2017: The year of…


I hope next year is epic. I’m already  planning for it to be. I have an A race in mind, and it’s like nothing I’ve ever attempted. But, it won’t be the farthest I’ve run. It’s “only” a marathon. It’s a marathon that one guy described as “a pissed off 50k.” It’s the marathon Trail Runner magazine calls “The toughest marathon you’ve never heard of.”

I call it my A race – for 2018.

I like planning. I like big goals. This race will require big goals, strategic planning, hard work, and dedication. It like the perfect puzzle piece in my lifestyle.

It’s the Athens Big Fork Trail Marathon. The course follows a 100-year-old horse postal trail through the mountains. It’s an out-and-back trail that goes up and over eight mountains – then back over those eight mountains, finishing right where it started after 9200 feet of mountain running.

Ever since I heard about it, I’ve been wanting to do it. The one thing that has been holding me back is that I don’t think I’m ready for that. That race is too hard, too much.

But then I realized that too hard and too much has never stopped me before.

Getting ready.

The running.

In order to run a race like the Big Fork, I’ll need to be really ready. There are cutoff times to think about, so I’m not going to be able to just meander the mountains hoping for the best. As a result, I’m treating all of 2017 as training for BF.

Here are the key races I’m planning to run:

  • Yamacraw 50k (April)
  • Gnaw Bone 50 mile (May)
  • Shawnee Hills 50k (August)
  • Rough Trails Ultra 50k (November)

Training for four ultramarathons will help give me a massive endurance base. Plus all four of those races are pretty hilly, so I’ll build climbing legs and develop more efficiency on the hills, which will be so important for Big Fork.

The working out.

But, as I know for a fact, and as I am not good at compensating for, merely running does not a good runner make. In 2016, I did a run streak: I ran at least one mile every day for the entire year – but what I’ve learned (and I’ll get into more in a different post) is that a run streak really doesn’t have a ton of actual benefits – aside from forcing very consistent running routine, of course. I definitely didn’t become a stronger runner because of it.

But, I did really like the consistency it brought to my training, and that got me thinking. I could do a different daily challenge that would bring more benefits to my running and goals. So, in 2017, I’ll be doing a core workout challenge. Every day, I’ll do a 10-minute workout including leg, arms, and core strengthening exercises. This will go a lot further toward making me a stronger, leaner runner. Which should get me up and over eight mountains – twice.

No excuses.

2016 was my year of discipline. Even with each day anchored by a run, I’m still not quite sure I really achieved the level of discipline I wanted to achieve. It’s illusive and it’s hard to say exactly what I’m looking for, but know that I’m not quite there.

One of my weaknesses is that I give in to my excuses too often. While I do get my runs done, I don’t do them when I really want to (i.e., in the morning), and I don’t get my cross training done as consistently as I should.

So, in 2017, I’m going to dive into all the clichés. No excuses. Just do it. The daily workout challenge is going to be a big part of that. It’s going to have a big, positive effect, but I know it’s going to be a challenge to  do it every day without fail.

But I suppose that’s what makes it appealing.

What are your 2017 goals?





use this gymbo copy

I’ve been working harder at the gym, as I promised – and it feels great, as I expected. I’ve even been reunited with an old flame, burpees. 12 Minute Athlete has been my resource for quick, effective workout routines, which are great for lunchtime gymtime! I get about 25 minutes of quality time after factoring in the walk to and from the gym plus a shower (you’re welcome, coworkers). The routines on 12 Minute Athlete are mostly HIIT (high intensity interval training) with some AMRAP (as many rounds as possible) usually within a 12-minute timeframe (surprise!). She always says “Work HARD!” – which is really the only way to make a short work out yield the most productive results.

I even “discovered” a new workout that heats up my quads like nothing I’ve experienced, short of actual downhill running, which I don’t get much of around here. Pike jumps! These will probably be really useful for attacking long and plentiful downhills that I don’t have much experience with.

run copy

As I write this, I have 308 miles behind me for the year, which is crazy. Last year, I ran 76.08 miles total in January, February, and March. Training for an early spring ultramarathon can really rack up the miles quickly – during some very painful months. I don’t like the cold very much, but it seems like we’re on the other side of that for the most part, here in southern Indiana. This past Saturday, I ran 17 miles under what was apparently direct, unfettered sunshine. I thought it was going to be colder than it was, so I started by running with a long-sleeve shirt, which I shed a few miles in. A few hours later, my face and shoulders were slightly burnt, and I was shamefully pleased. It could maybe not be winter soon!

A few weeks ago, we ran the Run of Luck 7k, the second race in a three-race series held locally. I needed to get five extra miles in addition to the 7k (which, according to my Garmin, is 4.37 miles). So I raced my heart out in the 7k, pulling out an 8:36 pace, which I felt pretty good about. I paused briefly after the finish line, had some water and a date, and then headed back out to run the same course, much more slowly, with an added mile on the end. I wouldn’t typically start a 10-mile run with an 8:30 pace or anything near it, but it’s hard to not race hard even though I know I need to run extra miles. I get caught up in the excitement of the starting corral and the energy of the runners around me. A few weeks from now, I’ll be running a 10k with an added 10 miles. I’d like to think I could do the 10 miles before the race and be done, but we’ll see what the day brings.