Fast Guy Problems: Never Stay Down, Running in 2016

Brian Bernier on one of the slick, muddy downhills at the 2014 ORRC Hagg Mud 25k. Credit: Paul Nelson Photography

Brian Bernier on one of the slick, muddy downhills at the 2014 ORRC Hagg Mud 25k. Credit: Paul Nelson Photography

This shall be my 2016 running recap post, assuming that I really had much of a running season. In a moment of awakening sparked by a notification from a Facebook group, I was able to look at the year in a new light. It was nice change, as other than a memorable but torturous experience at the Boston Marathon, the ongoing injury issues I battled in 2016 made me wish I could forget the year.

The turning point came in the final days of the year. I’m on a group page of runners on Facebook, from walkers to those that win races, ultra runners to 5K folks. We post our daily miles to be tallied and enjoy the general fellowship of runners the world over. In December, I had finally increased my weekly mileage a little as I got a feel for my post injury capabilities. Going into the final weekend of the year, I was alerted that not only was I close to breaking 100 miles for the month, but also 1200 for the year.

I realize 1200 miles is no mean feat, just an interesting goal considering the desire to run 100 miles each month. It made me laugh, because that number made it obvious how stubborn I truly am. To be stubborn is an attitude, a feeling, which obviously can’t be quantified. But in the course of this past year I believe I can measure my stubbornness. At best guess it is about 350 miles, plus or minus a run or two. In various conversations with my veteran runner friends, various health care professionals and a coach or two, I would balance their advice against my dogged determination to not fully give up.

From taking the longest break in my running career (3 weeks) to eliminating most speed work followed by the ultimate blow, refraining from registering for races, it was a constant battle against my inner drive to give my body the rest it needed. At long last, it worked, as I raced for the first time this past weekend, running a strong but conservative 10K in 35:12 after 3 weeks of workouts at about 80% effort.

Seeing as running boils down to numbers, there were a few habits I gave up in 2016 to help quell the competitive spirit and allow myself that physical break. I did not tally up my overall races, nor compile the results as I normally do. I definitely raced a lot less than I usually do, and did not set any new personal bests. It was hard to make that choice, but aided in letting go and making my goal rehabilitation and health, not optimum performance. So I really have no solid numbers to share other than that 1200.

So, 2016 was not a complete loss. I made new friends and traveled to new locales, including the famed roads into Boston. I’m lucky I had access to the health care professionals and wise friends with more experience than I to help me get back on the road to health, at a speed that would not shorten my running career. If nothing else, it was a learning experience and a sharp reminder that I am not bulletproof.

So cheers and good riddance to 2016, plus or minus 350 miles…

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