This morning, I ran down from my "hermitage" to the Redemptorist monastery in Cebu to join my confreres for meals, check my e-mail, update my blog and get my food supply for the week. It took me one hour and 45 minutes. Yesterday, I ran for five hours in the mountains of Busay and Kan-irag (from 7:30 am to 12:30 pm) with a lot of steep ascents and descents on various paths and trails, in the rain the last one and a half-hour. Tomorrow afternoon, I will be hiking up to Busay - back to my "hermitage."
This is one of the joys of living as an occasional hermit in the mountain of Busay - running in the mountains. I started doing this almost thirty years ago - since I decided to spend time annually in the mountain as an occasional hermit. Besides the time for prayer, reflection, reading, writing and music, I also do a lot of running. This is where I trained for the marathon. I am still doing this as I turn 56 years old, and I expect to be doing this for the next thirty years.
What makes running enjoyable after doing the Camino is that it has become easier and more enjoyable. Since I have lost 15 lbs, I can run faster. My body feels light and I have more endurance and energy (even without breakfast and lunch). I wake up with a resting pulse rate of 43 beats per minute (bpm) - the lowest in my life. The average resting heart rate for many people is 70 bpm. For those who are fit it is 60 bpm, while for marathoners it is usually in the 50s. When I was 30-35 years younger, the lowest I could go was 52 bpm. So this is the "physical blessing" from the Camino. My blood pressure, which used to be high, is lower. I'm not worried about my myocardial ischemia.
I have started my training for the marathon. Here's is my schedule the past week:
Sept. 13 Mon: uphill hike Busay (2 hrs 10 min)
Sept 14 Tues: fartlek-mountain-run (1 hr 40 min)
Sept 15 Wed: easy, barefoot-run (40 minutes), plyometrics, weight training
Sept 16 Thurs: easy- mountain-run (1 hr 45 min)
Sept 17 Frid: rest, 30 minutes walk
Sept 18 Saturday: long/slow-distance mountain run (5 hours)
Sept 19 Sun: easy, downhill run (1 hr 40 min)
In my long runs, I use the Galloway method (a cycle of 9 min run/1 min walk) and the Chi-running styles (incorporating the principles of Taichi and a slight forward lean, with mid/forefoot running). Fartlek is the Swedish term for speed-play (varied pace).
This is the program that I will follow, with some variations, as I prepare for the marathon in 4 months time. Actually, it is not the marathon that I really enjoy - it is the training and preparation, especially the solitary runs.