Well, it’s that time of year when I look back and see how my racing season went. After a disappointing 2012/2013 season, I’m pleased to say this past year was probably my best season yet. I not only set a marathon PR, but also performed consistently in all my races. Both of marathons were run under the Boston Marathon qualifying standards and all four of my half marathons were sub-1:30.
The charts below go back 5 years. My average marathon time improved from 3:25 to 3:08, about 17 minutes faster than last year. I also improved my streak of running 11 straight marathons under 3:30.
So what went right this season?
1. Consistency: Although I had a few nagging injuries, none of them were serious to keep me from missing more than a few days. This allowed me to carry out my training plans for the most part.
2. Weight: I was running about 3 to 5 lbs less this past year. It doesn’t seem like much, but makes a significant difference over a marathon distance. Also, eating mostly a plant based diet seems to work for me. Although I can’t claim I’m 100% vegan, or even 90% for that matter, I don’t eat a lot of meat or animal based products.
3. Fewer Marathons: I only ran two marathons this season instead of the 3 or 4 in past years. I think this reduces burnout and kept me more motivated and focused.
4. Cross-Training: Cross-training has become a large part of my training regimen. This has allowed me to be more well rounded in my fitness. I limit my running to only 3 times a week, but supplement it with the bike trainer and a moderate amount of stretching/yoga and strength training.
5. Sleep: Don’t underestimate the power of a good night’s sleep. Routinely making an effort to get 8 hours sleep with an afternoon nap not only helps my running, but helps me manage stress as well as makes me a sharper person overall throughout the day.
So what’s next?
I’ve decided to focus my efforts on the half marathon for the 2014/2015 season. This past season I really enjoyed running the half marathon distance and found that I tend to be a better half marathoner than full marathoner. Also, I like the fact that training for the half marathon is less wear and tear on the body and recovery from a race is relatively quick. I think if I could dedicate my efforts to this distance over the next year, I may be able to shave 2 to 3 minutes off my current 1:25 PR. I have three half marathons planned for the rest of 2014 (August, November and December) and will probably run 2 or 3 more the first half of 2015. Not sure when I’ll run my next full marathon, but at this point, it probably won’t be until at least the late-2015.