I want to preface this by acknowledging that so many of you readers run much further than this on a monthly basis, and after hitting triple digits I bow down to you. Because while I somehow, magically, made it to 100 miles in a month without my knees or shins offing themselves (or losing a single toenail!), it was a close call. As I hobbled into bed last night, I marveled at what I have just put my body through – and I marveled even more at what is POSSIBLE.
How did I accomplish this safely?
Like I said, it was a close call. This past week was especially tough and I don’t think I could have done another day. My last run of the month was 7.6 of the longest, hardest miles I’ve ever done. But I do think that I handled this challenge in a safe way. As someone who literally went from 0 to 100, I knew it was a pretty crazy goal. But I have some tips that I think helped keep my knees and shins safe.
- Take It Slow – Build Up Mileage
- Week 1 – 15.28 miles
- Week 2 – 25.46 miles
- Week 3 – 20.62 miles
- Week 4 – 38.72 miles
- When I first started running again, a long run for me was five miles without stopping. So for my first week, I ran five miles, three times. Simple as that. I slowly started adding in longer and longer runs, until my last week when I repeatedly ran anywhere from 7-9.5 miles like it was chump change. But it happened slowly over the course of the month. I knew I wasn’t Superwoman and the last thing I wanted to do was not achieve my goal because I got greedy.
- Obvious, maybe, but yoga became my best friend, especially during the last week. I averaged going once per week (apparently I was a slacker during week two because I skipped yoga AND had my smallest number of miles). The last week, when my mileage was higher than it’s ever been, I attended two hour-long classes and even did some of the moves at home. I view yoga as forced stretching (I’m terrible at doing it on my own) and the last week I’m positive that going to two yoga classes on back-to-back days was one of the reasons I was able to finish strong.
- I stopped apologizing to myself about how much I needed to fuel. There were a few days in the middle of the month when I had a lot of guilt for how much I was eating. For the majority of the second half of the month I needed a solid four meals to keep up. And for awhile I wasn’t allowing that to happen, which just ended up with me snacking a lot, taking in more calories than I would have if I had just allowed myself another meal. All my food restriction thoughts came flooding back – “I can have 20 Triscuits, three slices of Swiss cheese and a spoonful of peanut butter because that’s a “snack”, but I can’t have a turkey sandwich, because that’s a “meal”, and I’ve already had my three meals for the day.” Stuff like that. Luckily the last week I pretty much forced myself to snap out of it because I was so hungry. Like, all the time. So I started to eat whenever I was hungry. I didn’t always make the healthiest choices, but letting go of “the rules” really helped me maintain that mileage.
- Post-run care
- Lots of calf stretches on the stairs
- Always post-run for at least 10 minutes – frozen veggies still hold my heart!
- Compression socks
- Foam Rolling
- 5 minutes per leg up and down the IT band, plus an additional 5 minutes rolling my quads
- Tiger Tail
- Intermittent use on my calves while watching TV
And, the outcome?
I can’t remember the last time I’ve felt more accomplished. The minute I crossed the 100-mile marker I immediately sent mass texts to my parents, my friends, my development leaders at work…I felt like a kid on Christmas morning who just opened the best gift. Except this time I gave the gift to myself. I didn’t depend on anyone else for my happiness. I told myself I was going to do something, and I did it.
In other news, I feel stronger and healthier, as you can imagine. I am always in the best shape when running is a major part of my life, and I can feel my body shifting back into the crazy-athletic physique that it is capable of. The only difference this time around is that I don’t have an obsession with being “thin” via running. I love the monster calves that I get when I run. And, on the side, I’ve continued working on my upper body, so I feel stronger than ever.
Another thing that sometimes gets brushed past is the positive effect exercise can have on anxiety. Since I started running on a regular basis I have had zero panic attacks. That’s not to say that exercise will be enough forever, but from personal experience it has helped. Lacing up my shoes and pounding the pavement at the end of the day is my happy place. It isn’t silent meditation and introspection, but I get more thinking done running than I do when I try to force it. But it isn’t the “dwelling” kind of thinking. When I’m physically moving, my mind moves forward as well. So even when a worry or anxiety-provoking thought pops into my mind, it is usually gone as quickly as it came, because you keep moving forward – physically, mentally, emotionally.
What did I learn?
I learned about the power of possibility.
Do you have those voices in your head? The hesitations? The “shoulds” and “should nots”? The limits you set for yourself? Yeah, I have those too. They trap you in your past possibilities. Can you imagine how many doors would open for you if you just eliminated certain words from your vocabulary? Should, try, maybe, I Wish?
No way did I think I’d be able to run 100 miles in one month. For heaven’s sake I ran maybe 30 miles total between the months of December and March. My mind couldn’t wrap itself around the possibility. But instead of dwelling on that, I set a goal and just went for it. I stepped outside of my mind and let my feet do the talking (so to speak). I did it for myself. No one pushed me to do it, no one else held me accountable (although I did have a great support system at work checking in on my progress). It was all for me. And now I can sit here and revel in the idea that those “past possibilities” don’t exist, in any form of my life. In my personal life, in my work life, in my fitness journey. I can do anything I set my mind to. We all can.
It’s time to explore the world of possibility. It’s time to leave the slow zone. Why? Because it’s now, and that’s a perfectly acceptable time to start. In fact, it’s the best time to start. I can’t wait to see what’s ahead for all of you.
Now, for the fun part – how should I reward myself?? The top contenders are as follows (and I’m open to suggestions!):
- Donuts: one long john and two donuts so it spells out “100”
- A new Garmin charger (since mine broke….oh…fifteen months ago…and apparently I’m a runner now)