Learning from 2023 to Accomplish More in 2024
On December 26th, 2023, I realized that I had run 975 miles on the year. These days, I’m usually good for 20-25 miles a week, and I try to stick around 1,000 miles a year. Factoring in a couple weeks for rest, and the math checks out. But 2023 got away from me. Between a couple of weeks off for covid in January, and then some planned time off after goal races (Dipsea and Monumental 5k), I was staring down a 25 mile deficit with not a ton of time left.
This deficit left me with some things to consider. On the one hand, less than 1,000 miles really wasn’t how I wanted to end the year. It’s a lot to some, and not much to others, but it’s generally where I land. The disappointment I might feel if I didn’t accomplish this annual mileage was weighing on me. Surely I could do this.
On the other hand, I had my long term goals to consider. I’d just put down a few weeks of base mileage, was feeling good, and I was set to get back into workouts that week. I’m eyeing the Polar Bear Classic for a short 5k training block before I get into Dipsea training for that race in June. Could I do 25 miles in five days? Sure. But knowing how injury-prone I am, would it be smart? Absolutely not. Going from 20 and 22 miles the two weeks before to 30 miles this week probably wasn’t going to end well for me.
This all leads to what I think are a couple of important takeaways regarding running, and maybe just life in general. First, if something is important to you, plan for it. Here I was telling myself in the 11th hour that 1,000 miles on the year was important to me. But if it was so important, why wasn’t I tracking it all along? Why hadn’t I planned ahead to make sure it happened? Surely with just an extra mile here or there over the course of 365 days I could have found those 25 measly miles. At the end of the day, it couldn’t have actually been that important to me if I wasn’t putting myself in the best possible position to accomplish it.
Second, don’t sacrifice your long term goals for short term gains. Here, my long term goal is to run well at a couple of races in the first half of the year. In order to reach these goals, I need to stay healthy and I need to string together consistent training. Stacking mileage to chase a fleeting short term interest could jeopardize my ability to hit my stated long term goal. When weighed against what I want out of my next training block, it just doesn’t make sense.
So at the end of the year, I finished 2023 with 993 miles. Agonizingly close to 1,000, but not worth the risk. And knowing what I know now, I plan to be more intentional with this year. As 2024 gets rolling, it’s worth checking in with yourself. What did you accomplish last year? What didn’t you accomplish last year? For both, why? Reflect on where you’ve been and it’ll inform how you can get to where you want to go. Make a plan, don’t get distracted along the way, and you might just surprise yourself this year