Does anyone else love a good Michael J Fox movie? Here’s a down to earth Midwest boy (hey, I know someone like that) who moves to New York City (I did that, too!) and becomes the CEO of a big corporation (um, no). Well, 2 out of 3 ain’t too shabby. And I bet I could’ve become a big time CEO if my aunt owned a large company. Brantley does have an innovative mind and willingness to try new things though, which leads to his eventual success. I attribute my ultra success (specifically my ability to finish long races, not necessarily quickly) to two things: consistency and flexibility. They’re both intertwined to some degree and my running this past weekend is a good example.
The consistency part isn’t just about running a ton of miles per week, but more about the structure of those miles. One of my guiding beliefs in life is that in order to get better at something you, then you need to do it a lot. This is along the same lines as Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hour rule as noted in his book Outliers. So for ultra marathons, it’s not really so much about running a lot as it is running long. In my opinion, one thirty mile run a week is better than doing three 10 mile runs and infinitely better than doing seven 3 mile runs. My focus is doing as many 20+ mile runs a year as possible, while still staying healthy. I’ve managed to do 67 twenty mile runs over the past 3 plus years including 10 so far this year. This doesn’t mean I do them every week. I’ve been fairly good about taking two extended breaks each year where I’ll go 2-3 months without one. After a month or more rest, it’ll take me 2-3 weeks to build back up to a 20 mile run. I think I’ve got a good enough base, that I doubt there’s much risk for me going from 5 to 20 yet would still rather error on the side or caution.
Last weekend wasn’t a 20 mile run, but it was a key 3 hour run that bridges the gap from offseason to full on Eastern States training mode. I typically do all my long runs on Saturday morning, however I had signed up to run a 5K with my son. He’s gotten fast enough over the past couple years that I’m starting to have a challenge keeping up with him so didn’t want to add this mileage onto the beginning or end of a long run for me. This is where the flexibility comes in. Moving the run to Sunday isn’t necessarily a huge issue, however I like to do my runs first thing in the morning. This meant getting up at 4:30am so I could get back in time to head to church with the family. It’s difficult enough getting up early during the week to get my runs in, but it can be borderline devastating to do this on the weekends. It wasn’t too many decades ago that I would sleep in till early afternoon during the weekends. Ahhh. . . those were the days. Now I get up earlier on Saturdays/Sundays than I do for work. Next weekend I’ll be doing my long run on Saturday afternoon in the blazing/muggy heat. Not my preferred time. But I’ll get it in.
Being flexible to consistently get my long run in 3 weeks a month during each training cycle. That’s the secret to my success.
What’s your favorite Michael J. Fox movie?