Training and Racing in 2014: Lessons and Moving Forward

Mid Summer Night's RunI’m writing my 2014 training and racing season recap earlier than expected, due to an unexpected injury. About 3 weeks ago I started to experience some soreness and pain in my groin, on the right side. Hoping that this was just a temporary issue, I laid off running for two weeks and went to see my physiotherapist. She diagnosed a strain in my pectineus muscle and told me that running with a strain could eventually lead to a tear which would lead to 6 months off running. Not cool. Upon her advice, and the advice of my coach, I tried a gentle 5K on Tuesday and another 5K on Wednesday, but the discomfort remained and actually got worse the faster I ran. Knowing that I couldn’t ignore the pain for 42.2 kilometres, and feeling pretty “off” that my taper was all messed up, I pulled the plug and have postponed my first marathon until spring 2015.

Am I bummed? Yes. Did I cry? Yes, a few times. But, I also realize how lucky I have been this training season to have hit personal best times in all the distances I raced and to have every one of my races go pretty much exactly how I planned, or better. I have learned so much about myself this year, about what I am capable of, where my limits are (and aren’t), and how much faster and further I want to go. Up until this year I had always thought of myself as a mediocre runner and was actually getting slower, rather than faster (thanks anxiety!).

2014 Race SeasonIn June of this year I raced my first all-out 10K and not knowing what to expect, I just ran as fast as I could. To my surprise I finished in 55:54 and bettered that time with a 52:53 at the Ekiden Relay Race. For me, these were times that I hadn’t seen in 2 years, times that I could not run when I was plagued by anxiety, worried that my heart would burst or I would faint if I ran too fast. In the 15k distance, I started the season with a 1:26:58 at the Bread & Honey Race in June and bettered that time with a 1:22:46 at A Midsummer Night’s Run 15k in August. That month I also raced my first Sprint Triathlon in a time of 1:31:35, about a half an hour faster than I thought I could do it in. Finally, in September I ran my goal race and achieved the elusive sub-2 half marathon with a time of 1:58:33 at Run for the Grapes. A marathon would have been the icing on the cake, but I have had a good year and I am content.

So what’s next? Well I have given my coach my 2015 training and racing plans and they include a 30K, marathon, half-marathon, 50K bike race, Olympic Distance Triathlon, Sprint Distance Triathlon, and a Half-Ironman 70.3 Triathlon. Writing them all out like that seems a bit crazy, but I trust my coach and I trust myself to achieve as many of these goals as I can, safely, and with a smile on my face. Because if you’re not smiling throughout all this training, what’s the point? The next few weeks will just be swimming, biking, and strength training as this silly groin strain heals, but I hope to be back to running before the beautiful fall weather leaves us. I am a bit obsessed with my indoor bike trainer right now and am looking forward to spending many sweaty hours indoors this winter riding.

If 2014 was the year of rediscovering my abilities, 2015 is going to be the year of going beyond them and reaching new heights in distance and speed. Since I am going to have to wait another 6 months to run a marathon, I have set myself an ambitious time goal (which my coach fully supports) and I am going to train my ass off to get there. Is it going to hurt? Yes. Are there going to  be days when I don’t want to run? Of course. Am I going to let that stop me? No freakin’ way.