Skip to content

2021 Year in review – clouds and clearings

Mt St Michel

My year in sport

2021 was another year of wheels spinning, hoping races would be returning to normal, and personally, that I’d be running injury-free. Neither of those came to pass. There continued to be lots of disruptions due to the ongoing tragedy of the pandemic. And on a personal note, I continued to struggle with a seemingly chronic injury – tight AF hamstrings.

There were bright spots, though. I was able to participate in two trail races, one in New Hampshire and one in Brittany, France. Both on the short side – Gunstock 10k in New Hampshire and Trail de la Pointe d’Armorique 30k in Brittany. Both events reminded me just how fun and enjoyable racing is. Both of those days were epic. True highlights of the year.

Pinning a bib on always makes a memorable day.

Do you even ultra?

On the self-doubt/anxiety/imposter syndrome front, I continued to wonder whether I am still an ultrarunner, and whether that even matters. I love the MUT acronym because it’s inclusive. I don’t need to run a certain distance to be a mountain – ultra – trail runner. What got me into the sport in the first place was the joy of running in nature, on the dirt, in the woods, mountains, trails, sand dunes, wherever. It doesn’t matter if it’s one hour or ten hours; I love the sensation. The fact that my hamstrings usually start barking at me after 10 miles makes the thought of doing an ultra really intimidating and unappealing. But the pull of events like CCC and UTMB is really strong.

In 2021 I stayed fit while managing an injury. I didn’t hit any peak performances because I wasn’t able to push enough to get major gains, but I managed to race respectably and be in or near the top 10 in a couple small events. That’s success for me at this point. I’d love to be racing a little bit closer to the front, but that’s not in the cards right now.

2021 by the numbers

I spent 240 hours running, covering 1675 miles in 233 runs. I climbed 145,000 feet during those runs. So basically my average run was an hour and it was hilly. This set me up well for short races. My weekly long runs were usually between 13-15 miles. Only did a couple 18 milers and one 20 miler. I ran one marathon distance on Marathon Monday by myself, just for fun, on the Cape Cod Rail Trail.

The lack of long runs kind of surprised me. I think the pandemic all blended together in my memory and I was remembering summer 2020 mountain runs as part of 2021. Moral of the story – those mountain adventures don’t just happen. The long runs that I did were often because a friend suggested it and I said “Why not?”. When left to my own devices I usually defaulted to a hilly two-hour long run, covering around 15 miles. That’s something I’d like to be more intentional about in 2022. I want to put some big days on the calendar, every month or six weeks.

No worries about the pace, just flow.

Mountain biking had a major supporting role in my training this year. It wasn’t perfectly consistent, but I did one or two rides most weeks. 78 hours riding, 684 miles, 40,000 feet of climbing. That includes a lot of commuting. Bike commuting was great as always. I opted for the bike over the car whenever feasible.

Bike commuting with your kid is the ultimate win-win.

Now that I have my road bike and MTB in France I hope to take advantage, especially whenever it gets a little bit drier. My only road ride in late November ended under hail. That was discouraging. Most of the trails are muddy AF as well, so MTB is less tempting. ‘Tis the season for indoor rock climbing to cross train.

This bad boy should see a lot more action in 2022.

Takeaways from a transition year

I stayed fit and managed my hamstring tightness while training consistently. I did a short speed work block in the summer. I biked for cross training and to give my hamstrings a break (cycling never seemed to aggravate the hamstrings). I started a strength and recovery program, including meeting with an osteopath who I believe is going to be instrumental in helping me overcome the hamstring issue. These are all overwhelmingly positive.

I probably shouldn’t overlook the fact that all of that took place while we moved our family to France from Boston and completed the mammoth task of setting up residency here. Our bodies don’t differentiate between life stress and workout stress, so I likely could have done more in a non-international moving year. Hopefully 2022 is going to see longer days of pain-free running on cool trails around Brittany and the rest of France.

The last big win is I finally got a coaching business set up and will now try my hand at helping individuals progress in their own running. Being a coach lets me engage with the sport in a different capacity. Ever since I started coaching high school cross country and track athletes, I fell in love with it. Watching others progress and discover their own potential is incredibly rewarding. I can’t wait to take an active role helping people meet their running goals.

Miles to go…

2 thoughts on “2021 Year in review – clouds and clearings”

  1. Hey Eric- Nice post! I can relate to everything you are saying, keep after it, the clouds really do clear!
    All the best in your year ahead, Bon Chance!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *