Fast Guy Problems: Not all who wander are lost

A lot can change in a year. With two decades of running under my belt, I have had quite the string of races connected with miles of training to ensure that I am continuously striving to better my capabilities. Up until this past year, I have experienced only mild brushes with injury and been blessed with an unbelievably long time of uninterrupted strong running. Then 2016 happened....

My last leg at the Pick Your Poison Relay 2016. photo courtesy Steve W.

Almost exactly a year ago, I did some pretty crazy feats. I started off by taking almost two minutes off my half marathon personal best, coming across the line in Champoeg at under 1:14. The next adventure was pushing Andie in her wheelchair in the entirety of the Portland Marathon, taking just over 3:30. The real shockers came at the Columbia Gorge half and the Turkeython 5K, where I ran two substantial pr’s, at 1:12:33, and 15:33 respectively. After that, it all fell apart. Literally 10 months of fighting calf and hamstring issues has kept me from really enjoying the sport.


The dreaded roller. Photo courtesy of Howard F.

Last week an easy 5 mile run was torture, as every step I took hurt. The odd part was, jogging hurt, but a few strides in the low 6 minute pace or faster caused the pain to ebb. Unfortunately, the body is not fond of that pace while healing and there were a few occasions where I was reduced to limping the next day until all the kinks were worked out. I tend to average about 120 miles a month and this year I am lucky to hit half that.

If anyone was wondering why there has been an absence of Fast Guy Problems post, that should explain it. The problem is…the fast guy no longer is fast, at least for now. It has been disheartening and I am not the type to complain or drown others in my sorrows. Running has been a lot less inspiring and fun, which makes me feel I have little to share. I have attended a few races, with moderate success, but it burns to see the competitive runners that I should be challenging outpacing me with little contest.

The current plan is to test the waters intermittently, being patient until I can start training regularly. To keep myself healthy, I decided to pass on the Stumptown XC series even though I had been looking forward to competing there again. There have been numerous other races I decide to forego entering to remove the impulse to race unfettered and irresponsibly deal with the consequences afterwards. Hopefully those decisions help me heal faster and get me back where I want to be in due time.

Forced to take ru1nning a lot less seriously isn’t all bad. Photo courtesy of Howard F.

The big goal for 2017 is the Eugene Marathon. I was hoping to register early, but I don’t want to commit myself until I know I am ready. Once I have registered I would be tempted to train through anything. With the goal I have in mind (2:30), there can be no mistakes. It will take a lot of focus and work, and I don’t want to get derailed in the first month of training. We are 6 months away at the moment and I know I will be starting with a baseline 1:16 half capability. Even with the troubles earlier this year, my two longer Boston training runs were at 6:30 pace.  I’m going to need to take that a lot closer to 6:10 to be ready and that will only be possible if I am 100% healthy.

So here we are, in mid October. The next race is the Columbia Gorge Half Marathon, a beautiful, hilly course that I traversed last year in a little over 5 minutes off the qualifying time for the Olympic Trials. It won’t happen here, but I will get closer to that time. I think a sub 70 minute half is possible. Being patient is really hard, and taking it easy goes completely against my personality. But I feel that this period of time is winding down. I’m going to focus on my fitness like never before and use this winter to dig deep and really try to become the fastest I have ever been. I’m hoping to get a group of fast guys to join me on the long runs every other weekend to take the boredom out of marathon training and enjoy the local Wednesday group runs at a relaxed pace.

Thanks for reading and hope to see you at a race soon!

3 Comments on Fast Guy Problems: Not all who wander are lost

  1. Good luck, Brian! I know how frustrating time off can be. Be patient. Cross train. You’ll get there.

    • Brian Bernier // October 16, 2016 at 1:25 PM //

      Cross training is key, I agree. I have been lifting and hope to buy a bicycle soon.

  2. Looking forward to hearing how your winter training goes.
    I’m also aiming for a better 2017.
    Happy running.!

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