Map My Fun


Map My Fun

by Patrick Reed

Designing and striving to complete ultra-challenging workouts can be fun and inspiring

This past Friday, I eeked out 4 hours of our family’s schedule for myself and so had a veritable palette on which to create a masterpiece of training. From the moment I nailed down the timing, I eagerly sketched out a distance course in my head. I was looking for a very long run with multiple challenges which would not only train up my mind and body for my next ultra race, but also enable me to complete some long-standing goals I must have subconsciously been storing up during the past years of running on the mountainous paths in my central coast town of SLO. I encourage you to give this post a read and then consider mapping out your own challenging fun the next time you are able to clear your calendar.

Many will balk at the idea of clearing one’s calendar just for a training run. I beg to differ. We place all sorts of what I would consider items of lesser importance on the calendar all the time. We make time to have our nails primped, our hair coiffed and our shopping desires abated. We push would-be priorities to the fringes all to head to the greasy corner joint for a couple of hours or to stare mindlessly into our drink at either a Starbucks or a sidewalk pub. Why not carve out time to please our heart and soul, to luxuriate in nature and to confront our limitations as athletes?

Again – I need little convincing about what priorities fit where – especially when running is involved and so from the green-light-on moment, I was conniving. I imagined a loop which started and finished at my front door. Somehow, the epic challenge seems even more excellent if it requires no preparatory galavant to the start. I also had in mind several challenges – each of which I had completed on multiple occasions in solo efforts but rarely had strung together. I would run the Irish Hills to Johnson Ranch, a new popular cut-through of winding trail and long carving ascents and descents. I also — and this is the key challenge, coming where it does in the run (at the 10 mile mark of a 23-mile day) — had in mind what I call “The Spine.” This 1.5 mile trail starts at the northern edge of Shell Beach at a 45 degree pitch. It climbs straight up for a quarter of a mile – gaining hundreds of feet in minutes. The trail arches into twisted oak meadows atop “Pirates Cove” and works its way to an overlook of beautiful Avila Beach now 1,000 feet below – with its geometric piers darting westward into the deep blue Pacific — all the while with inevitable waves of blanketing clouds rolling in like the surf itself.


This challenging and spectacular climb is quickly forgotten as I will descend that 1,000 feet back down to sea level to press on in my goal. The next stage of my mind’s adventure includes the Bob Jones bike trail in a landward push back towards home now that I am at the halfway point. A left turn on the frontage road has me poised to finish the run — just 8 miles left at that turn — and the final task is to retrace the initial effort through Johnson Ranch and back over the Irish Hills home.

And so I charted the challenge in my head — and set out to complete it two days later. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I neglected to account for the needs of such a long series of challenges and had no cohesive water and nutrition plan. Leaving later than was my hope, I confronted the sun at its height, and in the end failed to complete my epic self-challenge. iPhone in hand for the entire ordeal, I made the decision to call a friend to rescue me and to cut the run short at 17 miles to save myself from a longer recovery because of lack of water and food.

But the principle of the Map My Fun stands. Carve out time for a challenge of your own. Piece together those running challenges that have been beckoning and consider stringing them together in one epic effort. Be sure to plan for water and food drops in advance and maybe even get some of your friends and family to support your effort. In such a manner you bolster your chances at success in the goal, add inspiration to your run and maximize the possibility of inspiring those you love by your effort — and you get to bask in your bliss for an afternoon! Such priorities as those included in an epic afternoon adventure may be just a bit off kilter from those of the shopping and TV-enamored masses — but hey, we distance runners already know that we are “different.”

Go “Map Your Fun” and let me know how it went!

~Coach Patrick

PS – If only this were out our backdoor!


image credits: Patrick Reed, & a-runners-journey.blogspot