NOW THAT TRADITIONAL SUMMER VACATION SEASON IS OVER, IT’S TIME TO LOOK BACK and write the classic first-week-of-school essay, “What I Did on My Summer Vacation.” Ordinarily the during the days after Memorial Day and before Labor Day I would keep mornings open for fitness activities and scramble to generate ideas for and compose summer-themed blog posts in the afternoons. I spent a lot of time sitting for the cause of blogging. This summer, I decided to shutter the Earned Runs blog from June 1 to September 1, take a personal break from thinking and writing about fitness, and “do” fitness.
The main purpose was to enjoy more time outdoors being physically active than indoors creating scheduled posts.
Just prior to going blog-silent, in the last week of May, I had completed training and had run/walked my very first marathon. Ever. It was a significant victory, not just because it was an initial attempt at conquering this distance, but because physical limitations had seemed to put this goal permanently beyond my reach. Forever.
Two years earlier I had decided not to run ever again to slow the progression of damage from mild-moderate arthritis in my knees. Walking only, but not running, seemed the wisest plan going forward to avoid further disability and need for joint replacement in the future.
Then, in early 2020 I started to track my heart rate during walks sessions with a Fitbit device. The numbers indicated the intensity of my efforts were in the ‘fat burning’ range but not reaching the level of a decent cardiorespiratory workout. Was the tracker sensing mechanism defective? I decided to track my heart rate while running before returning/exchanging the Fitbi.
A brief jog generated a robust heart rate increase into “cardio” and above into “peak” range, proving the Fitbit worked as advertised, and indicating ‘just’ walking wasn’t the best aerobic workout for me.
Because advice from my orthopedic surgeon had NOT included restrictions on running (the decision not to run self advised), I investigated the medical topic more deeply. The results lead me to believe that, in absence of knee pain, I could safely give slow jogging, even running, a serious trial.
I settled on a Jeff Galloway run/walk/run training and competing strategy, trained for a half marathon, and then the full 26.3-mile marathon event goal. I accomplished these goal races (converted to virtual versions because of health concerns) without injury or discomfort.
Feeling perfectly fine physically while maximally training in the last weeks before the Charlevoix Virtual Marathon, I also felt mentally and emotionally confident about running future endurance distance events. And thus, accepted the challenge laid down by Lazarus Lake (of the Barkley’s Marathon fame) to virtually Race Across Tennessee (RAT).
And that’s what I DID ON MY SUMMER VACATION… I became a RAT!!!
I finished running/walking the 1000+km distance (634.8 miles) in less than 92 days on July 31 and spent all of August recovering and concentrating on strength work.
I focused on just this one RAT event/challenge during the summer of 2020 and proudly completed it. Considering that an average of 6 miles every single day was required to finish by August 31, the deadline for completion, each days’ miles goal dominated my fitness schedule.
To stay healthy, I spent nearly an hour prior to leaving the house performing foam roller, warm-up, stretching, mobility, and basic strength exercises. It was a no-brainer schedule and involved a simplified routine. It was perfect for a summer blown apart by pandemic precautions, shutdowns, and controversies. There wasn’t much mental effort expended.
I was greatly impressed with the sense of community created on Facebook by my fellow runners and walkers in the RAT and BAT (Back Across Tennessee) challenges, as well as the progress reporting of the organizers. So much so that when Laz Lake announced he and his friends were putting together a global virtual team race* that would follow up RAT, I created a multi-sport team in the name of Earned Runs to join up.
Because I enjoyed the RAT endeavor so very much, I hope the team race will help regiment my fitness activities at least 1- 2 years going forward, and that it will be as satisfying an experience as RAT. Sometimes athletes must look years into the future to plan out training programs to achieve a once-in-a-lifetime goal. I feel ready to try.
What did you do in your summer 2020 vacation? Was it forced upon you by the COVID restrictions? Did the activities change your thinking about fitness efforts? Will the experience influence your choice of challenges going forward? Tell your story to Earned Runs. It might help others find direction in a time that continues to be disrupted by global events
RUN AND MOVE HAPPY!
Race Across Tennessee (RAT). https://vacationwithoutacar.com
*A coming blog post will highlight CRAW. If you want to check it out now, look online for the Circumpolar Race Around the World.
BRIDGE TO PHYSICAL SELF
Running, walking, and fitness activities enable us to experience our physical selves in a world mostly accessed through use of fingers on a mobile device.
EARNED RUNS is edited and authored by me, runner and founder. I began participating in road races before 5Ks were common. I've been a dietitian, practiced and taught clinical pathology, and been involved with research that utilized pathology. I am fascinated with understanding the origins of disease as well as health.
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