Knock on wood, but it appears I'm returning to health (and form). I still have a way to go in regaining my fitness, but at least now I'm running and enjoying every step of my outdoor adventures. For the week, I completed 59.8 miles. Ordinarily 59.8 miles would be a taper or recovery week, but at this stage in the game it's indicative of real progress.
When we moved into our new house around Thanksgiving, I was in the throes of my plantar fasciitis and unable to really get out and explore new routes. But now that I'm getting healthy, I've been able to explore the area a bit and have found two really nice places to get in the miles--both at over 6,000 feet of elevation. The first is a dirt road loop that is three miles from our house and accessible via a country road with a nice dirt shoulder. The high point for this loop is 6,350 feet. The second is a fairly hilly network of single track trails and jeep roads behind our house. I'm only beginning to familiarize myself with the trail network behind our house. The trails will be great for day-in-and-day out runs on a soft surface and will allow me to hone my trail skills Monday-Friday, when I'm unable to get to more adventurous settings.
Another highlight of the week was my first-ever yoga session on Sunday afternoon. Here's the DVD I used (will look for it in Blue-ray). A few months ago I read a short interview with 2010 Ironman Kona champion Chris McCormack, who, like me, is 37 years-old. McCormack said yoga is critical for older athletes and has been great for his health and fitness. So, on Sunday afternoon, when I was still a little tight from a 13-miler (and 14-miler the previous day), I decided to dust off my yoga DVD and put it to good use. I was able to get some great stretching in the hamstrings and hips--two problem areas for me--while also breathing deeply and enjoying some deep reflection and relaxation. I felt rejuvenated, looser and more relaxed afterward, and this morning I got out of bed feeling great. Tight muscles are a no-no for runners, and so I am now a yoga believer.
My goals this week are to surpass 65 miles and, most importantly, stay healthy. If all goes well, I'll start speedwork at the track (and, when necessary, on the treadmill) the following week, doing some 400s, 800s, 1600s and, eventually, 3200s. Tempo runs and hill sprints will soon follow. In mid-March I'll make a decision about the Eisenhower Marathon. I will likely not make the drive to Abilene, Kansas unless I believe I have a great shot at a new marathon PR.
Looking back on 2010, it's clear to me that I ran too much and too often on pavement (there's a lot of pavement here in Parker, but if you really explore you'll find some dirt roads and trails) and didn't stretch or cross-train enough. So, this year I really want to continue with yoga once or twice a week, while spending some time on the cycle and definitely hitting the trails and dirt roads as much as possible. I think finding the time to stick with yoga and cross-training will be difficult, but it's something I have to do if I want to stay healthy and have a great year.
Another big goal for 2011 is to get to know more Colorado runners. I was pretty entrenched in the Cleveland/Northeast Ohio running scene (it's a hotbed of ultrarunning) and have yet to find a circle here in Colorado. Forming friendships is hard, especially when you have so many priorities and commitments outside of running, but I've always found that running has a way of bringing people together. So here's to new friendships in 2011.
I've shared the video below many times and want to do so again. It's important that newcomers to ultrarunning understand the history and essence of the sport and those who made and make it great. At the top of the list of iconic ultrarunners who, like Babe Ruth in baseball, defy logic, is Yiannis Kouros. Born in 1956 in Greece, Yiannis is quite simply the greater ultrarunner of all time. He owns basically every significant world record, including 188+ miles in 24 hours plus the most-ever Spartathlon wins. The American record for 24 hours is 165 miles set in 2010 by the legendary Scott Jurek. Anyway, I say all of this because we now have some self-promoters in the sport (including the author of a certain best-selling book) who are so caught up in advancing their own brands that newcomers might not realize that ultrarunning enjoys deep roots. No, the aforementioned author wasn't the first to run a long, long way; many came before him, including the all-time great, Mr. Kouros.