It has been just about three months since I posted about my intention of running one thousand miles this year. It seems that enough days (and runs!) have passed to allow a little bit of reflection here.
This is not intended to be a substantial review of anticipations, actual reality or (perhaps) coincidental learnings.
Just one thing
We struggle with good decision making, when we are too far removed from the consequences of our decisions. We need to understand, whether things are progressing in the right direction. Feedback is important. The sooner we get feedback, the sooner we can learn.
One thousand miles for the year is actually pretty great for practicing doing something that will not be finished until months later. In fact, it is (for me) large enough that I cannot just do the whole thing quickly and get it off my to-do list. Rather, it requires regular activities for frequent, incremental progress — until it is done.
That is the point.
It encourages asking: What do I need to do this week – or today – if I want to get there by the end of the year?
I have had a few conversations with different people about this over the last couple months. Here is something that is representative of some of those.
“One thousand miles this year?”
“That seems very doable …”
“You got twelve months. So … not quite eighty-five miles per month.”
“… there are three hundred and sixty-five days days this year. Well under three miles a day. Round up to three miles a day and you can take some weekends off!”
“Yeah, but I am not going to run that distance every time.”
“Of course, I am just saying …. on average.
“Yeah, totally. Regardless of physical activity, people get sick or maybe injured. I should expect that is going to happen to me at some point this year.”
“Hm. That’s true. So you should add some miles earlier, assuming you will have shorter weeks later?”
“Yeah. Thinking about that … winters can be a bit unpredictable here. Last year for example, we had a situation, where the streets in whole neighborhoods here in Seattle were frozen over.”
“So you should not count on being able to maintain a regular running schedule in December, maybe not in November either.”
“That’s probably right. Also … I plan on doing a little traveling with the family during the summer. That’s going to affect the running schedule as well.”
“. . .”
This is not an activity that I would be able to finish quickly early on. It is also not something that I could cram for at the end.
Instead, it clearly requires regular work throughout the year — and thinking ahead and planning for likely disruptions, both inside and outside my control.
The more there is left to do, as we get closer to the end of the year, the less likely success actually is. To account for that, I want to have reached my mileage goal by end of November at the latest. That gives me one month at the end as margin of safety. Any additional miles then are just extra.
Not wanting to risk having to do much during the last month actually transferred well to the nearer future and helped me arrive at a useful rule of thumb for shorter-term, weekly planning: (At least) twenty miles before the weekend.
Who knows what the weekend is all about. Often it is bonus miles, because longer runs are most practicable on Saturdays or Sundays.
As so often, this is not just about that. As I pointed out three months ago:
I like thinking about running, because running changes how I think.
This particular yearlong goal provides a great occasion to practice, but its lessons almost certainly translate well to comparable contexts.