…so tomorrow I can do what others can’t.
This has been my motto for the past three months. You see, I have decided to throw myself head-first into ultramarathon training, despite my longest race to date being a half marathon. I am signed up for the full Pittsburgh Marathon, which is May 6. However, there’s a 50k race that I’ve had my eye on for months – the Lt. JC Stone 50k. This race takes place on March 17, seven weeks before Pittsburgh – and the day before I turn 29 years old.
In November, I decided to begin training for this 50k. I’ll do the math for you – 50 kilometers equals 31 miles. A marathon is 26.2 miles. For slow people like me, that’s hours and hours and hours of running. I’m not sure why I decided that I wanted to do this. So that I can say I’ve done it? The sense of accomplishment? Knowing not everyone can do what I’ve done? These all make sense now, but not so much while I’m actually running (and crying).
I built my training schedule based off this tool, which has me running five days a week. This includes one long run, and then a shorter run the next day. This is to get your body and mind used to running while exhausted and depleted. I honestly thought it would be harder than it was the first few times that I did it, but I think that moving the day after intense exercise is more beneficial than resting. It seems to help loosen muscles and get your brain used to the emotional and psychological trauma. Yay!
However, since my long Saturday runs have reached 20 miles, I’ve decided to cut back the Sunday runs. My first 20 miler was New Year’s Eve, and two days later I succumbed to a craptastic cold that had me down for almost two weeks. This caused my training schedule to shift, and I hadn’t been able to get back up to that high mileage until this past Saturday. Since my Saturday runs are going to be 20+ miles until I begin to taper, I will probably either rest Sundays or do a short run of 4-6 miles. It will all depend on how my body feels.
Saturday was my first training run at North Park, the setting of my 50k. I’ve been meaning to do this sooner, but getting sick & ice storms got in the way. (Although I would have been better off running at North Park after last Saturday’s ice storm, because apparently the running paths are kept immaculate in bad weather.) The more I can train on the actual race course, there better, because that way there will be no surprises. I will know exactly what to expect.
The good thing about the 50k is that it’s a short out-and-back for the first mile, then six five-mile loops around the lake. Although it’s repetitious, it’s helpful to be able to stop every hour for fluids, food, and (heated!) bathrooms. Plus for the race, I’ll have moral support every hour. Some encouragement to keep going, which I’m sure I will need.
Because the 50k is coming up so fast and I lack distance experience, I decided that the most important thing for me to do right now is log the mileage. Once I’ve completed the 50k, I will probably adjust my training for the marathon to include strength training and yoga. I’m hoping less running but more strengthening will help me drop a few pounds (distance running, I’m learning, is not the best way to lose weight) and therefore make running a little bit easier. Plus having slightly more free time will be incredibly beneficial for my mental health.
Despite having logged 600 miles since last March, I still don’t love running. However, I do love what running has done for me. It’s helped me realize that food is fuel, and what I put into my body matters. It’s encouraged me to learn and research, to obtain the correct tools to complete the task in the best way I can. It’s been pretty vital to stabilizing my mental health.
I need running in my life, and I hope I’m lucky enough to never have to stop.