31 days of prioritizing the run

Posted on Aug 1, 2023

Yesterday heralded the end of Believe in the Run’s Summer GRIT challenge. The challenge was straightforward: run as many miles as possible during July. I’d been hovering somewhere between 25-30 miles per week prior to July, and my goal was to safely, comfortably get back up to 40+ mpw by the end of the month.

Here’s how I progressed:

Week EndingMileage

As I mentioned in a previous post, I’d been feeling burned out, fatigued, and generally like my work life balance was very wonky. I know I can’t show up at my best for friends, family, or work when I’m in this state, so I used the running challenge as a chance to reset and get back to feeling a little more like myself.

I closed out the month with 186mi/300km, just a bit short of my goal, but happy with overall progress. A few highlights:

  • 20 miler in 90 degree heat
  • 2 tempo runs that didn’t go as bad as I expected
  • A higher volume weekend, with back-to-back 8, 15, and 8 mile runs Friday-Sunday
  • Run commute to & from meeting a friend for breakfast tacos & coffee
  • Ending the month feeling confident enough to meet up with a new run group for a few fun Sunday miles

Prioritizing running had some great side effects, too. Within a few days of getting back to a normal routine, I was sleeping better and feeling more clear-headed during the day. I still think I’m shaking off effects of burnout, but I feel much further on that journey after the last 31 days.

Borrowing from ideas of performance experts like Steve Magness and Brad Stulberg, I abandoned the idea of striving for occasionally excellent, and shifted my goal to trying to be consistently good. Every run wasn’t great. Many were slow, or not as “strong” as I would’ve liked, but after 31 days, I can look back and be proud of my effort and, maybe even moreso, my consistency. Imagining stacking a few of these months end-to-end is exciting, because I can feel the progress already.

This “consistently good” philosophy has brought me to my next challenge for the month of August: I’m challenging myself to do at least one puzzle on CodeWars every day. No rules around the level of challenge; I started with a couple of fundamental ones today just to get my brain warmed up. (To be clear, I’ll still be running–that’s baseline for feeling like a functioning human.)

Anyway, I still have a long way to go before I’m feeling ready for any sort of fall event, but I have some big goals and I’m happy to have spent a month laying groundwork–physically and mentally–for what’s to come.