Since January, I have put in 1,419 miles of training, including 427 miles in the month of March. The farthest I went in one day was 48 miles.
At this point, now that I am no longer running until I step foot in the Pacific Ocean on Monday, there are two questions that people keep asking me.
Are you ready?
Physically, I would have to say yes. I am surprised at how well my body has held up during training; my knees, ankles, feet, and back feel fine. I gained some weight as planned, and this last week at home I caught up a little bit on sleep.
Mentally, however, is a different story. I don’t know if one can fully prepare mentally for an endeavor like running across the United States. Yes, I know what running 45 miles in one day feels like, but waking up and doing the same thing the next day, and the next, and the next— it is still unfathomable. Throwing ourselves into the deep end I think is the only way to get a true grasp of the experience. Hopefully we know how to swim. Or else hopefully there’s a life vest nearby.
Having intentions to run for and feeling the support of so many people has helped and will continue to help immensely.
What have you learned so far?
I think I can summarize what training has taught me with three main points.
- Never underestimate the power of company. The day of the 48-mile run, only 8 of those miles came by myself. It was one of the most memorable and fun runs, and there was not a single moment when I thought about any pain that existed from repeating the same motion for seven-and-a-half hours. I ran with five different people that day. Compare that to a solo 15-mile run at 4 in the morning in the middle of a long week of classes. Some of those runs were cut short.
For me, the power of company translated into everyday life towards the end of the semester. My first year-and-a half of college, I always studied by myself. At the end of this past school year, much of my studying was with other people. A group of us would get two hours of work done from 5-7 in the morning, and it was without a doubt the most productive two hours of my day. We weren’t working on the same subject, but just being surrounded by one, two, or occasionally five other people who were working silently but steadily inspired everyone else to persevere in their work. There was a mutual sense of encouragement that does wonders for one’s morale.
2. A mental routine is just as important as a physical one. The days I was not motivated to run were the days that I did not have a route planned out ahead of time, my running gear was not packed the night before, or I didn’t have a timeline in mind.
Another memorable run was when I did 35 miles around a 400-meter track. The certain reaction when I tell people of this workout is, “Why? Why would you do that to yourself?” They assume that it was a painful and mind-numbing experience, but it was again one of the easiest training runs of the semester. This was because my whole week leading up to that run was spent mentally preparing for it. And while I was running, my mind went into a routine of rosary, food, switch directions. Rosary, food, switch directions. The miles just clicked along, and each lap I felt like I was circling the track for the first time. Plus, a few people stopped by to run with me.
Establishing a mental routine translated to any task that required grit, whether it was a six-hour run, a three-hour exam, or an intense game of Spikeball with friends.
3. Stay hydrated. Because a hydrated runner is a happy runner.