Getting Back on the Horse: Running Goals for 2011

Photo by Anatoly Tiplyashin/PhotoXpress

Good ‘ole 2010 was a heck of a year for me. I sang the national anthem at the Continental Airlines Fifth Avenue Mile and sang at the start of the ING New York City Marathon before running both races to a pair of personal bests.

But after the marathon on Nov. 7, I languished in physical therapy, dealing with a newly diagnosed arthritic knee and feeling really uninspired by my workouts on the bike, elliptical and what felt like an endless kick line of leg lifts. Sure, giving into the post-marathon blues seemed natural for a little while, but I honestly hate to wallow. My knee now feels great, thanks to all that physical therapy and an injection that will lubricate the joint for about six months.

So it’s time to get back on the horse. To motivate me after two months of minimal running, I’m looking back at my 2010 goals to help target some new ones for 2011.

Last January, I laid out three lofty goals for 2010:

1. Get faster: Oh, I got faster. A lot faster. I PR’d in six races from the mile to the marathon including the mile, 5K, 4 miles, 10K, half-marathon and marathon. Phew! I also ran my very first top 10 overall finish among women, albeit in a race with 110 entrants, but I’ll take it just the same.

2. Fast enough to race a sub 2-hour half-marathon: Last January, I predicted that I could run a half in 2:05 and possibly sub two if I worked really hard. Well, I came close, nabbing a PR in 2:07:10 at the Montreal Half-Marathon in September. In the process I also discovered a newfound love of running metric, as well as, gulp, running hills. Never say never.

3. Even faster to race a sub 4-hour marathon: By the time I ran the Montreal Half, I knew a sub 4-hour marathon wasn’t in the cards for me. I was aiming for sub 4:30. But then arthritis struck, and I didn’t run the last month before the ING New York City Marathon—I even had to do my last long “run” on the elliptical. So heading into the race, I wasn’t too worried about a goal. I just wanted to have fun and see what my body would allow. But I still managed to PR while running a relaxed pace that allowed me to really enjoy the marathon like I’ve never enjoyed it before. And achieving that was as satisfying as achieving any goal. I had 4 hours and 44 minutes of pure euphoria, instead of the seemingly endless hours of pain.

This year, I’m going to tweak those same three goals. Here goes:

1. Get even faster: I did it last year; I know I can do it again with more hard work at weekly speed workouts.

2. Fast enough to run a sub 2-hour half-marathon: With a well-executed half-marathon training plan, this is entirely doable, especially if I give myself two shots by running spring and fall races.

3. Work on long distance speed for a sub 4-hour marathon someday: This is more about getting my long distance times up to speed with my shorter distance times. Based on calculators like the Yasso 800s or my mile time, I should already be able to run a sub 4-hour marathon. The problem is I’m simply much faster at shorter distances than over long. The spread between my mile time and 5K pace is about 1 minute 40 seconds, where it should be more like 45 seconds. If I want to improve my marathon time, I’ve got to first get my 5K, 10K and half-marathon times on par with my track times. So this year, instead of just concentrating on speed, I’m going to work speed over distance. This means—in addition to the speed workouts that I love—I’m going to focus on tempo runs that will push my lactate threshold. And that sub 4? I’m not putting a time limit on it. It’s just something I want to work toward someday.

4. Cross-train more: One thing arthritis has done is make me much more honest about cross-training. This year, I’ve already logged quality pool time, which has really been fun. I used to be a competitive swimmer as a child, so it feels a bit like coming home. Physical therapy got me back into a good weight-lifting regime, and keeping up with yoga will help round things out.

So there you have it: Run, Karla, Run’s comprehensive plan of attack for 2011. I’m already motivated just looking at it. It’s time to choose a few target races and get running. Giddy up!

Karla Bruning is an award-winning journalist and running nerd. She has completed four marathons, trains with the New York Harriers and is a member of New York Road Runners. Follow Karla’s “Notes From a Running Nerd” at, Facebook and Twitter@KBruning. To listen to an interview with Karla, check out The Marathon Show, available for streaming or download on BlogTalkRadio and iTunes, or listen to a panel of runners, including Karla, discuss the ING New York City Marathon.

Karla Bruning


Karla Bruning is a race announcer at the TCS New York City Marathon + other major events, TV host for the New York City Triathlon + contributor to Shape, Redbook, Runner's World + other publications. She used to report for Newsweek but spent her free time squeezing in workouts. Now it's her job. She's run 8 marathons, 30 halves, 10 triathlons + open water swims. When she's not running, talking about running or writing about running, she's snuggling her baby, spoiling her dog + compulsively traveling.


01 2011

3 Comments Add Yours ↓

The upper is the most recent comment

  1. 1

    Best wishes for you Karla in 2011. I’d say “Break a leg”, but that just doesn’t seem right. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself, realize you’re still coming back, and pay attention to your knee. I’m a PT and encourage my folks to be nice to your (fill in your hurt part), and it will do the best it can for you. Keep building up the surrounding muscles – that’s the foundation to take the stress off the joint. Not telling you to take it, but excellent studies have been done in favor of Glucosomine for knee arthritis. Just a thought. Good luck throughout the coming year. Now, go out and shovel some snow – Al (from 67 degree Alabama!!)

    • Karla Bruning
      Karla #

      Great advice as usual, Al. Thanks! I started taking glucosamine a few months ago when I was diagnosed. It seems to be working its magic–that and weight training. I’d fallen off the weight training wagon in the last two years, but arthritis has been a good wake-up call and gotten me back into the gym. I hope your ankles are kinder to you this year. And glad to see you’ve got your warm weather back. Happy trails in 2011!

  2. 3

    Those are awesome reasons.
    Elle recently posted..Charles River Bike PathMy Profile


  1. Tweets that mention Run, Karla, Run! Blog Archive Getting Back on the Horse: Running Goals for 2011 -- 29 01 11
  2. Run, Karla, Run! » Blog Archive Race Report: Staten Island Half Marathon - Run, Karla, Run! 11 10 12

Your Comment

CommentLuv badge