I love Running Christmas. You see, this is (generally speaking) the months of December and January. It's cold, there's snow everywhere, you're out of shape or tired. In short, life is good. More than likely you've had a bit of a love affair with beer and food over the last month and you're both reflecting on a season of running and looking forward to what the new year will bring.
Some of the great things about Running Christmas are the following:
1. Planning races for the next year
Isn't it fun? I have a particular affection for this one. Part of my goal through ultrarunning is to experience new things and places. I'm really getting excited about Fruita, which is an area that I've only really driven through. Right now, I'd give it about 90% certainty that I'll be running the 50 miler there in April. Other than that, I've got a lot of decisions to make, particularly, which races will make my goal list. This year I picked out two races in particular that I wanted to make some noise at, and they couldn't have been more different. Bighorn 50K, a race that just about held everything that I'm good at in large doses and only a bit of the things I consider weaknesses. That one went as planned and I won (no excuses there, not exactly a strong field). Then Leadville, I had some ridiculous fantasies early, and as the race grew closer, I got a bit smarter and down to earth in my approach and it went pretty well (lots of room to improve, but for a first 100, I will consider it a win). The other races were a combination of things, but mostly a means to an end (Pb training). My approach will be similar but different this coming year, and I'll likely choose races that suit me and are close by. More M's and less K's.
2. Enjoying the ride
There's nothing like being months from any real goals or need for fitness to let one embrace the trails and trail running for their aesthetic greatness. A great case in point: my past two weekends of running. A 10 mile/2 and a half hour slog followed by a 22 mile 5 and a half hour slog. Absolutely loved every second of them both for the same reason. It's all about the company you keep. The natural beauty of the mountains in winter with all the snow is something to get excited about, not something to bitch about. What's not fun about trudgin' through 2 feet of snow with your buddies? There's way more time to chat, catch up on what others are doing in life away from running, kids and the like. It's like a really long cocktail party, and in that analogy, you don't even have to remove the alcohol! If I "ran" 22 miles in 5 and a half hours in June it would be likely that A) I'd be pissed off and B) I got injured. In December? It just means I stopped to smell the roses, had a delightful time, and made sure nothing passed me by.
3. Goal revision and goal setting.
I like goals, especially in sport. One of my goals this past year was to win a race, and cherry picked or not, I did. I tell you what, it was pretty fun, and I hope to do it some more if the cards fall right. The flip side to that? My run at Silver Rush, I tried to do too much and probably cost myself a good chunk of time. But, humility is a good thing, and getting your ass handed to you is a quick way to learn it. This year I'll be setting more goals, and I'll post them up sometime when I've got a better handle on them (that way you can bring them up to me later and laugh). However, I hope to improve again in 2012. I'm still a newbie to running, and I'm continually learning new things, but I've been helped immensely by my more versed friends. That is something that will never cease to impress me, I am grateful of the large group of talented and cool people that surround me.
So, enjoy Running Christmas y'all.