathon I ran in September of last year. While I’d love to do it again, I’ll be out of town.
Since this is only my second season, I don’t have a good sense yet of what sort of gains I can expect to make with my running this year. With that in mind, it’s too early for me to have a time goal picked out for my half marathon. I’m guessing it will be somewhere in the neighborhood of 2h15m, give or take 15 minutes.
Since I have a time from last year’s 15k race, I’m aiming to beat that. But, as above, I’m not yet sure what number will be realistic.
Besides my times, I’d love to get at least one result in the top 5 of my division in my half marathon and/or 15k goal races.
Lastly, my most important goal is to maintain perspective and enjoy the process of training. I do this for fun, after all. That’s not to say I won’t have bad runs or days where I’m just not into it. Some days or weeks will be exhausting. But the challenges are part of what make the overall process rewarding and engaging. I want to make sure I keep my head in the right place, at least in the big picture.
How I’m training
This year, I’m working with a new coach to develop a plan and goals. She runs professionally and I’m really excited to learn from her. Conveniently, she coaches out of my physical therapy clinic, which means she and my PT can keep a watchful eye on me to stay ahead of any aches and pains.
Compared to my training last year, this season’s training will be considerably more rigorous. I’m starting to depart from newbie runner territory and moving toward intermediate, and my training will reflect that. Last year, my weekly mileage topped out in the low 20’s and I ran 3-4x a week. I’m already creeping up on 20 miles per week–it’s only up from here! Another change this year is incorporating 1-2x weekly running workouts with more structure, including things like intervals at set paces and drills. Last year, my only workouts were hill repeats every other week or so, so these workouts are new territory for me.
So far, my training has been going well. I was worried I would have to start from scratch after so many months off, but I’ve actually maintained a surprising amount of strength. For the most part, I feel like I’ve been able to pick up where I left off. That bodes well for where I could be in the next few months.
Besides running, I aim to do about 2 strength sessions each week to get stronger and reduce injury risk. I’m still developing a plan for my strength sessions, but it’ll likely include a mixture of heavy weighted movements like squats or cleans, bodyweight-only movements, and preventive exercises like clam shells for my IT bands. I also hope to include a bike ride once every week or two as another layer of cross-training and general fun. To open up a little time in the week, I won’t be signing up for weekly aerial classes for the summer session. Instead, I’ll schedule private lessons and drop into open gym on an ad hoc basis for more flexibility. I’ll pick back up with weekly classes in the fall.
The biggest challenge I foresee is fitting in the sheer volume of everything I want and need to do. Part of this challenge is time, part is physical energy, and part is mental energy. As the above paragraph indicates, it’s a lot of training. If I pull it off, it’ll be the most demanding training regimen I’ve undertaken to date. My coach’s guidance will be helpful in ensuring my training expands my limits in a smart, productive way.
Overall, I’m feeling optimistic and excited for what’s on the horizon this season. I’m looking forward to seeing how things shape up!
If you have goals and plans for season, running or otherwise, feel free to share!