Crossing the country on her L'Amore Montagna running tour has taught Sarah Keyes some road trip rules.
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For the last 30 days, my life has revolved around running, eating, driving and sleeping, in that order. This cross country tour is not the first for me, but I have still learned a few valuable lessons about traveling and training on the road. Believe it or not, having no real commitments and all the time to run doesn’t always make it easier to do so. With multiple jobs and extensive hobbies centered mainly around running, I tend to be more efficient and productive when I have a schedule. Here’s a few tips on how I train and travel or as I like to call it: live the dream.
Give Yourself “No Outs"
This means no excuses. The harder you make it on yourself to back out of a run the better. Like scheduling a run into your calendar at home, schedule your run into your travel day. For some, running first thing is necessary. I find it best to camp out close to where I plan to run the next day, making it easier to run straight from camp. Traveling with a dog limits my camping to outside of National Parks. I have found plenty of dispersed camping in National Forests or on BLM land and have stumbled upon many preexisting primitive camp spots in amazing locations for running. Volunteers and folks that work for the forest service have been my greatest source of information for this. You can also use an app such as Trail Run Project to find great trails nearby. If I’m not camped near a planned run I’ll be sure to have a location in mind before turning in for the night. Recently I was in the Bears Ears National Monument where I camped 12 miles up a dirt road, just below the actual buttress of the Bears Ears. My scheduled run that day included five sets of three-minute hill repeats, with three miles before and after. On my home turf, I know exactly where I would have gone to get in that sort of workout; here I had to improvise. Using a topographic map on my phone I was able to locate a good spot to start where I could get in a warm up to yet another dirt road with a long hill for repeats. At 8500’ in elevation every slight incline felt daunting but I got it done and checked that one off the list.
Indecision = Idleness
Along with making no excuses is having no regrets. Make a decision and stick with it. In several instances, I have flip flopped on a campsite or trail and at the end of the day that delay resulted in more driving and less running. I am the queen of “Let's just see what’s around the next bend” when looking for a campsite, which has caused me more headaches than not. I wind up eating PB&J for dinner after driving around for an extra hour thinking I might find something with a slightly better view. Do your research prior to venturing out. For example, last week traveling to the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, I hadn’t asked anyone for advice on a camp site beforehand, and thought I’d be sure to find one down the next dirt road. This dirt road (unknown to me) was basically a one way, high clearance only, type of road meaning you’re not driving over 5 mph for much of it, and you’re definitely not turning around. While this was a good test of the Tacoma’s abilities, it wasn’t where I wanted to be at dusk. Do as I say not as I do.
"We're all just stardust with delusions of grandeur.”
I love this saying, which I stole from my coach, David Roche. My interpretation is that while we all want to achieve amazing, incredible things, in the end none of it will really matter but it’s important to have a damn good time trying. If you only get in 14 miles when you wanted 16 it’s okay. It’s okay to run circles around a neighborhood because you might get lost otherwise. Don’t sweat the small stuff, and sometimes putting less pressure on yourself can be the better choice. This past weekend, I ran the Ultra Adventures Grand Canyon 50K. The week before I had also started a ten-day regimen of antibiotics. I decided to race anyway because I felt good but adjusted my expectations and prepared for the possibility that I might have to drop if anything felt off. I wound up having a great day and placed third overall, and came in first for the women’s category. It wasn’t until after leaving the race that I learned about a terrible accident that had taken the lives of five longtime volunteers on their way to that race. Suddenly participating in this event took on a whole new meaning. No one knows when your day will come, love hard and be kind.
It’s All a Bonus
I have crafted a reality that allows me to do the things I love almost all the time, all joking aside. How is this possible? Well, I see my running as a bonus. It’s not a given, I worked hard to be here but most things I do surrounding running I now see as extra sprinkles on this already overflowing sundae. I believe that what you put out to the world comes back to you. At the laundromat, the other day (yes, dirtbags wash their clothes) my laundry was dry with 8 minutes left on the machine. I offered the machine to the next person I saw to take advantage of a few free hot minutes. Or take for example when in the North Rim Village of the Grand Canyon, which on a holiday weekend is bustling with people, a woman saw me looking for a parking spot in the shade and offered hers up as they were, “leaving soon anyway.” Even when it’s raining in the desert strap on your shoes and hit the trail. Don’t take your abilities for granted.
A Week in the Life
So what does my actual training schedule look like? Not to give away all of Coach’s secrets but I take one rest day a week, have two long run days (typically on the weekend), one workout in the middle of the week and easy running the rest of the days. A typical week might look something like this: Monday - rest, I try to fit a long driving day in here. Tuesday - easy hour, usually more runnable terrain, dirt roads. Wednesday - training workout. Thursday - easy hour or longer with some strides or hills. Friday - rest or easy hour. Saturday - long run on trails, for Western States doing 20 plus mile days. Sunday - long run on trails, usually less distance than Saturday. I try to stick to a training log and I find it helps keep me on track. Accountability is a good thing.
It is easy to lose track of time when you’re on the road and there’s nothing wrong with that, it’s kind of the point. Appreciate where you are, where you’re going and hopefully what you’ll become.
Photos: © Sarah Keyes
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
SARAH KEYES is a member of the La Sportiva Mountain Running® Team.
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