My 50 States Goal: Pulling Back the Reins in Order to Enjoy the Ride

For a few years now I have been hellbent on my 50 states marathon goal, and have been really loving the journey. But now this goal will start to get harder as more and more of them will involve extensive travel since they are out west, and most of the races within driving distance have been crossed off my list already. I will be running State #22 in a few weeks, which I think is pretty great, but this year also marks a HUGE milestone in my life, my 20-year wedding anniversary. This means my husband and I will be taking a much needed trip that will not involve running or being with family and friends, but just a trip for the two of us. Trust me when I say I absolutely can’t wait!

Because of this trip, I won’t be able to spend as much on traveling for races…and for some reason I am actually content with that. There’s a little part of me that is OK with running races closer to home, and maybe only getting to run a few new states in one year instead of banzai-ing all over the place and feeling rushed to get it done sooner rather than later. The one state I can easily get done in a weekend, Connecticut, I may just wait and save that one for last, simply because Hartford loves to treat those who save CT for last with some nice little incentives.

While the goal is by no means squashed, I decided I want to start working on some bigger goals that will help prepare me for 2016. In 2016 I want to possibly do two back-to-back weekends (two marathons in two states in one weekend, in this case Mississippi and Alabama and then Washington and Oregon) mainly to save on travel costs. The only way I can safely do this is by training smart and by prepping my body for ultra-running. For years I have been wanting to run a 50k (as well as a 100-mile week), and now I think 2015 will be the year to do this. Not only will I be tackling a 50k, but I also want to run a 12-hr challenge…there are two separate 12-hour races that I am looking at and I would like to do both as long as I train smart and take it easy. That’s how I learned to run multiple marathons within a short time frame (the shortest being three weeks, which to most Maniacs isn’t much, but for most runners it can be a challenge); so rather than treat every race like a race, I treat some of them like easy long runs and my body is very happy with this approach.

So for this year? Probably only three new states: Maine, South Carolina, and either Iowa or Nebraska. Then a lot of local races throughout the year, ranging from half marathons to 12 hour endurance events; hell, I may even run the Philly Marathon again for fun…I feel a twinge of nostalgia every year it rolls around and I’m not there. I’m not too sad about the idea of only three new states (because I’ll be at the halfway point!), as I feel that I can easily play a little “catch-up” with the back to back races in 2016.

So 2015 will be the year of the trail runs, building endurance, and staying well-rested and sane. Running local events with friends. Pushing myself to the limit of what I never thought possible while avoiding burnout. Not allowing anything to stand in my way. Staying happy, healthy and excited about what the next year will bring.

I know it can be done, and I look forward to sharing the journey with you!

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A Necessary Evil: Rest Days are Important

After six days and 64 miles’ worth of training, today is finally being used as a day that actually makes me just a little bit cranky, but I feel that it is CRUCIAL to have them in a training plan. What do I speak of? The dreaded rest day.  A lot of runners seem to be against them, and with good reason. Running makes you feel good, it lifts your mood after an otherwise craptastic day, and it’s that something I actually look forward to after a long and stressful morning. So when a rest day finally rolls around I tend to feel cranky, edgy, and believe it or not, bored. This is especially true when I feel like I easily COULD run for a seventh day in a row, or even more than that. But I think it’s so important to take a rest day at least once a week, no matter how good you feel.

Sorry guys, I know that #runstreak is a huge thing that a lot of people are doing (let’s see how many consecutive days in a row you can run at least one mile, and from what I have seen on my Twitter feed, some are at 3+ years and keep going), but I am dead set against them. I think it’s just asking for trouble, especially if you are prone to injuries, aches and pains. To each their own, but it’s not my thing at all. I think I would lose my motivation and get completely burnt out.

I am not an injury-prone runner. If anything I think I am a fairly smart runner. I listen to my body, I take a rest day when I need one (once I had to take a rest week and then some), and have managed to run multiple marathons in a year, keep a high-mileage schedule on my training calendar year-round, and continue to run pain-free. I am at the point where I feel that I can confidently train for an ultra, which has been a dream I’ve had for years but was too afraid to pursue.  Sidenote: I will admit that having good running shoes are probably one of the reasons I have been doing so well in the past 5 or 6 months, as I have fully made the transition to running exclusively in Hoka One Ones, but that’s another issue. Your shoe doesn’t make you invincible, but the right ones can certainly make you feel that way! I think that’s why Hoka’s motto is “Time to Fly!”

But I digress: the reason for this entry is simply that I want to set a good example as a runner. I want to be someone that others feel they can come to with questions. And almost any professional running coach will also stress the importance of rest days; even high mileage plans like Pete Pfitzinger’s or words of advice from extreme ultrarunners like Dean Karnazes have rest days somewhere in their repertoire.  I am the first to admit I am extremely stubborn and hate the idea of resting  (especially when I don’t feel the need for one), but I also know that I love running so much that the idea of NOT running for 2 – 6 months because I pushed myself into an injury is enough to keep me grounded. I always have way too many events on my calendar, and I want to make sure I can run ALL of them unless something comes up that’s out of my control (like a wedding, family trip, inclement weather that prevents travel, etc.); I never want to miss a race because I’m sidelined due to my own stubborn folly. So rest I do, and my body just keeps on going strong.

I do sometimes practice what is called an “active rest day” because I really hate sitting around on a nice day. This may involve low-impact activities like yoga, stretching, cycling, light hiking, roller blading or even a long walk. I think these activities are just fine, as long as you aren’t putting too much stress on your body. Other times I literally do nothing and just take that time to run errands, work on food prep, and even things I always want to do but never seem to have the time to do: play a video game, watch TV, read a book, etc.

I just have to keep reminding myself: That one day will NOT kill you to sit on your ass. You won’t gain 5 pounds in a day. This is needed in order to accomplish your long-term goals.
Take that rest day, lose the mindset that they aren’t productive. Your body is healing, it’s preparing for another week of training, and I assure you it’ll be much happier. Trust me on this.

And #runstreak-ers, I do apologize, because if it works for you it works, and I applaud you for doing what you want to do. But I just have to allow myself that day to chill, and in the end it’s worked well for me. I encourage all of my fellow runners to do the same.