2012 was a notable year in running. The pros dazzled at the London Olympics, the New York City Marathon was canceled for the first time in its history, and a vice-presidential candidate’s not-quite-true claims of marathon glory brought running into the national conversation.
On a personal level, it was a meaningful year for me too. I married my Prince Charming, who proposed after a half-marathon; I ran for my cousin Laura, who died from cancer in June; and I started hosting a web series about running. I also knocked out four personal records in the marathon, half-marathon and triathlon, and ran 10 races total to reach a personal milestone of over 50 “career” races.
Running Goals for 2012
Every year, I like to look back at the goals I made the year before and see how I did. In 2012, I made five running resolutions:
- Get even faster
- Fast enough to run a sub 2-hour half-marathon
- Work on long distance speed for a sub 4-hour marathon someday
- Keep cross training
- Race more
How’d I do? Here’s a rundown:
1. Get even faster: I make this goal year after year and I manage to nail it year after year. I got a lot faster in 2012, shaving 17 minutes from my marathon PR, 15 minutes from my sprint triathlon PR, and 7 minutes from my half-marathon PR.
2. Fast enough to run a sub 2-hour half-marathon: I really hoped that 2012 was going to be the year this goal finally happened. It’s been a dream of mine since 2010 and I finally had it in my crosshairs. Goodness knows I trained hard for it. I ran five half-marathons—three as training runs and two as PR attempts. And I came this close. I scored a half-marathon PR in both of my attempts, finishing the second one in 2:00:30. I missed sub-2 by 31 measly seconds. But I know I gave my all in that race. I honestly couldn’t have run it 31 seconds faster. I left it all out on the course, so I’m happy knowing that it wasn’t for a lack of trying or training that I missed the goal. I just wasn’t there yet. But oh-so close!
3. Work on long distance speed for a sub 4-hour marathon someday: This is another one of those long-distance goals that I keep working on. And I did some great work this year, really upping my long-distance speed; I’ve got the half-marathon and marathon PRs to prove it. For the first time, I can see that a sub-4 hour marathon is within reach. I ran 4:28 at the 2012 Philadelphia Marathon after limping through the last 10K with a quad cramp. I’d been on track for 4:13. I know I have 4:15 in me right now, and in another year or two, I’m hoping to be realistically looking at sub-4.
4. Keep cross training: I made good on this goal too. I did my second sprint triathlon to a 15-minute PR, and even bought a wetsuit to ensure I keep cross training as part of my routine.
5. Race more: Done and done. I did 10 races in 2012, the most I’ve ever finished in one calendar year, and brought my lifetime race tally to 51. I think getting to so many starting lines—whether I was truly racing or just using them as training runs—really helped me make gains on my goals this year.
So there you have it. I nabbed four out of my five goals, and came awfully close to the one I didn’t bag. I’ll take that as a win for the year.
Running Goals for 2013
But enough looking back. It’s time to look forward to all the miles that 2013 will bring. Here are my running goals for 2013. Some of them are goals where I’ve targeted a specific benchmark, some are resolutions where I aim to change my routine and one is a Disney-sized dream worthy of Cinderella herself:
1) Get even faster (Goal)
If it ain’t broke… In 2012, I focused exclusively on long-distance races. Eight of the 10 races I ran were 10 miles or longer, and didn’t even attempt a PR at any distance shorter than a half-marathon. So in 2013, I’m going to try to knock out a 5K and 10K PR. Now that my legs are routinely used to longer distances, it’s time to get more speed under them.
2) Fast enough to run a sub 2-hour half-marathon (Goal)
This is the year. Those 31 seconds are toast.
3) Work on long distance speed for a sub 4-hour marathon someday (Dream)
I’m keeping this long-term goal as the “someday” dream. Like my favorite Disney gal, Cinderella, says: “Perhaps someday, the dreams that I wish will come true.” If the 4-hour marathon were a tangible object, I’d gaze out the window and dream about it, much like Cinderella does with the Prince’s castle. Heck, if I were Cinderella, the 4-hour marathon would be the ball that I’d be dreaming about. To get there, I’m going to keep racing halves and one fall marathon. I’m also going to work on my 5K and 10K times to get my muscles twitching faster.
4) Keep cross training (Resolution)
Cross training has been great for my arthritic knee. It’s also been great for my spirit. But while I have genuinely enjoyed the two triathlons I’ve done, I struggle to keep cross training once triathlon season is over. I’m a wimpy cyclist and once the weather turns warm, it’s hard to drag myself to an indoor pool when I could be outside running. But I’d like to keep swimming and biking in my bag of tricks year round. Cycling feels like a challenge, and sometimes it’s good to take yourself outside of your comfort zone. So I’ll target another summer triathlon, maybe even an Olympic distance event, and try to keep it up once the race is over.
5) Race at least 10 times (Goal)
I think racing almost once a month—even when I simply used the race as a training run—was incredibly beneficial to me. For each of my half-marathon PRs, I had another half-marathon that I ran as a training run about a month before hand. Toeing up to a starting line and running the distance at a targeted training pace helped me to practice my pre-race routine, race-day hydration and nutrition, feeling the distance under my legs, and nailing a pre-set pace. In a perfect world, I’ll run a half-marathon training race 3-4 weeks before every half-marathon where I’m staging a PR attempt. It was that helpful.
And in 2012, I really embraced the fun run. I did a few races just for the joy of it, not for the times and not as training runs. I’d like to keep doing that in 2013 too. I’m starting off right on the right foot with the Walt Disney World Marathon in January, which my husband and I are treating as a fun run.
6) Exercise for at least 30 minutes 5 days a week (Resolution & Goal)
I’m adding a sixth goal this year. It seems simple, but will probably be the hardest one for me. I’m your classic ever-other-day runner. Even when I was triathlon training, I found it hard to squeeze in more than 4 workouts a week, and would often opt for a brick bike/run session that do two separate workouts on different days.
But I know myself: I feel better on days that I exercise than days that I don’t. So 30 minutes is all I’m asking of myself, even if it means yoga in front of the TV at night or an easy treadmill jog just to loosen things up. I don’t need a rest every other day. Two rest days a week ought to be fine. This is a life-changing resolution for me, that I’ve attached to this specific daily/weekly time goal.
There you have them: my running goals for 2013. Here’s to sticking to them. Happy New Year and good luck with your running resolutions too!
Karla Bruning is host of On The Run, New York Road Runner’s weekly lifestyle web show about running. She has completed five marathons, two triathlons and trains with the New York Harriers. Follow Karla’s “Notes From a Running Nerd” at RunKarlaRun.com, Facebook and Twitter@KBruning.