I've been very introspective as of late. In light of the recent events in Boston, all the runners I know have been vowing to lace up and run more in honor of those affected by the marathon bombings. Yeah, I'm in that boat too I guess. As Americans, we take it personally; and as American runners, we take it very personally. Had those terrible explosions happened at next year's Boston Marathon, it very likely could have been my wife or me in harm's way.
But there's more to my introspection than that. Yes, we will keep running. However, rather than running more, I will be running less. In 2013 so far, I've set PR's at four different ultra distances, and I completed my first 100 mile race less than 18 months after my first marathon. I've logged thousands of training miles leading up to these various events and maintained a single-minded focus on some pretty lofty goals. Do I feel the sense of accomplishment? Yes. Absolutely. Then my friends ask: "What's next?" There, I start to get a little shaky. Next? Seriously?!
Let me tell you what else I've done while training at such a high volume and intensity. I've brought my body to a tipping point. I've spent months letting my training sap away my energy and my time. I got fit for my goals, but I did at the expense of...well, everything else. Working a full-time job, a part-time job, and logging an average of 70 miles per week left very little energy to spend quality time with my wife, my dogs, and my friends. Over-training led to constant fatigue and chronic nagging injuries, much to the ire of my chiropractor. My lack of sleep has been just plain unhealthy. I nearly broke the bank just trying to keep enough food in the house to satiate my constant hunger.
Right now, I'm at a precipice, and I am going to take action before I burn up or burn out. Yes, now is the time to run, and I still resolve to be a Reckless Runner, but I'm going to be smart about it so that I can live safely and healthfully, but continue to race with reckless abandon. Boston 2014, you are in my cross-hairs but until that point, I am going to have to set aside ultra-running...and perhaps marathoning. Instead, I plan to slash my weekly mileage base and focus on quality of runs, not so much quantity of miles. I plan on using some of that extra time to reinstate my strength training regimen and get back some of the muscle I've cannibalized through ultra-distance running. Most importantly, I plan on making time for my family and for my rest. If I have that in my pocket, I can only achieve more.
So look for me to be at the occasional 5k-Haf-Marathon. Don't expect me to be be doing 25-milers on weekend training runs. The ultras will be there when I return, but I plan to take my time and return stronger, smarter, and healthier. Now is the time for us to run, but if I'm going to run, I'm going to make it a good run.
See you on the roads and trails.