Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Numbers Game

I never really kept track of my mileage until after my ACL surgery.  Before, my record keeping consisted of this blog and a couple scraps of paper on which I wrote down my times for routes I ran frequently.  I usually ran six days a week, simply because I felt better and fitter when I did.  I tried to focus on quality workouts:  a long run every week and a hill or speed work day thrown in here and there.  I ran what I liked to run or what was convenient at the time, not just what I thought I ought to run. I think this worked out pretty well for me.  I wasn't speedy or very competitive, but I could usually eek out a finish that I was happy with.

But then, the torn ACL changed everything.  Not so much the injury itself, but how I began to look at running and training.  After six months of rehabbing when I was finally allowed to start running again, I downloaded an app that would let me track my mileage.  This was a great tool to make sure that I slowly eased back into running. Over the next six months, I worked on increasing my mileage
until finally I ran a 24 hour race and a 100 mile trail race.

Somewhere along the line though, numbers got stuck in my head.  This was my thought process:   If you are going to run a 100, you need to be running at least X number of miles a week.  You also need to run X number of days a week.  If you don't do that, you won't be able to finish X race without pushing too hard and reinjuring yourself.

I never thought like that before. I knew that the more I could run, the better I would do, but I didn't really add things up.  Now I was making myself go out and run two more miles, so I could get at least X number that week.  I was measuring routes to make sure the numbers were correct.  And there it all was, laid out on the tablet.  I wasn't measuring up.  Look at that calendar.  Look at all those days you missed.  Look at what your average weekly mileage is.  Heck, you shouldn't even be running 5Ks on those numbers.  I even DNS'ed a race because I didn't think I had enough miles in.

It's only been in this last week that I did some realistic adding in my head. If I run six miles after school every day and a 25 mile long run on the weekend, the best I could do would be 55 miles, not even close to the numbers running around in my head. Which also means that for all those years I didn't track miles, I was rarely doing more than 55 miles a week. 

The other morning, I spent a really long time deciding where to run on a beautiful winter day.  I felt like I needed to get another longer run in since I was three weeks out from a race.   So, I could either run somewhere to get those miles in or I could go somewhere just because I wanted to.  I finally decided on the latter and ran half the miles I could have.  I ran up to Black Rock  (running being a very general term), which is a little less than eight miles, but climbs (and descends) about 1000 feet per mile.

from the Assault on Black Rock Facebook page
You know, that eight miles is a whole different animal than eight miles around town.  And I enjoyed that eight miles a lot more.  After thinking on that fact for a little bit, I decided that this whole tracking my mileage thing is not working out for me. The app has got to go.

I'm going to head out for a run in the snow now.  I don't know what direction I am heading nor how far I am running.  All I know is it sounds like a lot of fun.