I hinted at this in my weekly training recap post, but on Monday, I officially completed the Lucky 7 Challenge, hosted by Fitness World Run Club. Fitness World Run Club is my Pee Dee/Florence area run club. I lived in Florence until 2012, and even though I’m in Charleston now and don’t get to run and race with the club as much, they’re nice enough to let me stay involved.
The mission, for those who chose to accept it, was:
- Run at least 7.14 miles a day for 7 consecutive days. This equals a 50 mile week.
- You could run more than 7.14 miles a day if you had a long run on your schedule or just wanted to.
- Races counted as long as you ran 7.14 miles that day, so if you raced a 5K, you still had to run the rest of the distance.
- Pace did not matter. Walk breaks and walking counted.
- If you needed to break it into two runs (for whatever reason), that was fine.
Runners have to complete the challenge during the month of April, and our reward will be a car magnet, a finisher’s medal, and the personal satisfaction of completing a 50 mile week.
Since I log 40-45 miles a week most weeks, I wasn’t worried about completing the mileage, but I still had to plan. Even for me, 50 miles in a week violates the well-known “10% rule”. No matter what you think about that rule, jumping from 10 miles in a week is pretty big. I get tired with mileage increases, so I needed to plan it so that I had time to recover from the Bridge Run and make sure my hip wasn’t giving me any trouble.
Each day, I documented my progress in the club’s Facebook group with a post-run selfie (to prove to my friends and family that I survived the run) and a cute drawing. Best of all, about 40 other people in the club completed the challenge, so we all encouraged each other by liking and commenting on the posts.
I logged a total of 54 miles in 7 days because I ran 10 miles on Sunday and ran more than 7.14 miles some days.
A 54 mile week is normal or even low for some- especially marathoners. As a 5K/10K runner, it was my highest mileage week ever. It might be a lifetime high, as I do not plan to run 50+ mile weeks or 7 days a week.
With five years of consistent running, I have a lot to learn- and I’ll take up the opportunity to learn when I can. Your mileage may vary (pun intended), but here’s what I learned from the challenge:
Recovery is crucial. Every day except Day 7, I knew I had to run the next day. Even if the next run was a planned recovery day, it was 7.14 miles and that’s pretty miserable if you’re sore or tired. I drank a protein/recovery shake after each run, stretched, and foam rolled. I certainly didn’t skimp last week because I knew a rest day wasn’t an option unless I got injured (then, I would’ve pulled the plug on the challenge).
Hmm, maybe I should pay more attention to recovery when I’m NOT running 7.14 miles a day for 7 days straight.
Alternate easy and hard days. I incorporated a garage/hill workout, a progression run, a mile repeats session, and a long run in my week. I don’t like running steady state miles all the time and needed to do speedwork and a long run since I’m training for the Race the Landing 5K series. These were not on consecutive days, and I took it very easy on the other days. I can run hard days back-to-back if the runs are short, but the injury risk goes up as the miles go up.
Throw out the time goals on easy days. I use a calculator to determine my easy pace, but easy on the day after running mile repeats feels different than easy after a rest day. So many runners claim they only have one pace, but if you truly run your easy days easy, you can push the pace on the hard days. Otherwise, you’re fatigued from the previous run. These easy days were far from my fastest runs and I didn’t pay attention to the Garmin except to reach 7.14 miles.
Since there was no medal, trophy, clock, or finish line at the end of my easy days, I saved my hard efforts for future races.
7 miles is not much harder than 4 miles. For someone whose been running a few years, 7.14 miles is not harder than running 4 or 5 miles. What’s hard is carving out the time to get up early, lace up your shoes, go outside, and run in the first place. Once you’re out there running, it’s not hard to talk yourself into more miles. I found the extra 30 minutes needed to take a 4-mile recovery day to 7 miles. I didn’t run doubles because it would be even harder to find time to run and shower twice.
Recruit running partners. I did 3 of my 7 runs with training partners, friends, and running groups. On two of these runs, my friends pushed me to run faster than I might have otherwise. On the other run, I purposely ran with people at a slower pace so I could recover. I’m a social runner and can’t imagine logging 50-54 miles a week all alone, although I know many who do.
If you’re running with others and need to run extra, I recommend running those miles *before* meeting the group. Otherwise, it’s tempting to stop when your friends call it a day, especially if your friends want to go out for coffee or drinks afterwards.
Encouragement makes all the difference. You never know what someone else is going through in life, and you never know what burden they might be carrying on their back when they hit the pavement or trail. Regardless of why you’re running, how fast, or how far, it takes a lot of heart and faith to lace up your running shoes each day, get out there, and put in the hard work.
Cheer for people. Smile. High five. Wave. Like and comment on Facebook posts. Stroke other runners’ egos and build them up because everyone deals with people or life situations that bring us down.
In the end, the competition is that little voice within ourselves telling us to stop.
I hope we all win.