January has always been a tough month. Prior to a few years ago, it was the month where my training finally got jump started having gained a ton of weight through the holidays. This year, I'm excited to be easily nearing the end of my January running streak. I'm excited to weigh in on Friday as my weight loss continues. I really feel like a new man. Saturday's performance in the Fat Ass was eye opening to me, in a good way. I'm truly starting to realize my own potential again and realizing what is possible.
Which is funny.. in a way.. because today was the Colorado Mountain Ninja's Holiday get together. We all met at Jerry's house, enjoyed a rather healthy pot luck meal. Hell, I even watched Jerry drink a beer! Something I never thought the guy did. Then we huddled around the TV, and watched Unbreakable. This movie focuses on the 2010 Western States 100, the year I ran in that historic race. It is a GREAT running movie, and of all that I've seen, easily the best. But.. it was hard to watch and not feel my stomach turn.
Earlier in the day, us Ninja's were sharing stories about our running over the last year. The topic of mileage came up. Jerry and Brad typically run 80-120 miles per week.. regularly. It's really humbling to watch them go. Brad is a well accomplished ultra-runner. One look at the guy, and you'd never expect that he is a front runner in 100 milers. I mean, after all, he doesn't have a long beard and run shirtless. But Brad is a machine. So is Jerry. During Saturday's Fat Ass, I enjoyed my time running with Jerry. I was euphoric about it on many occasions. But then.. just as soon as I'd come upon Jerry resting on a peak.. he was dusting me as he and others ran ahead. From euphoria to depression. It was during today's conversation that Jerry told me that I need to "be running more miles like them." I'm not so sure of this. I've come in 3rd place during 50ks, My 50 Mile PR is an 8:58.. I'm happy with all of that. And I always did it by running no more than 200-220 miles per month. I'm rambling.. but maybe this is my battle with wants and needs in regards to my goals.... ?? I've never thought running 360-400 miles a month was necessary.. and as much as I love running, I don't love it that much!
I've never wanted to be a fast ultrarunner. To me, the competition in this sport has always been against myself. But I have to tell ya, I always feel like I might be picking the wrong training partners. Everyone is faster than me, especially here in Boulder. What frustrated me the most is that, even though my pace is now down around 9 min/miles on average.. I'm still slow! I don't want to be faster so that I can challenge people, or win, or anything like that. I want to be faster so I can keep up with the people I enjoy running with, or at least not feel like I'm holding them back. Heck, I want to run with my old pal Nate Sanel again. His Vermont 100 goal this year is sub-20 hours or something like that. That kind of performance is not out of the question for myself... if I want it bad enough. So.. I'm torn.
For a very long time, starting in 2006, I've recorded all of my training miles in an excel spreadsheet, and then again on RunningAhead.com. Yup.. every mile I've ever run is recorded in two places. 2006 is when I started... that was the year I started training for 100 milers. My training was always very focused and done with meaning. There were no junk miles. Every run was done for a reason. Then in 2009.. I stopped recording the miles. Over the last week, I've started to go through the painstaking task of updating my excel file with every run. The spreadsheet has a master page which lists my miles for every week, of every month, since 2006. It totals my miles and I can see trends in my training. Each month has a sheet that lists every run on every day of the month. Then I break it down into the miles I've run, the number of runs I've completed, and my average miles per run for the month.
As I've continued to complete my list and update it through this past month, I'm really being challenged to face some stark realities. Questions I've always had in regards to DNF's I've suffered are coming to light. It's no wonder I DNF'd Leadville in 2010 and yet, I can't believe I managed Western States and Vermont that same year. I had no business finishing Leadville in 2011 but somehow I did. The numbers, are starting to mean something... 7 years later. Over the next few weeks, I'm going to be sharing my own research here and having out-loud discussions with you all; so that you'll know where I was, where I'm at. Where things went wrong, where they got better. Where success lies and where failure breeds. All of this is important as I continue to push towards the Vermont 100 and a PR at 100 Miles.
As an example.. in my December re-cap, I mentioned how my goal was to run 175 Miles this month. If everything continues as planned, I'll eclipse 200 training miles. It will be the first time I've eclipsed the 200 mile mark in a month, without including the miles of a 100 mile race (or multiple 50 mile races), since March of 2008! My VT100 time in 2008 was only 10 minutes slower than my 2007 PR Time. This is incredibly inspiring to me and I'm really starting to believe that a PR for 100 miles is possible at Vermont. I'm even thinking of keeping my streak going a bit further than I normally do this year as well.
It is my hope, that the numbers of graphs I'll share in the coming weeks will help many of you realize the importance of a training plan and sticking to that plan. The importance of consistency. And that it's not always high miles that gets you to that finish line in a respectable time.. but a high passion for the goals.