December 22, 2020

2020 - A Year in Review

 Ooof, what a year it has been!  I mean let's be honest it's probably about 1% of you reading this (the brainy scientists) would have had any idea that 2020 would pan out anything like it did.  I remember one coaching client early in the year mentioning how he thought things would unfold (this was before March) and I honestly thought he was being rather alarmist and over cautious - apparently not!  Another coaching client (one of those brainy scientists, Dr O) decided not to race a local half marathon in February due to the virus, and I've told her since that if it was anyone else I would have thought they were over reacting.  Yah, how wrong I was.

My birthday rolled around on March 14th just in time for the start of restrictions and 'lock down'.  I recall that I went for a walk with a friend (we decided that a restaurant lunch was too risky) and the week before I didn't hug my friend Jeanelle as already that was frowned upon.  On March 15th I had to go to work aka lead my marathon clinic (we still thought they'd be running BMO Vancouver marathon in May - oh my, those innocent times) and I was already standing apart from folks and whilst we went for post run coffee I stood at a bar table as I didn't want to touch any surfaces.  And well, that's really been the state of affairs ever since.  Odd, weird, unprecedented (in modern times) and impacting every form of our day to day lives.  To say that it's been a year like no other would not be an exaggeration.

Early on I was fearful that I would lose coaching clients due to race after race after race getting cancelled.  It's been my busiest year yet.  Apparently running is the one thing we can still do and it's been so heartening that the vast majority of folks that I coach have truly found that they love running simply for the sake of running - sure, some have understandably struggled more with the lack of fun races (having a big goal, traveling, meeting run friends etc) but for the majority I have seen a bigger commitment to their running and a love for having a training plan to stick to when the rest of the world is chaotic and unpredictable.  And wow, we've got creative and it's been super rewarding as a coach to see so many folks ending their year with big achievements.  Just a few examples below:

  • Dani in New York had probably only ever run for 3 consecutive days before March.  She's now on day 262 of a run streak (running a minimum of 1 mile every single day)
  • Oneal and Tom - the returnee runners who started coaching and getting back into running and fitness after a significant break.  It's so fun to see them record training PR after PR - biggest run weeks ever, faster run times each week, longest training runs etc etc.  Committing to that process is not easy but they are reaping the rewards.
  • Mya and Cam running 100 mile virtual races (I hope I haven't missed anyone who did!) - this is not something I would encourage for everyone (heck, there is no way I would do it myself) but some folks I know are determined enough to succeed at this and to me running 100 miles without aid stations and the formality of a race setting is hard.  Very hard. 
  • Vert challenges - we've had a few of these including Hideo who signed up for the virtual Hardrock race.  Hideo lives in the Surrey hills of the UK - not the San Juans of CO.  But it's amazing how folks find that if they really need to (and want to) they can go up and down some very small hills time and time over to get vert.
  • Pam hitting an impressive streak of consistency in her training.  Sure, this might not seem fancy or noteworthy, but we all struggle with consistency from time to time so simply hitting a real groove and sticking with it should be celebrated.

Of course there have been lots more achievements (I usually coach about 40 folks at any one time) and to be honest for many people the simple act of maintaining a run routine when working from home and looking after kids is an achievement enough.

For myself, it's been a low mileage year.  The ongoing, undiagnosed gimpy leg continues to hamper my running despite the best efforts of Dr Bovard.  That said, I've clawed my way back from a failed run/ walk program in March (I stopped at 9 x 1 min run, 1 min walk as it was not going well) and completed some 20k runs this year and currently can run 8kms or so numerous times per week.  A few achievements/ highlights of the year:

  • Peak bagging in the summer with Bill and the rest of the JSR crew.  Long days, the best of people, stunning views, tough and rough terrain.
  • Making it to the top of West Lion (thanks Bill!) and Black Tusk (thanks Kerry!) - technical scrambles and stellar views.
  • Completing the double GVRAT (see an earlier blog post).  That was my running peak of the year in terms of kms and also so much darn walking.  I found out that you can get very fit if you walk a lot ... and that walking takes much longer than running.
  • Comrades Virtual 10k with AM and Dave pacing.  It was either 42 or 43 mins (I think it was 43) which is slower than I used to race the last 10k of Comrades (89k), but it as fun to push hard and be part of the Nedbank team.
  • Consistent strength work when gyms were open.  MVMT Academy crew are the best.  Sure, I'm still terrible at pushups and can't do a single pull up - but I've showed up twice a week when I can and try my best. 

And whilst the world is not going back to normal once January rolls around, every day we keep on moving forward is another day closer to more normal living. So long as it is safe to do so, I'm super excited to volunteer at some races in 2021 and maybe jog a few myself (Comfortably Numb and Gunner Shaw would be nice).

Merry Christmas (or Merry whatever your holiday of choice is).  Keep running, keep hiking, keep lifting, and just keep showing up and giving every day your best.

x Ellie

And if you really want the stats:

 Running/ hiking: 2800kms

Vert: 99 300m

Walking: maybe about 1000 kms of purposeful urban walks.

Gym sessions: no idea - 2 x week when gyms were open.

Biking: hardly any, there's not been many places to commute to since we're all staying home.

Swimming: Awesome from January to mid March (5 x week or so), none since.

Stretching: Let's not comment on that.



  1. Love it, Ellie! Here's to a brighter 2021 ahead. Thanks for all you do #bestcoachever ;-)

  2. It's striking how your "gimpy leg" year is very similar to my "biggest year ever".


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