2016 Revisited


I’ve been trying to get this out before the very end of the year, so I’ll chalk it up as a win that I managed to get it out a week before 2016 officially comes to a close. From what I can tell, it seems like a decent number of people are excited to put 2016 behind them. I guess it seems like it had more than its fair share of events with less-than-optimal outcomes, but as humans we’re also prone to remember our and (by extension) the greater world’s sad events (for lack of a better, all-encompassing term) rather than the happy ones. So when I said to my wife the other day that I was looking forward to a new start in 2017, mostly due to the unfulfilling year of running I had in 2016, she kindly reminded me that it all depends on how you look at it. And by that I mean, we can choose to focus on the negatives or we can choose to focus on the positives. Sure, I didn’t have a good year of running. I spent half of it trying to run pain free and underperforming in races and then the one race I finally had a good training block for blew up in my face due to something that was probably within my control and now I find myself 2+ weeks into a back issue that seems to have appeared despite my not doing any structured running for 6+ weeks since that race. Or, I could focus on the good that 2016 brought. Rachelle moved to California full-time for the first time since we met. We got married. We had a wonderful honeymoon. We found out we’re having our first child in February. Those are pretty damn good events that should overshadow the mediocre running that occurred, but I find it hard to remind myself of that, and feel like I continue to carry the burden of underperformance in the running area of my life. So I’m hoping this post will serve as a final, cathartic release of the bad energy I’ve been harboring to make room for the good that should have been there all along. Now that’s not to say this is just going to be a re-hash of the self-inflicted discontent with my running life. In fact, I’m not even quite sure where to go from here, as I feel like I’ve said what needed to be said. So I guess I’ll just touch on a few highlights and lowlights and that’ll be it.


Stuff that got me down:

– Taking some decent down time in December of 2015 only to find myself dealing with nagging hip pain come January. It took me 4-5 months to get it sorted, with help from Hal Rosenberg at Chiro Medical Group and Marty Mattox at UltraHealth. I only began to run pain free in June.

– As a result, Way Too Cool, the first half of Lake Sonoma, the Boston Marathon, Bay to Breakers, and Marin 10k were all run in discomfort due to that hip issue. I was also constantly adjusting training and unable to go all out, which compromised my fitness. Thankfully my coach, Jason Koop, was there and helped me deal with the inevitable setbacks that come with prolonged injury.

– Failing to reclaim the Fastest Time Award at Dipsea. I knew my fitness was suspect heading in due to the injury and I ran the best I could on the day. But it wasn’t close and Gus very deservingly walked away with the trophy. It’ll be a fun battle next year!

– Having a pretty solid training block in my run up to the IAU Ultra Trail World Championships in Portugal only to have my body stop cooperating when I thought things were going pretty well. I ended up walking the final 20k, which was not how I’d hoped things would go.


Stuff that made me happy:

– Training for (healthy) and running a road mile. I spent all of July running speed workouts on the track in preparation for the San Rafael Twilight Crit road mile. It was awesome. And so, so painful.

– Getting married in September.

– Getting the opportunity to represent the USA at the IAU race in Portugal. Visiting a new country, meeting new people, and getting my ass handed to me were hard to beat.

– Ongoing preparations for our first child in February. Can’t wait to meet the little person. We’re waiting to find out if it’s a boy or a girl, which is just increasing the excitement.


I think that’s about it. For the folks interested in statistics, since the year isn’t quite done, I’ll give you YTD (and they likely won’t change too much between now and actual year-end).

In 2016, I raced 12 times (vs 21 in 2015). That’s only once a month. I love racing! Something is wrong. I raced 208.9 miles for an average race distance of 17.4 (vs 299.8 miles in 2015 for an avg of 14.3). I want to bring that average race distance back down in 2017, as it means I’m running more XC and road races, which I think helps me on the ultra scene.



Annual mileage totals: Things are trending the wrong way. Training smarter is one thing, but not to this extent. I would like to get back up around 3,500 next year. I’ve also had more injuries in the past 2 years than I had in the preceding years, which has contributed to this decline and that’s something I really want to work on.


Hand-in-hand with the decrease in mileage has been a decrease in weekly average miles and an increase in days off. High correlation (and causation!) with injury.


And finally, just for fun, here are my monthly mileage totals by year.



And finally, a few pics from the year.


Suits ready to roll at Boston.


West Valley Centipede at Bay to Breakers #daftpunkissufferingintheback (PC: unknown)


200m to go in the San Rafael Twilight Mile (PC: unknown)


Widomaker Summit as Day 1 of the Triple Goat ends (PC: Yiou Wang)


Suffering away in Portugal (PC: Prozis)


We got married! (PC: Paige Green)

Anyways, I think that’s about it for this blog in 2016. I’d like to thank my sponsors for a great year, too. Nike, PickyBars, and Victory SportDesign have all been stellar partners and I couldn’t ask for a better group of people to work with at all of them. We’ll see what 2017 brings on the running scene – hopefully better health but inevitably less sleep I think. There may be a shift in content, away from running adventures and towards parenting adventures, but I like to think it may prove more interesting as a result. In the meantime, I hope everyone has a great holiday season and a safe and enjoyable new year.

About afvarner

Runner. Donuts. Sneakerhead. Not necessarily in that order. Nike Trail Elite. Picky Bars. Gu. Vicory Sportdesign.
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2 Responses to 2016 Revisited

  1. Nice to hear from you again Alex, I really like the way you write, definitely keeps me entertained! Best wishes for 2017 mate!

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