All About That Base

One month ago today, I raced the hills of south St. Louis on a marathon course that blew the wheels of my wagon. Today, I am pleased to announce I have finally recovered! 

[insert applause] 

Now, I didn’t recover in the obnoxiously brilliant fashion in which my fellow teammate Lisa recovered: she PR’d her marathon and then, two weeks later, PR’d the Clayton half. (Wha…?) No, my recovery was less “Lisa” and more “Steve Gregory recovering Mark Sanchez’s butt fumble.” Not pretty, but returned for a touchdown nonetheless.

Thus, with my legs back under me and my inspiration restored, I have decided to focus on base mileage. Namely, building it. 

It’s been a while since I’ve run high mileage; even during marathon training this summer, I kept mileage relatively moderate. My goals were to stay healthy, stay healthy, get enough sleep, and stay healthy. With an IT band on the fritz, I had to coddle my body with excessive foam rolling, visits to my miracle-worker of a chiropractor, and lots of “off days.” Long runs and workouts were my priority. Any extra miles were icing on the cookie cake. 

Survive the race, I thought. Just make it to race day. Survive now. Then you can build a strong base for next season.

You're Looking at NowThat was then. This is now. Then is now now.

I actually love running lots of miles. I love running lots of miles like Matthew McConaughey loves driving Lincolns.

I just like it. [said in a creepy introspective voice]

Lots of long, relatively easy miles are my bread and butter, so the prospect of ramping up the mileage again has me nearly giddy.

“Well, you know you’re not supposed to increase your weekly mileage by more than 10 percent, right?” 

Base Training 101The guys at work—who happen to be pretty studly runners—quickly brought me down from my high mileage… high. Ah, yes. The 10 percent rule. Put into place by the running powers-that-be to protect overzealous runners like me who would otherwise injure themselves by increasing their mileage by—oh, say, fifty miles—in a span of seven days.

I did the math. Increasing my mileage by 10 percent per week, while dropping the mileage every fourth week to allow for recovery, brought me to my goal mileage by the end of January. The end. Of January. I balked at this idea. I wanted to be running peak mileage by December. This January thing wasn’t going to cut it. Naturally, I began reenacting the scene from (the fake movie) Angels With Filthy Souls from (the real movie) Home Alone.

“So how much can I increase my mileage?”

“Acey said 10 percent.” 

“Too bad Acey ain’t in charge no more.”

And then Johnny gives Snakes to the count of ten to get his ugly, yella, no good keister off his property.

Sadly, despite Acey’s loss of leadership, I should probably be smart about increasing my mileage over the winter. I’ve learned enough lessons the hard way to know that you have to respect the miles. You can run them. You can race them. You can build them up or cut them back, but you must always, always give them their due respect. 

And speaking of respect, after I was nearly terminated by last year’s Polar Vortex, I also learned to respect the weather. Thus, in preparation to run high miles in arctic conditions, I have been stocking up on thermal gear like there’s no tomorrow. Literally. I’m basically one of those people on Doomsday Preppers, the people who have nuke-proof bunkers, gallons of bottled water, and hazmat suits. Or as National Geographic describes them, “otherwise ordinary Americans who are preparing for the end of the world as we know it." 

I’m basically a running version of that.

In the past week, I have purchased two pairs of thermal tights, another balaclava, a neck gaiter, a new headlamp, thermal socks, an extra set of YakTrax, and Little Hotties hand and feet warmers. And while I don’t have an underground bunker, I do have the Asics Storm Shelter jacket, which is waterproof, windproof, and anything-else-that-falls-from-the-sky-proof. And, should the unfortunate occurrence arise that I cannot, for one reason or another, run outside, I even joined a gym, solely for the treadmill, which I will use only in extreme scenarios, such as hailstorms and night runs made treacherous by sheets of black ice. 

If I had to pick a character to play me right now, it would by John Malkovich, hands down.

At any rate, it’s not the end of the world, but it is the beginning of a high mileage winter. And as the U.S. Postal Service says, neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night will stay me from my mission. 

Because, you know, I’m all about that base.

Amy L. Marxkors is the author of The Lola Papers: Marathons, Misadventures, and How I Became a Serious Runner and Powered By Hope: The Teri Griege Story.  Click here to receive Amy's weekly article via email.

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