As past Vienna New Year’s Concerts are being played on the radio, no other time is more appropriate to look back to training and racing during the soon-to-be-over year 2010.

The beginning of 2010 saw some major changes in my training; after more than a year of neglecting it, I came to terms with my knee injury and decided it would have been wise to take time off and do some serious work with a physical therapist. It took me four months: from December ’09 to mid-April, during which time I often cross-trained, rarely ran and seldom raced, but I learned a lot in terms of the importance of having flexible and strong muscles to run better. I joined a Pilates class and worked on muscle-groups I didn’t care to have, mostly the core, and despite still not showing off a six-pack, a stronger core led to easier and faster runs; I still remember the first time I went back to running after a couple of months sidelined and feeling the run controlled and easy: running sub-7 minutes pace became more common and natural.

The only race I run in spring was the NYC Half-Marathon: I wasn’t ready to race it and slogged through the course, but despite the lackluster run, I brought home another PR, which probably tells more on me not having run many half-marathons in the past years and not having ever given my entire self to a race than anything else.

After months of PT, I was (sort of) ready to go back into training, but it wasn’t until August that I hit the stride. After 6 weeks throughout Europe, once back in Amherst I had to be more serious about running if I wanted to finish the Chicago Marathon, which was starting looming ahead. The knee wasn’t bugging me anymore (touch wood) and decided to finally get out there and go to the weekly track workout with the team I joined months before. That weekly hour spent running in circles made all the difference: not only I met fast runners who forced me to challenge myself, but more importantly the variety of hard-work bore fruits such as lowering my 800s from a 3+ minutes to a sub-3 in just few weeks– though at that time I was also logging 60~70 miles a week quite regularly.

Running in 2010; horizontal line is the year average (99.5mi)

The plot shows the inconsistency in my training: in 2010, I logged a 1000+ miles, but of these, a half are clogged in just 4 months. (In my defense, I log only runs, so when benched by injuries, cross-training is not recorded.) It’s what I call the laziness-freakout cycle: I spend months rarely racing and mostly going for easy, longish runs, then the marathon I registered for a year earlier crosses the Rubicon of the 3 months and as I’m freaking out by that thought, I run more often adding quality speed-workout; it’s a trend I have to break in the next years.

The second half of 2010 was almost the opposite of the first half in terms of racing, though the Achilles tendinitis almost restores the symmetry. After the Chicago Marathon [Italian], which was shellacking (though I PR’ed), I tried to go back into running and racing probably too strongly: I had fun in both my first cross-country race and the Hot Chocolate 5k, but they probably aggravated the inflammation on the Achilles; through my mistakes, this time I didn’t spend more than a year deluding myself into believing it’s nothing, and now, like it was at the end of last year, I’m on the bench waiting for my turn to go back into the field. (And I do miss running.)