Whelp. Here we are. Today I ran the virtual Shamrock Run at Sauvie Island, and I hit and passed the 500 mile mark for the year. It’s March 13th as I type this and I want to give you an update on what it’s like to be a middle-of-the-pack and pretty average runner attempting to get in more miles than I ever have before.
Last year, I ran under 2000 miles. I did a respectable job, in my opinion, even including a Goggins 4x4x48 Challenge in the mix (running 4 miles every 4 hours for 48 hours straight, which you can read about here.) But I ran more milage the year before, 2019, with three 50k trail races and a marathon, not to mention all the training. 2020 was meant to be a “rest” year from those “marathon +” distances in an effort to spend more time with my family. But I got my wish in spades and Covid turned everything upside down. We had recently moved into a new house with my parents, and having all of us in one residence was already a new adjustment before we had to suddenly live as shut-ins. Worse, I didn’t know any of our new neighbors, my husband was working from home and stressed out all the time, and I was suddenly homeschooling the kids and not having any sort of escape during the day. Everything felt .. Challenging, to say the least. Things got really hard and that made running the thing that kept me sane.
I decided to go for the Run The Edge Run/Walk 2,021 Miles in 2021 challenge because I needed something to keep me inspired. Still, the thought of completing 2021 miles was something that seemed insurmountable. I was never, even at the height of my fitness, an “every day” runner. I knew I’d get sick of it if I had to do it every day. So my goal was to move my body every day rather than commit to running all 365 days of the year. I was going to include walking in my milage, so long as it was intentional walking. Walking around the house, climbing the stairs 40+ times a day and picking up Legos was not going to count, but walking the dog or strolling around the park absolutely would.
I did go on a running streak for awhile. It started last year, when I was doing the Great Virtual Race Across Tennessee. But I realized quickly that I was going to burn out too fast if I did that. Some people can do it every day, and I probably could if I kept the milage low. But I knew that I’d need to run 5+ miles a day for an entire year to meet the Run The Year Challenge, and I also knew I’d never last that long. I didn’t have the time or the energy. As a running coach, I preach to clients all the time about how rest is as important to your training as running is. I needed to practice that myself.
So I started walking on days I couldn’t muster up a run, and here we are in March and ahead of schedule. I try my best to get in at least 5-6 miles at a time, whether it’s a walk or a run. Many days, it’s a bit of both. I have been “banking” miles by getting long runs in on Saturdays, generally in the 10 to 13 mile range. My thought process is that if I stay ahead of the curve, I’ll be covered on any days I either can’t get in many miles or can’t get out at all. If life gets in the way, I don’t want to feel behind. It’s a part of my genetic makeup to always be ahead.
So far, my plan is working out pretty well. I’m projected to be done by October 15th if I continue with the current momentum I’ve built. That actually feels really good. As the girl who’s always been early to every appointment, I feel like I’m in control.
However, I’m not going to lie and say it’s easy. Some days I’m just not feeling it. Some days it’s raining. Some days I’m so busy I don’t know when it’s going to happen. And I really hadn’t anticipated how long it would take to walk 6 miles. In many ways, it’s just as taxing as a double-digit run. My low back starts to hurt and it just takes SO. SO. Long. Really. I have a newfound respect for walkers. Those people out there walking half and full marathons .. OMG, you people are truly amazing.
But I will say this. I may not feel like I want to get out for whatever reason. But I never regret it. And on the days I want to do it the least, it ends up being the best. I had one day where I was so depressed I was crying and what I wanted to do was hide under a pile of covers. Instead, I headed straight for the door. It was raining and I didn’t even bother to stop for a rain jacket. I just needed to breathe. And it felt like a weight came off my shoulders, just getting the chance to break it down into a simple solitary thing.. just a walk, just me. I didn’t even bring my phone. It was great.
Most days that I walk, I listen to an audio book from the library app on my phone. When I worked a 9 to 5 job, I often read on my lunch hour, but after having kids, that went out the window along with many other routine things. It’s been great escaping into new worlds again. Listening to Matthew McConaughey and Glennon Doyle and Ali Wong. Listening to creepy thrillers that make my neck tingle, sad stories that make me cry, and funny stories that make me laugh in traffic. Sometimes I listen to music too, but I love keeping my brain engaged, but more importantly, being engaged in things that aren’t related to my own life.
On days that I run, I’m slower than I was before. I take a lot of walking breaks too, which is something I never used to do. But I really don’t mind so much. It’s really just about getting out there for me these days. I don’t want injuries or workouts that make it about anything other than fun. I’m not an elite runner and I don’t want to be. I don’t care about getting faster, not now.
So this year, it IS about the miles. But that’s it, and that’s enough. Those numbers don’t have to mean anything. They are just a goal to reach for.
See you for the next 500. And the 500 after that, and that..