Back in February when I was trying to decide if this was the year I was finally going to run “the Goofy,” I interviewed some people about the reality of such an undertaking. The end product was this article, where my experts all agreed that the key to successful back-to-back races is back-to-back long runs, and of course, the key to back-to-back long runs is to practice good recovery in between. They also agreed that your biggest barrier will always be your brain.
Now, halfway through the training, I don’t disagree. Honestly, the second long run in the back-to-back weekends isn’t nearly as bad as I thought it would be. Not once have I been found slobbering in a ditch on day two (slobbering, sure, but still upright and moving forward!) despite my worst fears. However, there is one gigantic challenge that not one of them mentioned.
I am sure this is because it is a pretty universal challenge – one that runners have been dealing with since time immemorial, but I am telling you, in this case, it’s not the same. The challenge I am referring to is scheduling. Anyone who has ever trained for anything knows that you have to make the time to eat and hydrate properly the day before, get enough sleep, have the time to do the actual run, and then have the time to recover. But that has never been insurmountable – if something comes up for the day I want to do my long run, I just change days.
But with two long runs on consecutive days, it gets a little trickier. My initial plan was to do my back-to-back long runs on Thursday and Friday mornings. This works for me because I mostly work from home, so I have the flexibility to start late, work through lunch, wear compression socks in my office, etc. But like anything else, it doesn’t always work that way. This week, I am in a wedding on Friday, so I am needed in the morning for set-up. Okay, fine – long runs on Wednesday and Thursday.
But then we get into December – my other job is at The Running Works – and you know what happens with retail in December – more hours and unusual shifts. So my outside-the-house schedule takes the Wednesday-Thursday, Thursday-Friday, Friday-Saturday, and Saturday-Sunday combinations out of the running (ha!) either due to the running itself, or the recovery (being on my feet all day and not always getting a chance to eat at regular intervals on day 1 doesn’t really set me up for an enjoyable day 2).
Please don’t mistake this for complaining. I am just throwing it out there because, although it seems pretty obvious now, I never thought about it before I was living it. Like anything else, you just have to be realistic about the commitment involved, flexible around the things that inevitably come up, and honest with yourself about the sacrifices you’re willing to make. But let’s face it – if it were easy, it wouldn’t be called “Goofy,” now would it?