Reality Check

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With a little over half-way done I think I can make a pretty accurate comparison between what I thought it would be like to run across America and how it is going so far.

Better than planned:

I believed that camping would be detrimental to recover and that every time I camped it would be more difficult to run the next day than if I stayed indoors, ideally sleeping on a mattress. That prediction was completely wrong! I sleep very well camping, there are fewer distractions, the timing is more adequate, and I usually wake up refreshed and get on the road sooner than when I couchsurf. So camping is great!

Ice baths, massages, pain killers, special diet… I thought I would need all this to keep up. But in reality I am not missing any of it. The massage sessions were decisive during training, but now during the run they would be a luxury. The level of physical stress I am experiencing does not require any special care other than sleeping well for at least 8 hours, ideally 9 or 10. That is all I need to be good as new in the morning.

To keep a 27 mile average I would have to often run more than 30 miles on a day and would complete the run in 100 days. That is proving not just difficult but undesirable. I am having a much better experience, socializing much more, and enjoying my days a lot more at my current 24 mile average. That will mean finishing this in around 112 days plus the days off. So be it, I am liking it much more this way.

I used to think that other than by people interested in running I would be pretty much alone. I didn’t think I would make so many friends that are not into running at all. But to my happiest surprise I have been contacted by people from all walks of life both on the road and in the cities I go through, and I am making many friends among them.

Worse than planned:

I used to think that many people would try to locate me and run along a little or a lot. It has happened a few times but not nearly as often as I imagined.

Attracting attention of the press to this was very easy in Florida, where I thought it was going to be difficult, and has been very difficult since I left Florida, where I thought it was going to be the easiest. That part perplexed me.

I believed running clubs, running stores, would be interested in meeting, having impromptu runs and Q&A sessions. But the few running clubs we contacted made no effort to hide their indifference. I got some sponsorship from a waste management company, a catering company, but after contacting dozens of running stores without success I gave up on that part.

The running clubs are so indifferent to it that if it wasn’t for the enthusiasm of some individuals, runners that brought me in anyway, I wouldn’t have any contact with any running club anywhere, both during training and during the run. I also noticed that I never find doctors or any healthcare organization maintaining or running or promoting any running club: It is always a running store, which ultimately does it because it is good for bu$ine$$. Weird, huh?

Update: The story was different in Phoenix, where the stores and the running clubs were receptive and welcoming!

Taking county roads is an invitation to get lost and end up in farmer’s backyard instead of where Google Maps tells you to go. Rural counties do a poor job of updating Google about which roads are not open to the public.

Just as planned:

  • Middle of Florida was the most difficult part of all.
  • Louisiana was the hardest state to go through.
  • Texas has been the friendliest place.

4 thoughts on “Reality Check

  1. Björn Suneson

    Interesting summary. I have exactly the same experience as you. The difference is just that I’m not so fond of camping but the few times I did it, I had like you no problems with the running the next day. How often do you camp?

    Yes, it is surprising that running clubs and sports shops are so little interested in what you are doing. I often tried to bargain in sports shops where I bought running shoes. Have you done it and did you succeed?

    A proposal to avoid being stopped by police so often: If you have a sign up on the cart with the text COAST TO COAST people understand that you do not have a child in the stroller. The first time I ran across the U.S., I was also stopped many times by the police but the second time I’d the sign it happened rarely.

    I think you are doing this very well! I doubted at first but now you have become a runner. Welcome to the club!

    Keep on running!
    http://www.suneson.se

    1. Milton Miller Post author

      I camped 48 times so far and couchsurfed 36. I love camping for some reasons and I love couchsurfing for other reasons.

      Interesting this thing of becoming a runner… I really feel it. Sometimes I just go out for a quick jog on a trail and it feels like flying. However I am feeling my performance with the stroller as a much different experience. It’s much harder. I have been optimizing it at every turn but still now for these desert crossings it’s so loaded with water, food supplies, clothes, that I can just walk most of the time. It is bothering me!

      I can’t wait to be free of stroller and just run in cities, parks, on the beach!

      1. Jacob Gardner

        You’ll be running free as a bird soon enough! And I look forward to joining you in your new running routine when you make it back!

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