Running in Outer Space

“…If I travel but four foot by the squier
further afoot, I shall break my wind.”

–Falstaff (1 Henry IV: II, ii)

You can stop at red lights, but then keep running again when they turn green.
You can stop at red lights, but then keep running again when they turn green.

I ran 20 miles this morning.

There’s something weighty about the distance itself, quite apart from the pain it inflicts.  Twenty is such a large, round number, a distance often driven and rarely traveled afoot.  In America, where people rarely put shoe leather to paving stones, I doubt most people understand how far 20 miles actually is.  I wonder if three hundred years ago most people would have known someone who lived farther than, say, 50 miles away.  And yet it’s a requirement of modern society that we be able to travel and communicate across these distances at great speeds on a daily basis.

For fun, take a look at these two graphs:

Total Milage per Week 2008
Total Mileage per Week 2008

This is a graph of my total mileage from 2008 with three points marked:

C: The week I injured my ankle and had to take several days off (this follows a half marathon and my black belt test, so I’d been putting it through the wringer).  My marathon training really began after this.

A: My peak of 64.1 miles, reached the week of 31 August.  Also the week before I met the guy who’s now my fiancé.  Coincidence?

B: The week of the marathon.  I ran 42.5 miles that week, though a little more than half of that was the marathon itself.  This is because I don’t know how to turn it off, even when I’m supposed to be relaxing.

Training for 2009
Training for 2009

My average weekly mileage is a lot higher, although my long runs are generally shorter (I’ve only done one twenty-miler so far, compared with four before the marathon last year).  I’m also doing a lot of speed work (it helps that my training partner is working on improving his 10k time), so my runs are getting faster (instead of the 12 minute miles I was running in 08, I’m doing mostly 10s and 11s with a handful of 9.5s thrown in – a marked improvement for me).

Although I’ve been running for years, I’ve only really been doing serious distance since Fall 2007 (when I ran my first 10k).  It’s really interesting to see how my running has changed over time.  I’ve been routinely hitting close to 50 miles per week for half the year (my standing goal is “at least 36”).  I’ve also noticed that while my absolute minimum for a run (that is, the minimum I had to run to feel okay) used to be about 5 miles, now it’s between 6 and 7 miles.  Any more and  this is going to start cutting into my life a lot…I guess it’s a good thing I’m getting faster.

The marathon is 25 October, a little more than a month from now.  I think I’m ready.

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