It has occurred to me that I have unduly restricted myself to just mathematics and physics on this blog. However my interests in general are collected around what I view as beautiful.
I have a number of thoughts about mathematics and physics that will be making their way onto this blog in short order but currently my mind is occupied with endurance. This summer, on my 34th birthday I ran 34+1 miles. There was some training but never a run longer than 22 or maybe 23 miles. Yet the run was decent. I was tired certainly and it took willpower to complete yet it wasn’t all that difficult. I’ve spent the summer also exploring local trails and overgrown dirt roads and realized…belatedly that I was essentially going on long bike rides. I wasn’t road riding much but still spending 8+ hours out riding. So i decided to try another century. It has been years since my last one which was quite tiring. I decided to ride down to a coastal town which is about fifty miles away and have lunch. My friend Ben came along and we took our time, stopped and enjoyed the scenery along the way (the trip down has a lot of overlooks onto a river). After a leisurely lunch we headed back. It was just a bike ride. It was chill.
Yesterday I ran part of my long run (2.5 hours) with a friend. I was tired from a late night previously but even so his pace was quite speedy and I had trouble keeping up. I tend to do my long runs pretty chill, around a 9-9.5 min mile. I’ve also been experimenting with walking breaks (to maintain freshness, work walking muscles, and decrease recovery time).
Later that day I was thinking about my goals which involve things like running centuries, riding double centuries and doing 24 hour races etc. Sometimes those seem daunting of course. But they’re also mysterious in the sense of preparation. You might do a long run of 50 miles before you do your century, but that might have been your longest run! That’s quite a jump.
I’m increasingly feeling like it’s a matter of knowing yourself and knowing your pace and just plodding along. Of course there’s a lot of training to build a strong endurance base and to build strong muscles to prevent injuries. But after a certain point it’s mental.
The arithmetic is interesting. If you average 5mph, so 12 minute miles, you will run 100 miles in 20 hours. In fact to complete 100 miles in 24 hours you need to average 14.4 minute miles. Of course this doesn’t suddenly make running a century easy, it’s a phenomenal accomplishment. But it puts the long run (or sandwiched long runs) in perspective. While I may want to keep some brisk mid-week runs, I can really dial back my weekend run(s). I can plod along, walk, pause and think if need be, stretch a little, etc. As all the sites suggest, it’s about being able to be on your feet. Can you keep going? Can you shuffle along? Can you eat and drink well enough to provide your body with something to metabolize so that you can move forward?
If you averaged 10mph on your bike you could ride 240 miles in a day. Again, that’s clearly not simple. You’ll get tired of being on the bike. To keep going will require preparation and will power (along with good nutrition). From where I live that’s about how far Quebec City is from me. With a good endurance base what would it be like to ride to Quebec City in a day, spend a week with my good friend Marie and then ride back?
I’m also curious about how preparing for these adventures affects injuries. Regardless of the activity I strongly believe in strength training for injury prevention. Also thing like yoga and foam rolling. But if you’re spending lots of time ‘doing stuff’ but it’s chill are you less likely, equally likely or more likely to become injured than if you’re training ‘harder.’
Slowling down and just enjoying the surroundings has a large appeal to me. I greatly enjoy the idea of testing my limits and my will. In two weeks I’ll be participating in a twelve hour mtn bike race which I’ll reflect on afterwards. It should be interesting as I have not ridden for that long before 🙂