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Building Mileage & Perspective: December 2018

December 2018 in Review

Total mileage for the month:  316.3 -- in comparison:  January - 207, February - 254, March - 298, April - 307, May - 355, June - 232, July - 290, August - 357, September - 305, October - 10, November - 114.  This was a good mileage month, but only about 5 of those miles were fast (I am not even kidding)!

In 2018 I ran 3,047 miles total, which was a yearly mileage PR!  I ran 3,043 in 2018 (see #4 here), and I thought because of my calf injury this year I wouldn't be able to beat that, but in the end I did!

Full story:  I looked at my year-to-date total on Dec. 2 and although I'd never cared much about yearly totals before then, I suddenly felt it would be a complete tragedy if I didn't make it over 3,000 this year.  So I did the math and suddenly had a goal of running at least 62.5 miles a week for the rest of the year, as long as my calf continued to feel 100%.  I ended up with weekly totals over that and began closing in on my 2017 total, but I didn't expect to beat it until with 4 days left in the year, I checked it and saw that 40 more miles would get me there.  40 miles in 4 days is completely reasonable, so I decided to go for it.

  • Nov. 26-Dec. 2:  52.4 (31 AlterG)
    • Plus 4:05 cardio cross-training, 2:30 strength training
  • Dec. 3-9:  64.8 (22 AlterG)
    • Plus 1:30 cardio cross-training, 2:50 strength training
  • Dec. 10-16: 72.8 (11 AlterG)
    • Plus 2:46 strength training (0 cardio cross-training from here on!!!)
  • Dec. 17-12:  75.5 (12 AlterG)
    • Plus 2:40 strength training
  • Dec. 24-30:  80.1 (10 AlterG)
    • Plus 2:16 strength training
  • Dec. 31-Jan. 6: projected at 70

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Merry Christmas!

Races:

  • I had the final DNS of my injury, missing the California International Marathon.  This DNS burned the worst by far.  I'm hoping to return to the magic of CIM in 2019, though.

Workouts:

  • Dec. 13 - At the hill closest to the end of my run, I completed 4 x 1:00ish hill repeats.  Hill repeats are hard for me even when I'm in shape, and these were tough for a mere 4:00 of hard running!  I didn't time them exactly or take my paces on them, just ran from a sign to a mailbox that took me about a minute the first time, then repeated it 3 times before jogging back to where I was parked.  Hills are a great way to get speed work with less impact, and I was scared of everything except hills sprints and strides this month.
  • Dec. 28 - I finally bit the bullet and ran a real workout - 3 mile tempo at 6:36 via 6:43, 6:43, 6:24 (2.1 warm up, 2.3 cool down).  I chose the windiest day to do this, but also figured that would mean I'd for sure improve on my next workout.  I wasn't sure what to expect so I ran this by feel, as I am usually pretty good at zeroing in on tempo effort.  I did look at my mile splits, and my main thought at mile 2 was "I may have lost my speed, but at least I didn't lose my ability to run consistent splits!".  This run reminded me that it takes me 2 miles of any tempo to get into a groove and feel good, but I was still sure glad to stop after 3 hard miles!  I'm very thankful to be running and to have the opportunity to re-gain fitness, but it's sure hard not to compare.  I kept thinking "I have no idea how I used to run marathons averaging paces in the 6:20s!" but I also know that improvements come much faster when you haven't run workouts in a long time...here's hoping [Jan. 1 note - I did improve in my second workout back]!  I wore two Garmins on this run: my old 220 and new 235, and they had all of my mile splits within 2 seconds of each other so unfortunately my disappointing pace was pretty accurate.
  • Doubles on Dec. 18, and 26.  My 80 mile week during the final week of the month was the first time I hit 80 with only 1 double!
  • Strides on Dec. 10, 18, 23, and 26.
  • Full body strength workouts:  I started listing my weekly strength training totals with my weekly mileage above.  Most of my strength routine uses body weight (e.g., planks, push ups, walking lunges) or resistance bands (e.g., clamshells, monster walks, glue bridges), but I do some weighted moves (e.g., squats, deadlifts, rows). 

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I ran 10 miles in this ugly Christmas sweater!

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8* is less cold with friends, but apparently

feels colder to me than to Amy!

Long Runs:

  • Dec. 1:  I tagged my 7.2 miles (7:36) as a long run on Strava, because when your outdoor runs have been 0 for 8 weeks, 7.2 is long!  While the duration of the run seemed short, it also seemed like a long way to run, if that makes any sense at all.  It was a nice one, with my running buddies Amy R., Elise, Rebecca, and Claudio on farm roads in 48 degrees.  I can't say that I like being the one running the shortest distance, however.
  • Dec. 8:  12.2 miles (7:39) with my amazing friends Missy and Rebecca on a cold and windy morning!  I also ran 10 miles (7:26) for my midweek long run with Rebecca that week, on Dec. 5, which was my first double digit run outside post-injury!
  • Dec. 15:  14 miles (7:19) with a wonderful group (Rebecca, Missy, Jackie, Danielle, and Claudio...I told Claudio he was in for a lot of estrogen!).  Early on some of the 7:10ish miles felt a bit hot, and I sure felt the long inclines in miles 10-11, but my final 2 miles were my fastest (7:05, 6:50) and I was happy to average 20 sec/mile faster than the previous week, going 2 miles farther.  The upside of returning from injury is that you improve much more rapidly than when you're fit!  I'd had a few daily runs that were around 7:15 pace by this point in my comeback, but they'd been 5-6 milers, so this was really solid for where I was at.  I then ended up running 12.2 miles the next day on Dec. 16 (oops - but the pace was slower at 7:57).
  • Dec. 21:  16.2 miles (7:49) with Missy, before work.  This seemed like a really good idea until my alarm sounded at 4:00 a.m. the Friday morning of the run!  Shortly after, Missy texted me, "What were we thinking??!"  We'd planned on a pace over 30 seconds/mile faster than this, but it just wasn't the day for it.  After hearing the wind whipping around all night, we decided that even 8:00 pace would be fine and we'd consider it time on feet.  It was very windy, but I think most of my problem was eating crappy the day before at Christmas events and probably also getting used to the miles...after all, I did go from a long run of 7.2 to 16.2 in 3 weeks!  It didn't seem that long (thanks to my super long cross-training sessions that weren't nearly as fun), but for the remainder of the day my body sure reminded me that I hadn't run this distance in almost 3 months.  But whenever you run 16 miles before the sun comes up, you accomplished something - plus Missy is awesome!
  • Dec. 24:  14 miles (7:59) on Christmas Eve for an unscheduled but excellent long run!  I met up with April to run the Chisholm Trail Marathon course in Wichita while visiting my parents for Christmas, which ended up being the perfect Christmas Eve bonus long run.  The course is two loops of 13.1 miles, and she had a 14 miler scheduled so I of course ended up running the extra mile.  The run went by really quickly and felt more like 7 miles instead of 14, and we only made one wrong turn when navigating the course from my memory (i.e., the course is very easy to follow even completely unmarked)!
  • Dec. 29:  14 miles (7:39) mostly before dawn.  I ran the first 7 with Elise, Amy, and Rebecca at around 8:00 pace, then did a progressive-ish 6 at around 7:20 pace because I felt good!  We ran a 13 mile loop but when I got back to my car I decided to tack on another mile for 14 (funny, initially I'd planned a cut back long run of 12 this week but ended up with two 14s instead).  I would have run 15-16, or maybe even 18, if I hadn't been on a time crunch to get home because Jon had to leave...and that was a nice feeling that I hadn't experienced on a long run recently!  I followed this up with 11.6 miles the next day.
  • Favorite long run:  All of them!  I love every single run!

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My new compression socks!

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Elise bought the same pack & we both wore a pair on 12/16

Cross-Training:

  • I supplemented a little with cross-training as I worked up my mileage, but nothing like the previous two months (thank God)!  The earliest I can start running on the AlterG is 6:15 a.m. (and I pulled a lot of strings to make that happen - the first appointment for it is actually at 7:00 a.m.), so some days I ran on it at the beginning of the month I did 30 minutes on the bike or elliptical at home before, because I can't sleep past 5:00 a.m.  That died off pretty quickly though, hah.

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Reflecting with Amy on 12/13 (it was in the 40s this morning!)

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This is why Amy is usually in charge of post-

run photos - Kansas City run w/ Jessi on 12/17

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This is how dark it is when we finish weekday runs...

Highlights/thoughts/randomness:

  • Stopping cross-training was a highlight, for sure!  Wow, I need running in my life.  I fully believe that nothing helps your running more than running more.
  • My first week back to running was rough, even though I ran 52 miles (only 21 outside, with 31 on the AlterG though).  I felt like I'd lost everything and 3-4 mile easy paced runs were so hard it blew my mind to think that just 2 month prior I'd been running that for my second run of the day after running 3 times as far in the morning.  7 miles was really long on Dec. 1 and I truly didn't want to run any farther.  I was very discouraged.  The second week, though, I turned a corner and running felt good again!  I got super excited for each run and they kept getting easier.  The 10 miles I ran on Dec. 5 was easier than the 4 miles I ran on Dec. 2.  I felt encouraged.  The third week was even better, and so forth!  My first workout back was also very discouraging, but I'm thankful I can try to improve.
  • I built my mileage back up rather quickly post-injury, but my easy pace is slower and I did 5 weeks of easy running without workouts (I finally got brave enough to try a workout at 5 weeks, 1 day). 
  • However, slow running is so much better than no running, and at this point I don't even care if I never PR again.  I enjoyed running with friends and never thinking about pace (in general I let whoever I was running with set the pace). 
  • I was not coached this month, and although I enjoyed running whatever I wanted, I was also reminded how easy it is for me to over-train myself.  I had a general idea of what I planned to run each day (I even wrote out a rough plan at the beginning of the month), but my approach quickly turned to matching the mileage of whoever I was running with if it was farther.  "I planned to do 8, but sure I'll run 12 with you; who cares that I ran 14 yesterday?!", "I was thinking I'd do 10, but 14 works just fine too!", etc.  
  • In related news, I will be starting back with my coach on January 1, as clearly I need someone to save me from myself.  I'd considered training myself for my "for fun" March marathon (more info on that to come), and although I can write a good training schedule I am super apt to add things, which can come back to bite me.  I hope to build from March for time goals in June and December marathons.
  • I got a new Garmin for Christmas!  I wouldn't have bought one for myself until my 220 died, but my husband thought I'd like it.  He was right - I love my new 235.  It was the only reason I doubled in Dec. 26; it was windy and wet outside but after opening it in a final gift exchange with my immediate family I was super excited to get out and try it.
  • Winter running is here!  I'll run in about anything temperature-wise, but bitter cold is my least favorite.  I've been so thankful to be running I haven't even cared though!  Most winters I'm scared that I'll have to run on the treadmill, but after putting in so many miles on the AlterG I'm not even worried about that (although I still plan to/hope to avoid it!).  I don't have any more AlterG runs planned, but if the weather forces me indoors I'll use it over a standard treadmill to get miles with less impact once in awhile.  This already happened on New Years Eve; I cannot quite manage 38 degrees and pouring rain.

Life events:

  • Christmas-themed everything!  I wasn't the best at taking pictures, but we did a Christmas parade, put out outdoor Christmas decorations (our tree and indoor decorations were completed in November), and ate some Christmas treats.
  • Albani had a terrible stomach bug the second weekend of the month so we stayed home all weekend.  I could not believe how much puke came out of such a small body, and I felt terrible for her.  I ran, read 3 books, and cleaned up vomit all weekend.
  • For Christmas we visited my parents/siblings from Dec. 22-24 and Jon's parents/siblings from Dec. 24-25.  It was hard to narrow down which photos to share!  We are certainly blessed.
  • For New Years Eve we saw an early movie as a family, and I was asleep before 10:00 p.m., which was everything I hoped for.

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Cold weather indoor entertainment

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Those are my PJ pants!

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Gingerbread house building

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Stockings at our house

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Pre-Christmas church service

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Christmas Eve at my parents'

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Cousin cuteness

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Cousin craziness

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My loves on Christmas Day

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Family Christmas Day photo

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Looks like you finished off the year in high style.

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That is a strong sock game!

Glad you were able to end the year on a high note after the injury. Now kick some butt in 2019!

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So happy things have turned the corner for you! Something tells me this setback is just fuel to fire for 2019. 

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A big mileage month and year despite the set-back. Good job!

I think my kids did the same gingerbread house - from Michael's I believe.

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3 hours ago, mattw said:

A big mileage month and year despite the set-back. Good job!

I think my kids did the same gingerbread house - from Michael's I believe.

Our neighbor's bought them so I'm not sure...I'm not very crafty or festive (except for my socks!).  :-)

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Very impressive how quickly you progressed back over the course of only 1 month.  Good job!  Cute photos of your daughter.

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