40 days of running

First of all, let’s give credit where credit is due: if not for Didier Morelli, no one on this site would be blogging. That does raise the question, however, why is Didier not blogging himself? He claims to have several in the can, but unfortunately, the can is not connected to the internet, so no one can read them.

After getting several stunned and confused looks at the track last night, I explained myself: I was running the workout with the group last night, instead of doing the usual coachly yelling from the sidelines. The reason is that I’ve decided to run for all 40 days of Lent. It was at this point that Didier asked why there was yet no blog about this. So, here is the blog.

Lent is the 40 days before Easter. Catholics traditionally give something up for Lent. I’m not sure if other Christians do this. Somehow I can’t see it: making a big show of sacrifice is such a Catholic thing. Usually it’s chocolate or something, and then of course on Easter, one can gorge oneself on eggs and bunnies, thus negating any beneficial effects of restraint over the previous six weeks. I’m not much of a Catholic anymore, but I do Christmas and Easter, so I guess Lent is part of Easter.

Most people think that you are supposed to give something up for Lent, so running every day for 40 days might not count, but the point is to make a sacrifice. Doing something can be a sacrifice. Indeed, I’ve never actually run 40 consecutive days, so this could be tough.

So far I’ve gone 7 days. It’s been good. Day one was last Wednesday, Ash Wednesday. I went out with the team and did a cruise workout of 4min-8min-8min-4min, with 2min rest in between. I ran with Brenna, holding back as much as I could. It’s not like I haven’t been doing ANYTHING for the last few months, and I know I can probably jump in a workout with almost all of the guys, except Ryan, and hang on. But for the first day of 40, I wanted to make sure I kept it under control.

We did the workout up at Summit Circle, around a roughly 2.6k loop. We have to do a bit of a double-back because there is a big section that is not plowed in the winter. In the spring the loop is an even 1.5 miles.

The next few runs were basic “get out the door and go” runs, from home, each about 4-5k. Sunday I ran from home to Le Gym and back, good for a 70min “long” run. Not really that long, but again, gotta keep it real, it’s early days yet.

Monday night, as mentioned, was the workout. I jogged clockwise around the indoor track at Claude Robillard for about 10min, then stretched out the back and did some drills. I didn’t bother with strides, but the team did theirs diligently. Then I hopped on with JMK, Jean Marc, and Kazi, hoping to run 20x100m in 20sec, with a recovery of 100m in 25sec.

It’s amazing how precise we runners can be. To be able to knock off 100m after 100m at exactly the right pace is quite a skill. We do it all the time, but I wonder how often we think about what that means about how well we know our bodies. Even I, after several months on the shelf (spin class=on the shelf), was able to hit every interval pretty much on the nose.

It got tough near the end, so I sped up. That might sound odd to non-runners, but it helps. I dropped to 19/24, sometimes, 23. I finished 4k in 14:45. Not bad, not bad. I shuffled another 6min for cooldown (not good practice kids: do as I say, don’t do as I do!) as my hamstrings were pretty much at half-mast.

This morning I was at Le Gym for our new strength training circuit. It’s a bit of my own concoction, but strongly based on this program by Jay Johnson. It’s gonna rock the glutes for sure. Afterwards, I jumped on the treadmill for a token mile.

I’ve decided, after much consultation with experts and the like, that the minimum requirement for a “run” is 1mile. Treadmill is ok. In fact, I would feel silly going outside and running just 1mile. I’d probably get 20min in before I realised where I was. But the treadmill is a hateful machine, and 1mile is plenty. I cranked it up to 8.5mph, or 7:03/mile (another sign that the treadmill is no friend of the true runner. We measure in min/mile, not mph!), and 1% grade (A 1% treadmill grade most accurately reflects the energetic cost of outdoor running), and went at it for about 8min.

So that’s the first week. I feel pretty good. I am confident that I’ll be able to finish this challenge. Next week will be interesting, as I’ll get into somewhat uncharted territory. I have gone 12 or 14 days in a row before, back when I was training for real, but I won’t have the volume backing me up this time. We’ll see how it goes.

There is no race planned at the end of this. Didier can rest assured that I won’t embarrass him on the roads anytime soon. It wouldn’t do for me to break his spirits: after all, he’s been doing so well lately, dropping his PBs quite a bit over the last couple of months. 5k went from 17-something to 16:14. 1500 went from a debut in December of 4:22 down to 4:09.9 at provincials (still slower than my PB by the way). These are good results. What we really want to see from Mr. Morelli, however, is a blog. What say you, sir? You’re up!