Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Hours vs Miles

I took this shot in 2008, the year I started running, the year I did my first half. The shot wasn't taken on a run, I think I was heading out for a morning hunt, but I've seen a similar view a number of times on the trail or an early morning run, hike, or hunt. 

What separates miles and hours while running?

It seems that the answer to this is where you run.  If you're a road runner, you likely track your runs by distance covered.  If you're a trail runner, trying to get across a concept to people who understand road running you tell them how far you went in miles.  Maybe if you're running "shorter" distances on the trail, you do the same, but then, at some point, when you're training for the big show, whether it be a long race, a long hike, a long backpacking trip or a long hunt, you start thinking in hours. 

It goes something like this:

Well, I am going to be out there for multiple hours / days / weeks and I need the power to keep moving. It becomes less and less about speed, and more and more about the ability, strength and mental power to keep moving. Whether it be running, hiking, backpacking or hunting, you're going to be pushing your limits. 

People can be amazed by the long runs. 

Why? Because they understand them as something they see, or can do, or have done - running. And, they realize that these guys are pushing the envelope the whole time they're out there, no matter how big or deep that envelope is. The guy who finishes 100 miles in 18 hours is just as impressed by the guy who took 30 to complete the same distance, because in their own way, they're both damned hard core, and they both put their all into it, and suffered miserably. But the guy out there for 30 hours suffered for 12 more hours. 

But, those guys who pack back in the big country to disappear for a while, carrying everything they need to survive on their backs are also damned impressive, yet less likely to get the same level of ooohhhs and aaahhhhs, however, that's not what they're doing it for. It's strange if you think about it. They're actually working hard for a longer period of time, and carrying more weight, but the big difference is, they're appreciating it all, for themselves! They're out there to soak it in. Not to roll over a goal. They're watching the sunrise, they're looking at the views, they're taking the time to pause and see how that one ray of sunlight is poking through the treetops to light up that single flower. 

Runners don't typically take that time. They're soaking it all in at warp speed. They don't take that extra 30 seconds to stop and appreciate that view. They have a schedule to meet, and places to be, and a clock to beat. I know, I can be one of them at times. Sometimes you're so beat from the run that you're hardly seeing anything off the trail. Sometimes you're not even focusing that well on that trail in front of your feet! It's survival mode, and because it's clocked, you don't stop, and sit down and take the pack off and catch your breath. That gets done when you cross the finish line. 

I'm a runner, I'm a hunter, I'm a backpacker and I'm a hiker. I love each one in it's own way. They're all sweet, and they're all hard. They all offer a level of accomplishment, they just have their differences.  

Running is fast - depending on the distance, severity and your speed it can typically be done in a few hours (10-15 miles), a half day (20-30 miles) during daylight (50-70 miles) or over a weekend (100 miles). You're going to cover the most ground, but not likely going to really "see" as much.

Running can also be done in theory without a huge disruption to your schedule or family life. I can get up at 4AM, and head out for a run, without waking anyone, be home and showered, and have breakfast with my family before heading out for work. However, I would be lying if I didn't say that includes being in bed by 9. (so maybe a little time away from the family at night) I eat healthier because it affects how well I perform the job. I feel more energetic because I am healthier whether from the running or diet who knows. I often meet up with a group of like minded others at the end of a race and socialize.  It's awesome and I love it, and it's good conditioning for the other three! 

Over my next 14 weeks however, I will probably be mixing in more hiking and backpacking to build my strength. Plus, it's something I can do with my family and my dog. I need to build my base core strength, and there isn't a more enjoyable way to accomplish that. 

So my training schedule - even on Strava - has switched from running 35 miles per week to "running" 5 hours a week as of June 1st. I likely won't cover that same amount of ground, but it'll be just as valuable, and it'll likely be with family and friends who I have negelected during my spring training. Mix that with some swimming and cross training, and hopefully I'll be a more solid athlete at the end of it.

Oh - and why 14 weeks?  That's when I head for Colorado to help a friend filming his Mule Deer hunt. For nearly two weeks we will live above 12,000 feet. With 70 lb packs, camera equipment and everything we need to survive. At the end of those two weeks I hope to run one of my bucket listers. The Imogene Pass Run that finishes in Telluride. Registration opens June 1st. Two years ago registration filled in 150 minutes, last year it was 58 minutes.  I hope I can get in. 

PS - I have an addition to my bucket list -  Hardrock 100 course hike-through end to end. Shooting for 4 days or less.  

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