A summer of Junk Miles
A hat tip to Jay C Rod of the Run JunkEes Virtual Run Club for the blog idea.
Jay's post is:
I think any mile at any pace is good. Can anyone explain what this "junk mile" stuff is?
And Jay, I fully agree with you. Running any mile at any pace is good. And it's way better than sitting on the couch eating Oreos.
The term "junk miles" has been circulating the running community for the last couple years. I blame this on the self depreciating nature of runners. You know, the ones who are at one of those multi-length races and say, "Oh, I only did the 5k" instead of "I signed up for the 5k and laid it all out there on the course. It felt so good I want to do it again." I think this is the same attitude that propagates the term junk miles.
My understanding of the phrase: Junk miles are miles run with no real purpose or training goal in mind. Many people find themselves putting in junk miles over the winter, or in the weeks between their last race and the start of training for their next race.
Well, I'm staring at a summer of junk miles. I trained last summer for a fall marathon. This summer, my wife wants to train for something. She's riding her bike from Seattle, WA to Vancouver, BC. And that means I get kid duty while she puts the time in on the bike. To be perfectly clear, I volunteered to do this. She was talking over the idea and I told her she should really do it. First, I see this as an easy way of thanking her for being supportive of my training last summer. Second, I think it's great when people (especially those I love) pick a goal just a little crazy and go for it. That last one, that's something I learned running marathons. If the goal isn't just a little crazy, it should probably just belong on a checklist somewhere.
That is not to say I won't find time to squeeze in the odd race here and there. Between friends, family, and babysitters I'm sure things will work out just fine. I won't be in shape to grind out 26.2, or probably even a comfortable 13.1, but some of the shorter stuff is every bit as fun and often much less painful.
And most importantly, having a summer with no real training schedule means I get to relax and enjoy running again. Nearly everyone I have spoken with who has trained for a big race has gotten sick of training. And I think the two who claim they didn't might have been lying. It's refreshing to lace up and just go. I can stop to take pictures of the deer and elk. I can stop to chat with a neighbor, or slow way down and put in a half mile with the older runner I sometimes meet while out putting in some miles. And it's all pretty much awesome.
And when I want to, I get to push it.
Today I had a few hours to kill and I have been pondering something "big" for a few days. My original idea was to run up and over one small mountain, and then up and over a ridge, and then reverse it to log about 13 miles. (I really want to hit that Strava half marathon this month challenge.) But it's been raining in the afternoons. Good old fashioned gully washers. I'm certain the trails I would need to follow to put that together would just be full of mud. But you know what? I haven't run the paved road up the mountain to my house yet. Until today. So I laced up. I headed out the door to the paved road and I ran down the hill. 1600 vertical feet down in just over 5 miles. At the bottom I stopped for a gel, a sip of water, and tried not to think about what I had just gotten myself into. I needed to get home. I had a conference call in about 2.5 hours. It was run, or hitch a ride. So I switched gears from the cruising sub 8-minute mile downhill to the I-can't-believe-I'm-doing-this long distance, steep road nearly shuffling "run" that I would use for most of the climb back home. And it was pretty cool. And I stopped to take pictures.
I saw people para-gliding
And I saw one of the new breed of crazies. It seems there is a growing number of people who think it's fun to ride skateboards down this mountain. I get it. Back in the day I probably would have been all over that. You can call me old, but right now, I see it and all I can think about is the pain of road rash and the embarrassment of telling my parents about the medical bills.
But it still looks really cool.
So yes, running a mile is running a mile. And that mile will be whatever you make of it. My "junk miles" today were a ton of fun. I saw some neat stuff. I made it back up the hill for my meeting.
So run your run. Get your miles in your way. And make of your miles what you will.
Run on friends.
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