Sunday, July 31, 2011

Why go the extra mile?

Plenty of us play the numbers game in running. Part of it is it gives us a benchmark to measure progress. I ran 30 miles last week, maybe I'll do a little more. I ran a 10K in 50 minutes yesterday, maybe I want to do it in 48. My pace is 5:44, maybe I want to raise it to 5:20 by the end of this long run.

On, and on, and on. Believe me, we have the time to kill. Just some of the internal dialogue that can go through one's mind as we make our way through our weekly long runs.

The past few years, while I continue to monitor my pace, charge up the Garmin, I don't play by the numbers in quite the same way I used to.

Calendar: Run 48 miles this week.

Me: Okay, that sounds like a reasonable guideline, how about I run some miles and see how it goes.

Email reminder: 14 miles on Thursday.

Me: Um, I did 9 on Monday, 8 on Tuesday, maybe I'll do 10 today.

The games I play now are a little more fun, like today, when I was at around 13K in for a planned 32K run, I wondered how many kilometres I could measure to the lighthouse at Leslie Spit, and what mileage I'd be when I exited.

Little did I know when my dad used to, on weekends or summer nights, drill in multiplication tables (no, I did not have a Tiger Dad, but did get some academic encouragement growing up), that 30 some odd years later, I'd be sweating, dousing my arms with water, and trying to measure how many kilometres that out and back would take.

Out and backs are pretty simple, by nature. You run out 1 kilometre, you double it when you come back. Running the waterfront routes in Toronto make it a little more interesting, when you plan the equivalent of three out and backs to make up 21 miles.

Today, I planned my run so that I'd end the 32K a few miles short of home, so I could cool down, grab an ice coffee and enjoy the morning walk.

But as I was making my way to 32, I saw that I was about 3K from home. I thought back that I began the run with 41 miles in the bank, that 20 miles would bring me to 61 miles on the week, and somewhere in the back of my head, I remembered what 62 miles and change translated to in kilometres.

That was enough to push me the extra mile.

Why? You do the math.

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