Runners World Articles: Archives
Performance Review: At year's end, you can learn
a lot from your running successes--and failures.
I once heard insanity defined as repeating the same process over
and over while expecting a different outcome each time. That's an
idea that easily applies to running. If you stubbornly forge ahead
with the same program year after year, how can you expect better
On the other hand, you want to preserve those aspects of your training
that are working well for you. The goal, then, is to fine-tune your
running for the upcoming season. And the best way to do that is
with a year-end review. What have you done right? Where can you
use some improvement? How can you learn from your mistakes?
The good news: To begin, list your successes from the past
12 months. Write down any PRs or other milestones you reached, as
well as the really fun runs - the relay, the lakeside trail run,
the good times after a summer twilight run. What types of events
would you like to do again and why? As early as possible, fill your
calendar with similar runs that are coming up in the new year.
The bad news: We can learn from our failures as well as
from our successes, so any disappointments deserve a close look.
If you were injured, list the probable causes and the tactics you'll
use to avoid getting hurt in the new year. Revisit the periods when
you weren't enjoying your running and figure out why. If you didn't
achieve a time goal, consider what might have gone wrong. List your
top running "negatives" of the past year and plan to turn each one
into a "positive."
The following questions can help you evaluate the past year and
establish new strategies for 2000:
Were my goals too high or too low?
If so: Next year, be more realistic. To avoid total frustration,,
err on the side of easier goals, but keep them challenging. Also,
helping a novice runner establish some goals can be a great way
to hone your own goal-setting skills.
Did I often find myself bored or unmotivated to run?
If so: Start every run about two minutes per mile slower than normal.
(Starting a run at full speed may make you feel tired and unmotivated
to run next time.) Leave your watch at home for a while. Vow to
cross-train one day a week. Temporarily cut back the number of miles
you run each week.
Was I more injured or fatigued than I should have been?
If so: Build more rest into your schedule and cut back on your
speedwork, racing or both. For one week each month, cut your normal
mileage in half. (Note: If you had more than one injury this year
that set you back a week or two, that's too many injuries.)
Was my running flat--no peaks or valleys?
If so: Pick a couple of big events and build next year's racing
schedule around them, using a complete training mix of long runs,
hills, speedwork and tapering. But don't depend on time goals for
all of your running satisfaction. Keep running fun!
Was I so busy I ran only once or twice a week?
If so: When you're loaded up with work and family commitments,
running can seem like just another task on your "to do" list. Remind
yourself (and others) that by running for 30 or 60 minutes, in essence
you create time by being more energized and clear-headed. Schedule
three core weekly runs in your appointment book and then stick to
To feel fulfilled by running, as in other areas of life, we must
experience regular challenges and rewards, and keep finding new
ones. After four decades of these year-end reviews, I still discover
fresh ways to enjoy our sport. Here's to a new year of great running!
Five Goals for the New Year
As thousands of runners have told me, nothing motivates them as
much as having a goal. Here are five great ones:
1. Finish a marathon. The granddaddy of running goals. Even a total
beginner can finish one after just six to eight months of training.
2. Take a trip. Plan a vacation around a big race you've never
3. Lend your wisdom. Coach another runner to a faster time, or
a first 5K, half-marathon or marathon.
4. Recruit a friend. Persuade an inactive friend or family member
to take up running.
5. Get it in writing. Keep a running diary, so next year's review
will be easier than this year's!
World, December 1999, p. 32
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