On Christmas Eve 2014, I ran my 1,000th mile of the year.
This year, I had a lot of goals that didn’t pan out. I didn’t run a marathon. I didn’t set PRs in any significant distances. I was on track for both of those things until I had some problems with my right leg in June and July that had me convinced that I had compartment syndrome or some other significant injury. After about a month of very low mileage and physical therapy, I worked through those issues, but my confidence as a runner was completely shot. I had made it for so long without getting injured and finally thought I had it all figured out. The experience really shook me and made me wonder if running was worth it anymore.
But somehow, almost without meaning to, I managed to keep doing it.
Last year, I declared that I wanted to run 1,000 miles in 2014 after finishing with a slightly disappointing 912 in 2013. I’d pretty much given up on that goal until about late October, when I realized it was somehow still possible as long as I ran an average of 22 miles per week until the end of the year. In the absence of other running achievements, that goal became not only a focus but a slight obsession. And yesterday, in the middle of the annual Christmas Eve Harvard Hill run that my friends do every year, I achieved it.
1,000 miles isn’t a big deal in the grand scheme of things. It’s just a number. I have a lot of friends who run less than that and a lot of friends who run more than that. But regardless, for me, 19-20 miles a week, every week, for an entire year isn’t something that just accidentally happens. It requires a degree of persistence, dedication and commitment. It requires a lot of flexibility in my schedule. It requires a strength-training and stretching routine to prevent injury. It requires somewhat decent nutrition, not to mention a lot of coffee. It requires running when I don’t want to, and finding a way to run when it’s too cold, too hot (not that it’s ever too hot here in Michigan!), too icy, too windy, etc. It forces me to take it easy on myself and slow down the pace for most of my runs.
And this year, I can finally say that I did it! And I’m pretty damn happy about that. I know there are a lot of people out there who are happy for me, too — specifically, the people I run with, because they’re all so sick of me talking about my 1,000-mile goal that they’ll probably bash me in the knees with a pipe if I ever bring it up again.
Now that I’ve reached my goal, it’s time to take a week off from pounding the pavement. In the past couple years, I’ve only taken that much time off when I need to because I’m injured or on the verge of getting injured. This time, I’m doing it because I want to, and because I can. I want to start the new year fresh and ready for a new beginning.