26 in 34

My 26 mile time is now at 34 hours. (Well, 26.2, if I’m talking about the distance that will matter. But the 34 hour mark isn’t super precise, either. This was the first attempt, and I didn’t even decide until mile 21 that I was going to do it, so I didn’t bother keeping super close track.) Obviously the 26 weren’t all together. It was something like 1/1/.5/1.5/1/13/.5/.5/1/1/5. Now, while I don’t plan on this blog becoming inundated by posts about my fitness, it is nonetheless my web log, so I’m going to note some observations that I will presumably come back to in a few months. For the people who are or have been into running, this is probably all obvious. Maybe. Maybe it’s more idiosyncratic. Regardless.

  • I could probably chip the time down a fair bit if I actually planned ahead. The 13 mile chunk was at the end of a day that already included two full body strength workouts. My legs were already feeling like gelatin.
  • My sense of speed is not very consistent. Near the beginning I was keeping around 10 mph. By the end I was closer to 4 mph. They felt about the same.
  • Which song was playing had a lot to do with my speed. More than local progress, though less than global progress. (I.e. with a faster song, mile 3 is faster than mile 1, but mile 26 is not faster than mile 3. Unless I intentionally take mile 3 really slowly, of course.)
  • Around mile 10 of the 13 mile stretch (15 overall) I felt what may have been the greatest physical sensation I have ever felt.
  • Turns out if you sweat enough, when it dries, there will be visible grains of salt on your face.
  • The hardest mile was the nineteenth. I.e., the first one after sleeping. I assumed I was going to take a rest day because of how much it hurt to move. After three miles the pain subsided.
  • Thirteen in a row probably felt better than the twenty-six over thirty-four hours. I felt done at the end of the thirteen. Writing this at the end of the twenty-six, I feel like I should go run some more.
  • I was wondering why my thighs were okay after the eighteen. Then today when I added the eight I realized yesterday was in athletic pants. I guess now I can justify getting some nice athletic pants.
  • Getting Little Caesars midway through the final five was a nice energy boost, but also acid shooting up my throat was unpleasant.
  • I hadn’t really gone far past feeling like jello before. Apparently somewhere later is feeling like stone.
  • I hate treadmills.
  • While my presumed eventual goal is 26 in 5, as an intermediate step, condensing the chunks into 13 and 13 first might be more feasible. (Or just working up from 13 to 14 to 15 to….Or, combine the two. 14 and 12, 15 and 11, 16 and 10…..)
  • While speed isn’t really a big concern, at least for now, I do wonder what kind of pacing would be most effective. I clearly started fast and slowed down. There were some local peaks and valleys, but the overall trend was significantly downward. I wonder if keeping a more steady rate would be more efficient.
  • Also, while I did not aim for any speed, I did aim for intensity throughout. My primary ongoing goal was to defeat any urge to slow down. That is, my goal was to run at the maximum sustainable speed, with occasional sprints.
  • The sudden bursts of energy to sprint surprised me. They aligned with my music, but in the middle of mile 13 (8 of the 13 mile stretch) I was able to sustain 10 mph for thirty seconds. I had similar, though slower, bursts in miles 18 and 26.
  • I am really surprised at how little wear these shoes from Rue 21 have taken. I assumed this would destroy them.
  • Running far away from home in order to force myself to run the second half remains an effective technique.
  • Riverside has a lot of intersections. Lest I go 130-260 laps around the track in the gym, I need to find some extended area without breaks outside.
  • Riverside at night is a lot less scary while running.
  • Pop punk, power metal, thrash metal, and industrial metal, while normally excellent kinds of music, are also excellent for running. Particularly the speedier songs within. “M&Ms” by blink-182, “Once in a Lifetime” by DragonForce, “All Nightmare Long” by Metallica, and “Never Surrender” by Combichrist are some examples.
  • Pop punk and power metal are good for peppy songs to feel good to. Thrash and industrial metal are good for songs to power through pain to.
  • Part of the trick with training this skill will be that it takes quite a bit of time. And this is an extremely busy quarter for me. I know the 13 mile stretch was done in 2 hours. I imagine the total time was somewhere between 5 and 6 hours, maybe 7 because of how sluggish the end got. Even if it was only 5, that’s a lot of time out of two days. Perhaps weekends will be of some use. Or the summertime.
  • Given I really only started running with any regularity a little over two months ago, I am surprised.
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My morning routine

Mornings used to be a struggle for me. For long stretches of time in the past, I’d wake up, hit snooze, steal a few more minutes of sleep, and then repeat many times in a miserable cycle of wanting to lay in bed under my covers more than I wanted to get up. This shouldn’t be too shocking. Bed was comfy, and I had to get up to do unpleasant things. Even when I did get up, I would waste time on my phone or laptop instead of getting out of bed.

That was a consistently terrible way to start the day. I’d waste hours neither really enjoying myself nor getting anything done. So I changed it. Basically everything about my morning has changed, so I will lay out the complete morning routine here.

Every day the first thing I do is wake up. On some days an alarm gets me up at a certain time. Most days I let the sun coming through my window wake me up somewhere between six and nine. Some days I want to go back to bed, so I hit snooze or just close my eyes again. If I have to use the bathroom, I’ll do that and then return to a sleeping position. Unlike before, though, I almost never actually want to stay there for more than three minutes. So I cancel the snooze or get up.

I imagine a substantial part of this is due to my deciding to not get a bed. When I moved in September, I spent a couple weeks trying to decide what kind of bed best fit my needs. After thinking about it for awhile, I realized with my goal of not wasting hours of the morning relaxing in bed, I was best served by the floor. (In December my friend gave me a sleeping bag. If you choose to abandon a bed, I do advise a sleeping bag. You do gain a little comfort, but in exchange you get a texture that’s easier on your skin and the small amount of padding is much, much easier on your body.) As an extra bonus, in the evening time, there’s no comfy bed tempting me to turn in early. I stay up doing things until I’m so exhausted I’m ready to hit the floor.

Often when I wake up I give my phone three to five minutes of attention. I check if I have any important messages and maybe indulge in a blog post. Then I’m eager to get off the floor and get moving.

I proceed into the bathroom (with an outfit) and turn on the shower. Then I remember I need water and go into the kitchen for a glass or three. Then I start my morning music on my phone. I try to keep the music moving. In general, I keep the music in the morning high tempo or upbeat. I reserve the slower or grander music for the evenings.

As the water warms up, I do a series of mobility exercises to get going. (Borrowed from here.) About five to ten of each of the following:

  • neck turns
  • neck tilts (up/down/left/right)
  • shoulder rolls
  • arm circles
  • elbow circles
  • torso twists
  • wrist circles
  • ankle circles
  • leg circles
  • high knees
  • kick own ass
  • toe curls
  • pelvic thrust
  • bring it around town

Then I get in the shower and dance to the music while cleaning myself. My personal favorite song to include in this is Combichrist’s “Get Your Body Beat”.

After I finish in the shower and get dressed, the rest of the routine depends on the day. If it’s not a Sunday, I move onto some stretching:

  • scapular shrugs
  • cat camels
  • finger pulses
  • wrist pulses
  • putting my hands on the floor, fingers to my knees, and rocking back and forth

I need to get some bands to do a few more. (The stretches, strength work, and skill work are from here.) Then bodyline work:

  • plank
  • side plank
  • reverse plank
  • hollow hold
  • arch hold

I really should time these, but counting throws me off and I last longer focusing on the music. Perhaps I should get a stopwatch to keep track of my progress.

If it’s a Monday, Wednesday, or Friday, I move onto strength training, which right now consists of:

  • L-sit (Right now I have my heels on the floor–the goal is 3×8 without any help from the floor. Right now I’m at 3×4. My wrist is in the healing process, so hopefully when my wrist doesn’t scream in pain when bearing weight I’ll have a better go of it.)
  • Step ups (Right now I use a chair. I’m having an easy go of 3×8 of these, and my balance is improving, too. I might need to find a higher surface to work with. Part of the trick is right now this is all before I head out the door. If I were to do this elsewhere I might find more options…) (Anyhow, I do L-sits, rest, Step ups, rest, and repeat until I have done three sets of each.)
  • Push ups (Again, 3×8, and paired with the next item. Using an incline for now while I focus on the form and let my wrist heal. Usually after warming up it’s not too bad, but on the floor is still too much for it.)
  • Rows (Inclined for now. I used to use a table, but the table we have now is too weak. I’ll be getting a bar soon (or finding a good place with one) and then I’ll be able to properly do horizontal rows. Those are too fun. It’s probably for the best I save them for the end.)

If it’s Tuesday, Thursday, or Saturday, I move on to skill work instead. I spend a few minutes working on my handstand (which right now is a very inclined plank. I’m probably at a 4pi/9 angle with the floor. Once my head stops feeling like it will explode I imagine it gets easier. Yay for content to post updates on). Then I move on to parallel bar support. Or, due to lack of parallel bars, holding myself up on the L counter. I fully intend to add a dead hang, but that will require a bar. If anyone knows of any good bars…

Any weekday, after this stuff, if I’m hungry, I grab a waffle or something small. Usually I abandon breakfast and toss a small snack in my bag just in case. I fill my water bottle, have another glass or two of water, and head out the door. The department is about a mile away, and I run that distance. My goal right now is seven minutes with weight. Then I drink some more water.

If it’s a weekend, my schedule is more volatile. I do make sure I get in a minimum of two miles of running in every day, though that’s in part because otherwise I have too much energy and get irritated being sedentary.

At that point the morning is over and the day begins.