I think it’s easy for people (primarily trail runners; and to be fair, I suppose road runners as well) to take for granted the condition they’re in.  As someone who is a runner, today I was able to step back for a moment and assess where I am and where I’m headed.  It wasn’t a revelation by any means, but it just opened my eyes and helped me focus more on my goals.

Today we had a new runner join our Saturday morning Clinton Lake runs.  He’s sorta a runner (meaning he’s not hardcore who runs 50+ miles a week, or anywhere near that number as far as I know), but doesn’t have a lot of trail experience.  He’s got some, but it’s just not extensive.  So today’s group of people didn’t really split up as much as I thought we would have, and therefore we sorta all ran together.  I don’t mind this type of running because I take it to be my endurance days (easy pace but long distances).  I wasn’t sure what today’s mileage would be because I sometimes like to play it by ear and see who’s going what distance.  So today’s magic number was 15.  I was tempted by Mark’s offer for 23 (one loop), but I had the car key and I knew Lisa was only doing 15 so I didn’t wanna keep her waiting out in the brisk weather this morning.

Anyway, the new guy seemed to be working out well for the first 6 miles or so.  He said felt strong/good and had a tiny blister start forming on his small toe.  He stretched out at Land’s End, we briefly discussed whether he wanted to continue with us (15M) or head back.  He said he was fine so he proceeded to run with us.  Initially, he felt good and then slowly started falling behind at some point.  At what point exactly I don’t know because Mark, James, and I sped up and left everyone else behind.  At the turn-around point for the 15 and full loop we decided to stop and slowly walk the blue trail hoping the other will catch up.  They finally did and the new dude seemed to be working out just fine (at this point I think the mileage was something like 10 miles).  When I reached Land’s End I noticed he was the last to come up.  Again, I didn’t think anything of it because this could be due to many things.

We usually break at Land’s End but for some reason we didn’t really stop and continued onward.  A few minutes into the continuation, I noticed the new guy is nowhere to be seen.  “Where’s the dude?” I ask.  “He’s back there walking.”  Oh boy.  Don’t freeze up on me now, boy.  We kept on and I kept checking back for him.  Still walking.  “He’s got no water,” someone says.  Crapola.  That’s right.  Food?  Nope.  Oh well.  I waited up for him and decided he needed water so I gave him some Nuun and a Hammer Gel.  The dude was completely beaten up.  His legs were shot to hell.  He was claiming pains in his knees, groin, and thigh.  12 or so miles into this and he’s wasted.  Completely spent.  He was barely walking properly.  So what do you do in this type of situation, especially when they’ve never been on the trail?  You walk with them and make sure they make it back safely.  But I didn’t mind because Lisa was far behind us at this point so I knew she would eventually catch up to us.  She did, at about 14.5 mile so she joined us on the remainder of the walk.

So my point is this: even though it may appear we just go for a light run on the trails, it’s not as easy as it seems.  But I can see how it would appear that way to someone.  “Oh, they’re not going that fast.  I’ve never done even 10 miles, but this pace is easy.  I can do this easily.”  Look, if you’re body is not using to being beat up in this manner, you’re gonna suffer.  And, as today showed me, suffer hard.  No questions asked.  It’s something that you have to ease in to.  If it were that easy, we’d all be out there running an “easy” 50 miler.  But that doesn’t work that way.  I agree that just about anyone willing can run 50 miles, but some will be hurting more than others.  Now, 100 is a different story.  I believe that takes some running ability.  But this is a different issue all together.

After a brief recent email, he is indeed suffering.  Poor guy.  But maybe not so poor since he made a poor decision to run that far when his body is not used to such distances.

Maybe next time, friend.  Don’t be discouraged.  🙂

Stay strong,