My 50 mile training plan is kicking into high gear, and this weekend saw my longest run since my 50K last October. My goal for my training plan is to do all of my mid-week runs on regular roads and pavement, but do all of my long runs on trails. My trail of choice is our local mountain bike trail at Elm Creek. The singletrack is 11 miles of twisting, turning and hilly dirt (or snow in winter) trail. It’s a lot of fun to run, and because the local mountain bike group grooms the trail all winter long, it’s in excellent shape.
My plan this week called for a 24 mile run on Saturday, but I decided to do two loops of the 11 mile track instead (22 miles). Despite not having any huge hills, the constant small ups and downs, along with twisting turns, makes for a relentless experience. I usually find my muscles and joints are much more sore after the singletrack than flat roads. It’s a great course to build strength, not just in the main muscles you use in running, but in a lot of the small muscles that are used on more rugged terrain.
Because I’m ramping up very fast with this plan, dropping 2 miles from my total wasn’t the end of the world. My wife also wanted to attempt a loop, and so I headed out very, very early in the morning so that I could meet up with her at 7:30am to run my second loop while she ran her first. The alarm went off at 4am, and, having prepped the night before, headed out to start my adventure.
I knew I had to last for a long time, so I kept my pace nice and slow. About half-way through the first loop, the speedy 5:30am group caught up to me. I got to see a few friends in the light of our headlamps, and I pushed myself to stay with them for a short bit before they headed off into the distance.
I didn’t break any speed records in my first loop, but I finished feeling pretty good. My wife was waiting in the parking lot with the 7:30am group, and we all headed out together. Normally, this is the group that I run with, and can keep pace with. Being tired, I quickly realized that there was little chance I would be able to keep up, so I hung back to run with my wife. This actually really helped me keep mentally focused, since she had never seen most of this trail. I was able to show her some of the prettier views and paths, which helped to distract myself from the monotony of another time around the same course.
I managed my 22 miles, and we packed up and headed home for a shower and a nap. The next morning I got up and ran another 5 miles to complete my training plan for the week. This week ended up being my highest mileage week ever at 43.5 miles. As I type this blog on a Sunday night, my body is recovering and looking forward to a rest day on Monday. Then I start it all over again, but with a bit of a cut back for the next two weeks.
As I look back at my running history, I’m feeling like everything is clicking well this year, and I’m staying healthy and enjoying what I’m doing. I’m setting new records for myself, and learning more and more about what I’m capable of. At the end of the day, this is what a fitness running journey is all about.