Saturday, 12 January 2013

December Run Streak: My Month of Daily Running

2012 has come and gone. And with it, a number of yearly totals of which I am now forced to start fresh on. Run kilometers, bike kilometers, both are reset to zero, and new goals begin. Right now matching my 2012 number looks daunting, but one workout at a time will do it. Perhaps 2013 will be a better year for training and results. But for now, let's look at the final month of 2012 and my run challenge.

As I stated in prior posts, for December I tried to do something I had never done before--run the most mileage I have ever run in one month. My initial goal was not this, it was simple to run a mile a day for 31 days. I started my challenge a bit late, taking a couple of days off with illness and nearly giving up on the thing. I did take a couple of days off around Christmas for rest. But looking back, I managed 25 of 31. I quickly changed my approach to the Dirty Feet challenge with the mindset of really challenging myself. I thought 10 kms a day would be a good goal to attempt, and now looking back, I was able to surpass that goal.

The highlights:

--Running in Kenna Cartwright park at Mt. Dufferin in Kamloops for 5 days in the snow, was
simply magical. The snow, the cold at -5 was absolutely perfect for running. Especially without the thick, cold coastal air. The trails were slower, powdery and dry, and less stable on the snow, but running in my new Speedcross 3 CS for the first time were perfect for the conditions. Bomber grip, light-ish weight for a size 14, the Climba-Shield membrane--this shoe is outstanding for the snow and rugged trails. I had no problems gripping the trail. The narrow fit of these shoes is something that works well for my foot. A great trail running specific product by Salomon.

--It was really good to meeting up with my old friend Roger Smith at the final 1 mile run of the challenge at True Outdoors, put on by Phil and Grace Hiom. A good little event for the last day of 2012.

--Being extra motivated to run because of the challenge was really cool. It was comforting knowing that I had to run every day. The pressure I put on myself towards the middle was a test, but looking back, I would like to try to beat this record one month in 2013, maybe hitting 500kms of running.

--Being able to eat everything guilt free.

The low-lights:

--The intense farts/ stink from running and eating everything I wanted to eat.

--Around day 18- 20, the challenge became tough. It was difficult to get motivated to run. My legs were tired, my body was sore, but after a few short days, I was feeling better. As if I had made it over the hump and past the wall. Like marathon running, my wall came about 2/3rds to 3/4s of the way through the challenge. Once I made it home to Kamloops for a short vacation, I was able to recharge and run in the sun.

--Achilles stiffness and pain in my feet during some of the runs from overuse.

--Almost every run was a cold, dark run before or after work. I don't think I saw the sun for the whole month while running through the Delta Watershed.

Shoe report:

I broke out my XT Wings 2 GTX the beginning of December after having lost faith in my third pair of New Balance MT 910 Gore-Tex. That shoe has been good for me, but heavy and clunky, and I have been prone to turning my ankle severely in them due to the high stack height, and the very stiff sole.So for now, they are relegate to a walk/hike/ weekend shoe. The ground feel in them is non-existent, and the upper not so much hugs my foot, but pinches it in the wrong places. I might as well have had lead weights on my feet with those shoes. A plus to them is that they have kept my feet dry and warm over the last 3 winters.

The XT Wings 2 GTX has been fairly good for a variety of applications and conditions. After 233kms and 21 hours in them, I can tell that the offset/drop is a bit too much at 11mm, the stack height is too high for my preference, and the ride is just not what I have become accustomed to. It sometimes feels like I am running in high heels after being in a minimal shoe. To be honest, since switching to the the New Balance MT 110, I have been ruined--I love the weight and ground feel of the 110s at 7 oz. with a 4mm heel drop. Now I know that these two shoes are completely different platforms and approaches to running. Comparing them may be quite unfair. They both have their strengths and their flaws. The Wings are a shade heavy, although super durable and waterproof--great for high mileage, the 110s are downright dainty and the upper tears easily--not great for high mileage. I do think that the XT Wings 2 GTX is an amazing shoe for winter running as I have not had much by the way of wet feet, save for the sweat that I produce, or the snow that jammed into the upper on my snow runs. Overall the ride in the shoe is comfortable with no hot spots, pinching, or sore feet. It does many things well, it just does not excel at many things in particular in terms of the ride. It is a lot of shoe for the trails! I think that next winter I will run in the the MT 110 winter shoe with the built in gaiter, just to try something different.

Headlamp Report:

The Petzl Nao has been put through it's paces on all of these dark runs. For a bright head lamp, the head harness is somewhat comfortable, but I fine it not nearly as comfy as the Petzl MYO XP headband. This light also has a burn time that runs well for about an hour, but then diminishes in brightness after that.  Although it is USB rechargeable, the battery life for the duration of use is poor, and the lamp starts to run out of juice after about one hour and fifteen  minutes. I hope that this will be corrected with the next version of the lamp that is released. The lamps controls and program-ability are very good, and until something better comes out, this will be on my head in the dark for all my runs. A very good but not perfect lamp.

The (minor) injuries:

Before Kamloops, I felt like I was developing some overuse injuries as my feet, Achilles  and shins were sore from all the running. A few necessary days off after the challenge, and some thrown in around Christmas for good measure allowed me to feel better. I even managed a 30km snow run in Kenna Cartwright on the December 30th. That was a great run that started in the dark and had me feeling better and better as I went. As of now, I am back to normal, feeling strong for all the miles, and injury free. A week off of everything will do that to a runner.

Conclusion on the month of running:

Runner everyday is bad for a person.*

*(Only for stupid people who do not listen to their bodies and respect how they feel, or if they are injured and continue to run through the pain. I have been one of those people before.)

Of all the people and rhetoric I have heard about how "running everyday is bad for a person", I now know that is a very general statement, one that scares people away from running altogether. Prior to this challenge  I have usually always had a day of between runs. Running everyday has shown me that each run must be different, like training. Different paces, different distances, different shoes used, different effort outputs. With each run completed, I have had to respect what type of workout I have done, and what type of workout I hope to do the next day--tempo, hills, long run, social, recovery, or speed work. I did a couple of 2km and 5km runs,  and those days were reactions to the runs prior, and a need for rest for my body.

This challenge has shown me that it is not unhealthy or dangerous to run everyday. Nor is running bad for ones knees. One just has to be smart about the tools they use, how, when, and for how long and fast that they run. I believe that we as humans are born to run, as Chris MacDougall wrote about in his best-selling novel. We have to give ourselves rest between runs, and rest within each run. I employed many walk breaks in my runs while on the challenge. These were necessary for my overall health. I hope to get faster as I age. I believe that I will, and that as David Brailsford of UK Cycling puts is, each running or cycling training effort contributes to the "aggregation of marginal gains." Perhaps I will not see the benefit to the 30 days of running in January but by February, hopefully, I will be stronger overall for my modest and tremendous efforts in December. I want to be able to run when I am 70 or 80, not just to train for my next race.

Rest and recovery is important for improvement, but I am a firm believer now that running every day is not as dangerous as our newspapers and media outlets make it out to be. All we need to do is listen to our body, know what we are capable of, be smart about how we challenge ourselves, and run within that framework.

And now for the Douche-brag part of the post, unless this has all been douchebraggy.

My December run total:

Movescount Calendar indicating the workouts completed

340 kilometers in 25 days.
18 days run in a row
32.5 hours spent running.
30.2 kms in Kenna Cartwright Park, Kamloops--Longest run
6 runs over 20kms

Killer run in Mt. Dufferin all sweaty .

Kamloops in all it's winter glory.

My 2012 Cumulative run totals:

2333 kms run
227.5 hours spent running
35194m Ascended on foot
2 Marathons-2 PR
2 Ultra Marathons
1 Half Marathon--PR
1 10k road race--PR
7 8km-10km Trail races
8 different types of shoes used throughout the year.
13.24 kms/ run Avg.

I look forward to may runs in 2013. The races are all shaping up: First Half, Chuckanut 50, the BMO Vancouver Marathon, the Knee Knacker, and Meet Your Maker. Eating less sugar and carbs so far has curbed the whole gas issues I have had, and have made my runs more efficient and of a higher quality. Things will be better this year!