Just when you thought that the blog was abandoned and you could sleep easy, here I am, wreaking havoc in your holiday planning with a long post about my 2013. For those of you who are already stressed out after Christmas, returning the sweater Aunt Ginger bought you (two sizes too large, is she trying to tell you something?) and spending hours on the StepMaster trying to burn those stubborn praline calories off your butt, the summary is this: it was a really good year. Now you can stop reading and go back to your post-holiday exhaustion.
For those of you gifted with extraordinary stamina and/or nagging curiosity, here follows a long account of what the fuss is all about. I can't promise you it will be worth your while, but then again, you can't find out unless you read it. If you start reading now, you might even be finished before the year is out!
I like challenges. I find it refreshing to throw in a little challenge in my life and try something new once in a while. I don't always succeed (I'm looking at you, Japanese lessons of 2005) but it's mostly good fun and I learn a lot in the process. I don't do it for anyone else's benefit than my own and for no nobler reason than because I feel like it. It gives me something to stress about on the weekends.
One challenge I embarked upon this year was the half Cannonball read. Read 26 books within a year and review them. It was the second year in a row I participated in the CR, but this year I completed the challenge as early as August, and went on to read several more books after that, albeit without reviewing them. Most of the books I read were crap, but there were some real gems in there.
Challenge number two was to write a novel in November. NaNoWriMo takes place once a year. Its basic premise is that you have to write 50.000 words within one month. They don't have to be good. They are just meant to get your creative juices flowing. I completed the challenge. The immense exhilaration I felt upon completion took me by surprise. I wanted to shout it from the rooftops. I was so proud. Then people started asking me if they could read the book, and I realised that this book would never be read by anyone else but me. In its present, unedited form it is shite, and I have no intention of going back to edit it, mainly because I'm a lazy muppet but also because I don't think it can ever be good enough. I am still proud of it, but it's not the story I wanted to tell, just a story I had to write. This experience has been great. It showed me that, if I ever decide to put my mind to it, I could write a proper book, one that I will share with anyone who's interested. I would really love to do that.
And now, for the moment you have all been waiting for, since this is a training blog and all: How was 2013 training wise?
It started off amazingly well. I had Lapland Ultra in my sights. I had a training schedule I followed for several weeks without a hitch, and I dared to hope that maybe this time my body would be on my side. Unfortunately, it wasn't, and I suffered my first injury early on in the year: a strange, intense pain on the back of my right knee. I could hardly walk, let alone run. I let my dream of Lapland Ultra go. It felt okay to do so.
When I got back on track, I watched instead how my times in different distances got better and better. My training with AIK had done wonders. In May, I got to stand on the podium to receive a medal after Luleå half marathon. In August, I got first place in a local track race. The rest of the races I ran saw me climbing to positions I had never before thought possible.
In July, J and I spent a week in Hemavan. I was sorely untrained for the demanding terrain but still managed to log a very respectable total of 120 km running and hiking. The only downside to it all was an injured foot: I had managed to twist it during a trail run earlier that summer and it wouldn't heal for months. In fact, I am not sure it is healed even now. As long as I stay away from trails, it's fine. Hemavan was, of course, nothing but trails. My foot was a constant reminder of how easily things could go wrong.
And speaking of trails, one of the best experiences of 2013, hell, of my life, was Salomon trail Ultra in Umeå last September. The promised 48 km was ”only” 45,6, but the finish line was a sight for sore eyes. I had gotten myself a runner's knee somewhere around the 20th kilometre but still stubbornly refused to drop out of the race and get my first DNF. It took me almost 6 hours, but I got to that finish line.
Achy knees have been my constant companion since then. Thankfully, I haven't had to take a complete break from running, but my long runs have suffered cutbacks. That is to say, I haven't run any long runs since the race. Maybe because of this, or maybe because of the terrible, grey, icy, snow-free winter we've been having up here, my motivation to get out and run has been non-existent (as evidenced by the extra couple of kilos that magically appeared on my thighs). Maybe I am just winding down for this year, basking in the good feeling of everything I have achieved.
And next year? The older I get, and the more experience from running I gather, the humbler I get and the more realistic my goals are. I become better and better aware of what my body can and cannot do. I become better at being patient. My focus next year will be to put down the foundations I will build upon in 2015. I will strive for continuity in my training, rather than progression towards a goal. I will strive for strength and variation. I hope that this strategy will keep me injury-free. It's about time I had an injury-free year, don't you think?