Occasionally I get it in my head to run every day -- no EVERY DAY -- for a month or so.
October 1, 2014
Thirty days of September (plus August 31st, but who’s counting?) comprising a total of 32 consecutive runs. (Oh, because I ran twice one Saturday in the middle there.) The goal was to rebuild my strength. The goal was to buckle down, just get some distance in, even a little bit, every day. And now, as October rolls in, here I am: almost 170 klicks richer for the experience, four races stronger, and thirty-two consecutive runs spanning thirty days more sore.
Did I mention that I’m tired?
The rules were simple: between waking and sleeping get in at least 3 km of running. Every day. No matter what. No excuses.
Admittedly, it was not much. Just a bit. But considering I was coming off a summer of failed training that (just a week prior to starting this effort) had resulted in me literally rolling on the street in pain during a race… three klicks was pretty solid. I never went more than about ten, but I never went less than three.
The result: 168.4 klicks run…. almost precisely four marathons worth of distance.
What did I learn?
1) Some days your body really does need a break.
Did I mention I’m tired? You can look at my log and you can see exactly how I was feeling. There are a couple of days in there when it was every bit of energy I had to lace up and do a meager three-point-four klicks. Just this past Sunday, in fact, following my awesome-sauce mountain race with a personal best 10km time in my back pocket… I dragged myself on a pathetic three klicks around the hotel where we were staying… just to get it done. In retrospect, I should have taken a break. But there was a goal to be met and a plan to be followed and a commitment to be upheld. So you just do it, regret it a bit later, and learn whatever lesson comes along with it.
2) There is rarely a day when a run is impossible.
Get out there. Yeah, you’re busy. Yeah, it’s raining. When you plan to run every day of the month, without exception, you are –I guarantee– going to run up against a scheduling conflict. There was a couple of days last week when I was booked pretty much solid from 6am until 10pm. Karin was out of town and I couldn’t just go out for an hour-long jaunt while leaving Claire asleep in bed. Solution: get up at 5am… and get in my run. Just get it done. There is always an excuse, but when you have a commitment on the line you sometimes need to make the time even when that time doesn’t seem to be there to be made. Now I know that if I need to find the time, yeah it might hurt or suck or leave me trotting around the local park in the pitch black of pre-dawn… but I can find the time.
3) You get back what you put in.
There are lots of ways to measure fitness progress, and I could hold up a couple of progressively better sub-one-hour ten klick race times (this slow-poke has never broken one-hour before!) as clear indicators of that. But I think what triggered in my mind was some data from my watch. My watch estimates VO2 Max… and for the most part I’m just a hair above average. My data has for the last year floated between 44 (in the weak parts of the summer) to a high of 46 back when I was training hard for that half I never ran. Three weeks into this run-every-day effort my watch chimed at the end of a hard run that “A new VO2 max has been detected.” I’d hit 47. Not amazing. But higher than I’d ever measured. Numbers are awesome that way.
4) Races are meant to have finish lines.
My secret confession at the end of all this is admittedly a bit foolish: it’s that my original run-every-day goal didn’t end at the end of September. I’ve never said this aloud or written it before, but part of me wanted to run every day leading into my next race… in January. Part of me wanted to defy whatever odds were stacked against me, defy every notion of reality, ignore the need for rest and recovery, and do what those extreme running plans suggest: run every day until race day. But I’m tired. I hurt. And the value of a day off for recovery become more and more apparent with each passing run. So, as bold as running every day might have been, and as short as those little three klick jaunts were, every race is meant to have a finish line. Mine was September 30th.
What’s next? My official training for the half marathon in January starts after a couple days of rest. Stay tuned!