|Pre-run pose (photo by Liliana)|
During the last several weeks, I've been reading as much as I can about ultra marathons and trail running. In addition to scouring the internet and finding sites like trailrunnernation.com , I've read a couple of different books including Neal Jamison's Running Through the Wall (which includes several essays by a variety of ultrarunners) and Relentless Forward Progress by Byron Powell. I'm learning "on the run" so to speak and I'm trying to incorporate these ideas into my training as I go. One of the biggest challenges has been getting the longer runs accomplished during a busy work week. As a result I've generally been doing a "shorter" long run on Saturday, followed by a long run on Sunday. Since we are on vacation these two weeks, it has been somewhat easier to accomplish longer runs, but it's still a bit of a challenge. I'm also still very interested in doing a fair amount of cross training to save my legs a little bit of the strain from running. The other factor has been the cold weather. Last Thursday, I was out the door at 5 a.m. for a very cold run (more on that in a moment).
|5 mile loop|
|Downhill section makes for easy running!|
The second loop passed much like the first. In fact, each of the first two loops took about 63 minutes, which is a touch over a 12 minute pace per mile (although they varied from 9 minutes to 16 minutes depending on the terrain). I could have run each a little faster, but I was trying to stay mindful of my heart rate which induced me to pause throughout the the run. HR training is certainly a different animal at altitude as I couldn't tackle any of the hills without quickly reaching my aerobic threshold. The loop that I was running had a lot of variety and broke down as follows:
Mile 1: The first half of this mile is mostly steep uphill, the second half is mostly downhill with just a few risers.
Mile 2: Starts with a moderate uphill of about a quarter mile, and then is almost entirely downhill.
Mile 3: Much like the first mile with mostly uphill and then downhill the rest of the way.
Mile 4: Almost entirely downhill and fairly steep.
Mile 5: Almost entirely uphill, though gradual (a lot of walking in this stretch).
|Dashing through the snow!|
Running a "loop" course also has a "psychological" component. For example, during the first loop it seemed unreal to think that I would actually be passing by the same place at least three more times for the next several hours. Later, just as I was close to completing the second loop, it was difficult to imagine that I was not quite halfway finished even though I'd already been running for two hours. The third and fourth loops were a little easier because I knew that I was on the shorter side and had run further than I had left. In fact, the fourth loop was in some ways the easiest and most enjoyable to do because I knew I would head inside once I had finished.
Still another challenge with running loops is that you pass by the "stopping" point several times, unlike a single loop or an out and back course. The CPTR is a two-loop course that includes the option of changing from a 50 mile into a 25 mile if the runner chooses. In my mind that is a blessing, but also a curse. I think it will be important to feel especially strong at the turnaround point, knowing that there's the sanctioned option of shortening the run by half. After 5+ hours of running, it will surely be tempting to call it a day. As I get further into my training, I plan on doing a longer run that includes a turnaround point like this, for the sole purpose of practicing the willpower it will take to keep going.
The snow on the trail was never too deep and was hard packed in most spots. I'm sure I lost a little bit of traction on some of the steeper hills, but it didn't detract from the run.
|Notes in the snow at the "aid station." I wrote 1-2-3 as I finished each lap.|
|Brooks Ghost V|
Although I was quite tired when all was said and done, but recovery has been positive this morning. I'm not overly sore or tired although I'm going to resist the urge to run today (a day of rest is in order). I may try for some X-country skiing tomorrow morning if I can. Seems like a good way to end the year!
This twenty mile run caps off my week. Normally I would do my long run on Sunday but I was too eager to wait this week. I'm now beginning a "down week" meaning fewer miles and which will conclude with MAF Test #2 at the track provided that the weather is somewhat cooperative. It has been a productive month of running for me, and the most that I've done in a long time (maybe ever in fact). When all is said and done, I will have completed a hundred miles further this year than I did in 2011. The numbers are still low by most standards, but it works for me.
This is how my week in training breaks down:
Sunday December 23, 2012: This was my long for the week of 16.64 miles. I ran for an hour and then took a walk break of 5 minutes and repeated this three times. Overall I felt pretty good during the run, but recovery was an issue. At about 14 miles or so, my left leg was bothering me. My plantars fasciitis was acting up (which usually doesn't happen during a run) and this was impacting my running form. I began to feel a slight sting in my upper hamstring and was worried about pulling a muscle. This set me to thinking if it wasn't time to get some new shoes with a little more cushioning and support. I know that there are different theories about minimal shoes, etc., but my experience to date has been that for longer distances, I do better with more cushioning.
|19 miles and still smiling (sort of!)|
Thursday December 27, 2012: I went for a run at 5 a.m. this morning and it was an absolutely freezing outside. I can't remember a time when I've been so cold. I managed to get 10 miles in, but it was nothing but suffering! I think that the temperature was about 2 degrees the whole time. I had also read about increasing the frequency of walk breaks to a 5:1 ration (5 minutes of running, 1 minute of walking) and I wanted to see what this was like. It was so cold that I don't know what to think of it at this point. I'm looking forward to a run in warmer conditions to see how it goes. I don't know how realistic that will be during the CPTR as I will have to respond more to the changing terrain, but I think it's still worth trying a few more times.
Friday December 28, 2012: 30 minutes of alternating core work and weights. I'm going to work up to doing this a couple of times a week.
Saturday December 29, 2012: Twenty mile long run (see above).
For the week I wound up with a total of 46.64 miles of running (this due to the fact that I did my long run on Saturday instead of Sunday). My total for the month comes in at 117 miles which is an average of just under 30 miles/ week. Here's a few final snaps from the camera of the scenery during the long run on Saturday:
|Looking back down the first half of the hill on Shawnee Road.|
|Aspen grove between Creedmore Lakes Road and Tiny Bob Road.|
|The gradual uphill at the bottom of Lone Pine Drive|