For 2016, with an objective of building upon my enjoyable first season of ultra running and with an eye towards my insanely fortunate opportunity to run Western States, I've crafted a number of goals. My hope is that these goals keep me motivated and focused. I have a very focused training program I built for my run-up to Western States, which I will likely write about soon, but right now I'll invoke the guidance of Andy Jones-Wilkins.
Short-term Numerical Goals
AJW recommends a six- to eight-month time frame for these goals that span diet, life habits, and training objectives.
- Maintain an average of at least 50 miles per week through March
- I've never in my life maintained this kind of mileage, not because I'm not capable of it, but because I've never had the appropriate motivations. To become the kind of runner I believe I'm capable of, I need to be more consistent with my running -- no more weeks of 15 miles because I lost track of the time. This means starting the year out with a solid chunk of mileage that I can be proud of. This is my primary short-term endurance goal.
- For the past year I've maintained about 137-140, and I currently carry roughly 12-17 lbs of excess weight -- I'm 5'5", for what it's worth. Getting to 130 should put me in a good position to run a strong marathon and be on my way to down-the-road weight goals.
- Anything under 7:00 pace will be acceptable, knowing my primary focus for the spring is Western States and not an optimal marathon time.
- I'm currently at 6:15-6:20 for 5-7 mile efforts. This is, effectively, my speed/stamina goal.
Short-term General Goals
- Stick to my training schedule, which is specifically structured to minimally impact family time
- I've never ran with a training plan before, so it's important that I prove to myself that I can stay focused.
- I'm willing to skip or shorten a workout here and there, but I need it to be a rare exception rather than common practice.
- I am terribly inflexible, particularly in the hips and hamstrings. During knee PT last year, my therapists were taken aback by how inflexible I was -- the look on their faces was equal parts hilarious and terrifying.
- I have to prioritize stretching and will aim for around 30 minutes of leg-oriented stretching 5 nights a week instead of simply lounging on the couch after I put my daughter to bed.
- By this I mean race more of the races I sign up for, instead of just running them.
Long-term Numerical Goals
These are goals with a one or two year time frame.
- Mileage -- Hit 1500 miles for 2016 at Western States, achieve somewhere between 2500 and 3000 for the year.
- Last year I ran 1200 on the nose, with 10 weeks of no activity. That was likely a lifetime best, but many of the weeks contained only 1 or 2 days of running and mileage well under 25 miles. I know my body can handle 50-60 mile weeks, and 2016 is the year to prove it.
- I don't have any major hills in DC so I have to strategically limit my 3x/week trail running to steep sections of trail in DC's Rock Creek Park -- there are a few 100-200 foot hills that I can hit relentlessly, over and over again without pause.
- I need to utilize my treadmill once a week for sustained 10-12% inclines and declines of 3-8 miles.
- This is my ideal running weight which will get rid of a majority of my excess weight, hopefully leaving me feeling strong and fleet of feet on the trails.
- Finish Western States under 22 hours, with an "A" goal of sub-20
- Top 10 at Grindstone and/or Hellgate
- Run a 50 Miler under 8 hours -- I have an eye towards Bull Run in early April as a gauge for Western States
- Be in position for 2:50 marathon in 2017
- 17:30 5K and/or 4:59 mile by end of 2016 -- just a fun little speed goal to make sure I maintain speed for fast finishes in longer races
Long-term General Goals
- Effectively balance family time and running time
- Ultra running is a selfish sport and it won't be worth it if I neglect the time I can spend with my family, so I need to make sure my training is streamlined and that I don't spend too many weekends away at races or selfishly sleeping in on weekends and still squeezing in a 3-6 hour long run.
- A major weakness in my racing skill set
- I tend to drink less than I probably should, and that needs to change. This applies to my everyday life as well.
- I take in fewer calories than I could and should (relying too much on fat adaptation or fearing an upset stomach) so there's probably mini-bonks throughout an ultra that I can learn to avoid.
- This is a big stretch, which will require balancing strong efforts against muscle preservation during the three spring 50Ks before Western States, and a strong end-of-season showing at Grindstone and Hellgate.
- It's a weird-sounding goal, but with the right training I believe I'm capable of competing for top places at bigger regional races -- I'll likely never win any races, but aiming for Top 10s and even the occasional Top 3 would be a lot of fun!
That about sums it up. I have some lofty goals this year but I believe that at this point in my life it's better to aim high and stay motivated than make smaller more reasonable goals that might lead me to lose interest. My ultimate objective is to find the limits of my body and then work to push those limits. Right now, I'm still not entirely sure what my ultrarunning limits are, so I'm going to aim high without fear of falling short.