A Year In Training

This past year, I have trained harder as a runner than I have in years. Part of this was because I wanted to try out the training features of my GPS watch, but once I started training as hard as the schedule was asking me to, I found that I wanted to keep up with it. I started hitting sub-6:00/mile pace work, got back to running long-runs in distances exceeding 15 miles, and easily achieved my mileage goal for the year (1,600 miles) with months to spare.

When December rolled around, as I was trying to push my mileage ever-upward and perhaps do a 20-mile long run for the first time in over a decade, I started feeling some aches and pains in my legs and feet that wouldn't go away. So, I made the decision to rest for a full week. No running, minimal anything else. I did do some strength training to manage my blood sugar, but I concentrated solely on my upper body to ensure that my leg muscles were fully rested.

When I got back to running the following week, I still felt good, but my desire to keep driving myself so hard started to wane. Part of this is natural -- it's getting cold out there, and I hate running in very cold weather. But most of it is, I suspect, a challenge associated with training hard. Unless you have a reason (e.g. a professional reason) to train like a college athlete, it's hard to keep yourself motivated to do that kind of training for twelve solid months (or more).

I love to train. I love it more than racing. I like doing challenging interval workouts, I like pushing myself to see how hard I can go. Training is "my jam." Training is also repetitive, difficult, and physically uncomfortable. It's natural that, after a solid year of pushing, one would start to lose some intrinsic motivation to push, push, push.

Usually, this calls for something new. Time to take on another round of P90X? Time to train for a different kind of race? Time to try to do X, Y, or Z? I definitely need to freshen up my fitness routine, but none of the usual options seem very appealing to me right now. I've enjoyed become a lot more of a runner again. I've enjoyed slimming down, doing form exercises and speed work, hitting fast paces, and looking and feeling like my old distance-running self. I've also enjoyed the increased blood sugar control that comes with that.

It's hard to keep pushing toward the same thing, but I also have a low level of interest in the other stuff. I need something new, something interesting, something motivating.

Suggestions welcome.


  1. I suggest you try rowing. It has some of the same appeal as running, but, obviously is a different experience. It looks like there are a few rowing clubs in Dallas, but I don't know if any are convenient to you.

    1. Thanks, Mitch. There are a couple of places where I could feasibly go rowing here in Fort Worth, but two problems: First, I can't swim and wouldn't be comfortable on the water. Second, I usually work out on my lunch break during the week, and wouldn't be able to row during that time. Still, I like the idea of doing some arm-based cardio exercise. I may give the cardio rowing machine a try the next time I'm at the gym.

    2. Yes. The swimming issue is problematic. The rowing machine is a good idea and I would suggest trying to use a Concept 2 machine or a Water Rower. Rowing is primarily a leg exercise since you're on the sliding seat - so I wouldn't say it is arm-based though it is more so than running.