Living la vida ultra

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On November 12, I’ll be running my first 50-mile ultramarathon. I’m excited and nervous, but mostly excited. I’ve been training since May for a 50-mile race, and I’m ready to get this thing done.

Since I haven’t updated in a long time, I thought it would be nice to answer some FAQs regarding ultrarunning, and in particular my 50-mile race and the way I will be running it.

Most of the people in my various social circles know that I run, and that I run a lot. So, one of the common questions I get is: “When is your next race?” or something along those lines. Here are the answers!

1. When is your next race?

Tunnel Hill 100/50. I’ll run the 50-mile race!

The Tunnel Hill course is a crushed-limestone multi-use trail in Vienna, Illinois. It’s part of the rails-to-trails conservancy project. The trail was built on an old railroad bed. They took out the tracks and threw down some crushed limestone. It has virtually no hills, lots of bridges, and a notable 543-foot long tunnel. Through a hill.

2. 50 miles????

Yep!

3. How long will that take you? Is it all in one day?

I’m estimating it will take me between 10 and 12 hours. My goal is to finish in 10. Yes, it’s all in one day, technically. All runners (of both the 100 and 50-mile races) have to finish in 30 hours.

4. What will you eat?

Throughout this summer, I’ve been working on perfecting my nutrition plan for this race, and I’ve gotten it down pretty well now.

  • Roasted sweet potato wedges
  • Medjool dates
  • Tailwind

So it goes like this: I eat throughout the whole race beginning at 45 minutes to an hour in. It’s super important to keep fueling the whole time, not just when I get hungry or when I crash. It’s really hard to bounce back after totally depleting resources.

At about 45 minutes in, I’ll eat my first date. Then a little later, I’ll have some Tailwind. Then a little later, I’ll have some potato wedges. Repeat for the rest of the day. This is my main source of fuel.

I also like to have some Chex Mix (salty, crunchy, lovely), and it’s really nice to have a soda in those later miles. Occasional Gin-Gins to help settle a crazy stomach.

And of course I’ll drink plenty of water.

Why would you do this to yourself?

I love the challenge. It feels so good to set a crazy goal, work really hard, and eventually achieve that goal. There’s nothing like it. I know that no matter what happens in other areas of my life, running is a constant. And if I work super hard, no one can take away the progress I make, and no one can tell me that I can’t finish my ultramarathon. It’s all up to me.

But what about…

Do you have any questions about trail and ultra running that I didn’t answer? Feel free to leave me a comment below, and I’ll answer it!

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Shoot for the moon!

If you’ve been around the Internet these last few years, you’ve likely noticed the following inspirational quote:

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I suppose this could put you on some type of trajectory. But, really, how terrifying would it be to completely miss your target of the moon, and just end up somehow floating “among the stars,” which are unfathomably and increasingly distant from one another?

I will never be content simply landing near my target.

I plan a lot and work hard to make my dreams come true, whether running or otherwise. I won’t throw my rocket toward the moon without knowing exactly how much power it will take to get there. If I fire one and miss the moon – then I’m coming back and trying again. I want that moon, dammit.

I’m currently 500 miles into training to “shoot the moon” in the form of a 50 mile trail run. It’s a big, hairy, audacious goal. I’m trying to work as hard as I can to make sure that when that rocket launches on November 12, I’ll hit the moon right where I’m aiming.

So, I say – don’t be content with missing your target. If you miss, then it means get back to the drawing board. It means the challenge of trying to achieve your dreams isn’t over. It doesn’t mean you’re not strong enough or good enough. I means you’re going to be stronger and better soon.

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My dog is the most inspirational dog.

What do you do?

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My last post was quite a while ago, and it oddly enough foretold a lot of what I was about to experience. Sorry in advance, this one’s not going to be much about running or fitness.

Four months in a nutshell!

Several months ago, I applied for a job that, if I’m honest, was the absolute dream job. I’m not currently looking for a new job, but when I became aware of this one, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity. I sent in my resume and got a phone interview, which was thrilling enough. After the interview, I took a copy writing test so they could gauge my writing voice and see if I could fit with what they were looking for. Then two weeks went by. Those two weeks were torture. I couldn’t stop thinking about the job and whether they had moved on or just hadn’t gotten to me yet. Then, I went for a run in the woods and the whole idea of following pink flags and searching for my direction (that I wrote about last time) opened up in my head. I slowly accepted that this job was not for me. It was a trail that I wasn’t supposed to go down. I had told a few people about the situation, so I updated them saying that it was a no-go, and I would likely not hear anything again. Ashley and I planned a vacation to Colorado to head off to the mountains and renew.

Then I got the phone call, “You’ve been selected for an in-person interview…” Ooookay. Suddenly everything was moving really quickly. I was going to fly to Utah (!) at the end of the week, have lunch and a half-day interview with a bunch of different people, then fly back home the next day. I bought a new suit.

Then came three more torturous weeks while I waited to hear back from them. Then, finally: “You were a great candidate, but…” Darn, darn, darn, darny, darn!

At first, I was fine. And generally I’m okay with it. But every once in a while, I get really sad. I thought this was a done deal, and we were ready to pick up and move into the mountains of Utah. Now I’m readjusting to staying in the flat, humid, wet Southern Indiana. What I thought was going to be my dream job in a dream location turned out to be just a ruse.

So, for a few months, I was running along a trail that had both pink and blue flags. The pink ones turned left and went up a hill, and the blue ones went right and stayed flat. I really wanted to turn right, but my course is marked out with pink flags. I’ll follow them, but I’m not super thrilled to be climbing this hill right now.

So…what…

Well now I just dig back into life as I know it. We have some projects we’re working on at our house, and there is the ever-present training. I’ve been training for a while to run my first 50-miler at an event in my town, but now that event has been postponed. It’s not the end of the world – just kinda like gearing up for a big sneeze only to have it disappear. I’ll just readjust and get ready for the next sneeze, which is going to happen in November. I’ll tell everyone all about it soon! I am excited for it.

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You heard it here first, folks: Running 50 miles is just like sneezing!

The intersection of trails and faith.

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Most of the time, I run on trails I’m very familiar with. Within an hour of my house, there are four trail systems that I have spent a lot of time learning. During the week, I run at either Audubon or Angel Mounds. For longer runs on the weekends, I run Harmonie and Lincoln State Park. No matter the distance, I know what to expect when I get out there.

Knowing the trails and what to expect makes trail running a lot easier and makes me feel a lot more confident when I hit the trails for a training run.

But every once in a while, I toe the starting line for a trail race that winds through woods and trails that I’ve never seen . I might turn a corner at some point and fly down a hill that I’ve never gone down before. It would make sense in this case to slow down, maybe even hike down that hill to avoid a misstep on unfamiliar terrain – but I don’t. I live for those downhills during a race. I’m not nervous because I’ve spent many days and hours running as fast as I can down hills back home. Training my mind to look a few steps ahead, training my feet to know how to land or jump over roots or fallen trees at a moment’s notice without even thinking twice.

This starts to feel like my life as a Christian – and how I have to practice faith to have stronger faith.

I’m very comfortable running on trails, especially when they’re my home trails – and that makes sense. But sometimes, running on trails gets really…special.

When I head into the woods for 31 miles in unfamiliar territory, I can’t depend on my knowledge to keep me from getting lost. I have to look for signs to guide me in the right direction. The night and weeks before the start of a race, the director and volunteers have gone through the course and marked everything with colored flags or big signs to help the runners know which way to go. For Gnaw Bone, I followed little pink flags. There were also blue, red, and white out there. Sometimes they were on my course, but I only had eyes for the pink ones because they were for me. If I followed the blue flags, I’d probably finish sooner, but it wouldn’t be my race that I finished. Sometimes the pink flags went up a hill, which didn’t seem like much fun – but that’s the hill I came to run, so I went with the pink flags.

Sometimes, life takes me down a path I’m not familiar with. When I head that direction, I do so knowing God has laid out a path for me to walk, and only He knows where it goes. I’m only there to run the race. Sometimes I’d prefer to run flat instead of up a hill, but the pink flags He set out for me go up the hill. If I go on the flat trail, I’ll get lost. If I follow the pink flags, I’ll get to the finish line. Sometimes the other trail looks like more fun, but that’s someone else’s path to run.

Even though I don’t know the woods I’ll be running in for my race, I’m not completely unprepared when I get there. For many races, there have been people who have run it before – and we runners like to brag. I can find course descriptions and race reports for nearly every run I’ve done. If those aren’t available, I can usually read about the trails in the area or a course description from the race website. I’ll have a pretty good, if a little vague, idea of what to expect when I start the race. Of course my experience will be unique to me, but there are a few things I know for sure. There will be hills – and they’ll likely be harder than I expect. There will be other runners to share my time with. There will be a finish line.

The Bible is a pretty valuable resource. While the stories in it are old, the Bible’s advice on learning to trust God and seek His will is timeless. The world is also filled with people who have had experiences similar to mine. With their help, advice, and support, I’ll feel a tiny bit more confident when I start down an unfamiliar path.

I used to think life is a race. You come speeding through the start line and don’t stop until you cross the finish line. But life isn’t a race – because life isn’t always hard. Life is more like a series of races. You train for the races, line up when it’s your turn, and do your absolute best no matter which way the pink flags go. When they go up a hill and the blue flags go left and finish, follow the pink ones because that’s your race. Sometimes your race really sucks, and you’d really prefer to be anywhere else, and that’s okay. Eventually, this race will be over, and it’ll be time to rest and get ready for the next one.

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Can’t? – or won’t.

Hey, so, I haven’t updated in a month.

Mainly because not much has been going on. After Yamacraw, I was between training. I really enjoyed three or four weeks of running outside of a training plan. I still ran every day, but I didn’t have any set mileage, so I just did what I felt like. But, that playground style of exercise has ended. I just started a new training plan for my first 50 miler. More on that later!

It has been raining a lot here lately. This makes trail running a bit difficult. As a trail runner, staying off the trails because they’re muddy is really frustrating. I’ve missed two (TWO!) Transcendent Tuesday trails runs because of rain. Now I’m doing a training plan, and the first long run was intended to be done on the race course, which is a trail. Not only is it a trail, but it’s a notoriously muddy trail. Any little bit of rain leaves standing water and terribly sloppy conditions.

With the all-day rain we’ve been having for the last several weeks, I decided my first long run of the plan would be done on the road. Sad, frustrating, but acceptable.

But then I remembered last weekend.

Gnaw

Last weekend, Ashley and I volunteered at an aid station for the Dances with Dirt trail races at Gnaw Bone. Our station was at an intersection where all distances went through twice. Once four miles into the race, and then again five miles before the finish line. We gave water and food to runners doing 13.1 , 26.2, 50k, and 50 mile distances(including a couple friends doing their first trail half).

All the rain we’ve been having made a wreck of the trails, and about 1,000 sets of feet churned them into miles-long mud pits.

As the runners reached my aid station at mile four, I couldn’t see their shoes, and their legs were caked with mud. They had just climbed up four miles of muddy trail and continued through to get back on the trails before returning to my station.

Some of the runners were in good spirits, enjoying the new challenge of running in these conditions. Some people were broken down, sore, and tired. Whether they stayed at the aid station for a few minutes to rest and recover, or whether they downed a quick cup of water and sped back down the trail – they all kept going.

Can’t? – or won’t.

With a head full of last week’s incredible runners, I went out to Angel Mounds yesterday and slogged through the mud for 10 miles. It was filthy, but I got it done, and I’m proud I didn’t give up on that detail of the run. It was actually pretty enjoyable.

It’s one of those times that the lessons I learn or the determination I cultivate as a runner can carry over into my “real” life. That one I live where I don’t smell like a yeti. There are many times when I don’t do something because I can’t. But I think, in most cases, it’s really only because I won’t.

I’m not saying that I’ll always be able to find the motivation to do a chore or complete a project, or even run 10 muddy miles on a trail because that’s what my training plan says. What I am saying is that I’ll dig deeper no matter what. I’ll pick up my pen, lace up my shoes, or grab a sponge or paint scraper, and get it done. Because I’m an ultrarunner. Ain’t nothing gonna stop me.

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Yamacraw 50k

More like 52.6k, amiright?

Yes, I’m right. It was 32.7 miles, instead of 31. But who’s counting? (I was)

Let’s see how much of this I remember…

The race.

It was cold when we rolled out of our tent at 4:30 a.m. The sky was insane with stars, which made it a little easier to stay out of the relative warmth of the tent.

Two hours later, I was standing in line to get shuttled to the start line with more than 130 other 50k runners. We all stood huddled in the wind, waiting to start running. Finally, the race director asked, “Are you guys ready?” (resounding yes) “All right! Ready? Set! GO!” And we ran off into the woods where I would spend the next 7 hours, 51 minutes, and 9 seconds pursuing a finish line 32.7 miles away.

Our course traveled through the deep ravines in Daniel Boone National Forest and Big South Fork National River & Recreation Area. At first, we dove downhill for a while, crossed streams left and right, and blazed through some rollers along Lick Creek. Then, suddenly, we were climbing out of the ravine to an aid station at the top of the world (or so it seemed – it was a big climb).

After some potatoes and PB&J, we eventually flew back down into the ravine for an outstanding 9 miles of gentle rollers. This was a beautiful stretch that included running under and slightly behind Yahoo Falls, one of the most ridiculously picturesque places I’ve run through. It’s what someone would build in their backyard if they wanted to seem outdoorsy. Only I guess quite a bit bigger.

After the pretty uneventful rollers, we crossed hip-deep Rock Creek and started climbing again. And by climbing, I mean, we went straight up for 700 years.

The trifecta.

Throughout the race, I had been generating a great amount of friction on my body in various places. I had some pretty uncomfortable chafing going on and blisters forming in a few spots on my feet.

Then, when I started climbing one of the steepest gravel roads I’ve ever seen, a muscle in my left quad cramped, arresting my ascent. While I massaged the cramp out, I thought it probably couldn’t get worse than this. It didn’t, so that’s nice.

Blisters, chafing, and nursing a cramp, I kept moving up the road and back into the woods. After a while, I came into a clearing at the top of a tall hill. In the east, serene mountains shrouded in shades of blue rolled along the horizon. This was what I came here to be a part of. The incredible beauty of nature will never get old, and will never cease to clear my mind’s cache.

I focused one last time on each member of my BCC trifecta:
– Blisters: They won’t go away. They may get worse.
– Chafing: It won’t go away. It will definitely get worse.
– Cramp: It’ll be a matter of time before my leg cramps back up.

I put all these inconveniences in the “this is a race” compartment in my mind, so they would just became a part of the race. Like the trail I followed and the trees around it, the BCC would be with me until the end. May as well be at peace with it.

The final stretch.Bridge

I make it a point to not ask anyone how many more miles there are until the end. To me, it doesn’t matter. They won’t take the finish line away; it’ll always be there, and I’ll get to it eventually. Why bother with those kinds of details? It may be farther away than I expect, and that could be hard to handle.

Other runners don’t feel the same way, and I unfortunately overheard someone say “You only have 5 miles to go!” and I couldn’t get it out of my head. My brain wanted to count down every time a mile ticked off. “Only four miles now! Just three left!”

When I got down to one remaining mile, I started looking for signs. I knew that the finish line was a really long bridge across the Big South Fork Cumberland River (see above). So when I thought I should be getting close, everything in the woods started looking like bridge stuff.

“Is that a cable holding up a bridge?” Nope. Grapevine.
“Is that wood on a bridge?” Nope. Just regular wood in the woods.

Then I heard Ashley whistling at me. She whistles to get my attention in the woods, and it’s very effective. I scanned the forest for her, and couldn’t see her. For more minutes than I’m proud of, I convinced myself that Ashley had come into the woods to finish the race with me. She hadn’t. It was a bird. And Ashley had already run her own 20k and was resting at the finish line. Not long after that, I saw the bridge in the distance. It was very far away.

Finally, a real person was on the trail and informed me that I only had 300 meters to go! I don’t know how far 300 meters is! But I picked up the pace and ran it out. Sure enough, I turned right, and there was a giant bridge stretching out in front of me. I started across and passed an older couple who were out sightseeing.

“How are you doing?” asked the man.
“Thanks,” I responded.

After I went through a little hut in the middle of the bridge, a cluster of people at the finish line started cheering for me. Cheering like I was finishing first; cheering like they had never seen anyone so amazing running across a bridge. My throat closed up and I nearly cried right there. A photographer was snapping pictures the whole time, and Ashley was there taking pictures, too. The race director shook my hand and with a huge smile said, “Congratulations, man, you are so awesome!” and his wife put a giant medal around my neck. I didn’t finish first. I finished 76th, but my heart thought I finished first. I couldn’t even look at my medal for a few minutes without getting choked up. These races can make your emotions paper thin.

Finish

#runstreak

On Friday night before the race, we were getting settled into the tent when I realized I hadn’t done my run for the day. I had intended to run 2 miles before we left town, and I just forgot. It was nearly 9:00 at night, and I was ready to get in bed. The wind outside was roaring and temperatures were falling quickly. I decided the run streak was over. I was too frustrated, and I didn’t really feel like going out into the pitch black, middle of nowhere campsite (where you have to store food safely away from bears) to run anywhere.runstreak_edited

Buuuut, Ashley convinced me otherwise. She said this isn’t how the streak should end. It should end when I’m ready, not when I just forget and get frustrated. So, I put on my shoes and shorts and headed out into the wind and dark. I’m still running every day, though they’re not much more than the requisite 1 mile this week. 107 days and counting!

 

Chafing: The gift that keeps on giving.

The chafing I had accrued during this race was the worst I’ve had and is definitely the most uncomfortable aftermath of any of the races I’ve done. However, and this is important if you have had chafing or plan to chafe ever, we have this magic ointment (thanks to our friend, Patti, who introduced it to us):

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Buy it. Get chafed as bad as you can. Use it. Return here and thank me.

The season begins!

There are only a few days to go until I run my first race of 2016: Yamacraw 50k. I’m really excited to hit the trails of Big South Fork in Stearns, Kentucky.

I have been remiss in keeping this blog updated – and I’ve avoided the inevitable post that says “Boy have I not been updating much.” Kind of a stalemate. Perhaps the first step is to admit that I’ve been lazy?

While I have not been talking about what I’ve been up to, I have been up to a lot. Specifically a lot of running.

My run streak, which began inadvertently on December 29, 2015, and officially on January 1, 2016, is going remarkably strong. When I hit the publish button for this post, I had 94 straight days of running behind me. It has been a wonderful accountability tool.

“You could skip today’s run. The weather isn’t ideal,” says the lazy athlete on my left shoulder.

“Yes, but then your run streak would be over. Don’t want that, do you?” asks the ultrarunner on my right shoulder.

Lace up shoes; pound the pavement. 94 days and counting.

Smashrun

IMG_20160324_161158Since I use a Garmin watch (see below!), I primarily use Garmin Connect to upload and track my runs. However, I discovered Smashrun through a fellow blogger, and I’ve been having a lot of fun with it. Smashrun caught on pretty quickly that I was doing a run streak and started counting the days for me. Not only that, but there are all sorts of badges you can get when you upload your runs there. Check it out! It’s a lot of fun, and I’ve found the badges oddly motivational. They also send a weekly running report (like the one on the left), which is kinda cool.

New gear!

I have two new pieces of running gear! Usually gear comes one at a time because it ain’t cheap. But, one thing was free.

SPIbelt!
I’ve been interested in SPIbelts for a while. There are other brands out there (like Flip Belt), but SPIbelt was the only one (that I know of) giving them away for free on Leap day. SPI stands for “small personal item,” and I have taken that to mean potatoes (see below). Before the belt even arrived, I was already calling it my tater sack.

SPIbelt is a belt with a small pocket that you can put stuff in. They’re designed not to bounce around or be uncomfortable, which I can attest is the case for my particular belt (a black, standard SPIbelt). I crammed two potatoes’ worth of roasted potato wedges in my belt and went for a 22-mile run, and I barely noticed it was there. The heat from my body actually kept the taters pleasantly warm. Just kidding. That’s kinda weird.

Garmin!
I knew that the battery life of my old 410 was not going to cut it for ultramarathons, especially anything that takes longer than eight hours to complete. So I did some research and found a new one. I’m now the proud owner of a Garmin 230, which is so fancy and pretty, I can hardly handle it. Also it boasts a 16-hr battery life and loads of other features and data that give me heart palpitations.

  • Internal cadence sensor. I don’t know how it works, but it’s great to see my cadence. I muffinsshould be between 170-180, and I’m typically averaging 176. Yay fastfeet!
  • Smart notifications. This means I’m a little easier to get a hold of while I’m out running. Ashley has promised not to text me unless it’s important or motivational. (example right)
  • Live tracking. Ashley (or anyone who I invite to the party) can track me on my run. This is especially nice when I’m running 22 miles on generally not-runner-friendly roads. I haven’t tested this on the trails yet, but that’ll be next!

There are other things like V02 Max and recovery advisor, but I need to learn more about how to use that information before I get too excited about it.

New nutrition! (NEWtrition?)

There were a few weeks when I finished a trail run completely drained of energy. After a few runs with this experience, I started thinking I need to up my calorie intake while out on long runs. My first successful foray into calorie intake on the run included eating dates. Usually one date every 45 minutes. I also will drink a bottle of Skratch. This is how that breaks down caloriewise:

  • 1 Date: 23 calories
  • 16 oz Skratch: 80 calories
  • 18-mile trail run: ~2,132 calories
  • I would need to eat 92 dates to match that calorie burn. Not gonna happen.

So I’ve started bringing roasted sweet potato wedges on my long runs. It has made a huge difference. I eat two potatoes plus the Skratch, and it has kept me from bonking, and helps me feel like I can keep moving after my run is over, rather than laying down in the back of the car with a towel over my eyes.

Plus I get to eat potatoes while I’m running. Potatoes are delicious.

Reminders

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In 2008, I started getting my health, fitness, and diet in order. Started means I took the first small step toward being healthier. But, it was a frustrating number of months before I saw any changes at all.

It’s was so disheartening to have to convince myself every day that going to the gym over my lunch break was what I wanted to do, that it was the right thing to do – only to stand on the scale or in front of a mirror in the morning and see no change.

A few years went by before I had to replace a significant amount of clothing with smaller, better fitting clothes. Over five years, I went from XL/XXL tops to L, which was incredible. Now, I generally get medium tops, which is something I never imagined I’d be able to do. My pants were size 42 and 44, and now they’re 34 and 36.

Even today, the benefits of small steps I made eight years ago become very obvious when I’m looking through my closet and think “hey, I haven’t worn this shirt in a while” only to be swamped in material from something far too large for me.

Big life changes can’t really happen overnight, and it’s not fair to yourself to expect that they can.

I still take small steps today. The training programs I undertake are built on small steps.

When Ashley and I decided we would go vegan, we didn’t throw out all our cheese and cow’s milk, buy hemp milk, and plant a garden. We worked our way through the non-vegan food we had in the house and started to find new ways to keep all the fixings on top of our pizzas without cheese. This, by the way, after a lot of small steps through being vegetarian.

Big life changes can’t really happen overnight, and it’s not fair to yourself to expect that they can. Unhealthy habits are constructed over years. When you’re priorities shift to being healthy, get ready for a long journey that will never end. The reward will be the strength of spirit that grows every day with each small step you take.

Discipline.

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It snowed.

When I started thinking about 2016 and putting together my race schedule, I couldn’t figure out at first what was going to be my big motivator. Last year it was “Go ultra!” Run an ultramarathon! After I nailed that goal, it was “Go ultra-er!” Run another ultra, but faster! Then I nailed that goal (and I’m still pretty jazzed about it). I’m currently training for my third 50k, and at first I thought “Go ultra-est!” and really knock it out of the park. But, that’s where it kinda fell apart for me.

It’s easy for me to say “Run farther! Run faster!” but that’s not always going to be terribly motivating, and in an odd way, the farther, faster aspects don’t seem deep enough. Sure I’ll run farther, and I definitely want to do it faster – but I want to build a deeper, more solid base.

This is where discipline comes in for me. Discipline does not allow motivation to factor in to the workout and the daily grind. Being disciplined means you close your eyes, lace up your shoes, and get out the door – Or up the stairs to the treadmill – Or through a series of doors into the back corner of the weight room – even if you don’t feel like it in the moment. Cultivating discipline is the key, I think, to getting consistent and blazing past the tempting smells of the cafeteria or out of the warm the bed at 5 in the morning.

So I’ll cultivate discipline in 2016. That’s not too broad or vague, right? Discipline is measurable and finite. At some point, the Discipline Train will stop at Discipline Depot, and I’ll depart and run off to climb Mount Discipline and bathe in the alpine Discipline Stream – content with my achievement.

Not so much.

I’m kind of making it up as I go along, taking small steps that make sense. The first step on my disciplinary journey is to think of a code word for discipline because I’m already tired of typing it. Let’s call it the D-bag.

The second step on my journey to becoming a D-bag athlete is a run streak. Run every day for at least one mile. I’ve never done a run streak before, so I’m currently setting a new personal best every day for number of days run without a break. I’ve only really been tracking from January 1, though I actually started a few days before.

At first I was going to only do it for all of January, but I’m enjoying it. So, I’ve decided to do it every day of each month until I just can’t no more. It’s a lot easier to say “I’ll run every day in January.” and then when January is over, start over. “I’m going to run every day in February” – and so on. It’d be great to run every day in 2016, but we’ll see what happens.

Streaking Rules

  1. Run at least one mile every day (most days will be more, cuz training).

Pretty simple. There is one caveat, though.

What if I get injured?
If I get injured and can’t run, I’ll switch to the elliptical machine and still count it as a run. This is only if injury makes it unwise to run. Otherwise, elliptical don’t count as running.

If I’m injured and can’t run or elliptical, the streak will end. There are more important things than streaking!


Soon I will tell you about my race schedule. I’m really excited for the coming year’s running adventures! There are a lot of great races coming up.

2016 on my mind.

Apparently 2015 is over. I’ll spare you all the clichés because we’re all thinking them.

(It went by so fast!)

The year of the ultra
Miles ran: 1,337
Miles biked: 39.3

Brainchange

I learned a lot (hereafter: “brainchanged”) in 2015. I learned about running, injury prevention, and capabilities. I discovered again and again that I am capable of way more than I think at any given moment. This realization usually came in the form of physical capabilities, but conquering fear and building up to setting and slaying big goals rolled over into my life outside of running. Surprisingly I do, indeed, have a life outside of running. That life is usually informed and dictated by my training schedule, but I’m also ruled by a 40-hour workweek and all the stress and complications that come along with that. Then again, running helps me deal with that stress while also providing a much-needed creative boost in the form of being stuck inside my own brain for hours at a time. Running is like my life’s bookends.

I set a big, scary goal for last year: Run a 50k. While training for that race, I became addicted to the process. The race was amazing, sure. But the training is what comes to mind every time I think about it. Some time during that initial training, I decided that one 50k wouldn’t be enough for 2015; I wanted to run two. A few weeks after Gnaw Bone I chose Bell Ringer, set up my training plan, and got to work.

Through the training and the races, a big hurdle kept showing up again and again – a hurdle I’ve referred to as “the Darkness.” Some people call it “the Wall” or “the Blerch.” It’s all the same. It’s that feeling during a race or right before heading out the door to train at 5:00 a.m. in the freezing winter: “Why do I do this to myself? I don’t wanna no more.”

It can sound whiny, but it’s very real in the moment, and can be crushing. I had little breakthroughs here and there last year – little points of light that shone through when I faced the Darkness. When I think back on those moments on the trail when I wanted to quit and when I thought maybe long distance running wasn’t really worth pursuing, I realize that my next challenge is to pursue that Darkness and try to conquer it once and for all – except it’s not possible. I may be able to get stronger, fuel better, and train harder to delay that dark feeling, but I really think it will always show up at some point to make the miles stretch endlessly, magnify the pain and make any hill unbearable. I know it’s always going to show up because I know I will always push the envelope of my ability. I’ll always want to run farther, faster, up longer hills, and on more soul-crushing courses (I found one of these – and I’ll tell you about it soon!). It’s what gets me excited.

Bringing the badass.

I was listening to No Meat Athlete Radio a little while ago, and Doug and Matt touched on this very thing. Doug talked about how when there’s pain or despondency, it does no good to ignore it and try to push it down and make it go away. He had a term for it, but I don’t recall. You can listen to it and find out for yourself!

He talked about how it does no good to ignore it or to dwell on it. Rather, you should face it, acknowledge it, and then just let it go. This is something I found myself doing during Bell Ringer, without really realizing it.

I knew the soreness wouldn’t go away because I was not going to stop running.

I knew the fatigue wouldn’t go away because I was not going to stop running.

The dark thoughts, however, did go away – because I didn’t stop running. I kept going. I was doing great.

– I rang the bell.

So, that brings me to my 2016 goal. Yes, today, three weeks after the beginning of 2016, I’m going to tell you what my goal is. Sorry. I just got lazy with my blog – which is contrary to my goal.

My 2016 goal: Discipline.

Right?

I’m going to build that oft-neglected muscle of discipline. More on this later! I wanted to get this posted so I can get it out of my head and stop being lazy. So, until next week.