• Steve Szakal

300 miles, tacos, and Meditation

I have a pretty big race in two weeks. Worlds End 100k is a technical, tough race. Last year I basically ran it on one leg due to an injury I sustained a month before. I started the race with no hydration vest or bottle. No gels or any other nutrition. I expected to get a few miles and drop. I ended up making it the whole way in a suffer fest like no other. It fucking sucked.

I really want to kill the fucking thing this year so I decided to do three weeks of "hell". Put my body and mind through torture. I not only wanted to get fit, I wanted to run when I didn't want to, or where I wanted to. I would run twice a day, mainly the same 6 mile route. I wanted to get so bored and angry that every ounce of my being wanted to just curl up on the couch and watch shit TV.

Week one I ran 111 miles. I put in about 16 miles a day, with a long run on the weekends. On top of the running, I did about 60 minutes of yoga and 20-30 minutes of weight stuff. Like plyometrics with the weight vest, pushups...that sort of thing. This first week went pretty good. I felt strong, although Wednesday's second run I felt like fucking shit. Something was wrong. I have been on a pretty set eating schedule for 2 years now. I don't eat until about 11am every day. Well, when you put in 3 abnormally hard days, and don't up your food. Something will go wrong. After that second run when I thought I was going to keel over. I look at myself in the mirror before getting in the shower and I looked extra "ribby" I stepped on the scale and I was 153 which is crazy low. I'm usually 165-170, I may get down to 160 right before a marathon, but 153 was fucking bad. I'm an idiot. So I bumped my food intake way up. I ate after each run and multiple snacks and protein shakes throughout the day. My weight was still somewhat low but my energy was good. Now 111 miles is the most miles I have ever done in a week. Now for pros they are getting up to 120-130 miles in, but that's all they do, most done work, or they have jobs that are not physical. I'm doing all this while busting my fucking ass all week in a warehouse, cooking dinner for the family, and taking the kid to gymnastics, shit is hard. Week one: done

Now week two I thought I would carry the momentum from such an awesome week. The weather was shitty. It basically rains every fucking day of the year in the Northeast anymore. Rain suck, especially coldish miserable rain. This did not make me want to get outside. But I did. I did the same 10k route twice a day. One at lunch, and one after work. Monday and Tuesday not to bad, but Wednesday my mind started to melt a bit. The brain wasn't working right. I was getting confused and annoyed at shit. And I really didn't want to run that 10k loop any fucking more. But you know what I did? I took a deep breath, I sat on the ground lotus style. Set my phone alarm for 10 minutes. Closed my eyes and meditated for 10 minutes. I just breathed in and out, in and out. Just tried to focus on the breath. I opened my eyes and put my shit on and did the fucking loop. Friday came and I still had moments of my brain doing weird shit. Halfway through the work day I came up with the idea to have my friends over for a taco night. I just had zero food in the house. I had to finish work, do my second run, take a nap, get groceries, and clean the house. I did not know any of this when I opened my big fat fucking mouth. I was so tired you could of punched me in the face and I would not of felt a thing. But I thought to myself "this is why you are doing what you are doing" to focus while fatigued. At mile 50 you need to know to get the right amount of food in to make it the rest of the way. I had 3 hours to do all this shit. I ran, took a quick nap, got in my car to go get food. Got home, put all the groceries away, cleaned the house, plopped down on the chair and chugged a beer (hey its Friday, I'm fucking drinking). All in all it was a success. It was all perfect. You just have to set shit up in your mind and stick to it.

Week two done: 93 miles

Lately I've been delving more into meditation, buddhism, suffering, and how humans deal with suffering. The third week taught me to separate my mind and body. I was pretty tired this week. I kept trying to make excuses up in my mind to not do my workouts. I did them all but each day I learned a little bit more about myself. I listen to a great podcast call 10% happier with Dan Harris. It mostly deals with meditation. He has had on some great meditators and meditation teachers the past few weeks. These are people who can sit for 10-12 hours a day. When you do any physical activity for that many hours your mind gets flipped upside down. I was so tired and mentally bored from running the same loop at the same time everyday that I just wanted to say fuck it. But when you work though extreme fatigue your mind goes to some beautiful places. Its almost a psychedelic experience. Your legs and arms are moving through space in time but your mind is somewhere else. Its pretty fucking weird. So a once occasional meditation practice is now a daily one. And one I plan on taking to a whole other level. Week 3 done: 91 miles

I will rest up the next two weeks leading up to the race. I will run a few times, hit the gym, relax, meditate, swim a bit, and just suck in all the beautiful pain and misery of the last 3 weeks. I have no fucking clue if everything I did will lead to a good performance in two weeks, I really don't give a shit. I learned a lot. I got myself to do things when I really didn't want to do them. Worlds End 100k June 1st

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