Every year at Christmas I sit down and watch the movie version of the Broadway musical ‘Rent’. It’s my end of year tradition.
“How do you measure, measure a year?” they ask and each holiday season I asked myself the same thing.
Luckily for runners, Strava has that in the bag, publishing their 2022 Recap for each runner in early December.
But not all segments are created equal and what the stats can’t capture in their pretty round numbers are the less than perfect, always improving, non linear, blood sweat and tears that go into a year of trail running.
You can’t see in the stats that I changed coaches this year, a decision that I agonised and stressed over. It was such a hard decision and ultimately a “it’s not you, it’s me” dynamic that had me walking away from a community I had been a part of for almost my entire trail running life.
I found myself actually following a training plan, with actual peaks and recovery periods. My Strava sausage is less consistent in its weekly thickness but more consistent in the quality sessions, targeted runs and recovery.
I tried new things too. I walked 100k with a team of ladies for the Oxfam trail walker event. I’d never done a team event or a walk before, so it was a real learning experience to work out the walking part (side note: it’s actually really hard and I’ve never been so sore the next day!) and I loved being a part of a team. I had doubts for sure but loved the additional challenge of getting more than just yourself across the line and being accountable to the other members of the team.
I also ran events without a medal, gift or prize at the end.
I ran some epic races and some absolutely terrible ones.
I focused on preparing for races by testing my gear and fuelling strategy (yep that’s new too!) during long training runs. I started running with a 2L bladder and a crap tonne of gear to get my shoulders used to races with mandatory gear and learn where my pack would rub as the bladder emptied.
I fell over way more than usual, both in training and racing because hey, you don’t do anything new on race day right?!
I even had a go at a race specific protocol, bringing the sauna in for my race in Cairns. Not that it helped! I was so stressed out about the heat and humidity for this race. I got all light weight, white gear, cut all my hair off, did the sauna and DNF’d anyway!
I even bagged a couple of sneaky podiums! An age group bronze at Snowys 70k and a third lady at Halloween Howler 42k.
You won’t find any of that on my Strava end of year wrap up.
So I’m going to give out prizes this year!
Best race: Peaks and Trails! (Read my recap here!
Worst race: Cairns to Port Douglas (duh. Recap here)
Best piece of gear: Buff head band/socks. From dunking it in cold water to cool myself in Cairns, to keeping my ears warm at Peaks and Trails, to a makeshift bandage at Ultra Trail Kosciusko, Buff wins all the awards this year. I think I have either bought a new one or been gifted one in a race packet in all my big races. Love them and you definitely can’t have too many!
Best new shoe: The Altra Mont Blanc. They took a bit to get used to, the upper and heal is different to all their other shoes. Since I’m Not sponsored anymore, so I can also tell you they (Altra) got on my shit list in 2022 for changing the Escalante (rant here)
Best non running gear: hooded towel! How I survived the post long run or race change without this I will never know!
Best tech/gadget: The Oura ring. Granted if you are not a menstruating female, it might not be that helpful, but if you are, sync it with Natural Cycles, game changer!