As 2011 dawned and I enjoyed some success in marathoning and in running, I set a personal goal to reach 2,500 running miles by the end of the year. I was right on track for this goal for most of the year until I decided to run CIM. That race was my 5th marathon in 56 weeks and I was approaching a point where I needed a recovery period something fierce. So after CIM, I took a full week off, then started with shortens of 4-5 miles every other day. Megan and I discussed my goal and I concluded that while 2,500 was an admirable goal and likely within reach, it was best to not get caught up on numbers. I had well exceeded last year’s total of 1,700 miles and experienced more growth and maturation as a runner than I expected. So I had no problem settling for 2,400 miles and change. In fact, I had put in some solid sessions on my new bike and several 2,000 meter swims, so I wasn’t lacking for activity.
So, on Wednesday, December 21, I texted Megan to let her know that I had exceeded 2400 miles, and reached my secondary goal of averaging 200 miles a month, or 50 miles a week. I was satisfied. But late that day she called and said “I think you should do it! You are so close. You have to give it a shot!”
So, we agreed on a few rules. I would run consecutive days, close to 7-9 miles a day with two or three 13-milers on the weekends and if all went well I’d hit 2500 miles on the 31st. I’d listen to my body. I would not run through injury. I would be honest about how my legs felt. The goal was important but not more so than my health.
I had 97 miles to run in 10 days. The first two-to-four days of this 10 day streak were tough. I had come off a recovery period after running CIM and ramping up mileage so soon was a shock to the system. I wasn’t sure I would be able to keep it up every day until the end of the month. My legs were sluggish, I didn’t push hard at all, and took to listening to audiobooks to slow myself down and distract my mind from the miles.
Christmas morning dawned. Well it hadn’t dawned yet, as I left the house just after 5 to get 9-10 miles in before the events of the day—and the travel—absorbed my time. Somehow this run was better than the rest. It was early. And cold. But my legs felt ok. Not as heavy as the first few days. Something was happening to my body. It was becoming acclimated to running long mileage every day. And it was starting to desire those miles.
I cannot explain it, but the more I ran, the more I wanted to run. Monday the 26th was a turning point. We had traveled to my mom’s house for Christmas and were heading to Florida the next day to see the in-laws. A change of scenery was just what I needed. My legs felt peppier, I turned the music back on to give me a lift. I started listening to Kesha, Rihanna, Beyonce, Flo Rida—and liked it!
By the time we got to Florida (the state, not the singer), I was on a roll. I found a pool nearby and was able to get early morning swims before I ran. And my mileage was increasing. Instead of 9-10 miles, I upped the distance to 12. My body craved these runs. The stress of travel. Of family. Of holiday hustle and bustle all melted away. Every day was better than the last. I didn’t want this to end.
I exceeded 2,500 miles two days early. But I couldn’t stop. Jeez. Who could? I was on a roll, I had never run this much in such a short period in my running life. I was learning so much about myself and my body and that it is stronger and tougher than I thought.
My daily totals for the ten day period: 12.86, 9.1, 13.5, 9.2, 10, 13, 12.15, 12.15, 12, 12
Things I learned while running 116 miles in 10 days:
- My body is capable of pushing beyond limits my brain tries to establish
- Running a lot of miles on consecutive days will not automatically lead to injury
- My body and mind crave long periods of long slow miles from time to time. After the stress of marathon training all year during 2011, it was nice to just run
- That I can eventually up my mileage from 2011’s 50 mike a week average to upwards of 70. It will take time, true, just like getting to 50/week did.
- That I can do anything as long as I believe I can