How to Enjoy a 50K — Step 1: Wake Up Slowly
Let me be the first to say that I have no idea if it’s possible to enjoy running a 50K, which is just over 31 miles, nonstop at an average elevation of 10,700′. I’m sure there’s some minuscule fraction of the world’s population who would say it’s no big deal, but for the other 7.8 billion of us . . . just . . . ouch.
I’ve stated that my goal is to enjoy it–every last second of it. That’s a lot more involved than just finishing it and it has nothing to do with time.
I know I’ve got enough grit and resolve to finish in the time allotted (16 hours). Even if I hike the whole thing at 2 MPH, I’ll make it. But this idea of smiling through it, of keeping my cool, being outwardly friendly to everyone I encounter, crossing the finish line grateful and somewhat oblivious to how much pain I just endured . . . this is not my wheelhouse.
I’m used to suffer fests. I’m used to venting and cursing my way through difficult moments. I’m used to being highly aware of my physical pain and near the end of my rope mentally and emotionally. So this is, quite honestly, a big challenge for me.
One thing is certain: If I’m going to approach this race differently than races I’ve done in the past, then I’ve got to approach training differently as well. Also, let’s be honest, I’m older than I used to be 😉
My first step is to wake myself up slowly, gently, peacefully.
It feels flat out wrong to do so in the dead of winter with a ten-day forecast of daily snow ahead of me. It’s dark in the morning and my body believes it should be sleeping as long as possible alongside my blissfully snoozing pups. But my brain and my heart know I want to achieve this goal and now is the time to begin steadily working towards it.
My main focus right now is stretching. I stretch every day–no matter what I have going on–and I stretch more than usual. When I was a kid in dancing school we would spend at least 30-40 minutes of every class stretching. Since I’m not nearly as flexible as I’d like to be, I’m currently shooting for 45-60 minutes daily.
I also got a bike trainer so I can set my road bike up indoors. The goal is to wake up at 5:40 am and do an easy session of low gear spinning before work. No hard rides, no endurance workouts–just the practice of waking up and pedaling gently. I’m aiming to do this a minimum of five times a week. So far I’ve got four of these down and I’m feeling great.
This is how I’ll slowly wake myself up over the course of the next two weeks. Then, on February 16th, I’ll start a beginner’s training plan developed by a champion ultra-runner. I expect to make adjustments in order to stay indoors on frigid snow-filled days, because again, my goal is to enjoy without the suffering. There will be plenty of strenuous days ahead. For now, I will give myself the gift of easing in gently.
So can she do it? Can she really enjoy every second of her first 50K ultra? Stay tuned to find out!
Sending Love 💛 & Light 💡 from Boulder, CO