Looking back, after about 30 years

It's been about 30 years since I've started running. Well, not quite, a little more in fact. I guess like any boy "without any peculiar problem", I started to run at about age 2. But training with the idea to run faster and faster, this I guess, I started to do when I was about 10 years old.

Since 10 years, I've been very keen on writing down all my training sessions. I keep them all. I recommend you do the same, if you run on a regular basis and if performance - this is always relative - is something that means something to you. For everything that happened before, I tried to collect my memories, it's very imprecise.

1985 - 2013 log
A little look in the mirror after 29 years of running. Before 2003, I did it from vague memories, since 2004, figures are quite precise. All distances are in metric system and I convert them into what I call a running equivalent. 5 km of bike is worth 1 km of runing, and 1 km of swimming is worth 4 km of running. This is only a rough approximation, but it makes comparisons easier. The time spent training (the top line on the graph) is counted in hours, multiplicated by 10 (so that it fits well on the graph). So 10000 means 1000 hours. Oh yeah, the legend : càp (blue) = run, vélo (orange) = bike, nat (yellow) = swim, the rest is other sports such as roller-skating, powerwalking, strength training, etc.

What do we learn looking at this data?

  • he/she who tells you "I run, but not much, only about 6 miles per day" -> 6 miles per day, on an average, is just a hell of a lot, I waited until 2008 to do that, I finished 4 ironmen (2 in 1998 , 1 in 2004 and 1 in 2006 ) without nearing that figure. Just FYI...
  • when people say "quantity does not matter, quality does". Yeah, right. Now I just look at figures. In 2008 I just decided to go to the next step and made a significant increase in mileage. Result, a good Spartathlon where I placed first Frenchman, I acknowledge that year the best French guys where not there, but anyway, my run wasn't that bad. Same thing, in 2010 I just do some more and add bike without reducing running. Result, victory at the deca. OK, I might have done the same with les training. Maybe yes. Maybe not. But the naive strategy which consists in "runinng more" seems to work quite well.
  • running is the basis. Well, more precisely, it's *my* basis. The rest is only "nice-to-have" stuff, once you get a strong running base, the rest is easy. My bike mileage (6000 miles on "big" years) is just so ridiculous compared to other cyclists with about the same level.
  • the rule that says "not more than 15% year-over-year mileage increase" is plain bullshit. Look at the graph, not even closely, you can spot large increases, way more than 15%, and I handled that all right. Else, I have no clue how to go up to, say 2500 miles per year, without having a white beard and great wisdom on D-day.
  • having a target, a race to complete, is a great motivation helper. Just see: the increase in 1998 -> Embrun (Ironman distance) , in 2004 -> Diagonale des Fous , in 2008 -> Spartathlon , and finally in 2010 -> deca-Ironman. No secret.

And now, what's next? Well, I intend to last. Last, what's this all about? For instance, I'd appreciate to be able to "run gently out there" and ride my bike around in, say... 30 years? Yeah, 30 years more, that would be fine. To be continued!

PS: a little context information, as of 2013, I'm 38 years old.

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Updated on Wed Feb 12 2014.