I kind of wildly deviated from my training plan this week. It happened last week, too. Last week’s scheduled 68 turned in to 90, and this week’s scheduled 89 became 100. At some point in the middle of the day Thursday, I started crunching mileage numbers. I was feeling pretty good, even though I was nursing a holiday-party-induced hangover. My legs felt fresh, even after an unscheduled 90-mile week last week, and I wasn’t too cranky or sore.
To prepare for my first ultramarathon (Comrades 2016?) and to have a shot at running well in both Boston and Big Sur in April, I’ll need to increase the amount of time I’m on my feet. Last time I was close to a 100-mile week was in July when I was training to try to break 3:05. Then, going past 90 felt like a massive undertaking. This time I decided that if I felt overly sore or sick or awful, I would give myself permission to back away from the goal.
One-hundred is certainly a nice, round number. I think my training has come to a point where I can handle running this much, as long as I’m careful. With that said, running many miles may or may not lead to my ultimate goal of breaking three hours in the marathon. But if the elites and the coaches say it works, and I’m able to do it, I have to give it a shot, right?
The 100 idea sounded like a good, albeit fuzzy, plan on Thursday. It still seems like going for a higher-mileage week was a fine choice after 15 miles Friday, 23.5 miles Saturday and another 8.5 miles on Sunday. I won’t be doing it again for another month because for the first time in years, I’m legitimately exhausted during a training week.
Over the past few days, I’ve had a lot of time to think about how this kind of training feels. It’s a different feeling from the 80s I now regularly run. Here are 10 things I learned during my high-mileage week in no order at all. I’m sure these ideas apply to weeks when I’m not in running overdrive, but they’ve been more noticeable this week.
- Multitasking makes fitting in miles easier. I already was decent at answering work emails on the treadmill. This week, I perfected the timing of the treadmill run/farro dinner. Hell, I wrote the draft of this post on the treadmill.
- Don’t underestimate your need for water. The one thing I tend to skimp on after a run, and even during a run, is water. Drinking water during cold-weather runs is also hard to remember because I’m not immediately thirsty. But the thing that makes me feel better later in the day is drinking a lot of water. I swapped my normal glass of white wine for water most nights this week. That helped.
- Really don’t underestimate your need for sleep. Because my runs were longer than normal, I needed to be up earlier than normal. My muscles also needed time to repair themselves. Usually I’m lucky to get seven hours of sleep. This week I got eight most nights except Saturday night when I had a lot of trouble falling asleep.
- Be prepared to blow off social events. I manage to fit in most outings during a normal week. This week I blew off: work holiday after-party, drinks with coworkers three times (!) and staying for more than one drink at a birthday party.
- Your body will hurt, but in a different way. You might be familiar with that post-marathon soreness where you hobble around like a feeble old person and can’t take stairs for days after a tough race. That slight aching in your quads and calves during a high-mileage week is like a toned-down, dull, throbbing version of that. But it kind of creeps up on you when you’re in the middle of some important meeting. I’ve never had that kind of constant mild background pain before.
- When you run, you zone out much faster. Usually, I spend the first five miles of a run concentrating on my form and really feeling the road. It seems like every beginning step is moving me closer to loosening up. Normally that doesn’t happen until at least 30 minutes in. This week, I slipped in to the loose, clear zone within the first five minutes of most runs. I wish the first part of the run could always give way to that feeling.
- My relationship with hunger changed. This week, it seems like my body took about 30 extra minutes to let me know it was hungry, and when it did let me know, it was kind of a “Meh, you can probably eat now.” I feel like I should be hungrier, and even if I do eat, I can’t seem to get full.
- I keep losing track of which shoes I wore last. I tend to meticulously cycle through shoes over the course of a week so I have a nice balance of mid-weight trainers, bulky shoes and lighter ones. But I kind of gave up this week and started just choosing a pair that wasn’t still sweaty.
- Two-a-days are helpful if you can swing them. Honestly I can’t imagine running all these miles at once. I also don’t like running in the dark, so most of my miles in the winter have to be in the morning. And I’m lucky enough to have a treadmill at my house for evening easy runs.
- OMG you’ll never stop doing laundry. See the two-a-days item. Most days, I would pull clothes from the dryer, put them on and start my run.
Next week I’m planning to scale back down to the mid-70s, which should feel nice. Between now and then, I’ll be taking a long nap.