June 2, 2011

The Journey of 184 Miles

...starts with a single step - as long as those steps are cushioned in running shoes and supported with cross-training, yoga, and a healthy diet!  Whew.

This past month (May) was National Runners Month, punctuated by June 1st - National Running Day!  In honor of these great events, I set out to run every single day in May - plus the 1st of June - for at least 2 miles.

So I'm sure you're wondering: did I do it?  For the most part...yes!  Read on for my top five experiences and reflections over this 32-day running challenge:

I missed one day.  Truth is, it wasn't even a good excuse (I was at the spa with girlfriends and then surprised by dinner by my boyfriend), and it was right next to the finish line (May 30).  At first, I was completely angry with myself - but then, I realized that the only person who would judge me for missing one day of running (again, with 31 other quality days!) was me - and sometimes we are our hardest critics.  This was a great lesson in doing the best we can - without wasting negativity on the things we cannot do.

I got really sore (but not as sore as I thought!).  There were some days that the two miles were all I could muster; others I was flying through 7-8 miles like it was nothing.  I definitely needed to do more stretching and yoga along the route - this is the lesson learned here, that just running every day is not enough without a balanced cross-training program - but I was pleasantly surprised at how much the body adapts to a great deal of running in a fairly efficient way.

I did more than I'd planned.  I set the two-mile minimum as a way to make sure I felt like I'd really "run" that day, without feeling overwhelmed and overcommitted - but in the end, I averaged over 5 miles per day!  The lesson here is that you shouldn't be afraid to set specific, achievable goals - but you should also be prepared to exceed your expectations and go above and beyond when you're working hard and making progress toward a fitness goal.

I became a tourist in my own city.  Determined to break out of my regular neighborhood 4-miler (which, by the way, I did return to at several points during the month for familiarity's sake), I planned new routes, ran new streets, explored new territory.  I had gorgeous runs through the hoity-toity neighborhoods of Beverly Hills and enjoyed the lush, tree-lined streets of Raleigh-Durham.  I set my iPod to "shuffle all" and even explored new musical landscapes to boot (who knew that Sousa could actually be powerful running fuel?).  The lesson I learned here is that it is relatively simple to feel refreshed and renewed even when you're pounding the pavement day-in and day-out - it just takes a bit of planning and an adventurous spirit.

And finally, I am relieved it's over.  I am a die-hard runner - I've done marathons, triathlons, 200-mile relay races, and everything in between - but even run-lovers like me need a break.  A good lesson here is that in fitness, as in life, there can be too much of a good thing - and we all need to break out of our "regular" exercise ruts and try something new!  I won't be running today (June 2nd) but after receiving a pair of Vibram FiveFingers for my birthday, I'm already itching to try them out in my next run - after I get myself to yoga, of course.

The total stats ended up like this: 27.67 total hours of running (whoa, that's over a DAY!) for a total of 184.4 miles and an average distance of 5.76 miles/day (including the day off - double whoa!).  I feel like I really did something significant and oddly enough, can't wait for next May to do it all again!

Next stop: marathon training for December's Rock and Roll Las Vegas.  Catch up with you soon, bene-fitters!

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