Sunday, August 31, 2008

Today is the last day of the month, and as good a time as any to reflect on my recent running experiences. I usually wait until January, to declare the year a failure and set some goal for the new year, that I will declare a failure twelve months out. But instead, this time, I think I will say now that most of this year was a failure, fitness-wise, but that last month was pretty good. A few more successful months, and I might even get the pleasure of taking back my declaration of failure.

In August, I ran 33.9 miles. Considering my milage for the year is around 92 miles (I was remiss in keeping my log current in January/February, but doubt I ran more than 15 miles or so the two months combined), that's well over a third of my annual running-to-date condensed into one month. A bit over a mile a day, which isn't bad for someone trying to get back into the swing of things. I still have a ways to go to get where I want to be, but I'm at the point now where I can start building up mileage. But just getting that base in place is the most important thing. Getting into the habit of running four days a week, regardless of how far. Not that I don't want to gain speed and endurance and increase my mileage, but the greatest gains come from doing nothing to doing something, so while 8/9 miles a week isn't all that impressive compared to my training at my peak, that's still a major improvement to my lifestyle. I intend to improve from where I am now, but further benefits will be incremental. The important thing is to keep up the consistency, make running a habit again. And I seem to be on track there.

So while things are going good, I should ask myself, why do things always go wrong? I tend to say injuries, but there was really only the one bout with plantar fasciitis, and otherwise I've been injury-free (nothing that didn't go away after taking it easy a day or two, anyway). The plantar fasciitis still stands out, since I was pretty much at the top of my game at that point, and never really got back to the point where running was a habit after that hiatus. But looking over my notes, I see the factor that's consistently to blame for my bad years is illness. I get the flu in September or October, and never quite shake it completely until January or so. So this year, I'm doing what I should have been doing for years, and getting a flu shot. I work in customer service at a family-friendly tourist attraction and volunteer in a library, so I'm exposed to lots of people, including lots of snotty kids, so it's no surprise I get sick a lot. And endurance exercise has a tendency to lower one's immune system a bit. So while I've always been slightly skeptical of flu shots, next month I'll be lining up to get my injection. And hopefully that will help assure that I'm able to line up at the starting line of the next 5K I decide to enter.

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