Daily Archives: April 11, 2008

Back to Where it All Began

In a week’s time I will be running through the desert again, participating in the Spring Desert Ultra 50 miler. I can’t wait to be on the trails of Fruita. Carving up the singletrack, and skipping through the rocks. For the first few miles, anyway!

This is one of my all-time favorite places to run – u can see why

One year ago, this was my introduction into the world of ultrarunning and racing. I picked this race out because I had ridden my bike on all of the trails and was familiar with the course. It was every bit as hard as I thought it would be – I was hooked!

I had no idea how to train for running a 50 mile event. The limited information I could find all shared a common theme – accumulate time on your feet. Starting out with a good base was emphasized over and over. Well, I took a somewhat unorthodox approach. My training started on New Year’s Day with a 3 mile run. I did my first ever double-digit run (12 miles) in the middle of January. It took me 4 days to recover from that one. I was slow, but determined. Leading up to the race, I put in 8 weekend runs of between 20 and 30 miles. The rest of the week was spent recovering and getting in a few 3-5 milers where I could. In the four months before the race I ran a total of 510 miles.

It was far from the ideal approach, but considering where I started from and the short amount of time I had to work with, it did the job. I survived the run taking 11:37 to finish it.

Fast-forward to this year. In the last 4 months I have run just a little under 1,000 miles. I have also raced a 10k, 12k, 50k, and marathon in that period. My runs this year have been significantly more difficult, incorporating speed and hard efforts, technical trails, and lots of climbing. Around 30,000 feet in the last 6 weeks or so. Last year it probably totaled less than 5,000.

What is most interesting to me is to see a graphical representation of my daily distances over the last 4 months. Last year I did consistent long runs, but the overall mileage accumulation was lacking.

Leading up to the race last year

The graph for this year tells a much different story. I put in 7 consecutive 60 mile weeks in the dead of winter. Then I cut back in preparation for the Psycho Wyco 50k in early February.

The same period this year

After that race, I started working with Coach Karl. He’s had me doing shorter distances (but still significant) for my long runs, and focusing a lot more on climbing, tempo efforts, and technique. I still have a long way to go, but I have been getting a lot stronger and faster in the process. A friend asked me the other day if I did any cross-training. I replied no, but then added that I don’t really feel like I need to. My running is so varied now. 10 min miles on a flat treadmill, 14 miles and 4,000 feet of climbing after work on rugged trails, steady-state road runs, pushing my daughter in a stroller, footwork drills, tempo work in the low 6:00 range, easy hills, hard hills, cadence, night runs, long walks with the dog, etc. I had fallen into the trap of doing the same old thing over and over. It was good consistency for the winter season, but the training I’m doing now is what will really help me get to a new level.

Ok, graphs do not a successful race make. I’m still relatively inexperienced and need to be very smart about pacing, fueling, and hydrating. I’m a little bit concerned about the lack of 20+ mile runs I have in me leading up to the race this year. If the tradeoff is me being fit, uninjured, and with fresh legs at the starting line – I’ll take it. It will be interesting to see how I hold up beyond 35. Hopefully I’ll be able to catch a whiff of the finish and drive it on home. We’ll see!