Whew, what a month! This is the second time I have done this challenge in the past 6 months. You can read about the challenge in October HERE.
This challenge felt different. Obviously doing it in the month of February had its own challenges here in Wisconsin. If you know anything about me or have followed along, February is a important month. That is the month that I chose to do my run across Wisconsin three years ago, well actually it was 4. And I love winter running.
This calendar challenge came about in talks with a client of mine. She really liked the thought of doing something similar. Her and I had a conversation about how to keep each other accountable and how this would be doable. She has a busy job throughout the day and running all of the miles would be almost impossible. So going in we gave each other the grace to split miles. Example: Day 14 we would each need to run 14 miles, if we could not we would split it in half. She would run seven, I would run seven. In most cases that didn’t happen and we each ran most of the miles. The only week that was consistently split was the last week where she needed to split miles due to other commitments. I did more miles than the even split but not the total amount for each day.
It’s hard to think about the entire month as a whole, because what sticks in my mind is the last effort that we made.
For day 27 and day 28 we came up with an overnight all at once run. Where we would start in the evening Sunday night to get day 27 in and then we would continue the run in the very early morning of Monday to finish out the 28 miles. We chose a looped trail and we were psyched about it. The temperature wasn’t that cold and there wasn’t a lot of snow that we have to deal with.
In that first loop my client was not having it. It was rough. The snow was worse than we initially thought and we realized that this was going to take a little bit longer than we had planned for. The snow was either wet or snow sand. The weather had been warm enough to start melting some of the snow, so the ground was pretty wet and would eventually freeze over.
I came away from this event feeling trashed. I really came apart. But not physically, or mentally really. It was deeper than that. I was exhausted and tired, not just from that evening but from the cumulative total of time and miles. Nothing was really hurting physically in that way. My body holds up to high mileage pretty well and it does really well in the winter. I came away with insight. Her and I both dug pretty deep internally and used each other as support. There’s that age old saying that misery loves company, and it is so true. We pushed each other in the ways that needed to be pushed, while also giving the space to be in those moments.
“Suffering together is very vulnerable, and through that vulnerability comes growth.”
I had stated many times when I got home that I felt like it was 100 mile effort even though it was half that. The emotion of the whole challenge, where I am at in life, sharing that with someone, being in the role of coach and friend. It was a lot. I am grateful for every step.
I think that I’m drawn to this challenge for many reasons. I’m not a run streak person so running everyday is a challenge in itself for me. I really take my rest days seriously and I hold a lot of value in them. It is nice to see that my body can handle it without the rest period. However, after a couple days of resting last week I was ready to run. And now I am on the second week and training is back to normal. I like this challenge for the planning that comes with it. You know what’s coming up and you are essentially moving your life around running. Which is not usually how I operate or how I coach my athletes. I also think it’s a really good test in mental toughness and strength, there’s a lot of days where you don’t want to get out, but just getting it done is key.
If you are thinking about doing something like this, I will leave you with this:
- Make a plan weekly on how to structure your day. It will take the stress out of trying to fit in the miles later on as they get larger.
- Food prep. You are going to be hungry, and sometimes will not want to eat, but you will be burning calories. Fueling before, during, and after is very important. You can get into a deficit real quick
- Enlist friends to join you.
- Run in new areas where you aren’t as familiar. It will make the miles go by faster.
- Have a Chiro, PT, massage therapist(Sonya Plavcan who owns the gym that this link goes to) in the wings or set up appointments ahead of time.
- Rest. Sleep.
- Remember you can walk inside the run and it counts!
I have linked the local to Madison people that I use or recommend. Mention me when booking and you get a discount.
I am already planning the next one in October. This time I am going to do it backwards. Start with Day 31 and end at Day 1.