In the Paddock

The miles don’t run themselves.

Anyone that’s ever been out for a training session – long or short, fast or slow, trail or road – with me knows that’s the go-to phrase with a run on tap.

It doesn’t make complete sense, but runners usually get the gist.

Motivation comes in many forms and perhaps that’s just one more way to kick oneself in the pants, put down the fork, rise from the couch, finish that coffee, lace up the shoes and get out the door. In the middle to late stages of a training program for a big goal event down the road the motivation comes easier. At the beginning, well, there’s often a lot of self-coercion and self-shaming to get moving and at least in the direction of the target.

Staring down empty training logs and knowing the miles won’t run themselves for our 2021 1,000-Mile Challenge, we reached out to some friends who know a thing or two about running.

“We are 1,000 percent on board,” said Anthony Mastroianni, owner and operator with his wife Jamie of iRun Local in Saratoga Springs.

Jamie agreed.

“This is awesome and we’re totally on board to ‘sponsor’ your quest,” she said.

And thus, The Special’s 1,000-Mile Challenge presented by iRun Local was born.

We’re excited to partner with a local business on our quest, which is off to a somewhat spotty start here almost three weeks into the New Year. And by spotty I mean just under 36 miles from this runner, dealing with a troublesome knee no doubt caused by wearing old shoes on the roads and tackling the 5-Mile Trail at the Saratoga Spa State Park on packed snow and ice with microspikes last week.

Joe, who started the year in style with a New Year’s Day in-person socially distanced 5k, is off to the best start so far with 60 miles through Monday. Sean, who paired the running challenge with another to read 52 books in 2021, isn’t far behind with 58 (through Tuesday) and he writes about either or both daily in his The Inside Rail blog. Sean also recruited friends Jamie Potter (who recruited friend Jason Jurzak) and Brent Harris. Others can still join! Step right up. 

The folks at iRun Local outfitted each of us with a new pair of shoes to start the Challenge – my On Cloudflow size 12s were laced up and for a short spin around snowy Saratoga Springs late Tuesday morning. Sean will get his Cloudflows and Joe his Brooks Adrenalines in a few days.

We are planning several events – in-person and from afar – for the course of the challenge, including some gear tryouts, group runs on the 5-Mile Trail and from iRun Local on Broadway in Saratoga Springs (fingers crossed for at least some return to normalcy at Saratoga Race Course and with The Saratoga Special this summer) and maybe even a day-long challenge like Joe and his son Nolan embarked on during the early weeks of the pandemic.

Hopefully the Boilermaker 15k goes as scheduled, now the second Sunday in October versus its traditional second Sunday in July. Where will we be come November and December? Hopefully with plenty of miles in the bank, but just in case we’re coming up short we’ll rev up the troops and come up with something.

Here’s to 2021, 19 days in and on the way to 1,000. See you on the roads, or at iRun Local.