Because of its quantitative nature running can seem pretty simple, almost black and white, like you’ve done well or you haven’t. I run similar workouts and race distances from year to year, making it easy to overanalyze the results afterward. I intuitively want to see progress over time, which seems logical and linear, or at least that's how I rationalize it, because we all know running long distances isn’t either!
For the past few weeks, I’ve been training for the 2018 TCS NYC Marathon. I had the pleasure of having a breakout race in the 2017 version, covering 26.2 miles in 2:29:39 and placing 5th. My goal this year is to finish in the top 3, with a time under 2:27:00. I thought both of those goals were rational - a step above last year, but not the whole staircase.
So how is this year going compared to last year? I’d like to report that I’m stronger, faster, and have more endurance. I’d like to tell you I’m 100% confident my goals are attainable. But, it hasn’t been easy to compare the two years. For starters, I’m living and training at altitude compared to sea level last year. I’ve been logging more miles than 2017, albeit slower. Interestingly, my interval sessions (up to 3K reps) have been the same speed, but my long runs are slower.
The truth is, progress isn’t linear. And I don’t think my own synopsis of my training can be objective enough to answer the question honestly. I can attest to my consistency though, which has been far superior to last year. I feel like I am handling the workload and able to complete the planned workouts, as opposed to last year when I failed and/or felt like poop for a third of the time. And, in my opinion, I’ve already made progress, because I’ve laced up the shoes for another whole year!