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The big lean

After months of progressive increase to the challenge of my training, this weekend marked a peak in volume and intensity with another 3-days of long runs. The MDS starting gun fires in less than 3 weeks, so with 12+ hours of running completed over the weekend, I’ll start a tapering process to ensure that I arrive in Morocco healthy and fit. Rather than risk another Friday midnight finish, I chose to start my first run just after sunrise.

I believe that athletic challenges can serve a key role in balancing an intense professional workload with fitness, happiness, and personal fulfillment. Rather than cut back on work intensity OR life intensity, I find that when I elevate both of them together, each delivers a higher bounty and equilibrium is reached. Sometimes to reach this balance though, you have to make a big lean. This is what happened after I worked until midnight Friday night and knew that I needed to go back into the office on Saturday — while still running four hours and having some semblance of weekend relaxation. It required a really big lean to find some balance, but in the end I leaned the other direction and ultimately found that balance.

Saturday’s run was a great adventure — a duathlon (run-work-run), running through Zurich’s posh shopping district in my full adventure racing kit, nighttime running in the forest with only a Blackberry screen as a light source, a surprise valley full of waterfalls, and a sprint finish to jump on a ferry for the ride back across Lake Zürich.

I was very happy to have no injuries after the first 7 hours of my weekend running. Ice bath #2, a great pizza, and some celebratory brownies and I had no problem sleeping Saturday night.

On Sunday morning I spent some time finalizing the details on the charity project that I’m just about to announce and then decided on having a bit of a runabout, as Dean Karnazes would call it. I took a train 30 minutes away to the town of Pfäffikon (on the far end of Lake Zürich from the city of Zürich itself). With my fully-weighted MDS backpack and a map, I set off uphill (yes, always uphill) toward a range that I’d seen by car and train, but never explored on foot. I made a very rough estimate that it would be a 5-6 hour run back home and wisely packed a headlamp, but forgot to factor in the snow line and steepness of this range.

As you can see from the video, the 6-hour run was a great success and also full of adventure. The opening act (climbing straight up for more than an hour) felt more like mountaineering than running as I got lost for a while and battled roots and then a really steep, snowy, and icy wood and dirt staircase climb to the summit of a minor peak.

The lack of predictability is a major reason I make up most of my running routes on the fly. It usually works out great and as long as you’re prepared for the times that it doesn’t (e.g. warm clothes, mobile phone, first aid kit, etc.), then the risk is worth the likely reward. My reward on today’s detour – a stunning view!

The last couple hours of today’s run were in the dark through the forest. Trail running at night is very special — at times challenging (considering roots and rocks), but the solitude and peacefulness of the nighttime forest brings real joy.

My night-time conclusion to today’s 6 hour run marks nearly 13 hours of running the past three days. Remarkably, I felt better the last two hours of running tonight than the first two hours of running two days ago! Quite amazing how the human body adapts, reacts, and repairs itself.

As always, thanks for checking in and offering your great support! Have a great week!


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