This post is for Adam, Matthew and Mike. Nobody else will likely care. Tomorrow I will go for a 20-minute run (2.5 miles) and officially close out my training log for 2007. This will officially put in the books arguably the worst running year I have had as an adult. Counting tomorrow, I will have run only 95 times, for a total of 301 miles. For the first time in recent memory, I have not worn out a single pair of shoes in a calendar year. The 95 runs and the 301 are the second-lowest total I've had in 10 years, and the 3.2 mile-per-run average is my lowest ever recorded. The only other year that compares to this one was 2001, a year in which I was injured for a long time (no such excuse this go around). To give you some idea about how long ago that was, I earned the injury fooling around in the school weight room with a junior named Walker Bruce. Walker is now on the faculty at my school and is my assistant coach for horizontal jumps. Moreover, my longest run this year was 6 miles. This is the first year in memory where I have not run for an hour consecutively at any time during the year. Needless to say, there were no races this year. So no highlights, but at least no low-lights, either.
Still, the story's not all bad. This is my 10th complete training log since I began formal record-keeping in 1998. (I ran off and on throughout the 90's, including a marathon in '96, but never logged a single run; in college I basically only ran while playing sports, but once a year I would go out and break 6:00 for the mile just to make sure I still could--I didn't run, but I wanted to make sure I was still a runner.) In those 10 years there has been only one calendar month that I've logged a zero. That was July of 2005, when I drove cross-country 7000 miles, but didn't run one. In that time, I've logged a total of 5200 miles, so that's 520 a year, or 10 miles per week for 10 years. That counts many weeks of 20-30 mpw and many weeks of zero, but comes out to hitting the road 2-3 times a week for about 4 miles each. I guess I've laced 'em up and headed out the door around 1300 times in that span. That includes many runs with the heat index above 100, substantially fewer bundled up in cold-weather gear, many in drizzle, a couple in monsoon, and at least one each in a snow flurry and in a hurricane. I've run alone and with a team, in singles (one run a day) and doubles, for training, for racing, and just for fun, and sometimes just because I'm a runner.
And that, I think, is the important thing. This year I was a bad runner. Next year I hope to be a better one. My days of getting faster and faster are pretty much done, but runners do not go gently into that good night. In a month I'll kick off the beginning of my 40th year on this planet (and at the end of that time I'll be a masters runner--that sounds so much nicer than fogey). But ever since my dad timed me in a 7:26 mile on a clay track with my grandfather's analog stopwatch in 1983, I've been a runner. That day, I discovered part of who I am. 25 years this year, 10 of them committed to the record books. I can't wait to begin a new chapter.