Looking Back, Moving Forward

Perhaps I did this in the wrong order but, after my last post (and my unplanned but much needed absence from blogging for the past couple weeks), I thought it would be good to have a look back at what I did this year: a celebration of my accomplishments with maybe a little thought about how I got off course near in the last few months.

Let's start with a couple photo collages (which I think are corny but un-ironically love the way I love cute birds and rainbows).

Bibs and medals and shirts... OH MY!
Some of my favorite running and racing moments: a few were solo but most involved friends.
This year, I completed 16 races: seven 5k's, with the fastest run in 31:51, two 10k's, the fastest being 1:26:03 on trails, one 10-miler in 1:56:18, four half marathons with a PR of 2:29:53, and one 18-miler, that didn't go as well as I would have liked.

For the first six months of 2013, discipline seemed to stream through my veins. Two-a-day workouts became the norm. I would run or do aerobics in the morning and strength training or flexibility in the afternoon, six days a week. As the summer wore on and got hotter, I maintained my running schedule with longer and longer distances but started dropping other parts of my training at the same time that I started consistently eating like crap.

There were significant changes at work and I think they affected me more than I realized. Instead of continuing to use exercise and diet to relieve my stress, I slowly returned to my previous habits of sitting, staring at various screens, and self-medicating with food. It didn't get as bad as it has been in the past (fast food for more than half my meals in a week and plenty of junky snacks in between) but the weight I'd lost started creeping back on, making most of my races during the last few months less than pleasant and not even close to fast.

Despite my lack of speed toward the end of the year, running still gave me the chance to do something healthy with friends, travel to fun places, and build a confidence in myself beyond what I've ever experienced.

And I'm happy to report that my desire to be healthy and fit were only on vacation and not the kind that Forrest Gump's mama describes. My motivation is slowly, but surely, returning as I gear up for my next goal race, the Frederick Half Marathon on May 4.

I ran 600 miles this year. Though I missed my goal of 750 by quite a bit, I still outstripped anything I've done in the past. The best part?

I'm just getting started! Here's to a new year full of possibility!

How was your year?
Did you have any goals - fitness-related or not?
Did you smash your goals or are you reflecting on what went wrong and gearing up to try again in 2014?

Setting Goals for 2014

December: it's the time to get all introspective and think about how the past year has gone and what we'll do better in the year to come. I'm introspective all.the.time. Perhaps even a bit of a navel-gazer... So, I enjoy this kind of exercise. What better activity is there on a snowy afternoon in the company of a sleepy cat, a newly decorated pine tree, and some Sufjan Christmas tunes than set some goals?

The past year has been very roller-coaster-y. I started out feeling really strong and focused, ran back-to-back half marathons in the spring, laid down nearly 100 miles on the road a few months in a row, but then it seemed like everything slowly fell apart.

Summer was brutal. Apparently, it wasn't even a hot summer by mid-Atlantic standards. I kept up the mileage until the end of July, eased up in August, and gave up in September, logging fewer miles over the past three months than I did in July alone.

Anyway, I have been trying to put the disappointment I've felt about my progress behind me so that I can move forward. In that spirit, I'm working through setting goals for the coming year because I'm being taught and re-taught the lesson that you can't hit a goal that doesn't exist.

Here goes...

Fitness Goals:
  1. Run consistently and injury free.
  2. Set a personal record in the half marathon (current PR: 2:29:54).
  3. Reduce my overall time for the RW Hat Trick by 60 minutes or more (current time 5:27:07).
  4. Practice yoga at least one time per week.
  5. Do strength training at least two times per week.
Diet Goals:
  1. Continue the transition to plant-based eating, cutting out fish by the end of the year.
  2. Lose 40 pounds for the sake of my overall health and my fitness goals.
  3. Limit eating out to three meals or fewer per week.
Life Goals:
  1. Participate in at least one social activity per week, not including lunch with co-workers.
  2. Pay off another student loan.
  3. Travel to a new place, whether a state or country.
  4. Read at least one book per month.
  5. Join a CSA.
  6. DANCE!
Now, the work begins.

Do you set goals at any point during the year or do you fly by the seat of your pants?
Have you charted your course for 2014 or do you prefer to wait until closer to year's end?
What is(are) your biggest goal(s) for the coming year? Mine are in red above.