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As the mill spins…whether the rapidly rotating windmill outdoors or more mundane treadmill indoors…each year spins so quickly and we have the opportunity to pause, reflect, and remember what we learned. What a fun and memorable year this has been: filled with special moments and some struggles and challenges that helped me grow into a stronger, more patient runner and person with a few unexpected nuggets of wisdom to share. The windmill and the treadmill are metaphors for the passing of each year. Although as used in the first sentence, ‘mill is a simile for the passing of each year.

This photo is from a small windmill that we frequently run by not so far from our house.

Quickly, the highlights: There were goals: 1) Run 2,016 miles. 2) Break my half-marathon PR. 3) Continue the runstreak throughout the year. All 3 were accomplished but not without some heartache and backaches in the summer. The back injury threatened to derail all three goals but somehow the KT Tape compression ice belt and resting more helped bring things into balance.

With this being a leap year, I was able to reach the Run the Year target one day earlier than last year (December 29 instead of December 30). That was one of the unexpected funny things about this year.

One of the most valuable lessons I learned this year was to hold back and restrain the pace and the distance when exhausted/tired and feeling like injuries are surfacing. Restraint in the summer when my back injury flared up helped me recover and heal faster. Another related training tip to this was to reduce my mileage and intensity with high heart-rate points. We’ll let Misty illustrate how to handle tired moments from today’s short 2 mile run.

Total mileage for the year: 2,025 (counting tonight’s 5k Last Run race after dark). Taper run this morning was funny because my Garmin said I ran a 1:31 pace mile (a new record)! Actually no, it was more like 12:00-13:00/mile pace. We were run/walking my MAF pace. Why Garmin didn’t sense the distance but inflated the pace, I don’t know. It’s one of those funny precious and priceless moments that happen as a Garmin owner.

It was very special to reach 3 consecutive PRs in 3 consecutive weeks in November: a 10k record, then a 5k record, then a half-marathon PR (after trying to break this one since 1999). I peaked at the right time. I run well in the fall.

How did this happen? A lot of the credit goes to the disciplined run-walk Galloway training that I am doing now on my own as well as with our Galloway training group. I run more instinctively now. My asthma is better controlled. I know when I’m running effortlessly and when I’m pushing and pressing too hard, affecting my performance. Also, I’ve made getting adequate rest and optimal nutrition a big priority and these have been pillars of my healthy journey too.

Thanks to all of you who have supported me in this journey. Special appreciation to my family, friends, running communities like the Run the Year community, the Amerithon challengers, and fellow runstreakers. Thank you so much! I appreciate all of you and what you have done for me!

We all reach points in our running and life where we have to decide to I continue to chase all these lofty dreams or do I yield?

Unlike the yield sign above from today’s short run, we must never yield unless we absolutely have to do so. That said, we have to be running-wise and safe: resting when necessary, running on the ‘mill when needed, running and pausing by windmills when we can, and avoiding injuries and bad weather to the extent possible.

There was a point this summer where I almost gave up on the runstreak, Run the Year, and pursuing my PR dreams due to my back injury. I was training in the mountains in Colorado, walking a lot, and feeling down due to my back pain and slow paced running. But I persisted. I persevered. I fought through it carefully and made a daily recovery a part of my running routine: including ice, foam rolling, stretching and rolling on the medicine ball a priority. That helped me stretch my endurance and flexibility, adding more strength to my routine, too: more weights and flexibility bands. I realized that the pain was temporary and would subside eventually and it did.

When the Galloway training began in earnest in August, it seemed that the running became more regimented and planned: less impulsive and unplanned. And that anchored the success of the fall and winter. I’m so grateful I found the run-walk method and what it has done for me and thousands of others.

Wishing all of you a wonderful happy healthy New Year! Happy Trails! Catch you on the other side in 2017.

P.S. Watch for my review of Epsoak epsom salts tomorrow on the blog;)