Today, I completed an unusual 7X7 mathematical running challenge. No, it’s not related to football. But that’s where I got the idea for the numbers: those 7 on 7 drills that are so common for football success. I decided to attempt to run 7 miles or more on 7 consecutive days. This is a deviation from my usual pattern of long:short but I’m also attempting to boost my mileage to catch up on Run the Year mileage and also to begin half-marathon training for the Good Life Halfsy in November.
I started the challenge on Monday, running 7 miles. And I noticed after a few days of running 7+ miles, my body was adjusting to the mileage increase pretty well and that perhaps I should keep the mileage there to take advantage of momentum. I also noticed some benefits like fastest 7 mile times in several months on 2 consecutive days and a significant increase in my VO2 max (measuring the efficiency of my breathing). Seeing measurable aerobic benefits after an injury is encouraging. Running or run/walking 49 in a week prepares me for a few 50+ mile weeks that will be coming with half-marathon and marathon training. 49 in a week is close enough to 50.
It was not easy to complete the challenge. There was intense fatigue the last 2 days of the challenge (some of that may be related to run-streaking). Today, my heart rate was high during the very last 2 miles but I was testing Galloway run:walk intervals (3:1 and 2:1 run:walk) anyway so that was ok. It took a little creativity to make it work. But I was somehow able to go 58.97 miles in 7 days (counting some walking only miles too).
Many of the runs were cut into slices, allowing for some dog miles and some easier solo miles (my heart rate seems to run higher when Misty is on the leash sometimes).
Would I recommend that you run/walk this challenge the first time you attempt it? Yes, absolutely, that is how I did it. Coming off my back injury, that was the only practical way to try it.
Caution: if you try this, make sure you build up your weekly mileage to within 10% of the targeted 49 miles.
Another caution: monitor your heart rate and make sure you aren’t in zone 4 and 5 more than you should be during this challenge. If you are, slow down, and take more walk breaks.
Completing the challenge gave me some hope for possibly making August the 200 mile running month that July was supposed to be until my back injury occurred, forcing adjustments that put July 200 out of reach. Also, the altitudinal running in Colorado was tougher than I expected last month. More on altitude training particulars in a future blogpost.
Also, a tip that might help: designate at least one day to go a little more than 7 (on Wednesday I ran 10) to give you a little cushion. Then taper back to 7 mile days to complete the challenge. If you need to slice the runs into 2 or 3 segments in one day, making a few of them less strenuous, that’s okay. In fact, Jeff Galloway and others recommend the splitting of runs for masters runners.
So for anyone who is looking for a week’s run/walk challenge: I challenge you to run, run/walk, or walk 7 miles a day for 7 consecutive days. After you complete the challenge, maybe a few rest days would be good to allow your body to recover. This challenge may not be for everyone. But it was helpful to me. And as an asthmatic recovering from an injury, it was more practical than the 10X10 (10 miles on 10 consecutive days) that some of my friends have attempted and completed. Think of it in football terms: every day you run 7 you score a touchdown. If you score 7 TD’s in a row on consecutive days, you have the full 49.
If you complete the challenge, you will be a true 49er (7X7=49). The fun part of this is you can scramble your miles in any way you like, including a lot of walking only miles if you wish. Those still count. So run, run/walk, or walk 49 in a week if you can. If you succeed, it’s a good indicator that you can handle the 50-mile weeks that marathon/ultramarathon training may demand.