2017 was supposed to be another high point in my running. After completing two years with over 1100 miles, multiple ultra races, and feeling like I was at the top of my game, 2017 was going to be more of the same. However, the second half of 2016 started to see a slow decline in my running, and everything pretty much came apart in 2017.
I tried to start strong, but by February, injury and illness had sidelined me for many days when I should have been out there moving. By July I made the decision that I wasn’t having fun with this, and I needed to make an adjustment. I cancelled all my big races for the year and started just focusing on smaller, 25K-ish distances. That worked pretty well to help me enjoy things more, but it still didn’t dull the frustration that my body just isn’t where it should be. I’ve even had some mental breakdowns in the past couple months with frustration about what I’m able to accomplish right now vs. what I want.
All of this aside, I still had a mostly decent year from a mileage perspective. As of the time of this writing I’m just over 700 miles, and might still sneak in one more run before the grand total is set. My runs were mostly shorter, with my longest being 19 miles at the Icebox 480 event. My speed has dropped considerably, and so many of my runs are not at the same performance level of years past. I did manage a few cool races, including the Bluff Tuff Half, Trail Mix 25K, and the Grand Traverse 16 miler. None of these were blowing apart speed records, but I found a way to enjoy them.
So where do I go from here? In 2018 I need to work on getting things back in shape physically. The first part of that is losing 15-20 lbs. I need to get my weight back down to where it was in 2011 and keep it there. Carrying around extra pounds is killer when trying to run. Second, I have started visiting a chiropractor more regularly to get my back in alignment, and hopefully help with some of my other aches and pains.
Finally, I just simply need to run more often in 2018. I need to commit to getting out the door at least 4 times per week, and spending time on my feet. I lamented recently about finding time to run, and that’s something I need to focus on more in 2018. I’ve got an idea for a schedule in my head, and hopefully I can pull it off. I also need to ensure I’m getting in as much cross training as I can to strengthen other areas of my body besides my running legs. I think a reason I came up with so many injuries this year was due to being pretty out of balance.
My plan for races in 2018 is to continue to keep focused on shorter distances, however, I do want to get in at least one 50K. I haven’t fully decided which one it will be yet, but I’m targeting some time in Spring. That means getting off my butt in the winter and getting it done. I’d also like to hit a few races that I’ve never been to, and make them into mini-vacations, maybe with some brewery tourism alongside them. There’s a lot of cool races that offer shorter distances that I might be able to take part in.
I’m also going to continue to volunteer a lot at races this year. I love helping run races, and spending time at aid stations and helping other runners, brings me a lot of joy. I know that this will continue to always be a part of my running life. I might even look into the possibilities of directing some races myself as well.
Despite 2017 not being what I wanted it to be, I’m excited for the future. I’m starting to feel mentally more connected to running again. I want to be better at this, and I know that takes work. It may mean that I need to prioritize other things in life differently, but I’m hopeful I can keep everything in balance as much as possible. After all, running is nothing if not a balancing act.