Meeting Challenges

What’s more motivating these days than a running challenge?  Nothing! 

As I’ve mentioned in past posts, the Dad Bod Jog Club has been a huge motivator for my running in the past year.  The different monthly challenges that they put on keep running interesting especially during these times of very little in-person racing.  I joined the group at the end of summer 2020 at a time when I was in need of some motivation to keep my mileage up.  During the time that I’ve been part of the group, there have been many different challenges – my favorites of which have been the Big Push 4 Miler and 12 Days of Running.  Both of those challenges provided me opportunities to reach new milestones. 

The Big Push 4 Miler, which was 4 miles at the top of every hour for as long as you can go, allowed me to achieve my highest mileage in a day (32 Miles).  Also, the 12 Days of Running, which started at 1 mile and added another mile every day for 12 days in December for a total of 78 miles, and helped me to complete the month of December with my highest monthly total (232 Miles).  I never would have attempted or even thought of doing these challenges without being part of this club. 

The biggest thing that being part of this club and taking part in these challenges has done for me is provide me with the confidence that my body and mind can handle a lot more than I previously thought was possible.  An added bonus has been the incredible encouragement and support from everyone else in the club!

So when I saw the challenge for this month, March Dadness, I was immediately looking forward to it.  This challenge called for at least 4 miles on the 1st Saturday (3/6), at least 8 miles on the 2nd Saturday (3/13), at least 16 miles on the 3rd Saturday (3/20) and, then finally, at least 32 miles on the 4th Saturday (3/27). 

In other words, the last Saturday of this challenge provided me with the opportunity to equal my high of 32 miles in a day!

As expected, the first 3 Saturdays came and went with very little trouble and it all came down to the final Saturday, which would require 32 miles to complete the challenge. 

When my alarm went off at 5:30am on this past Saturday, my eyes were already open.

This is something that has become normal for me the morning of a planned long run.  This isn’t necessarily nerves, but rather excitement and just wanting to get it started. 

My plan was to run the 32 miles in four separate runs – 10 miles, 8 miles, 8 miles and 6 miles – with short breaks between each to change, eat and use the bathroom.  However, during the first run I felt very comfortable and ended up running 13.1 miles.  During a short break, which allowed me to refuel and change my shirt, I decided that I would try to complete the total mileage in three runs.  So, with that in mind, I went back out and completed a little more than 11 more miles, leaving me with just under 8 miles remaining to finish the challenge.

In hindsight, this might have been my biggest mistake of the day.  I’ve always struggled with fueling properly, especially on these type of long distance days broken up into multiple runs.  And this day would be no different. 

When I returned from the 2nd run, having completed a total of 24.2 miles so far, I didn’t feel like my stomach could handle anything and honestly wasn’t too sure I even wanted to go back out to complete the 32 miles.  But after forcing down some Gatorade and an apple and trading some encouraging messages with the others in the club, I went back out hoping to finish the final 7.8 miles. 

Now, I’d be lying if I said these last miles were anything other than really difficult. 

I walked.  I hobbled.  I shuffled.  I slowly ran.  My feet were killing me and my hamstrings were cramping up occasionally.  Through all of this I kept moving forward and eventually I finished the final 7.8 miles to complete the 32 mile challenge! 

Unfortunately, the only way to know if you can get through these difficult moments is by actually experiencing them.  Long runs or races provide these types of challenges sometimes and, even if the distances that you plan to run are different than this challenge, it’s still good to have something to draw on when it gets difficult during a run.  Having the confidence that your body can overcome different things physically and mentally is a great feeling that you can feed off of when it gets tough on another day. 

I think the best way of looking at these types of challenges is that the more that you experience them, the more you benefit from them in the future.

When it comes to running, there’s no feeling quite as good as reaching the finish of a long distance run, whether it’s a race, a challenge or just a training run.  All of the hard work as well as the mental and physical preparation is all worth it in the end.

It’s these feelings that make me want to continue with these challenges and has me constantly looking forward to future races!

5 thoughts on “Meeting Challenges

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