This morning I completed my Winter of 20 Milers project. Thirteen straight weekends of twenty mile training runs. It didn’t start to become a thing until I was part way into it. But once it was a thing? Oh, then it was on!
The funny thing is that when I wrote my initial post on this, I hadn’t even realized that I started this right at the beginning of the winter season. I was just thinking winter in general terms (i.e. December through April) and not specific dates (i.e. 12/21-3/20).
And frankly, if I had tried to plan out running a 20 miler every week for 3+ months, I probably wouldn’t have actually followed through. Even though I focus on getting in lots of 20 mile runs, I don’t do them every single weekend. They’re a decent sized chore at times and the challenge of stringing together that many of them in a row isn’t something that would necessarily motivate me. If anything, it would have the opposite effect I’m sure I would have gotten burned out mentally before the second month finished up.
I was able to accomplish the streak by treating it like an ultra. Just like you shouldn’t think about the 40 or 60 miles you still have to cover to the end of your race, I didn’t think of it as this huge block of 20 milers. I literally took it weekend by weekend. As the week progressed, my body and mind felt fine so I just kind of assumed I’d get in another 20. And the cool thing? This was completely subconscious on my part. I didn’t even realize I was doing it until I sat down to write this up.
Right now I’m 5 weeks out from C&O Canal. It’s 3 weeks too early to start my taper so it looks like I have 3 more 20 milers left on my schedule. And even though I just knocked out 13 straight, the thought of doing 3 more gives me a little mental shudder instead of what should be a shrug. Part of me is frustrated by this. I mean, if 3 months isn’t long enough to reset my baseline, then how many more do I need to do? Six? A full year? But the deeper part of me that’s hooked on running long is thrilled. Because this isn’t supposed to be easy.
However, I’m not thinking of the next three weekends. Only next weekend. And 20 miles doesn’t sound too bad after all.