Friday, January 1, 2010

2009: Year in Review

2009 has been quite an eventful year for me, with a number of major milestones. I ran my first marathon in May, and while I didn't get the second one in as planned I did manage to parlay that training into a Triathlon. In addition to those major steps, I also managed to get my 5K time below 21 minutes for the first time. I've run a lot more miles than I did in the previous year, and have built up a good amount of experience which should be invaluable for future seasons. Further, I moved my cycling training to a more structured format and introduced swimming into the equation as well.

There were setbacks, of course, with my first real experience in dealing with injuries this year. Fortunately, they were relatively minor and healed pretty quickly with appropriate rest. They did interfere with my training plans a bit, however that is part of endurance training and getting the experience of how to deal with them will be an asset in the future. The upside, however, is that derailing my fall marathon plans helped me to focus more on the Triathlon side which has a lot of promise for the upcoming year.

With that said, at this time last year the plan was simply to do a 30K race in the spring and worry about the full marathon in the fall. Fortunately, after training went well in the early part of the year I elected to use the 30K as a stepping stone and work my way up to the Mississauga Marathon in May. As such, I'm happy to say that I was able to exceed my expectations and I'm a lot further along than I expected to be ;)

The Numbers:

Running: 2,694.5km (1,674.3mi) - 230h02m (5:07/km avg.)
Walking: 237.0km (147.3mi)
Cycling: 4,058.6km (2,521.9mi) - 134h13m (30.2km/h avg.)
Swimming: 180.7km (112.3mi)
Total: 7,170.8km (4,455.7mi)

Overall, that's a little less than 1,300km (~810mi) short of last year's total. The main difference, of course, is that I significantly cut back on the walking sessions that made up the bulk of my mileage last year. Between major increases in running mileage and finding time for the other two sports, fitting in time consuming walking sessions was difficult this time around.

Further, the two (minor) injuries that I had this year took a chunk out of my mileage as well. Aside from the direct loss of time/distance, I also had to gradually rebuild the fitness lost during that downtime which further contributes to mileage loss.

Either way, to illustrate this I put together the following plot of my running mileage over the course of the year (click on it for more detail). It has the weeks of my two 18 week training cycles overlaid on the graph, the 5 weeks of recovery between them. The plot also has markers for each of my races as well as the two injury periods:

To compare progress over the last few years, I've also thrown together a table with a few rough numbers. My weight (yellow line above) has drifted up a bit this year, however I'm still well within the normal range so I'm not worrying about that too much. Most of that built up part way through my first training cycle, as getting used to the fueling requirements of running beyond the half took a bit of learning. I've held it roughly steady since that point, as I think that I've gotten the hang of the right balance. With that said, some of that is likely additional muscle mass as swimming and cycling work groups that previously didn't see much load.

My running index is a little lower (blue line), but that's likely skewed by the walking at the beginning of the year. Polar's running index is a synthetic metric that is intended to monitor fitness levels by looking at exercise telemetry (primarily comparing %VO2Max against pace). Unfortunately, as walking is a more efficient gait than running is it tends to inject higher scores into the plots. Resting heart rate is likely a better measure anyway, and on that front I'm roughly in the same boat as I was last year (slightly lower, but likely within the margin of error).

Running Index?416661

2009 Racing History:
  1. March 15th Achilles 5K 20m55.6s (PB)
  2. March 29th Around the Bay 30K 2h27m48.6s (PB)
  3. April 4th Harry's Spring Run-Off 5K 22m56.4s
  4. May 10th Mississauga Marathon 3h29m03s (PB)
  5. September 19th Lakeside II Sprint Tri 1h17m37s (PB)
I didn't run nearly as many races as I did last year, as I was a little more selective about what I wanted to do. Race registration fees can easily add up, and it's quite easy to get carried away the first year out ;) The upcoming year will likely see a few more races as my newly found enthusiasm for Triathlon will push me to enter a variety of events to help build up.

Looking Ahead

Either way, 2009 is now officially in the books and I'm looking forward to what I can achieve in 2010. I'm still working out the details for the overall plan, however the primary objectives are as follows (in order of importance):
  1. Build up my mileage in the Triathlon, with the hopes of doing a Half Ironman in the fall. Whether that is realistic or not remains to be seen, however even if I don't get up to the half I want to at least do an Olympic distance race sometime this year.
  2. Build towards a 3:20 Marathon in the spring as a stepping stone towards the 3:10 I need for Boston. To run a 3:10 I'm going to need more experience under my belt, so aiming for the mid-point between where I am now (3:29) and where I need to be (3:10) should be a good learning experience.
  3. Try to get my 5K time below 20 minutes sometime this year. It's a bit of an out-of-band goal, however I got within a minute of that early last year and that was coming off of an injury. I've gained a lot of experience this year, and my fitness level has improved since then so it should be realistic.
As for a specific course of action to achieve those goals, and what races I'll be aiming for I still have a bit of work on that front. I'm mulling through my options at this stage, and will hopefully be able to post a comprehensive plan within the next week or so. I still plan to stick to Pfitzinger for my running goals, but I'm going to have to find a decent book on Triathlon training to figure out exactly what I need to do for those goals.

Happy 2010!

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