Last July, I (Cathy) punched the registration button on a bucket list item: the TransRockies Run. This six-day course covers 120 miles, climbs 20,000 feet of elevation, and is billed as “summer camp for adults.” It’s not for the faint of heart, and it’s as much of a time commitment as it is a physical commitment. Fortunately I didn’t register all by myself. I was joined by 3 other BAMRs who share my love of endurance events, being out on the trails, and conquering a hefty, audacious goal.
As the months have passed, it’s crossed my mind (more than a few times) that for the same amount of money and logistical planning, we could have gone to Paris for a scrumptous walking tour of French patisserie. Instead, we will be sleeping in tents, eating gels, having multiple emotional breakdowns, and pushing our bodies through the heat of a Colorado summer. I try not to think too hard about that.
Here’s how I’m handling the training.
Training is boring.
For an endurance event like TransRockies, it’s all about time on your feet and those elevation gains. At the outset of my training, I fantasized about gorgeous trails and fresh air and the joy of exploring. It felt electrifying at first to reach double-digit mileage and hit higher altitudes. Now it feels grueling.
There is monotony in the day-to-day getting up early, hiking up (and up and up), coming back down, and repeating ad infinitum. I have come to accept the fact that base building and time on my feet isn’t sexy. The behind-the-scenes training rarely is. But boring doesn’t mean inefficient, and I am making peace with the fact that while the training isn’t exciting anymore, it is beneficial.
Turning the miles into smiles.
I’ve written before about having to flex my glass-half-full muscle, and this training is like putting that muscle through a blender and then sending it to CrossFit. I know during my six days out in the Rocky Mountains my positive attitude will seize up and refuse to work. (Not gonna lie—I’m scared. This is a big undertaking.) So when I saw this mile marker on a recent trail, I decided it would be my mantra for the rest of the summer. The miles become smiles.
When I’m on mile 8 and I’ve been climbing for 2.5 hours and I have 9 more miles to go before I’m back at my car, I chunk up each mile and find something to smile about. Mile 10 means I get a snack. Mile 11 cuts behind the trees so I get some shade. Mile 12 has a babbling stream I get to hop over. And on and on. They’re small things, but if I can smile at least once per mile, that’s 120 smiles during TransRockies, which adds up to a lot!
Letting things go.
Training gobbles up my weekdays and devours my weekends. That means when I’m not out on the trails, I have to pick and choose how I invest my time. What I’m not choosing is a clean house, folded laundry, or lots of social events. It means resting on the couch with “Stranger Things” instead of delicious dinners. It means being available to my kids if they need me instead of a clean car or finally tackling the return pile for Amazon.
There are a lot of things that will not get done this summer, and that’s ok. I have only so much energy to expend in a day, so I’ve embraced this “season” of training to include the act of doing less.
Remember the women I referenced who signed up for this madness with me? I asked them to share how they’re handling the grind. They encouraged me with their perspectives.
Britt: Sometimes training does not go as you envision, but that is part of the journey. I am grateful for every run that feels ok!
Kate: I have a demanding job and busy home life, so I find I really crave the time to myself to train.
Julie: The consistency and reliability of the training helps anchor my otherwise unpredictable and sometimes chaotic life.
Isn’t this why many of us train in the first place? Gratitude for what our bodies can do, time to ourselves, and allowing exercise to ground us in an otherwise chaotic world.
Yes, training for endurance events can be boring, but finding the smiles reveals nuggets of joy that make it worthwhile.