I was lucky enough to have some lingering vacation days that I needed to take before the year is out. So, I took a few to accentuate the Thanksgiving Holidays. After dropping off the kids at school, I had just over 2 hours each day purely to myself....what to do.....what to do.....um.....oh yeah.......run.
Look, I have only called myself a runner for a couple years now. When I first heard of ultras, I thought a 50k was insane....then I signed up and did it. I thought 50miles was crazy, until I did a few more 50k's...seeing that it was closer than I thought. I thought 100miles was just pure mental, until I ran a 50 miler and as I finished, I thought "hmmmm, could I do that whole thing again?' Now, I've run a 100 miler and I am registered for the Leadville 100. So now even with all these ultras in just a couple years, the only reason I call myself a runner at all is because when I get on the bike now, I don't feel like I did a few years ago...fast and strong on the bike. I am far more in tune with my running than I am on the bike anymore.
Deep down I still think of myself as a cyclist & soccer player. I don't have the background that all these pedigreed runners have. As I grew up, I didn't run track or cross country, I never ran 60,70,80,100+ mile weeks like so many runners do on a regular basis and I never had the benefit of a running coach growing up. I played soccer for hours on end and then became a cyclist and rode thousands of miles in the saddle. Even though I certainly accomplished the equivalent of 100 mile weeks in alternate sports, it just seems like a lot to me. The most I have hit was the week of BR100 with 110miles or so. I am amazed at all the phenomenal athletes out there, I still see myself as trying to squeeze in what I can. So over the break, I managed to rack up some miles with the days off and found myself only a long run away from 100....so, I went for it and got in a really nice trail run Thanksgiving day morning to top it all off. It felt normal, I took a day off running and hit the road bike Friday, ran Sat & ran Sun...feeling strong. To be honest, it did not feel all that different from a regular week.
I know that there are people on all sides of the spectrum here. Some folks that are in the same boat, running, growing, shooting for whatever the weekly mileage/hours call for and peaking at various levels for races ranging from 5k to 100miles+. I see people in my running forums posting 110-120mpw on a regular basis...and to top it off, they are averaging amazing paces....their slow days are faster than my fast days. They run 10 miles in the morning, then 10-15 at night, both faster than 99% of the population runs. Amazing. Will they be running at 30, 40, 50+ years old? I hope so. Then there are the folks who are happy to get in a few miles a week, a nice walk, an active day, etc.. It's all what you want. I think that it all comes down to what you are driven to do. If you wonder what it's like to run 100 miles, study it and do it. I thought it was crazy...and it is.....in my humble opinion it's all about adaptation and mental strength....what you think you can do translates to what you can do....no matter what it is, not just with running...this translates to all aspects of life.
So woop dee dooo, I ran a 100+ mile week (all trails) and I was pretty happy and a little proud. More than that...the majority of those miles I ran with fellow running friends. I did a few faster runs on my own but the majority of the miles were with folks talking about life....sometimes about wool socks, shoe selections, various running related injuries, but for the most part, we were telling stories about our lives....funny stories about kids and college. If you think about it, we spend a couple hours running and talking....we share a lot of experiences. When the runs are over and we finish up our final comments, see who is doing what the next day, how far and where, I get in my car and literally have to sit back and review all the topics covered...it's a great community and great therapy.
The main reason that I am writing this post about running a 100 mile week is that a few years ago, I would have seriously told you I have no desire, need, or ability to run 100 miles in a week...let alone a 100 mile trail running race. I would have said it was not normal, necessary, or even healthy. If you are reading this and you are looking back at your own running goals and accomplishments, thinking "holy crap" that's just silly. I am simply writing this as an example of realizing what you can accomplish if you chip away at it and keep yourself focused on the goal. I'm not out there running these trails to beat other runners, I do it because I want to be better in life.
Inevitably friends & family will ask me about my running, how I do it, etc...I try to take a humble approach, but it's just such a great thing in life that it's honestly hard to not be excited about it. How does a full time worker, husband, father of 3 do it? I get up early or I run late at night, it's that simple....I get up at 4:30am and run...not everyday but for long runs I always do. If I need more miles during the week, I go after the kids are in bed and run in the dark. The most important thing is to be there for the family and at the age of my kids now, I want to be there to make my pancakes and smoothies when they are waking up and at an age that they still want to hang out with me. It might seem simple, but it keeps me focused and out of trouble. :)
USSSA Snowshoe Race Series (Jan.15, Feb.11, Mar.3). Brought to you with Dion Snowshoes & Lake Metroparks.