My biggest goal this year is to run with regularity and develop a routine. I've been a sporadic runner for the last couple of years, running only when I had enough time and there wasn't much else to do. I did a few races here and there, but I never really trained for anything and I didn't do very well as a result. That started to change a little bit last year, when we found ourselves living a short walk from an awesome Fleet Feet, which has tons of training programs and community runs and thus provided a lot more motivation. It also helps to be able to run at the beach and in the forests without going more than a mile from my house.
However, I still don't have down a routine that I want. In the last couple of years, I've learned that a routine is the most important thing when it comes to fitness, otherwise there will be too many excuses and reasons to get out of exercising. In order for me to succeed, I need it to become something I just do. My goal this year is to change that.
To assist with prioritizing my running, I joined Fleet Feet's community racing team. No, this does not mean that I am a crazy fast runner who plans to be competitive at any event I run; it means I'm part of a small group of runners that represents Fleet Feet at local races and events (more about the program here). The group has people of all skill levels, but the common denominator is that everyone has fun and is dedicated to improving. Just my crowd!
I figured that by joining this, it would help me run regularly and improve as a runner, and I definitely see both of those happening. The team does track workouts on Tuesdays, which'll be great because I've never really done speed work before. I'll also end up doing a lot more races than I have before, which I'm excited about.
In preparation for my track workouts, I ran my first mile for time earlier this week. One of our first track workouts is supposed to have a time trial so that the coach can gauge where everyone is at, with the goal being to assess periodically to monitor improvement. I wanted to have some idea what I should expect, so I headed out to Blue Ball Park to run the .5-mile loop around the soccer fields. It's not a completely ideal setting (it switches between sidewalk and dirt, it isn't completely flat, and you have to dodge all the strollers and dogs), but it was a measured course none the less. The result - 7:45. That's not exactly a fast time (that's about an average mile for some of my new race team comrades!), but it's not bad considering my best 5k pace to date was about 9:40, a whole two minutes slower. I'm hoping I can take a chunk out of both times this year.
My main racing goal is to do well at the Modesto Half Marathon on March 23rd. This is the big event I am shooting for at the present time. I ran this half in 2012 when I was much bigger, much slower, and not running with any kind of regularity and I did it in 2:55, which is not a great time. To date, it remains the only half I've ever run. My goal in running it this year is to significantly improve upon that time by running something to the tune of 2:10 - 2:15, which I think is realistic. To help prepare for this, I have a few training races lined up, including the Mission 10 in San Juan Bautista this weekend and the Hellyer Half Marathon in San Jose on March 1, which will be my last big run before Modesto.