Some of you may have noticed that there’s a little year-end meme circling the running blog circuit, courtesy of blogger, Miss Zippy. Things like this always tend to pop up around this time of year as everyone is putting together their goals, resolutions, and race schedules for the new year.
While they’re fun to read (and fun to write), they can also be incredibly useful training tools. By sitting down and reviewing the highs and lows of your past year, you can really figure out what does and doesn’t work for your training. Then, once you’ve got that nailed, you can try to use more of the stuff that works (and avoid things that don’t) to help you become a stronger, faster, and better runner next year.
Here are 5 questions (some of which are taken from Miss Zippy’s meme) that you should ask yourself when looking back over the past year and why they’re important:
- If you could sum up your year in just a few words, what would they be? This’ll give you the big picture of how your year went, whether it was good or bad. Having a good idea of how your year was overall can help you determine just how much you need to tweak.
- Best week or month of training? What about it made it so great? Were you well-rested and working at a good volume? Or did the rest of your life magically calm down so you could really focus on running like you’ve always wanted? You can also compare and contrast that to:
- Worst week or month of training? Did you injure yourself? Were you struggling to get runs in or constantly skipping runs? If so, was it something that could be related to overtraining (illness, injury, low motivation) or just because the rest of your life was insanely busy? Was there a spot in your training cycle where you just felt awful all the time or exhausted?
- What was your best race experience? For most people, their best race experience will be their fastest race. If that’s the case, what did your training and buildup look like? What was your schedule in the weeks leading into the race? Were there specific course or weather conditions that worked in your favor? If your best experience wasn’t your fastest, what about that race made it your “best”? Was it a small race or a big one? Local or destination? Trail or road? This can help you figure out what sort of races you like, so you can run more of them (and spend less time and money on races you aren’t going to enjoy). Likewise, what about your PR race wasn’t all that great? How could you change that in the future?
- What was your worst race experience? This can be a race that you just hated or one where you bonked 1 mile into a 5 mile trail run. If the reason for the bad experience wasn’t something obvious (like injury or illness), you’ll want to dig into your training and preparation for that race a bit. What about that training was different from the race (or races) that went better for you? Did you try a different pre-race dinner or breakfast? Travel too far too close to the race start? Spend the day before a long race on your feet doing touristy things? Figuring out what made these bad races such unpleasant experiences can help you avoid those experiences going forward.
By looking back at the good, the bad, and even the ugly, you’ll get the information you need to make next year even better. Here’s to a great year of healthy, injury-free running for the Salty Running community.
Do you review your past training logs on a regular basis? What changes have you made based on experience (good or bad)?