May 22nd – Day 5
Total miles run for the day: 13.5
Total miles run for the week: 69.6
Total elevation for the day: 532
Total elevation for the week: 4,656
Average pace: 7:57
Elevation gain: 476
Effort level: 6
How did I feel: Good
Day 5! Wow, it feels like the miles are starting to accumulate, and I am creeping closer to the 100 mile mark. I am a big proponent of reminding ourselves that often the biggest hurdle we face when tackling a goal or challenge is just getting started. What seems insurmountable or unattainable at the beginning of a journey, often seems much more tangible and achievable once we have simply started. Ultimately time will pass and we will find ourselves further along our journey, as long as we have actually started. Today felt as though I was getting closer to reaching my goal.
I knew I was going to break the miles for today into two runs. I wanted the longer effort to be in the AM, with the shorter in the afternoon. The goal of today was to simply keep the effort level easy and rack up the miles.I have a quality long run tomorrow, so I wanted to make sure anything I did today would keep the legs feeling good and as fresh as they could be for tomorrow.
I headed out the door knowing I had about 1h 20m of time allotted for running, without any plan of where I was headed. I really love these open ended “exploration” runs. I simply have a goal of how long I want to be travelling for, and other than that I leave it open to let the run develop as I move along.
Once I started moving I thought I would be a good idea to run past my garden patch. I have a plot in one of our local community gardens, and planting season has really just started over the last couple of weeks. I wanted to run past my plot to check on the seedlings that have sprouted, and to assess what weeding needs to be done.
As I arrived at my gardening plot, I reflected upon the similarities that gardening and running share with each other. Both of these activities have consumed a large amount of my time, energy, and passion over the past decade, and when I reflect upon them maybe I shouldn’t be surprised by the similarities they share. Let me talk about those similarities.
Both running and gardening require extreme amounts of patience. There are no quick fixes, no hacks, no shortcuts to getting to where you want to go. Both of these pursuits require growth that can not be rushed or hurried along. Too much water, fertilizer, or sun can be negative for a plant, much in the way too much volume, speed or elevation can be detrimental to a runner. When given the right amount of these variables, over the right amount of time, incredible growth can happen, but it takes time.
It’s the process, not the outcome:
I have grown an awful lot of tomatoes, lettuce, zucchini, and carrots that never ended up being consumed. I don’t like saying it outloud, but not all the food I grow is eaten before it goes bad. I try to give away my excess, but I still overestimate what I will consume, and that’s okay. For me it’s not simply about having the best tomato, or fresh lettuce every night, it is really about all of the time leading up to that harvest. What brings reward and value to me is the smell of the wet dirt, the satisfaction of seeing daily growth, the meditative quality of weeding in the garden, and the sun on my skin as I work the land. The fruits and vegetables are really just an added bonus that comes with all of the time spent in the garden. Running is much the same way, while races may be the metaphorical “fruit,” it is really all of the training and time in the build up that define our moments as runners. The races give us an idea and goal to shoot for, it helps to shape our training and it gets us to show up each day and tend to our craft, and ultimately that is what matters. The actual race (or fruit) in the end is of less consequence or importance than all of the structured, dedicated work you have done in the process to get to race day. One race, be it 15 minutes or 15 hours, is just a snapshot of a day, it is not indicative of all of the dedication and commitment that was required over months and years to reach that starting line.
Both running and gardening require daily maintenance:
Okay, so maybe not quite daily maintenance, but nearly daily. This is almost the culmination of the two prior points. You need to have patience, it requires a lot of work to reap a harvest, and both of those happen with daily attention to your craft. A beautiful, healthy and robust garden is the sign and product of a passion that someone has spent hours crafting. The same can be said about a fit and healthy runner. It takes near daily attention with a true passion for what you are doing to attain results that you can be proud of.
I spent most of the rest of the run looking at different gardening plots that I passed, and wondering what the story behind each plot, and plot caretaker was. I wrapped up 8+ miles feeling positive and happy about the journey my running has taken me on.
Average pace: 9:26
Elevation gain : 56
Effort level: 5
How did I feel: Great
I wanted to give my wife a chance to have a little alone time, and I knew this run should be an easy effort, so it lined up perfectly for a stroller run. Both of my stroller runs that I have done this week have felt great! Those two runs have come as the second run on a double day, where expectations were low and the goal was just to move the legs. Setting out on this run, I wanted to accomplish about 5 miles, which mentally seemed like a very easy task.
As we started off on the run, I couldn’t believe how fresh my legs felt! After feeling a little sore and tight through the day, I was a little concerned as to how these miles might feel, but everything was rolling. We were running along a bike path that hugs the coastline of the Puget Sound on your west, with the skyline of the city to your east. Everything about the run just felt easy and positive. I was thankful for having the chance to spend time with my daughter, thankful for amazing running conditions, and just glad to be moving. The five miles flew by and we were back at the car before I knew it. I had given thought to the idea of running a little farther because of how easy everything felt, but I decided against it, knowing that I wanted to feel fresh and ready for my longer run tomorrow.
Andrew O’Connor is a coach with Team RunRun. To learn more about him or to work with Coach Andrew, check out his coaching page.
Read more about my week here: