May 24th – Day 7

Total miles run for the day:10.7
Total miles run for the week: 100.6

Total elevation for the day: 469
Total elevation for the week: 5,351

Workout:

10.7 miles – Road
Average pace: 8:35
Elevation gain: 469
Effort level – 5
How did I feel: Great

Mentally this was one of my easiest runs of the week for me to approach. It likely had something to do with the fact that this run would put me over my weekly mileage goal, but I also believe that the extra workload of the week has already shifted my mind set towards a new normal. “Only one run today, and it’s just 10 miles?” This was to be my lightest training day of the week, and I felt ready to knock it out.

As I started I couldn’t have asked for nicer conditions. The sun was starting to peak out from behind the clouds, the air felt comfortable at about 58 degrees, and there was barely any wind noticeable. I left the house with only a slight sense of where I wanted to head for my run. As I mentioned on day 5 of my write up, I really enjoy these open ended, “exploration runs”. The freedom to let your legs take you wherever you decide, with very little guidance or pre-set notions can be incredibly freeing. There are no paces you have to hit, no pre-set route that you must follow, it’s just you and your imagination taking you along whatever journey or path you choose to follow. I find this sense of exploration to be incredibly freeing and empowering at the same time.

As I started today, I found myself following a couple of the same miles I traveled on my long run yesterday. It was really interesting to take in how much more in tune with my surroundings and open to observation I was able to be today, due to a slower pace. While the flow and rhythm of my run yesterday felt amazing, I wasn’t very in tune with my surroundings. I was focusing on my form, my breathing, and staying mentally relaxed. Today at a much slower pace, and easier effort level I was so aware of all the beauty surrounding me.

As my run progressed I was surprised at how easy and effortless the workout felt. After the initial warm up, and the first couple of miles were out of the way, I found myself actively trying to keep the pace and effort level easy. My legs felt ready to run. I had packed my phone and headphones to have some music or a podcast for the run, but by the halfway point I found myself too focused on my surroundings to want music. I felt in tune with my breath, I could hear each foot strike upon the ground, and I was aware of every movement my body was making to propel me forward. I felt connected with my run and surroundings.

As I worked my way through the cement maze of the city, I realized I was close to one of my favorite dirt tracks, so I headed over for some soft surface ¼ mile loops. This track is known as the “Queen Anne Bowl” and it really is a bowl. Carved into a steep hillside, you really feel as though you are nestled into a soft dirt running haven, surrounded by lush green trees and the expansive views of the surrounding city. I settled in for 5 or 6 laps, enjoying the flow of the unbroken surface of the track.

Monitoring my watch I knew it was time to start heading back toward the house if I was going to stay within the daily mileage in the range that I wanted to. This meant I had to run over the Ballard bridge. As I had talked about on day 4, this bridge is nerve rattling, but also provides some amazing views. This trip was no different, The views of the fishing vessels and surrounding mountains were amazing. Every time a large truck or bus passed by it was terrifying.

As I left the bridge I had a little over a mile to wrap up my run, and my week of training. Right as I crossed the 100 mile mark for the week I ran past the gym that I train at. Due to Covid-19 the gym has been closed and I have been out of work since March 16th. This was a little bittersweet. There is no way I would have been able to run 100 miles in a week, while blogging and adding video of my experience, if I had been working my regular 30 hours a week of personal training. I have been excited to have had the chance to cover the miles that I have, as well as document and record the process. However, I dearly miss my daily interaction with clients and one on one training sessions that were an integral part of my daily experience prior to Covid-19.

The last ½ mile that I ran home to finish my training week was the same route that I take to commute back and forth from work. I have run this ½ mile stretch of road literally hundreds of times. It felt appropriate that this stretch of road made up my last bit of my 100 mile training week. I arrived back home feeling accomplished with my running over the last week and at the same time excited to spend some time with my daughter through the rest of the day. 100 miles in a week done.

Some notes / thoughts on the week:

I was encouraged at how physically easy the miles felt. The physical aspect of the week and challenge was actually the easiest. Planning child care, time for writing blog posts and editing video, along with just coordinating the schedule for working out was harder than actually running the miles. Don’t wait until 11pm the night before your long run to coordinate with your spouse about a pickup :-/

I was surprised at how helpful having stated / public goals was. I mentioned this in a previous blog, but it was eye opening at how beneficial having daily mileage / structured goals was. Many of my runs this week might have been cut short or skipped If I hadn’t had the goal of making 100 miles. After completing each of these runs I was excited at the fact I had completed them, where in other training weeks these might have been cut short. This really highlighted the fact that we are capable of so much more than we realize or think, but we are often limited or confined by the norms or standards we are used to.

These training efforts can not be done alone. I have mentioned in past posts how thankful I was for help from my family, and that has to be restated. Whether my wife was helping with early morning kid duty, my brother showing up to help film and hand off water, or my mom was assisting with proofreading and child care, this goal wouldn’t have happened without their help. This experience of not only running 100 miles in a week, but recording it through text and video has been extremely beneficial and nuturing for me. I often view my running as an artistic expression or outlet. How many miles will I run, what type of surface will I cover, how will each run fit into the larger picture of my overall training week? All of these variables help to make up the “canvas” that I paint my training upon. This chance to not only run longer than I ever have in a 7 day period, as well as record and document it felt like an amazing opportunity to interact with my running as an art and craft, in a manner that I had only really been able to imagine and had not experienced before.

Goals are kind of funny. Not funny “ha ha”, but funny in a peculiar kind of way. Running 100 miles in a week is something I have wanted to do for quite a long time. I have thought about it for at least the last 7 years. While this project required a lot of time and effort, the actual running of the miles was not that difficult. On this last day of the week I found myself looking to the future. As I passed 95 miles for the week I was already thinking about where I wanted to put my energy and focus for my next running project or endeavor. I hadn’t even finished the goal that I was in the midst of working on, something that had held my imagination for years, and I was still thinking about where I was headed next. This never ending look to the future, the intrigue with the unknown and unexplored, of where our running may take us, is at the heart of what drives me to keep putting one foot in front of the other.

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:

Intro to my 100 Mile Training Week

Day 1 – May 18th – 16 miles

Day 2 – May 19th – 12 miles

Day 3 – May 20th – 15 miles

Day 4 – May 21st – 13.1 miles

Day 5 – May 22nd – 13.5 miles

Day 6 – May 22nd – 20.2 miles