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One Week, 47 Miles

One Week, 47 Miles

    Fair warning in case you're not a fan of running, because this post is all running (with a side of poor life decisions because you know it wouldn't be a real/unfiltered post without a few of those thrown in). So, guess who hasn't had a day off from running or a rest day in general since last 6Saturday's trip to the mall?! That's right folks, this stressed out to the max college senior has been using and abusing running to the max. Like who goes from running maybe 20-25 (depending on whether it's treadmill or outdoor running) to 47.48 miles in the course of a week?! And in this damn cold/windy Iowa weather no less! Not to mention the fact that I've been dealing with a cold since that long ass super fun 8 mile run on Thanksgiving. And before you ask, no the purpose of this post is not to be that super braggy running person that everyone hates who goes on and on about how bad ass they are for running x amount of miles at y pace over the course of a week. If anything, let this post serve as a cautionary tale for not being an idiot and thinking you're body is invincible. Or that running insane amounts of miles will solve all your problems.

    One does not simply just wake up one Monday morning bright and early at 4:23 a.m. and decide that this is the week to more than double the amount of miles you were previously running on a treadmill whilst slaving away in a dungeon like gym in college. In fact, if you're anything like me, you wake up simply happy you can run with little to no pain most days and usually at a decent clip of 9:30-9:40 (sometimes faster) and not die running up the 4+ hills that are on your route. However, since I have started increasing the distance of my long runs way back in September on my weekends home from college, I have found myself not being satisfied (content? idk the right word for the feeling) with merely having just 2 long runs a week (4-6 miles), 2 medium distance runs (3 miles), and 2 short runs (2 miles). On an average week, this ended up totaling something like 19-21 miles a week. And for a long time, I was content with this schedule and relying on a treadmill to help me achieve time PRs week after week. However, once I got that first taste of outdoor running when I was back home for labor day weekend, I was hooked just like way back during cross country training. I wanted more, and more is exactly what I got. Before I knew it, I was coming home nearly every weekend or every other weekend just so I could run outside and push myself to go faster and farther simultaneously. I can still remember how accomplished and proud (oh and sore) I felt after that first 7 mile run. I was on cloud nine, and felt like I could accomplish anything. In to time at all, I was regularly running close to 30 miles a week when I was home on the weekends. And, running 4 long runs back to back in a row with no trouble at all (or at least that's how I remember it now, but I'm pretty sure in the beginning my legs/whole lower body was sore AF).

    I say all of this to get the point across to you (and obviously myself because I'm at that point in my life where I feel like I need to have everything planned out) that sometimes the best things in life happen randomly/by accident/with no warning whatsoever. I never thought I'd get back to enjoying/living for long runs outside, especially after that nasty fall I took last May and all the shit I went through with my hips last summer. But, here I am, stupidly logging a 45+ mile week with virtually no planning or strategizing, just winging it like I am the rest of my crucial life decisions. Now, I must admit that this is not the best (or worst) decision I have made in recent months. So, without further ado (or anymore rambling) let's get into what I wish I would have done differently over the course of the last week or so to prevent the inevitable from happening.

    First of all, I am that person that rarely gets sick. This is especially true since the weight loss and the whole lifestyle change that has come along with it. Granted I have been trying to cut/lean out some for Vegas...but trust me when I say I am by no means starving, just not necessarily eating in preparation of running 45+ miles in just a weeks time. So, I feel like my nutrition obviously could have been better, along with both my sleep and caffeine consumption. Like, I loosely track everything in MyFitnessPal so I have some idea how much I'm eating in comparison to how many calories I'm burning. But, do I really eat enough fruit/vegetables on a regular basis? And do I eat way too much sugar/carbs on a continual basis? "Too much?" "Enough?" Such trivial terms with completely different definitions for each individual person and their dietary needs. Suffice it to say that my diet is no where near perfect and probably entirely too flexible when I am away at college without a proper kitchen to prepare my meals in and having to rely on flex meals and eating way too much dairy on the regular. And yes I know that overusing/abusing caffeine not only impacts sleep but makes an already anxious person absolutely freaking bonkers and paranoid as hell. It also give you seriously fucked up dreams. Like, wow thanks a million for putting me in the same old awkward situations again and again, but I'm still going to go about my day pretending that I don't have/never have had feelings for anyone. Ever. And yes, I did indeed watch a Buzz Feed video all about how beneficial it was for a select group of individuals to give up a caffeine for a week and yada yada yada. But, these people don't workout nearly as much as I do or get up at the crack of dawn to do so. Therefore, I will continue to use and abuse caffeine, because I am convinced it is the sole reason I have been able to have really great lifts over break and train arms like a billions times a week instead of just twice per week.

    What about Icing your legs, foam rolling for 5 hours a day, gradually increasing weekly mileage, and taking rest days? Well my friends and fellow runners, all of that went out the window. Haven't iced my legs in I don't even know how long. Clearly not at all before or during this exhausting 47 mile week. And I must admit, the whole stretching routine I do before I run is a joke. It lasts something like 10 minutes. Yup you read that right, 10 minutes to prepare your body for a run that could last anywhere from 60 to 80 minutes...doesn't make a whole lot of sense does it? I do foam roll at the gym for another 10 minutes when I get done lifting, but then I have just pretty much laid around for the rest of break, and I don't do anything else until I get up the next morning. Smart decision for such a dedicated runner and supposedly knowledgeable person on all things fitness and working out, right? Ya there is no gradually increasing miles when you're running around in the dark jamming to a little T-Rhett and a whole lot of Kelsea Ballerini. Plus if you're running outside and you run anything less than 6.5 miles (aka my usual route that consists of 2 laps, one big one one small one around BP) than you're just not trying hard enough. If you really wanna be a "real runner" or an "athlete" you will through that whole gradual shit out the window and just hammer out the miles with no regard to the fact that it takes your body time to adjust to both increased mileage and running outside in the elements with surprises around every corner. And forget about that rest day, you'll be getting four of those (sort of) when you go on vacation next. So, like, don't even worry about it since you're home and get to run outside like a crazy person.

    So, naturally, I did everything a runner who's as experienced as myself (And avid reader of "Runners World" magazine and big fan of badass runner Kelly Roberts) who absolutely under no circumstances recommend to any fellow runner who asked for advice on the topic. But, when it comes to following you're own advice on these matters, you usually end up pulling a Caitlyn and just believing you are an exception to the rule. I  am so much stronger now than I was last summer, and especially this time last year. So, I just assume that my body will be able to handle anything I throw at it. Wrong. Huge mistake. I would have much rather focused on hitting a distance or time based PR than just simply running a hug amount of distance in a short amount of time. I mean quality over quantity right? I did have that one 10K PR, but since then I have felt super slow. Like snail/slug/sloth/ etc. slow. And no running outside in the freezing cold when you have a cold is not the smartest idea. And yes it is 100% possible that the only reason I got this cold was because I was pushing my body way to far and too hard running-wise since I've been home for break. However, I'm still convinced someone who really hates the music I listen to while I run (or something incredibly petty like that) got me sick to try and take me out of the running and working out game for awhile. Well, jokes on them cause I'm still here, just moving a lot slower with a lot more snot flying around.

    Today's run was by far the worst I've had so far. It was also the shortest run I've ran so far over break at 5.68 miles. Some people would look at that number and think, "Seriously, Caitlyn? You call that a short run? An epic failure in terms of you're running over break? Are you insane?" Well, it took everything in me to not force myself to go the full 6.5 miles. I kept telling myself over and over again today that if I ran anything less than my normal 2 laps around town that I was a slacker, a failure, nonathletic, out of shape, a quitter, and pretty much everything I aspire not to be. But, at the end of the day, my body and my immune system clearly needed to a break. So, I took the high road (I think? Definitely the smart road) and cut my run short today. And sitting here now looking back, I should have been listening to my body, and done this a lot earlier in the week before I got sick and m body decided to turn against me.

    Moral of the story? You are not invincible. Your body has limits. And yes when you decide to test those limits your body will respond, probably not kindly either. And when in doubt, just assume that running 47 miles in one week will not solve all of your problems and that at the end of the week you will be no closer to a solution or jumping that fracking hurdle than you were on Monday. Although, at least for a week, you can pretend that you were that badass runner that ran a badass amount of miles (with a badass amount of snot flying through the air).
Mind Games

Mind Games

Running Long & Having Fun

Running Long & Having Fun