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My first 90M training week + Chicken on a stick

July 22, 2011

“High mileage” is a relative term in the world of distance running.  There are plenty of ultra-marathoners who routinely race distances of 100 miles or more in a single, non-stop race.  The fastest of those folks usually cover 100 miles in less than 15 hours, sometimes even under 13.  They tend to look like these guys (Geoff Roes and Anton Krupicka, two of the greatest in the sport):

There is also a growing contingent of ultra-ultra-marathoners who do things like run across entire continents, ticking off 40-60+ miles a day, day after day after day.  Such feats are popular enough to now warrant dedicated websites just to keep up with the finishers and those on their way.  As of today, eight people have already done so this year here in the U.S.

I recently heard that there are upwards of 1000 Kenyan runners training 200 miles per week.  And I’m guessing that some of those are pretty hard miles.  There are even “normal” people, with friends , and families, and jobs and plenty of non-running interests, who think little of dropping a 100 mile week now and then. [Olga, I’m talking about you.]

However, for most competitive but non-professional distance runners, marathon training schedules tend to peak at 50-60 miles.  Less experienced runners training to run 26.2 often run no more than 35-40 miles on their longest week.  Over the last few years, depending on the race goal and my level of running enthusiasm, I’ve probably average about 40 miles a week, sometimes getting up near 70 and, maybe once, hitting somewhere in the low 80s.  For me, anything above about 60 weekly miles qualifies as “high mileage” but I have been eager to see what my body can handle, to see if 60 can be become the “no big deal” that 30 is now.

Today, with my 8th run in 7 days, I hit my 90th weekly mile for the first time.  I had expected I might be able to fit in 80 miles this week but a few days ago I made a deal with myself:  assuming no injuries or genuine sickness, I’d push through to see how 90 feels. Though my legs feel a little heavy, nothing hurts.  Despite 3 runs in the last 24 hours, all’s well.  And I was able to do my final 5 miles of the week in just under 46 minutes.

Some quick stats, mostly for me to reflect on when this week is a distant memory.  Of the 90 miles, run in 8 sessions over in 5 days over the course of 7/16-7/22:

  • 70+ at over 6800 ft elevation
  • 74 on trail, very little of which was flat
  • Average time about 11 minutes/mile
  • Average temperature 80+ degrees

This running week pales in comparison statistically with the 2009 TransRockies Run (113 miles in 6 days across the Rocky Mountains) and may not seem to rise to the same level of hardcoredness but this week was meaningful in a different way.  This time it was all me.  No teammate to push me, no family to cheer me on, no other runners to key off of, no mile markers or aid stations or daily finish lines.  I had to make myself keep running even when cutting a run short or allowing myself to alter my goal remained a constant option.  I had to rely on myself to take care of my body and nutrition, carry enough water (about 60 miles I ran with my pack), and push through the discomfort of the unrelenting heat, dust, hills, and solitude.

Much to my surprise, outside of the 30K race that kicked off the 90 miles, I saw a total of 2 people running over the final 70+ miles, and that was a couple I who passed going the other direction this morning.  There were a handful of mountain bikers, a few hikers, but that’s about it.

This morning’s 10 miles along the Santa Fe Rail Trail was sort of a chore but running roughly in parallel with active train tracks does offer some nice sights like this:

For my  lunch break I had another first as a serious runner.  I ate chicken.  Since swearing off meat of all kinds about 8 years ago, I’ve gone back to eating seafood regularly and red meat on very rare occasions.   But I haven’t had any chicken since I really dedicated myself to running far and, whenever possible, fast.

There are quite a few high profile athletes, especially endurance athletes, who are vegetarian or vegan but the more I work out, the more difficulty I have keeping a healthy amount of muscle.  I’m long past caring about big arms or how much I can bench press but I do believe that strength is important to all-around fitness.  And try as I might with beans and nuts and all manner of crunchy things, maintaining weight is tough.

That means some easing back into the most healthy cuts of meat, ideally about once a week, provided it is all the things meat should be: from ethically raised animals, ideally with room to roam and allowed to eat what their bodies naturally evolved to eat, without hormones or otherwise pumped full of medicine that gets passed on to us via our bellies.  All the better if said meat can be jerkied.

So, 85 miles into my week, when I found a African restaurant that serves healthy and hearty food, including organic chicken kabobs, I was done.  I must say, even if I’m only going to eat chicken once every 8 years, this is what it should be:

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3 Comments
  1. Great site. Can’t wait to read all the updates you will be posting.

  2. randallmike permalink

    Kolleen, congratulations on being my first follower! You win a FREE trail run with me next time we’re in the same city!

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