This is for a whole lot of you. maybe in the thousands, who have not done something like this before. Some of you have been cautious, running below the average required, and hoping to make it up later. Some of you have been caught up in the fervor, and done too much, too soon.
All of you are feeling those first twinges of doubt.
Well, folks. We are a week and a half in.Nothing has been decided.Everything is still on the table. But… A journey like this is not a sprint. It is a marathon (I just had to use that metaphor). Buckeye Hollow will not be achieved by burning the hottest flame. It will be attained by achieving a steady state.
In a way, this effort is like building a campfire. Some people think a campfire is not working unless they can see a flame. Every time the fire tries to settle in and start building a bed of coals, they push it around to get the flames going again. Flames look nice. But they produce the least heat for the wood burned. A good campfire is built with the logs placed to hold the heat in, and reflect it off each other. It isnt impressive to look at, but it builds up a large quantity of hot coals that will sit and put out so much heat that you have to move further away. And it will put out that heat for hours.
Here is the first thing to remember. Every day is a transaction. You need to average 5 miles a day. Every day you run less than 5 miles, you are borrowing from the finish. Every day you do more than 5 miles, you are banking for the finish.
Those of you who have been borrowing from the finish to get your body acclimated, you know that you will have to begin paying that back sooner or later. Those of you who have paid in more than you could afford are now paying the price, and you are having to borrow from your finish to pay your body back for how you treated it.
To succeed, you both need to work towards the same point. A well built fire, where the heat is held inside to feed on itself. It does not matter how you got to this point. It is what you do from here forward that counts.
Here is my approach to “ramping up” my miles to the point that I have a positive balance against the finish.
The first two weeks are used to acclimate my body to a reality where I put in miles every day. Some of you have done well with that so far, some have not, and the last part of this second week will be used to let your body recover a little bit. Just do not succumb to the temptation to do nothing. Keep going out there every day, even if it is only for a mile. Your body will recover better (movement is therapeutic for a sore body), and you will not exchange the habit of making your transaction every day for the habit of putting it off until tomorrow. Because tomorrow never comes. It is today every day.
One thing you do not want to do is to get in the habit of running the exact same distance every day. Some days you use to push yourself a little further. To extend the distance you can cover. When 5 miles is the furthest you have ever run, it is hard. When you have run 6, or 7, then 5 seems a little easier. Other days are used to let your body and mind recover. You are not going to gain by pushing to the limit every day. Something will break before 4 months are up.
I like to do my days in bunches of 3 now that my old body does not heal as fast as it used to. Long day, easy day, easy day. repeat. So, on the long day you do your longest run that is a comfortable training run. Not total comfort, it needs to be far enough that you are good and tired at the end,.(maybe tired enough to count some telephone poles), but also not a distance that leaves you debilitated. I feel like I have hit the sweet spot with my long day when I get home pooped and ready to just sit for a while. But, after i recover a little bit I feel fine.
the next two days you do short, manageable distance. At first you will feel some residual fatigue on the first day, and even the second. When the second easy day you actually feel good, it is time to increase the distance of the long day. The next time, you increase the distance of the easy days.
From the daily transaction standpoint, if your long day begins at 5 miles, that is breakeven. If your two short days are 2 miles, you are going -3 each day, for a 3 day net of -6. All of you are starting this segment of your race with varying balances, according to how you approached the first 2 weeks. Going forward you will either be moving that balance in the right direction, or letting the deficit grow. As long as you keep moving your long and short days up, you are going in the right direction. The time it takes before you are ready to increase either the long, or the short days will vary, It might be one week. It might be two. But, now that the initial excitement has worn off, and you have achieved a steady state, you will know when it is time. You always want to be a little past comfortable on the long days. And you don’t want the second short day to be too easy. Just keep pushing yourself forward at a sustainable level.
Some important landmarks. First, when your long day is above the required daily average. That means every third day, you reduce the deficit. Your deficit will be growing slowly. The second is when your long day is as much above the average as the two short days combined are below. You are no longer losing any ground. The next is when your long day is more above the average than the short days are below. The side has ended, and yo are starting to whittle away at the deficit. But, the biggest landmark is when your short days are more than the average. This is when that deficit really starts melting away.
You can modify this plan to suit your circumstance. Mine is the beat up old man version. I don’t snap back like i used to . A younger person, or someone with a stronger background can drop to one long day and one recovery day and probably not feel it. you can include runs of several different distances and do a 4 day cycle. The important things are to remember the transactional nature of your training, always be aware if you are losing ground or gaining ground, and to steadily improve.
Here at the two week mark, you are at a critical juncture. There may be no other time when it will be this easy to quit. Sticking with it for the long haul was so easy to envision, when the reality of what a long haul is was not so… real. The need to keep improving towards your goal, be it 1000k, 1000M, or some distance beyond requires you to perpetually be just beyond what is comfortable. The goal has come to seem so far away.
Do not even think about your end goal. It is too far away. Be aware of it. But just focus on improving your transactions. Set your sights on those landmarks. Those are in reach. Briefly enjoy each one the day you reach it. And the next morning start pursuing the next. And keep at it every day. You have not yet built the habit that becomes hard to break. But it is beginning. That urge to take a day completely off is your weaker self trying to stop that habit from getting too ingrained. to keep your stronger self from taking over.
you have a goal, but it will not be easily attained. You would not want it to be. The harder it is to get, the sweeter victory tastes.