I Ran 1,100 Miles in 2020

How do you walk to Cleveland? One step at a time.

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.

My longest run was 18 miles back in February, and I hit four years running in July. Bought a GoPro, and switched back to a Garmin from an Apple Watch.

At one point I saw a fox run across the road. At mile eight a random dog started running with me, and stayed with me for a bit until his owners drove up with their mini van and he jumped in and bailed on me.”

A year ago today I was in Philadelphia and ran myself into the ground. Ran four races, three virtual (the Golden Coast 5K, the Philly 10K, and the Truthsgiving 4 Miler), one in-person (new 10 mile PR).

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.

Know When to Jump In

How can I run through a washed out road in 30°F weather and not die? Are my shoes water proof? How do I keep my feet from freezing?

First, run through a washed out road in the middle of summer. Discover first hand what it feels like. How’d it feel plunging in? How’d it feel on the other side of the road? Think back, charge ahead.

Second, know what comes next. On this day I knew I only had about two more miles to run. Cold is cold, sure. But I can cover two miles in about 20-ish minutes. I won’t die.

And lastly, fuck it. Jump in.

My favorite Seth Godin truth is “this might not work.”

Some social media strategy idea for my day job might not work. Some new system. A song idea I finally record. A video I make.

This might not work.

There’s a time for safety which, okay, is most of the time. But there’s a time to say fuck it and let it rip.

The magic is knowing when.

Keeping Things In Focus Even When It Sucks

From today’s ‘Soft Run’ newsletter:

“There’s grit to running fast. Every now and again you’re gonna feel good and just let it rip – great! But you gotta bring it back. You gotta rest. Trot. Shuffle. Walk. 

See, just as you seek to get that fast pace, search for that slow shuffle, too. You want to be in control at all points during your run. How can you be in control when you’re running fast if you can’t do it when shuffling along?”

Stay Focused Where You’re At

If you want to learn how to play guitar, you have to get good at picking it up everyday. Dream someday of writing for an audience of 1000s? Better get good at writing for 10 people today.

I’ve been running for almost 4.5 years, and this is the first where I racked up 1,000 miles. It took a lot of shitty, slow, gross feeling runs. Expecting each run to be a joyous flowery affair isn’t reasonable, just as expecting each guitar lesson to feel amazing doesn’t make sense either.

Finding the grit to keep going when it doesn’t feel good is the hard work, and everybody has to find their own path on that journey.

How to Speed

From my recent Substack newsletter, ‘The Soft Run:’

So when you’re out of breath, slow down. Recover. Tearing down your body isn’t helpful when it needs rest.

You’re not failing, you’re recovering.

And slow just means more times outside, not looking at your computer, or reading emails.

Whew, Substack sure is a thing, but whatever, I enjoy writing a newsletter like that, without need a full website and all. Check out the full list of pieces I wrote here.

Just Keep Running

I met Eddie back in the 90s, when we were in our late teens, playing shows at colleges and tiny all-ages venues. He was raw energy then, playing drums in a band called Bedford.

Many years later (decades), our paths crossed again, this time because of running. Got reconnected via Instagram, swapping comments and occasional DMs.

I remember bumping into him randomly in Philadelphia, a few days before the Philly Broad Street run. We saw each other on opposite sides of the street, waiting for the light to change. He has the best smirk.

Then one day, he disappeared from Instagram. I didn’t have his number, so I couldn’t reach out. I didn’t think much of it.

A few months later I’m working in a coffee shop in Philadelphia, and he walks in. Completely random.

He gives me a big hug. Ed gives great hugs. “Man, you just dropped off the face of the earth,” I said. “Everything okay?”

That’s when he told me his wife died in a car accident a few months back. In a second his life flashed through my mind – those shows in the 90s, the runs, the Instagram photos. I remember the feeling of my heart collapsing on itself, time standing still.

Ed’s been running 10+ miles everyday for the past 250+ days, as a tribute, a connection with his late wife. He ran a 12 hour ultra-marathon. He did the Warrior Run in NYC, from the upper West Side to Coney Island.

The video above sums it up pretty well.

Follow him on Instagram (@ebgiii).

The Soft Run on Substack

I wrote about “Soft Running” a few days ago, and the idea has kept with me. Enough so to start a Substack newsletter for the idea, the concept. The idea behind the Soft Run Substack newsletter (sign up here) is to have it’s own home, a space, to explore the idea a bit more.

It’s been a weird time for running in 2020, especially if you’re just getting started. There’s no run groups, no local 5K races to join with your friends. So how do we get started, and keep going? That’s what I’m going to be writing about.

Time in Nature

Some days hurt, some days you float. This was a nice six miles around the Trexlertown Nature Preserve, on a new route I’ve never done before. Started off chilly and breezy, and saw a woman modeling with antlers in the woods, so all in all a great run.

The thing about trail running is it’s time in the woods, which I cherish. Lately I’ve been taking it slow and easy, which just means more time in the woods, so it’s a win win all around. I keep reminding myself that I’m not racing, I’m just out in nature. So when it hurts, slow down. Walk. Take a photo (or two).

Just Get Out the Door

Too hot. Felt sluggish. Didn’t have enough time between eating and this planned run. It might ran.

Fuck it.

Put on my shorts, and it all went away. Shoes, grabbed the keys, and drove to the nearby lake.

Did some speed work yesterday, so I knew I needed to take it easy. You know, you can sort of get to the top of any hill so long as you take your time. You can take one step, rest for a minute, and then take another step. That’s how tonight’s run felt. Pull back, keep it slow, keep that heart rate down. Take more photos, listen to the crickets. Smell the night air.

Got dark quick, but was still able to get back to my car with a bit of day light. Stood next to the lake for a bit, listening to a kayaker paddle back to shore.

Slow Down and Stretch

I run about five or six times a week, and do a solid stretching routine every other run. The other times I do some small dynamic stretches, and make sure to take it easy in the first mile.

Stretching is a time to ponder, relax, set the tone for the run. In this busy world it’s easy to think about skipping the stretch altogether, and just get to the running, but hey, work stuff can wait. Everything can wait right now, we’re in the midst of global crisis with this COVID-19 crisis. Take care of yourself, you know that.

Today while stretching I saw a woman prepping her horse to leave, and it got away! It didn’t go very far, just a few yards away to eat some grass, nothing dramatic, but it was something I’ve never really seen before, a horse “getting away.”

Slow down, you never know what you’ll see.

Take it Easy

Found this video via Mario Fraioli’s ‘Morning Shakeout‘ newsletter. The concept is that most of your work outs should be easy, which I’ve mentioned to some newbie runner friends a few times. Yes, running is tough, but you shouldn’t be dying at the end of every effort.

And the thing with slowing down means you can run longer. I don’t mean longer workouts, I mean, longer in life. So many of my runs are slooooow, and that’s enabled me to say relatively injury free for the past four years.

Go fast in spurts. Run hard for 30 seconds and rest, then run hard for another 30 seconds. But trying to sprint a mile is tough on the body, and can really fuck you up.

I’m no professional, nor am I doctor, but just take it easy. So much in life is already hard, but that doesn’t mean your leisure time should be filled with hard stuff, too.