REVIEW: 2013–looking back

I like to finish each year by throwing around a few statistical facts on the year gone by spiced with some quantitative commentary, so while 2013 was perhaps my oddest training year ever, I will not allow it to escape this treatment.

Miles, miles, miles

Let’s face it: no matter the depth of your knowledge about running, the question of miles is always one of the first to come up in conversation.

This years tally was 2128 for the year down from 2700 in 2012 where I recorded my best performances.

Year Km run avg/day VDOT
2009 3023 8.28 52.57
2010 2980 8.16 53.70
2011 2157 5.91 54.00
2012 2700 7.40 56.29
2013 2129 5.74 52.67

Superficially the year was a failure because I set out with hopes of matching my previous best volume (3000 km) while at the same time improving my running form AND improving my VDOT performances in races to 58.

Why did I fall short and was it a disaster? Short answer: “no”, long answer in my final analysis below. A particular highlight was that I ran every single run and every single mile this year in barefoot technology or barefoot – no support, just my own body needing to do all the work. This conditioning should be pure gold in the long-term.


This year was pretty much a non-event in terms of racing presence which took a complete backseat to training and non-running commitments. Having to work many weekends now as well means I need to plan my racing better than previously.


I ran only 5 races (3 road, 1 track and 1 mountain race) all with inadequate or no preparation. Unsurprisingly, no personal bests resulted but there were a few positives:

  1. I came very close to running a sub-40 minute 10k barefoot, on little training, on a gritty course. Technically this was a big success
  2. I ran an extremely rocky trail race in VivoBarefoot Breathos holding onto perfect posture on the uphill and managing to run hard down sharp rocky slopes without protection.

This meant that twice I achieved feats which would have been impossible 2 years previously – even if they rank lower in the only athletic measure that matters for the record books – time!


I have not been a heavy racer since getting slapped over the fingers by injury after my 45 races in 2007. I ran 16 in 2008, 26 in 2009, 23 in 2010 followed by 9 in 2011 and 2012 and 5 this year. I think 10-20 races per year is a reasonable number if some of them are treated as training but I don’t want to return to the days of constant racing.

Peaks and valleys

2013 was a very strange year where on the one hand I kept running with high regularity – only 90 days had no runs at all. On the other hand this is three months training lost. It should be said I did not lie around idly – most of the days were spend doing running drills.

But I struggled to maintain the fire and intensity needed for elite level training while balancing several commitments. I could have done better here and it explains why my highest mileage week as week number 52 (97km).


Once I sorted out my own backyard things fell in place pretty quickly, I got 68km in during week 49 but then lost my voice during our Kerry workshop and was sick for a week managing only 10km of running (on purpose: I wanted to recover quickly). I bounced back and did 75, then 90 and then took it easy with 6 runs over Xmas and New Years for a tally of 42. The final week crested the two years running from 29th Dec to 4th Jan (my weeks start on Sundays and end Saturdays) and I upped my volume further to 97 km – a great springboard for starting 2014.

Closing out 2013

So in summary: a transitory year that I would have liked to have seen more highlights but on reflection perhaps this was too much too ask especially as it took me a while to put my own life into the sort of shape it needs to be to facilitate training levels of 9-10 hours plus. In tomorrow’s instalment I’ll take a look at the lessons learned and the goals for 2014.