In addition to having a good running year in 2011, I also learned a lot about myself as a runner. This knowledge will help me more in the future, and is much more useful than a PR (although, PRs are wonderful).
What did I learn?
- Distance training runs should not be completed at anticipated goal pace...or faster. Doing this leads to burn out, as legs feel as if they are racing every single weekend. I learned this the hard way when training for my spring half marathons (Sam Costa and Rockford).
- Track workouts are incredibly beneficial for gaining speed. I started doing track workouts with my running club in June and greatly improved over the summer and early fall. I am continuing to do them with some other members of the club this winter. Lesson: if you want to get faster at a 5k, the track needs to be your friend.
- Long, slow run for marathon training means the run should be long and slow. I once was told that your pace is on target for success if you feel like you could run an extra couple miles when you have completed your run. If trained properly, your race day performance should be about 60 - 90 seconds faster than your long, slow run pace. I failed at this because my marathon mile average ended up being the same as what I trained at.
- The more you race, the more comfortable you feel at the start line. I raced a lot (for me) in 2011 - I completed 10 running races, 2 duathlons, 1 metric century bike ride, and 2 relay races. When I lined up for my last race of the 2011, the Hot Chocolate 15k, I didn't have a single butterfly in my stomach. I am not sure how much I'll be racing in 2012, but I am glad I have conquered the fear of the start line.
- Having a set training plan is good, but it might not work for you. My legs cannot handle running 10 miles on Saturday and 22 miles on Sunday, which is what my fall marathon plan called for one week. Training plans are good guidelines. Sometimes life happens and runs do not. It is not the end of the world. One missed run does not really matter in the grand scheme of training.
- Confidence is so important in achieving your goals. If you go to the start line with even an ounce of doubt in your body, you won't accomplished what you set out to do. If the mind believes it, the body can achieve it.
- It helps me if other people believe in me, and tell me so.
What did you learn in 2011 that will help you in 2012?