In the beginning of 2016 I had moved to Farmville Virginia on a decent 2015 year of ultra running distances and coming off of a 3,700 mile year of which I had created a goal of averaging 10 miles per day for 2015. On the surface another 1,300 miles, if I was concentrating, should not have been that significant. When broken down, it equates to another 3.56 miles per day. Having not actually set the goal to reach 5,000 miles in a 365 day span until roughly November 1st in 2016, I will attest that is was a completely different ball game.
After breaking down the math, about 3 months into 2017, I was averaging 13.76 miles per day and 14.18 miles for the days I ran in that I didn’t run on 11 days of the year at an 8:21 minute mile average. For the first time, I was impressed with myself. I don’t say it often because running is nothing more than an activity to me that, in my honest opinion, has become a trend no different than Justin Bieber and skinny jeans. I don’t see putting my feet to pavement, trail, track or gravel as anything but what it is… a guy with some time on his hands that would rather be moving.
For the first 6 months, I was just using my time to maximum efficiency by running with whatever time on the roads of Farmville and on the treadmill at the Southside YMCA. Then in June I moved to Charlottesville Virginia. I noticed a difference in my mentality that day when making sure I got at least a 10 mile run in on the day I went to tour the apartments. At that point, I realized I was just beyond 2,500 miles and knew it was a possibility but knowing I had already run the Colonial 200 which included a 50 mile, 70 mile and 80 mile day over 63 hours and being realistic that I would not be repeating that over the next 6 months, I was still not making any plans or goals.
So I just plugged along for the next few months and noticed I was at about 3,600 miles by the time I hit an unsuccessful attempt at Habanero 100 (for the second time) in August. Still knowing it was in reach but not committing yet. It wasn’t until October 22nd at the Tuna 70, directed by Brian Malek, that I made an internal commitment to finishing 5,000 miles in a year. By the time I looked at my numbers through October and had roughly 730 miles to go, I said “fuck it”, let’s give it a shot. November miles left me with about 340 to reach in December. That was personally my most proud 340 miles of running. Whereas I admittedly did not enjoy running as much as I normally did, I put my head down, logged my miles (many on a boring treadmill), and completed 5,000 miles on Christmas day. I most certainly took December 26th off and finished another 37 miles through the rest of the year with a new found confidence and willingness to embrace that I had completed something that I felt I could really hang my hat on.
Since then, I track all my miles but ultimately have absolutely no goals set and am just enjoying the road ahead. I still aim to run everyday and am 107 of 108 days of at least 5 miles a day at the time of this blog in 2017. I realized that it wasn’t about committing myself to a specific plan or paying attention to the trends in running training. There was no such thing as speed training, hill training or complimentary work. It was about me seeing how many miles I could keep my legs moving at my desired pace for as long as I could given the circumstances of any given day.
The ultimate lesson learned for me was that training takes many different forms and that individualized approaches are crucial to success. I remained injury free throughout 2016 and continue so in 2017 which is light years ahead of my 2015 injuries from focusing too much on pace. Funny thing… 2016 was run at a faster average pace by 40 seconds per mile. For now, just going to keep running at my pace, on my schedule with the plan to just simply keep enjoying it.