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In 2012 I averaged 40 miles of running a week. I didn’t have any firm mileage goals coming into the year, so there’s no immediate reaction to that number (other than “Oh, 40 huh? Ok”). On the one hand, I assume most non-runners would consider that to be a respectable amount of running. On the other hand, just about every runner I follow through their blogs ran significantly more in 2012, so in that context 40 miles per week isn’t much at all.

Context is a funny thing. A given run time, or mileage total, or virtually any other measurable running event, could either be really good or really bad, depending on who ran it, what their expectations were, and countless other external conditions.

For example, I’d be very happy to run a 3:40 marathon on a flat course on a 53 degree day, but I might be even more proud of myself with a 4:00 marathon over a hilly course on a breezy 80 degree day. I might be happy with a 21:00 5k time that I ran without any specific focus or training, but feel bad about a 20:00 time that I ran after spending a couple months really trying to improve my speed and cadence. I might be ecstatic with an unimpressive time for a loop at Hall Ranch if I finished the loop feeling like I’ve hardly run a step at all, and could go keep going for hours more.

So how I choose to look back on 2012?

Depending on the context I use to evaluate my actions, I could either be happy or disappointed:

  • [Context: Previous Years] I’m certain this is the most I’ve ever run in any calendar year -> yay me!
  • [Context: Race Performance] I was trying to build the first part of the year so that it led to a good run in The Tahoe Rim Trail 50. I didn’t run well, so clearly I didn’t have a good plan, and a large part of that failure was probably not running enough -> boo me!
  • [Context: Staying Injury-Free] I was largely injury-free, and probably missed no more than a day or three of planned runs because of running-related soreness -> yay me!
  • [Context: Personal Challenge] I never felt close to the overtraining threshold, which means there was probably a lot more I could have done before I had to worry about reining myself in -> boo me!
  • [Context: Sticking to the Plan] It’s starting to feel like the benefits of Maffetone-paced training are taking hold – slower is starting to become a bit faster as the 135 bpm effort stays the same -> yay me!
  • [Context: Overall Fitness] Am I in better overall shape than I was at the beginning of last year? Um…… I’m not sure, but probably not. I only spent 2 days rock climbing and zero days mountain biking this year, which are certainly the lowest amounts in the past 15 years  -> boo me!
  • [Context: The Fire Inside] I’m ready to run even more in 2013. No burnout, no disillusionment… I just want to run! -> yay me!

I think I’m going to choose to focus on the last context. I’m ready to run more, and looking forward to it. Hopefully I’ll be able to improve on some of the perceived negatives from last year, but I’ll probably put more effort into retaining the positives than eliminating those negatives.