The Trials of Miles, Miles of Trials.

Posted: December 29, 2011 in Training
Tags: , , , , , ,

I’m not sure what it is about being a runner, perhaps it is the fundamental nature of the sport to keep looking ahead and not pay too much attention to the things that are behind you. Afterall, if you start looking back there long enough, something or someone might catch you.

But as we reach the final week of 2011, I decided to take one final glance back at 2011 through the macro-lens of my camera and tally up just how much running we did over the course of the year.

After Saturday morning’s final run of 2011 (9 miles) we will have run 254.6 miles in the month of December, our highest monthly total ever, bringing our yearly total to 2,068 miles. Our first year over the 2,000 mile mark as injuries in the past have always required time off from running with our mileage topping out at just over 1,900 miles in 2009 and 2010.

What I found interesting when I looked back at the previous year is that I set a new total mileage record despite the fact that in the month of March I ran exactly 5 miles.

As in, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.

Once again the injury bug hit me and I was forced to rest an inflamed left knee coming out of the Austin Marathon and Ragnar Del Sol Relay. I spent that time on the bike and starting my swim lessons t0 prepare for July’s debut in the Triathlon, but that month cost me a solid 180-200 miles of running for sure.

I never really thought of myself as a “high-mileage” guy. I know a lot of runners, and I mean A LOT who run far more miles than I do. But to stay healthy at 44 years old, I know that I need to take a rest day on both Monday and Friday – limiting my running to just 5 days per week. Many runners run 6 or 7 days each week. I just cannot do that and stay injury free.

We all have our limitations as runners and non-runners – the key in life is to maximize the opportunities that you do have and make the most of them. If God has allowed me to only run 5 days a week and stay healthy, then I need to make the most of those 5 days – focus on the quality of my runs and not so much the quantity of them.

Simply put, I don’t have time to screw around out there. With only 5 opportunities to run each week, I need to maximize those workouts. I need a speed workout, a stamina workout, an endurance workout, a hill workout or pace workout and a recovery run. That does not leave a lot of room in my diet for “junk” miles.

Perhaps it is the lack of the luxury to just “mail in” a few runs every week that keeps me moving the needle forward. I’m not quite sure about that. But I do know that consistency in training and keeping those miles coming is what has helped me improve as a runner in all distances from the mile to the marathon over the past year.

Down-time is a runner’s enemy.

Staying consistent and continuing to improve day after day, week after week is the key.

One of my favorite excerpts from the book by John Parker – “Again to Carthage” reads:

“When you’re a competitive runner in training, you are constantly in a process of ascending. It’s not something most human beings would give a moment of consideration to, that it is actually possible to be living for years in a state of constant betterment. To consider that you are better today than you were yesterday or a year ago, and that you will be better still tomorrow or next week. . . . That if you’re doing it right, you are an organism constantly evolving toward some agreed-upon approximation of excellence.”

If you have not read the sequel to “Once A Runner” it is definitely worth a read – in fact, if you have not read “Once A Runner” by John Parker, that is really the place to start. Truly a cult-novel for runners that the author self-published and sold literally from the trunk of his car in the 1970’s – Parker through the character Quenton Cassidy captures the spirit of a true runner. The two stories are tremendous.

But it is “Again to Carthage” that really struck a chord with me as the character Quenton reflects on something his coach and friend Bruce shared with him early on as he was making the transition from Miler to Marathoner.

“He wanted to impart some of the truths Bruce Denton had taught him, that you don’t’ become a runner by winning a morning workout. The only true way is to marshal the ferocity of your ambition over the course of many days, weeks, months, and (if you could finally come to accept it) years. The Trial of Miles; Miles of Trials. How could he make them understand?”

The fact of the matter is that there is no way to make anyone understand who hasn’t been there before. Running more than 2,000 miles to race just 26.2 is not a concept that is easily grasped. But it is one that once you arrive at that place you realize that perhaps there never is an end point. If you goal is to continue to improve and push yourself to the edge of your capabilities – whether that is as a runner, a father, a boss, husband, son, brother or friend – looking ahead is really the only answer.

2,068 miles are behind us in 2011 – with another 1,000+ on the bike and 49 miles more swam in the pool and the lake.

All of which brought us to this point. Our starting line for 2012. A year where we will add the title of Half-Ironman in October to 7-Time Marathoner in April.

The Trials of Miles, Miles of Trials.

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Comments
  1. Erin Ruyle says:

    Excellent post, Joe. 2,000+ miles for the year is impressive alone, but even more astounding considering the fact that you only ran 5 miles in March. Well done. I haven’t read either book, but I’m always looking for a good read and will be ordering these books today. Thanks for the recommendations!

    • Joseph Marruchella says:

      Hi Erin! Man I really would love to run all 12 months of 2012 an see where we are a year from now.

      I think I finally learned my lesson about going easy on my easy days, hopefully it will pay off with good health.

      Those two books are outstanding Erin. You will live them!

  2. TRV says:

    44 yo runner from Dallas here — I stumbled on your post while doing a google search about 2011 running miles. I’m at about 1500, just wanted to see where that compares w/ other runners. Anyway, nice post and very interesting website. I will definitely check out the book recommendations.

    • joerunfordom says:

      Thanks so much for the visit and the message! I’ll actually be coming up to Dallas to race The Texas Half in January. Any chance you’ll be out there? Best to you and happy New Year!

      • TRV says:

        Joe, I’m leaning toward doing the Texas Half, but not sure. White Rock is a fun place to run and Mellew always does a great job with race logistics and organization. But if I’m there I’m sure I’ll be way behind you in the pack. ;> My half PR is about 1:51 but I’m hoping to improve on that this year. Good luck with your ’12 goals, they are impressive.

      • Joseph Marruchella says:

        I hope you make it out to the race! I’ve never run this event before, but I am very excited about it. I heard the last 400 meters or so is pretty daunting with a big up-hill finish, but at that point I won’t have much left in the tank and every step feels like a hill repeat …. let’s try to hook up for sure if you make it out there. I’ll be hanging around afterwards for the awards ceremony as long as we don’t have a bitterly cold day – best to you and go get that PR!

  3. David H. says:

    Awesome year Joe. I think your 5 miles in March is proof to anyone how important rest and recovery is when something goes astray. You came back from that faster and stronger than before, and it paid off with being able to run more miles throughout the year.

    • Joseph Marruchella says:

      Hi David! You definitely need to keep it all in perspective when you have some down time – perhaps, that break was the best thing that could have happened to me – although at the time I was one unhappy camper.

      I came back “loving” running even more that I had missed it and certainly made training through the hottest summer in Austin history, much more tolerable.

      Best to you and the family in 2012 David! On to Boston!

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