3 Lessons I Learned By Running 1,000 Miles This Year and How You Can Accomplish a Similar Goal

Just before the Thanksgiving holiday season, I accomplished one of my running goals for 2013.

photo by flamurai, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

I ran 1,000 miles for the year.

As I mentioned in the post linked above, I was well aware that others have set much  loftier goals with some people running the year (2013 miles in 2013) or running a tenth of that in a 100 mile race all in one day.

Since I’ve started tracking my runs with my Garmin watch, I’ve averaged a little under 900 miles a year, so I also realized that while 1,000 miles would be the most I’ve ever run in a 365 day span, it wouldn’t be a huge jump. It was something that I wanted to have under my belt more than anything, but I also wanted to make sure I was in good shape for the Marine Corps Marathon this past October. It was a baseline for me to maintain my running endurance throughout the year.

Running over 1,000 this year also taught me a lot about myself, about running and about my relationship with running.

It was a lot easier than it sounds

When I’d tell people who aren’t runners that I was running 1,000 miles this year, they’d look at me like I was crazy. 1,000 miles sounds like a long way mostly because it is. It’d take you roughly 15 hours to cover that distance in a car and it’d you would have traveled across nearly half the country.

Until you start breaking down the numbers month-by-month, week-by-week and even run-by-run, it can seem daunting (something I’ll get to in a bit). Once I looked at running 1,000 miles in manageable chunks, it almost felt like there wasn’t any way I wouldn’t hit my goal.

It won’t necessarily help you PR

While I technically did PR in the Marine Corps Marathon, I fell short of my time goal. My regular running schedule kept me in good shape, but after reflecting on my training without any type of cross training or hill workout, it’s clear to me that I wasn’t setting myself up to run a fast race – I was only setting myself up to finish a race. Despite a temporary moment of insanity when I drank a Gatorade at the end of the race and promptly yakked it up , for the most part I felt good after finishing my race because I had more or less come to terms with the fact that I had maximized what I had trained to do – finish a marathon.

I learned that simply logging the mileage will only get you so far. If I wanted to see a better time as I crossed the finish line, I should have incorporated more speed and hill workouts. Maybe I’m oversimplifying it a bit, but that is the main difference between simply being a finisher and being a competitor.

It’s good to have a long-term goal

While it might not have been a crazy, life-altering goal for me, setting a goal of running a 1,000 miles was a good way for me to keep on track. It was a reason to get out and run before my meetings when I was traveling for work or work my running around work and time with my family. It was something that was set there. Between announcing it here and telling anyone who’d listen, I had put it out there that I was going to run 1,000 miles and I didn’t want to fall short.

I also wasn’t really training for any specific race until I started training for the Marine Corps Marathon in the spring, so it was a great way to motivate me to get out and run consistently. I didn’t want to be behind in my mileage when I started training and feel the need to tack on extra miles during my training. I wanted to be in good shape when I officially started my training and build on that.

Conversely, in 2012 I didn’t really have any strong racing goals. I ran some shorter distance races and my run-when-I-felt-like-it running schedule got me just ready enough to finish some of the 5ks, 10 mile races and half marathons I signed up for as almost afterthoughts. 2013 was much different. I was much more confident on my long runs and really felt like a stronger runner for much of the year – having my 1,000 mile goal had a lot to do with that. I was much more confident in my races this year and PR’d in a half marathon. That PR has spurred me to set some new goals for 2014 (more on that in an upcoming post).

 

 

How you can run 1,000 miles in a year too

If you’ve been running for a little while and are considering setting a mileage goal for 2014,  I’d highly recommend it. It’s a great way to stay in shape all year-long – even if you’re in between training for races. Here are two things you should consider before deciding to do it.

 Break your goal down into smaller chunks

Once you determine how far you’d like to run next year, break it down into how many miles you’ll have to average by month, week and each individual run. If you’d like to set a goal of running 1,000 miles over all 12 months in 2014, here’s how your minimum mileage will need to break down:

  • 83 miles a month
  • a little over 19 miles a week
  • just under 5 miles a run (based on  a minimum of 4 times a week)

When you’re training for a marathon – especially later on in your training – you’ll crush those amounts. If you’re not, it’s a good base to maintain your fitness.

Schedule your runs

Once I determined what I’d need to run each month, I plugged regular runs into my work and family schedules. Once I started training for the marathon, the mileage was more or less dictated for me, but knowing how much I needed to run helped set a baseline for what I’d put on my schedule.

I knew I would feel guilty if I only did the minimum amount needed on runs, so I made sure that I stayed above the average needed on individual runs (my average running distance ended up being right around 7 miles).  For the most part I never fell below 10 miles on long  weekend runs. During my marathon training, I usually did half the distance of my long run on Tuesdays.  Doing more than the minimum also gave me a bit a leeway in case I got injured and needed to take time I off. It also helped me accomplish my goal over a month early because – knock on wood – I didn’t get injured.

I would definitely recommend fitting in this buffer as you map out your runs for the year.

 

What’s next

As  I mentioned above, running over a 1,000 miles this year was a good baseline for me.  It’s also a good springboard for things to come. I’m still ironing out the kinks on what my running goals will be for 2014, but I’m certain that if I hadn’t completed this year’s goal, I wouldn’t have the confidence to shoot for what I consider a bigger and better goal next year.

I’ll be talking more about what I’d like to do in 2014 soon – what are some of your goals for the coming year? How did your 2013 goals end up?

Comments

  1. Go you! Still waiting for your MCM recap.

    • Hi Caroline! This post is more or less it as far as my MCM recap goes. I originally had more about my race written out, but it didn’t seem all that interesting, so I decided to merge it with this post instead. Long story short, I didn’t hit my goal time, but the good news is that I know why.

      • yeah I didnt finish the MCM had to stop at mile eleven..but maybe next year! O its a lottery…never-mind. I love reading race recaps…started doing yoga too…love it! Run Yoga Thrive!

  2. I have always wanted to run 1,000 miles in a year. To me it is a goal to keep me motivated. 2013 was a terrible running year for me. I have had multiple injuries and am just now starting out again; one mile at a time. It is good to know I may not be as crazy as I thought by setting a 1000 mile goal! thanks.

  3. I started on this same goal this year and so far so good. I am tracking my runs in a spreadsheet and did a bunch of calculations to give me – remaining miles to hit the goal, miles/month, miles/day, miles run so far this month etc… The spreadsheet definitely helps my motivation..

    https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0Ak5UGWzvXu3LdGtKX1E0YlBGTUJpOWstUkRDZmp3Y3c&usp=drive_web#gid=0

    • That’s awesome Vijay!

      One thing I’ll say is that a goal like that definitely keeps you on track and motivated. Good luck with the rest of the year!

      • Sienne Ackermann says:

        Good info on your 1000 mile plan! I too ran over 1000 miles in 2013, in less than 7 months of starting to run. Wow, I actually thought it was 8 months, but I guess I did better than I thoought. It was a great year for me. I wanted to be healthier, I had not set a 1000 mile goal at all but it was sure cool to achieve that. Then I hit a bump in the road after my 1000 miles, down for several weeks. It was aweful!
        Now I’m back at it, a little tired and not totally 100% but I’m running again. I do have a goal or maybe it’s a dream challenge to run a full marathon. I don’t know if ill be able to do it but I would sure like to. I’ve done 3 selfie 1/2 marathons. I’m 49 years old, it would be so cool to do a full one this year as I’m turning 50 in Nov, and having my 30 th wedding anniversary. I love running & thankful to be able to do it! Thanks for sharing your 1000 miles!
        Run on! Sienne Ackermann

  4. Oh my goodness! Impressive article dude! Many thanks, However I am encountering difficulties with your RSS.
    I don’t know why I cannot join it. Is there anyone else having the same RSS problems?
    Anybody who knows the solution can you kindly respond?
    Thanks!!

  5. “It was a lot easier than it sounds”…I have to disagree. I think it is a pretty impressive goal. Most people who know I’m doing it this year have said “Less than 20 miles a week. That’s easy.” The thing is… it is 20 miles a week for FIFTY TWO consecutive weeks!

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