I have gotten into the habit of posting my total running miles to social media each month. I don’t pay any attention to my monthly mileage as the month goes on, but I do like to sit down with my running app and view my total monthly miles on the last day of each month. It’s nice to reflect on each month of running. The months leading up to my yearly marathon contain more miles than non marathon training months, and rightly so. I know many people can run tons of miles all year long, but I’m certain I’m not one of those people. I tend to start suffering from overuse injuries once I get really high in mileage, despite my best efforts to keep them at bay. Additionally, I don’t feel that I am a born athlete. I have to work hard at maintaining what I’ve already got going, and I always feel like I’m on the verge of potentially burning out, and the idea of not having running in my life scares me. I bet that must sound kind of weird to the casual acquaintance, but I know my running buddies out there understand this completely. For, preparing for each run is a struggle. More often than not, as I lace up my running shoes and prepare for my run, I contemplate skipping it. My brain starts to tell me that it won’t matter much if I skip my run. My brain tells me things like, “Hey lady, you’re no olympian, here. You’re not qualifying for the Boston Marathon any time soon. You’re a wife, mother, and librarian. Nobody really cares whether you go on this run. Just skip it.” But, I tell that brain to shut up and I push myself out of the door, and I run. Sometimes I instantly feel better and I think, “I love this. I love running” but sometimes I think to myself, “This sucks. My legs hurt. The air is thick. Why am I doing this?” The point is, no matter the outcome of my run, I stick to my plan and I run. I allow myself pre determined rest days, but other than that, I’m running. Every mile I run is a success and I want to celebrate it.
So, I keep on running each month, despite the fact that many days I really want to skip my workouts. I know that this is a struggle for many others besides myself. This is why many out of shape individuals fall prey to the “get fit quick” programs that inundate the marketplace. The promise of an easy, quick fitness solution? Yes, sign me up. But I digress, the point is that I know I must persevere, even when I lack motivation, and so I soldier on. I am disciplined with my running. Many months I hover between 80 and 100 miles. In peak marathon training season, I will average a bit more, between 100 and 140 miles. For the month of May, I ran 97 miles. That’s a good solid non marathon training month for me. After noticing my May monthly mileage total, I created my little graphic that I always make that lists my total miles for the month. As I went to post it on Instagram, I thought to myself “I bet you that total of 97 miles would really drive a lot of people crazy. I bet you they’d go out and run three more miles so that they’d have a nice round 100 miles for the month.” So, in my Instagram post I posed the question to my IG friends, “Do you make sure you end your month on a nice rounded number?” Most of my responses were resounding yeses, and it was a fun question to discuss with my running friends. I mean, ultimately, if we’re running every month, than that’s a good month, right? If I’d skipped my three mile run that morning my May miles would have been 94. If I’d skipped that three mile run and the four mile run the day before, my total would have been 90 miles for the month. 90 miles would have been a nice rounded number, but is it better than 97? No, because I would have skipped three good runs and it might very well have led to skipping a fourth good run, which could have led to me quitting running, and that would be a travesty.
Ultimately my goal in recording my monthly mileage is to celebrate whatever running I’ve done that month. Whether it’s a big miles month or a smaller miles month, it’s really all good. I know that my friends weren’t suggesting that my monthly mileage wasn’t good or anything, they were just saying that ending the month so close to a nicely rounded number would trouble them enough to go run a second time that day to make it to 100. I can understand that, certainly. I have had many a run where I have pushed myself to stay under a certain pace simply to see those splits recorded on my running app. I have pushed myself at races to make qualifying times for the front corral at my beloved Chevron Houston Marathon. I can see the thought process there, I just for some reason don’t fret about my monthly mileage. I love to see how many monthly miles my fellow runners get in and I like to reflect on my own monthly miles. Just thinking about all of the problems that were solved, fights that were avoided, and logistical work puzzles that were worked through on those runs is magnificent. Posting my monthly mileage forces me to pay close attention to how very far I have come in these last four years of running. There was a time, not long ago, that I could not run one mile without stopping to rest. It is truly amazing what the human body and the human spirit can accomplish when we believe in ourselves and we don’t give up.
Keep running and recording your miles, friends.