A new year practically demands introspection. As runners we tend to be focused on the road ahead of us, but it’s nearly impossible to begin a new year without looking back on the old one.
2015 was The Year of Significant Life Changes, and running kept me sane through the worst of it. During the past year I:
- Got serious about hill training. Hills aren’t always fun, but they’re necessary. By forcing myself through the discomfort, I grew both physically and mentally stronger.
- Figured out what fuel my body actually needs. A temporary vegan experiment led to a permanent plant-based diet, and my health and speed have been better ever since.
- Developed a training plan that actually works for me. By combining running, hiking, yoga, and strength training, I set massive 13.1 and 26.2 PRs without injuring my body.
- Embraced nature and spent countless hours in the woods. Hiking became not only an important part of my training, but a primary method of coping. There’s no better metaphor than climbing a mountain — the effort, the struggle, the feeling that it will never end (even though rationally you know that it must). The only way over it is over it. There are no shortcuts in training or grief.
- Discovered acceptance and forgiveness in yoga. Improving my strength and flexibility made me a better physical runner, and improving my focus and intention made me a better mental runner. Even in a group, yoga is a personal journey. You focus on your own practice without comparing yourself to anyone else. Every person has a different body, a different medical history, and a different amount of sleep last night. By learning to stop comparing myself to other yogis, I learned to stop comparing myself to other runners, which freed me to run my own race.
- Started a new job and had to balance training with a new schedule and new responsibilities. The excitement of the change was combined with the challenge of finding time for everything.
- Began grad school and added yet another ball to my juggling act. Lesson One: there is always enough time as long as you’re willing to do the work (and drink plenty of coffee).
- Broke my own heart several times over, and ran, hiked, yoga’d, worked, and studied my way through it. The heart is a muscle like anything else. Most of this year it was sore, but hopefully going forward it will be stronger.
- Found peace and strength on the trails, and a million other places I never expected.
Above all, I kept going, as we all did. 2016 will have its own challenges, and it likely won’t be any easier. My goal for the year is to run two marathons (Seattle in June and Twin Cities in October), and ideally break five hours. Training will be hard and life will be harder, but we always find a way. Running keeps us sane. Running keeps us focused. Running gets us up in the morning, and keeps us always moving forward.
Here’s to better trails this year.