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Once Upon a Time...

Posted Nov 23 2009 10:02pm
I was once a runner. I've run over 40,000 miles in the past 25 or so years. Lots of marathons, ultras, shorter road races - well in excess of 400 races over 25 years.

Last week, I ran once. I ran 5 miles, and it was a speed session, but it was only 5 miles. For the whole week. This year will be my first year with fewer than 1000 running miles since 1985, I believe.

But, I did three very hard lifting workouts last week. That's where I seem to be having fun and what I want to do these days. I don't want to give up running, and I'd like to continue to run ultras, but maybe after 25 years of focusing on running, I'm just ready for something else.

Friday night, my workout was focused on bench presses. My fourth set was a single rep where I was trying to set a new best (After being a runner and skier for years, my legs are strong, but my bench press sucks, at least relative to the other powerlifts).

I needed to get to 170 pounds for a new bench press PR. My wife was there to cheer me on. I had a spotter. I lifted the weight off the bar really well, pulled it down, started to push up, and suddenly, something tightened up in my lower right side - my back and hamstring. I asked for help and the attempt was over. But, I knew I could have nailed it. So, I waited three minutes and tried again. This time, I did nail it. Maybe that's why I'm enjoying lifting so much right now. I'm setting PRs there while I'm far from being in decent running shape.

Saturday, I had a full day of ski instructor training, although we had no snow. Talking about skiing when you'd rather be skiing isn't the most fun training, but it's good to get back to using the right words and thinking like an instructor after a few months away from the mountain. After training, I never made it out for the run I'd hoped to do. There's some critical mass of ski instructors that leads to people drinking beer after anything skiing-related, and that's what happened. It was fun, but not the choice a real runner might have made.

Yesterday, I lifted again, focusing on deadlifts. Regretfully, despite having a math degree, I made an arithmetic error in my workout and didn't accomplish what I wanted. I was hoping to lift 340 pounds - 5 more than my current best. On my single-rep fourth set, I thought I'd loaded the bar with 325 and the lift went well. So, I added 15 pounds and did one more rep. And later, I realized that 6 x 45 pound wheels plus a 45 pound bar was 315 pounds, not 325. So, my heaviest lift was 330, not 340. But, I'll get to 340 or maybe even 350 next Sunday.

Because the gym is closed a few days this week, I will run more than I have recently. I'm going to do a short speed session after work tonight. Then, I'll lift the next two days. Thursday, my wife and I will run 8-10 together, and then I'll rest on Friday before running a 5K on Saturday. If the current weather forecast is correct, I'll be running the 5K in snow.

I'm trying to think ahead to ultras for next year. I really am. My hamstring seems to be healing well and I think I'll be able to run long next year. But, I'm not going to kill myself doing big miles during ski season. So, by the time ski season is over, I will have had almost a year of reduced running mileage. Can I consider a 100 miler next year, even late in the season? My wife and I have discussed either Leadville or Grand Teton as a race/family vacation. But, I have to decide if I have the health and the desire to make it happen. And right now, I'm just not sure.
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