by Steve Crowder
Looking back at this past year, I have mixed feelings. As a whole, it wasn’t a bad year. I wound up totaling 3,428 miles, which is my highest total since 2005 when I exceeded 3,700, and that’s coming off 3,319 miles last year, which was my previous high since 2007. In other words, I’ve been pretty consistent the past two years, and that’s a good thing. Additionally, I managed to run 16:29 for 5k, 22:06 for 4 miles, and 35:04 for 10k this past year, which is the fastest I’ve run since 2010 when I experienced the double Jones fractures that nearly ended my running career altogether. While I don’t necessarily like to get into this, when you enter those times into an age-grading calculator they translate out to 15:35, 20:53, and 33:08 respectively, which are all well off my lifetime bests but still not too shabby. Finally, I won quite a few races this past year, pushing my lifetime total to 155 first overall finishes and surpassing my goal of hitting 150.
So that’s the good; now for the bad. Having run an average of almost 3,400 miles per year the past two years with some decent workouts throughout, I would have thought I would have run faster. I was frustrated to not race better than I did in 2012, but I was able to chalk it up to still coming back from injury and needing to build more consistency. I can’t necessarily say that for 2013. Furthermore, there were more times than not in 2013 that I felt like I was struggling. Workouts and everyday runs alike just felt like they took more effort than they should have and I often felt run down and fatigued. My training and race results suffered accordingly.
With that said, the question becomes where to go from here. I could simply write it all off to old age, but I’m not ready to do that. Just this week I was reading an article in Running Times about Tracy Lokken, a lifetime runner who set two PRs in the marathon this year at age 47 with a best of 2:21:34. I also see guys like Kevin Castille, another lifetime runner who ran 28:49 for 10k as a 28 year old then ran 28:53 in 2013 as a 41 year old. While those guys are obviously exceptional, there are countless other 40+ year olds, some of whom I raced and stayed pretty darn close to or even beat in my younger years, who are tearing up the roads and track as Masters. In other words, it CAN be done.
Having been self-coached the past few years and feeling like I was out of ideas, I asked Roanoke College Assistant and RVE Coach Carl Blickle to take me on as a major project this past October. From that point forward, there have been some significant changes to my training. I’ve spent more time on the track the past few months than I had in probably the last couple years combined. I’ve also done workouts that I hadn’t done in years or even ever for that matter, things involving the recruitment of fast twitch muscle fibers and the development of running economy. Finally, I’ve started doing drills, a general strength routine, and core work, which are all things I’d basically neglected in the past. One thing I’ve learned is the older you get the more you have to cover all your bases and stay on top of everything. If you neglect even one aspect of training, whether it be speed, endurance, stretching, or whatever, you pay a much bigger price for it than when you were younger. Also, consistency becomes even more important as well. If you mess up and miss some time, it takes a lot longer to recover and get back in shape than in your younger years.
All this leaves me excited for 2014. I’ve still been battling a feeling of cumulative fatigue, so that’s something I need to continue to work on finding the root cause of and overcoming, but aside from that, I think I’ve positioned myself for a very successful year to come. I could look at the past couple years as frustrating, but instead I’m going to look at them as having laid the base for the next few years. I’ll put up a post about some of my specific goals in the near future, but in the meantime, here’s to a great 2014!