864

Boy, was it hard to type that number. That’s my expected total running and hiking mileage for the year, combined. 64 miles hiking, and 800 miles running (might end up with 801 or 2, but I’ll use the round number for now).

Back in the marathoning days, double that number in running miles was an average to below-average year. But wanting to cut back to save my body and simply stay in shape for hiking, I figured a minimum of 1000 miles per year running/hiking would be a good baseline.

I didn’t even hit that.

Of course, moving had something to do with it. And living the first three months of the year in Maine and struggling to want to get outside in the winter months (seasonal affective disorder is REAL, people!) didn’t help. But living in Virginia means that I’ll have NO excuse to NOT hit that easy-peasy 1000-mile minimum, given both the milder winters and my proximity to so many great hiking trails, including the AT, of course.

2018 is the year I’ll find my stride again.

Pun intended.

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Looking Ahead to 2018

Back in the marathon training days, I would sit myself down near the end of December to estimate the number of miles I would need to run in order to cruise through an easy spring and slightly faster fall marathon in the coming year. I usually exceeded my stated mileage goal, and suffered zero to minimal consequences during the races.

But running to stay in shape for hiking, and the number of hiking miles don’t lend themselves to the sort of X + Y = Z thinking inherent in planning miles for race training. Technically, I could hike and backpack without doing any running, so the number of miles I choose can be completely arbitrary. And the hiking miles could, theoretically at least, be whatever I ended up with at the end of the year.

That doesn’t work for me.

I’m too goal-oriented to willy-nilly my way through a year and be satisfied with whatever I get. Those years will come at some point, I’m sure, when the body breaks down and I can’t maintain any sort of strict schedule. But as long as I’m in good health and can push myself to achieve modest goals, I’m going to set them. This past year was a new frontier for me, as I tried to dial back the running from racing level to fitness level mileage and add hiking miles. Sadly, I failed to hit even the modest goals I set for both. I can conveniently blame moving to a new state for that. I guess.

Next year? I’ll hit the goal of combined running and hiking miles I’m using as a minimum benchmark. And I will do some actual, overnight backpacking. And when I’m sitting here doing this next year, I’ll be plotting and planning 2019 while congratulating myself on a job well done…

Streak Update: A month ago I posted about tackling the Runner’s World RunStreak. Well, so far, so good. I just wrapped up day 29 out of 40. I’ve only done one hike as a substitute for a run, a bit of a disappointment as I had hoped to hike three or four times. But it is, after all, a running streak, so I can’t be too discouraged with it. Looking forward to January 1st and the end!

“The mountains are calling and I must go.” ― John Muir

The Streak, Modified

Back when I was training for marathons, I would occasionally take part in the Runner’s World Run Streak. The premise is simple: Run at least one mile every day between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. It was a great motivator for me when the busyness of holiday life (and in Maine, the crappiness of weather) conspired to suck the mileage from my running log.

This has been a down year for both running and hiking. I established an expected minimum combined running+hiking mileage total for the year back in January (not a resolution; a GOAL) and, thanks to packing and moving to Virginia, have fallen way off the mark. Well, the chances of my hitting that target are practically non-existent, but I’m thinking maybe participating in the RW Streak would be a nice way to end the year and give positive momentum to the start of 2018.

But I may have to tweak the purity of the running streak a bit, as hiking definitely figures into my plans over the next six weeks. The way I see it, I have three options: One, I can simply run a mile while I’m on the trail for a hike. I have a few thousand miles of trail running experience, and my daypack typically only weighs ten or eleven pounds, so that wouldn’t tax me too badly. I also tend to hike wearing my Garmin running watch, so I could actually time an exact mile and have access to pace, elevation gain, etc. Two, I could simply run a mile around the subdivision before I head out for my hikes. I won’t work up much of a sweat in November and December doing that, and it would fulfill the requirement. Or three, I could simply adhere to the spirit (and not the letter) of the streak’s rules and count my hiking days as “running” days. I am now keeping a training log with combined running/hiking miles, so that would fit my own personal narrative.

I have a week to decide. But I do plan on attempting The Streak regardless of which plan I choose to follow. And I’m determined not to give up my chances to hit the AT before the snow flies for a running-only streak…