Wednesday, December 31, 2008

December 2008 Runathon Report

This is a picture of my BT calendar for December. The squares turn pink when you do something swim/bike/run related on that day. The green squares are for races (the green square on 12/6 was the Dawn to Dusk race). This is the first time my calendar has been pink for the whole month. Usually there is at least one white or yellow square each week for a rest day. But not this month! This month I completed the December Runathon!

I joined the December Runathon because I need to improve my running. Last year was the year of the swim. This year is the year of the run. It's a wake-up call when you place mid-pack on the swim, 2nd fastest on the bike, and last in the run in your age group in a race (those were my results for the PBR tri). So the answer is to run lots! And run I did. And not much else. Actually, I did 0 yards of swimming in December. I think this is the first month I did no swimming. But in December, running sounds better than swimming.

So here is my December Runathon summary points, in no particular order:
  • Having no rest days really sucks. That is the first thing to get added back in. I need at least one day where I don't worry about scheduling a workout and get to just rest and relax. Even though a 2 mile run isn't difficult, it becomes mentally taxing after a few weeks to constantly be scheduling runs.
  • A group run at least 1 day a week can be a big motivator. I joined the Wednesday Dawn Patrol runs with Julie at Sabino Canyon. This made me get my ass out of bed at 4:30 AM to go run some ghastly hilly course in the dark. I think it's best to not see the hills. And it's so early I often forgot I had already run by mid-day. But knowing people are expecting you to be there makes you set 3 alarms and get out of bed and go run.
  • Headlamps are your friend. I bought a pretty bright lamp at Home Depot for $15 in the construction section. Cheaper than what you'll find at Summitt Hut, and it got me out there on days where I could only fit a run in in the evenings in the dark (which were a lot).
  • 2 miles can feel like 20. My minimum run requirement was 2 miles. Some days I had been busy all day and I didn't get out until 8 PM, and I dragged just to get through those 2 miles.
  • Tell everyone you know about your plans and that you're doing a runathon. This makes you get out and do it. Zac would keep me in order and tell me "You still need to go out and run," "It's runathon not walkathon," and stuff like that.
  • No excuses. For some runs I pulled out the tools from the Ironman training toolbox to get through them. I had plenty of excuses not to run. "I'm too tired," "I just rode 60 miles on a mountain bike and it's 11:55 PM," "It's raining/snowing," etc. But you have to do what you can to push through them and get out there and do the run to meet your goal. You feel like a rockstar afterwards!
  • Multisport = more balance. There's a reason I like to train for triathlons, and that's because I get bored with 1 sport easily. This month I got to experience what it's like to be dedicated to one sport. The biking and swimming definitely suffered. I'm looking forward to going back to a more balanced training plan because it allows me to mix up the week. Sometimes swimming isn't that bad. (OMG did she just say that?!!?)
  • Running is better than swimming when it's cold out. My run gear didn't freeze to the ground like my swim gear did last December.
  • Trail running is more fun than road running, but more dangerous. I never fell on the road, but I did have one nasty fall on the trail. But it was worth it to get out on the trails a few times a week. I don't think I could exclusively run on the road.

Some fun facts of the December Runathon:

  • Total miles ran = 92.05
  • Best run: Has to be my Saguaro East bike/trail run/bike brick. This was the most creative and it combined biking, so it was less monotonous.
  • Worst run: The one at 11:55 PM after the Dawn to Dusk mountain bike race. My legs were fried and I was tired, but I got out there and did it anyways.
  • Favorite place to run: I really like running the Agua Caliente Hill trail at least once a week. It is crazy hard and technical, but I feel like I get a good workout in just a short distance.
  • Least favorite place to run: The residential street Lenher Schwerin (across from my house) and all of the side streets. I ran this a lot as my minimum 2 mile run, and it was always late at night and in the dark.

Here's how I did against my goals that I posted on the first day of the Runathon:

  • "Run everyday in December and not miss a day." Done! 100%!
  • "Minimize treadmill running." 100%! I never ran on a treadmill during the Runathon.
  • "Do my trail run at least once a week. (Run from my house and do part of the Agua Caliente Hill Trail)." 80%. I missed 1 week, but that's because I ran a different trail instead (Cactus forest in Saguaro East).
  • "Try to go 0.5 miles further up the trail each time I do the ACH trail run." I'm going to give myself a 75% on that one. I discovered the trial is pretty tough and could only go 0.25 miles further a week.
  • "Keep this blog updated with my Runathon results." 100%! I cheated a few times and grouped some days together, and sometimes they were one-liners, but each day is mentioned. :)

Overall, I'm pretty happy with how I did against my goals. So what is next after the runathon? Well, tomorrow is the Egg Nog Jog 5K, which I'm running as a quantitative test to see the results of the runathon. And I've joined Mary's Core 2009 challenge, where I've pledged to do 3 core workouts a week in 2009. Core and strength training are always the first workouts deleted from my training plan each week in order to fit the prescribed swim/bike/run workouts. This time I'm hoping to do the core and strength training because it will be important for mountain biking. And now that I'm not doing ridiculous volume training for an Ironman, I should be able to fit it in better. We shall see!

While I'm not in love with running (yet), the December Runathon was a great motivator to get out and do something each day during the holidays and off-season. Now that it's time to start officially tri training again, I think it will be easier as I've already done a month of consistency.

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