Thursday, May 20, 2010


One of the reasons I maintain a running log is simply for sheer quantification. How many miles was I able to run this week? This month? What sort of pace did I maintain on a given run? Another reason is to track progress through the short narratives I draft. Was I feeling stonger this week than last? Am I getting better at dealing with the heat? That sort of thing. Only recently, however, did I begin to use it to highlight what's been missing in my running for the last 16 months or more: consistency. Looking back over 2009 and the first 4 months of this year, a disturbing pattern emerges. First, the spotty build up to a race. Some weeks are pretty decent, others not so much. Relatively shorter and faster runs during the week, followed by longer and slower weekend runs. In and of itself, a pretty standard approach. Nagging injuries here and there, followed by extra days off, as needed. The taper, then the big race. Bandera (good), Rocky Raccoon (not so good), El Scorcho (good), Where's Waldo (not so good). Each of these runs understandably followed by radically reduced mileage - sometimes just out of a need to rest, other times because of injury.

The overall view, however, was disheartening. In 2009, it appears I logged 129 days of running. While it's possible I failed to log a few days, much of this anemic total was due to various injuries. My most consistent month in 2009 was May, where I logged 19 runs (most were much worse). So, while 2009 was memorable for finally finishing Bandera and having a wonderful time (DNF notwithstanding) at Waldo, the reality is that I spent far more days not running than running. Not running makes me not happy. For that reason, my current focus is on running 6 days a week in a sustainable, healthy fashion. For the next couple of weeks, that means logging 6 - 6.5 hours a week, with no runs over 1.5 hours. The goal is to increase this time in small increments through the summer, until I'm hopefully logging 8 - 8.5 hours a week, with long runs in the 2.5 hour neighborhood. If all goes well, I should be running around 45-50 miles a week by the end of August, putting me in solid shape to peak at 65 miles a couple weeks out from Dick Collins Firetrails (Oct. 9). Most important, though, by the end of the summer, I'd like to be able to look back over my log and see some . . . consistency.

While I'm sure I'll write about it in an upcoming post, the one concession I'll make to this plan will happen in late June, when Chris and I travel out to California to witness the 2010 Western States 100 in person. The race promises to be an epic showdown at the front between some of the sickest 100-mile talent around. The trip will also give us the opportunity to check out parts of the trail before my return as an actual entrant in 2011. A Friday jaunt will start at the Finish and run back to the Highway 49 Aid Station, before turning around and experiencing the course in the normal direction coming back. About 13.5 miles. After Saturday's race viewing and beer-drinking break, on Sunday the plan is much more ambitious, as we intend to drive out to Michigan Bluff and run/walk/saunter a key part of the course, down to the Swinging Bridge across the North Fork of the Middle Fork of the American River. After a soak, we'll turn around, make the fabled climb up to Devil's Thumb and eventually make our way back to Michigan Bluff - just short of a 20-mile roundtrip. Very slow, very relaxed. Lots of photo breaks. More to come...

[At the bottom of Deadwood Canyon, on the WS course]