The fun was meeting a pal from Instagram. The fun was running on some new trails. The fun was seeing some great puppers. Clapping for a guy riding his mountain bike up a big giant hill.
Always good to remind myself of why I go running at all. It’s not the paces, or the mileage – it’s the magic that I get witness when I do it consistently. That’s it. I would have missed all of the above if I stayed home today.
This weekend I didn’t get out for any adventures. It was too hot at night, so I slept horribly, which meant I wasn’t well rested, so I didn’t want to over-exert myself and burn myself out. Better to be safe and healthy, I guess.
After working for a few hours at my local Starbucks, I hit the Bartram Trail, the trail head being less than half a mile away. I always make sure to get a cup of water when I’m doing these post-Starbucks runs, just to make sure I’m hydrated.
The trail is six miles out, six miles back, with a steady 0.5 to 1% incline for the first mile. I’ve never actually done the full trail yet on foot, so just did 30 minutes out to make it 30 minutes back, to get in a nice hour long effort. Low and slow, average pace was 11:48, to keep that heart rate down given the heat (86 ℉, 50% humidity). And really, every run doesn’t have to be hard. This was just enjoying time in the woods, in the shade, running past rocks that have been on earth for 480 million years.
“I just wanna be in good enough shape to go on last minute adventures,” is how my buddy Jesse (above) puts it. He said this on Monday, on the observed 4th of July, and said a few years back during the 24 hour Loopy Looper in NJ, when I ran a few laps with him on a hot summer day.
A few days later is was stupid hot, but I’ve been deciding lately that instead of simmering and sulking in the heat, I’m gonna rush head first into it. In the 90s and humid? Fine. I’m gonna go out, take my time, sweat my ass off, and find a way to enjoy it. Slow and low. Lots of liquids. Walk when I gotta.
To wrap up this work week, I closed my laptop and set off for a loop I never did before. Still hot, still slow, but it was a solid 6+ mile run, and a nice way to finish off a shortened week of work, which is actually five days of work crammed into four.
It’s been five years of running. Just over 1,000 runs, almost 4,100 miles. Haven’t run a marathon yet, but I ran 18 miles in one shot. Ran a sub eight minute mile once, and came in second in a local 5K. Had a lot of fun adventures with good people, ran in a few different cities.
I turned 45 this year, and I’m feeling pretty fucking good.
“The runs got so soft in the past few months that they stopped. They all felt hard. I ran all winter, but every effort started to feel like I’d taken the last three months off.”
Turned out I wasn’t sleeping great. After I got my Whoop band in April, I was sort of shocked at my sleep scores. Like, hmmm… maybe it’s wrong. But then I tried a sleep mask, and seriously, my sleep has been fantastic ever since (see how dramatic the change was here).
I’m paying more attention to the timing of my runs or bike rides, as they relate to dinner, as it relates to bed time; the shower, doing dishes, winding down.
If we don’t recover, we don’t build. We don’t get stronger, wiser, smarter. Our brains need the rest, our muscles need to rebuild.
I mean, maybe the Whoop changed my life.
I was demoralized, bummed… the thing I enjoy so much (running) was now dragging me down back in April. Now here we are, early June, and I just had my first 20 mile week since mid March!
I tried out Whoop from a friend’s recommendation on Twitter. It was a free month, with a six month commitment (at $30/mo). If you want to try it out, use my referral code: https://join.whoop.com/#/B37605
You can also sign up for my Substack newsletter, The Soft Run, here.
This week I ran zero miles. I can’t remember the last time I ran zero miles in a week. I’ve never been this burnt out, where every run is just horrible. I’ve talked to other runners about burn out. Every run for the past few weeks has just felt labored. Like I took six months off, and I’m just trying to “get back into running.” Not a fun feeling.
In the last few weeks I set up a bike trainer and a Zwift account. I don’t have to think about the weather, the wind, nothing. And it feels good. Like, even hard efforts. They feel good.
I rode 104 miles this week. Six and a half hours.
I don’t think I rode that much back in my Bike Nerd days.
That’s more hours than I usually run each week.
Also started doing some dance workouts, too. They’re silly, sure, but they’re fun and quick, and feel good.
I’m pretty sure the running will come back. In the meantime I sure am glad I got this bike set up.
It was about here, on this long straight that heads down to another road, when I saw it. There’s a church off in the distance. I know about the church. I passed it several times on my bike. But I never ran to it.
“Run to the church,” a little voice said in my head.
Trying my best lately to listen to that little voice in my head.
No voice from god came down, no revelation. I didn’t come across an old grave stone with a long lost family member name on it. No vultures swung by, or eagles. It was just still and quiet.
But then I think… maybe this “detour” kept me from a distracted driver, or a loose dog. Maybe it all worked out for some magical reason that I’ll never know of. I certainly haven’t found any other meaning in it thus far.
This 1,100 miles happened one day at a time, one mile at a time. Most runs were short, probably around 3-ish miles. My yearly pace was something like 10:45/mile. For me it’s just been about staying healthy, to run within my means, and not push myself too hard, too often.
The Golden Coast 5K and the Truthsgiving 4 Miler raised money for good causes, the Philly 10K got me a nice poster, and the 10 miler got me out of the house.
Bought a bike in 2020, which helped me keep up some fitness without being on my feet, but as the weather got cold I stopped riding as much. Biking in the cold is harder than running in the cold, so my bike has just been sort of sitting around.
I did a 100 mile week total to help raise money for the Running 4 Rivs fundraiser. That was a combo of biking and running, which I continued for a few weeks after just for the heck of it.
Back in April I tried running four miles (the fourth month of the year) every day, but managed only 21 days before some foot pain forced me to stop. Started a one-mile-a-day run stream on November 23rd, and as of December 31st hit 39 days in a row.
So yeah, I guess that’s how I hit 1,110 miles. Add some variety, some challenges, some spontaneous adventures, and take it slow. Staying healthy means you get to keep running, so I’m planning on more slow-time adventures in the near year.
Crawling back into bed would have been more cozy. I had some tea, which was nice bit of warmth in the morning, but for some reason I threw on my jacket and shoveled our walk paths. It was nice to stop, take a breather, and enjoy a scene like you see above.
Later in the day I got in my daily run. This was day #25, at least a mile a day since November 23rd. The roads were trashed still, so todays run wasn’t a breeze, but if running has taught me anything it’s that crummy conditions don’t last forever. In a few days this crummy run won’t even register, but getting it done was still a piece of the foundation to where I wanna go in 2021.