Monday, December 20, 2010

A few more notes on training – The Long Run

The key ingredient of your training is the long run. You have to do them or you will never be able to reach your goals in ultrarunning. As I mentioned earlier, in the months leading up to a 100 mile run, I will build my long runs to 8 hours.  Four to six hours of that time is spent doing hill repeats. Believe me, that does not make for a fun workout but there are still some great moments. I don't stop very often, but I will occasionally stop on a ridge or at a waterfall and enjoy the scenery. Saturday I stopped to watch a deer trot off a to safe distance and try to figure out what I was doing on her trail.

It is important to make every long runs count. Here are a few elements to making those long runs accomplish what you want them to, that is, preparing you for that first ultra.

1. Always train for a race. Don't just a workout.
Every time I run, I am preparing for a race. Ever if I have not decided what the next race will      be, I am training for something, usually Hardrock. This gives you a reason to be there. Yes, going our for a run is certainly good for you health but it is still just a workout and personally, I do not like to workout!

2. Time your training to peak three or four weeks before your race.
If you are running a 50K on May 28th (the date of the Run for Kids) by the final weekend in March, you should be running between 4 and 5 hours on your long training runs. (One to two hours less than you expect to be running in the race.)
If you expect the race to take you 7 hours to finish, you should build up to 5 hour training runs.
If you think you will finish in 5 hours, 4 hour training runs should be sufficient.

3. Keep a log book with every detail of your training runs.
Recording every details related to your training runs can assist in finding out what works best for you. Write down not only the length and the route of each run, but also what food and fluids you used, your sleep quality, resting pulse, pace, weather, etc.

4. Training runs should mimic your first ultra (or your 20 ultra.)
Training for the specific conditions of the race will give you the best chance to succeed . This means running under similar types of weather, terrain, time of day, with similar food and fluids, and using the same equipment you will use during the race.  If you may find that a particular piece of equipment you like for training runs is not very good for racing. As an example, I like to run with a hydration pack on long training runs. I can carry up to 3 liters of water so I can run for hours without having to refill it but I would never use it in a 50 K race. I use a hand held bottle for races. They are quick and easy to refill and you can always tell how much water is left.

5. Pay attention to your body, Do Not Over Train.
How do you know if you are over training? That is a good question.  Some indicators are:
     You just are feeling fatigued all the time.
     You do not sleep well at night.
     Persistent and increased joint pain.
     Training runs are getting slower not faster.
      Increased resting heart rate. 

6. Taper!!!
The taper, along with long runs is critical to a successful race. A proper taper before a race will enhance your ability to run in top form. The taper that is best for you may not work for your running friends and vice verse. Each person regenerates at a different rate after a period of hard/long training. The taper will help you get ready physically and mentally for race day. The taper will also vary with the race. For a 50 K you may find that a two week taper period will be all you need. For a 100 mile race you will probably run your final long run (8 hour in my case) four weeks before the race. The taper is so important I will devote an entire article to it, later.

7. Rest
If you are trying to train for an ultra and not sleeping 8 hours every night, you will not be able to train or race at you peak. (PERIOD!) 

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