Last week marked two milestones for me: my first 50 mile week in 2008 and the beginning of lent, or more specifically, 40 days of sobriety .
Climbing the mileage ladder. While not my only priority, increasing my weekly miles is an important part of my plan to go the distance at Western States. And getting in my first 50 mile week is a small yet important psychological milestone. Its not that I’ve haven’t run 50 miles in a week before--I did ten 50 mile weeks prior to the Helen Klein Ultra in November and many more in my marathon days. Rather, it’s just one step closer toward my goal of pushing my weekly miles into the 70 to 80 miles-per-week range. To get to that mileage though I’m building as fast and as slow as I have to, meaning not too fast as to injure myself (knock on wood), and not to slow as to miss being able to increase the intensity of my runs well before the race. It's been said by many a running sage that you don't increase mileage AND intensity at the same time. Since it is mid February now, and the race is at the end of June, I’ve got 4 months or so before I have to start tapering. I figure I’ll be pushing 60 miles per week by the end of February, 70 miles by the end of March and 80 miles by the end of April. I haven’t been doing any real interval training (purposely avoiding this until I have more weekly miles under my belt), but I hope to begin doing intervals, depending on how I feel, in March, or after I’ve hit 60 per week or so.
What I’ve noticed recently is that my legs are sore for much of the week. Not a big deal, I guess, as fatigue is something I've come to associate as part of training. Yet too much fatigue is the first warning sign of overtraining, so I'm keeping close tabs on my heart rate during my standard weekly runs. My goal during this build up stage is to get through the weeks with decent mileage at a low heart rate (75% or less of max, or 145 bpm or less), and then go into the weekend with some energy for a long run of 20 plus miles building to 40 miles. Its the long run that is the hard workout for the week for me during this build-up stage.
As for the sobriety thing, its my third year cutting out alcohol during lent. I'm not a particularly religious person, but I like being in control of at least some things in my life. This choice gives me the ability to choose another road, even if for a short period. Its interesting, this thing called "control". Recently I had a conversation with my father and we talked about running, and how keeping a schedule, planning your training, even writing down your workouts, gives one a sense of control. How many things in our life can we really control? Running, at least for me, is one of them. That might be why I keep coming back to it.