A Year in Review and what to expect for 2016

While my blog was pretty dormant in 2015 I still think "a year in review" is fun to write and read. One yearly recap I particularly loved reading was Tina's. I appreciated that even though I get her posts in my inbox each week, the end-of-year recap still seemed like fresh news! Hopefully I can portray that same feeling with this post. Without a doubt, I can say I grew more personally and even athletically in 2015 than ever before. Technically, even though I ran less than I have in previous years, the amount I gained in wisdom from various experiences will prepare me for the year ahead more than any workout could.

A year ago, on New Years Day 2015, I posted this to IG:

At the time, of course, I had no clue what "unexpected challenges" would mean! In short, 2015 was a phenomenal year, but not for the typical reasons you might think. Compared to 2014, where I was on top of the world, 2015 left me humbled and hungry. In 2014, I got married, excelled in running by PRing in every distance, and felt somewhat invincible.

This year, though, I learned so much, and sometimes that's what we need most. Let's dive a little deeper into the specifics:

2015

The challenges that made me stronger: 

Injury: At the beginning of 2015, I was coming off being sidelined from my IT band, but I cross-trained sooo much during that time, and truly reaped the rewards of that! After just a few weeks back running, I ran two PRs back to back in the 5k and the 3k. Cross training really does work!

3k PR and 7th place in a division 1 college track meet. What a great day!

Pregnancy: I've talked a lot about this already, so I won't go into detail, but in short, I've learned patience and the beauty of slowing down, both physically and mentally.  I've also learned to dream really big, which I'll go into later.

New aspects of my training I implemented:

Cross Training: I really can't express how much cross training helped me in 2015. I joined a masters swim group, met up with a local bike club on occasions, went to spin classes, and borrowed my friend's elliptigo at various times during the year. I've tried to cross train at least once per week, and especially during pregnancy, as I've stopped running, I've cross-trained even more! I am confident it will pay off when I begin running again soon.

Strength Training: I didn't start taking strength training seriously until I had my IT band issues. Isn't that how it always works? Once injured, I religiously did a 15 minute hip routine every day for 6 weeks, and voila, my IT band got better! Magic. Since then, I've kept up a general strength routine, and really have enjoyed the classes at my gym. I should not be left to my own devices when it comes to strength training. I like having someone to tell me exactly what to do! I hit up the classes 2-3 times per week, and supplement with some hip strength on those same days, since I know that's a problem area for me.  Periodic Physical Therapy Appointments:  I found a great physical therapist in the area, who has been phenomenal in helping me solve any imbalances, and prevent injuries before they occur. He specializes in gait analyses and works with endurance athletes. I have even gone to him during my pregnancy, too, to see how I'm doing with mobility/strength/flexibility, and what I need to work on. This just keeps things in check! I'll go after I have the baby, too, to get another evaluation, as my body is going to be quite a wreck :)

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Massage/Trigger Point Therapy/Yoga: Massages can get expensive, so I've learned to improvise a little. In a perfect world, I'd love to get a massage every week, but financially, that just isn't realistic for us right now, and that's okay! You can do a lot of self-massage through foam rollers, the R8, trigger point balls, etc! I probably get a professional massage every 6-8 weeks, and try to go to a restorative/foam rolling yoga class every couple weeks. I do massage work at home on my own a few days a week. I can be more diligent about this in 2016.

What's on tap for 2016: 

By the time this post goes live, it's possible I'll have brought a tiny human into this world! Whoah.

So, with a brand new baby, navigating going back to work full time, and trying to lead a balanced life, what am I thinking for 2016 in terms of running?

My first and primary goal is to be present for my family. This mindset has taken a while to come to fruition, but I am confident that if my faith and my family are balanced, then running will fall into place how it should. Does that sound too vague or does it lack ambition? It may sound vague, but I truly am so motivated. I am excited to get back to training. I've poured over race websites carefully trying to decide which races I'm going to complete, what shoes I'm going to wear, and what mileage I'm going to run. Yes, it's as neurotic as it sounds! It wasn't until recently, though, that I realized the insanity of all this planning, and said to myself, "Katie, all of this is going to be so new. Enjoy being a new mom, and run hard. Don't overcomplicate it. Don't overplan it. Let your coach do that." It's a shift in the previous mindset I had that I felt I needed to prove something or be someone with my postpartum running. I have nothing to prove, nothing to lose, and everything to gain (except maybe baby weight lol). I truly have no expectations for my postpartum journey other than to be the best I can be--the best wife, the best mom, the best runner that I CAN BE. I will run hard and be smart with my return, and I can't wait for you guys to follow along. It's going to be a fun and crazy ride.

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With that said, here are my running plans and goals for 2016:

-Rock'n'Roll Chicago 1/2 Marathon (July 17th, 6 months postpartum)

-build confidence over longer distances (long tempos, 10k-1/2 marathon races, aerobic threshold paced runs)

-be patient with my body as it makes it's return to training

-no specific time goals. I believe with proper training, patience, hard work, and fun, the improvements and PRs will come.

-continue to race without a watch; both PRs I set in 2015 were "watchless", and I am such a huge advocate for concentrating on effort over pace during a race.

-And finally, be a good example to my child by showing him/her what it means to work hard and go after your dreams, no matter how big.

Thanks for following along on this journey!

Katie