I am a creature of habit.
True of many aspects of my life, but especially true of exercising.
I’m best about working out and training, and most effective, once I get into a groove where it feels wrong not getting something done. A groove where I no longer try to figure out how I’m going to fit in a workout, but take it as a given that I will workout and I start revising the rest of my day accordingly. There’s always the risk of taking this to extremes and getting the dreaded overuse injury, but when managed properly this type of routine is where I find myself most centered, both physically and mentally. It’s even better when I don’t really realize it has happened.
When I went to pull my data off my Garmin after yesterday’s 20-mile run, I took a close look back through my recent training for the first time in several weeks. In the middle of January the whole family made our pilgrimage to Orlando for some Disney/Universal goodness, complete with lots of calories and little exercise, with the exception of 6,000 laps around the parks and competitive line-standing. It was a much-needed break from real-life, personally and professionally. Immediately after returning from that trip I signed up for a 50k in May, and realized that my cross-training based workout routine needed to shift towards the running side of the scale, and I needed to ramp up the mileage if I wasn’t going to be left for dead somewhere on the beaches of North Carolina mid-50k.
It started innocently with a 5-mile run on January 19. Since that point, including this morning’s trip to the gym, I’ve gone 40 straight days of either running, cycling, swimming, lifting, or the occasional day of doing some combination of these activities. I don’t have the data to substantiate it, but I’m about 99% certain that’s the longest streak of exercise/training I’ve done in close to 20 years. The best part about it is I didn’t even realize I had been that consistent until my friend Excel let me know. Here are the actual stats from the last 40 days:
Running: 21 runs, 169.31 miles
Cycling: 5 rides, 97.92 miles
Swimming: 4 swims, 4750 meters
Lifting: 12 trips to the gym
Mixing in activities other than just running has been the key to this steady progress. Nothing feels repetitive right now, and (knock on wood until my knuckles bleed) I feel pretty healthy. I have a half-marathon coming up in 3 weeks, which will be my first official half-marathon ever. I’m running it with my best friend who paced me through the last 8 miles of the MCM back in November, so we’re just planning to have a good time and I’m not looking to ‘race’ it. Regardless of what I do, assuming I finish, it will be a PR. My plan is to do nothing the day before the race, so that will definitely mark the end of this streak, if it doesn’t already end before then.
I’m happy with this consistency, but would like to be getting to the pool more often. I’m also doing some comparison shopping between trainers for my bike, so I can get some more miles on the bike without being dependent on getting out for a full-blown ride. However, like all things cycling, this represents a pretty serious dollar investment, so it may have to wait a while.
On top of this, I’m trying to drop about 7 pounds to get down to what I think is my ideal race weight before the 50k in May, but that’s a story for another blog post. My experience has been that it’s hard to drop weight while in the middle of a training cycle, and this time is proving to be no exception. We’ll see how it goes.