Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Thoughts on Preparation for a 100 miler

I know I have written a lot about how I get ready to run an ultra, especially for a 100 mile race.  This preparation process in constantly evolving as I gain more experience.  Tahoe was my 4th 100 miler and I spent less time planning than any other 100 miler I have done.  Tahoe was also the easiest 100 mile race I have run.  When I got home from Tahoe I felt so good I decided I wanted to run another 100 mile race before the end of the year.  Unfortunately there were none within a reasonable distance that I could enter.

In 2009, after The Leadville 100 I had just over two months to get ready for the Florida Ironman.  I had done no swimming or bike riding the entire year so I had a lot of ground to make up on both.  The weather turned out to be really bad and I only got in a few swims before the race. Nowhere near enough for a 2.4 mile ocean swim and I really struggled in the second lap of the swim, but I didn't drown!  After Wasatch in 2010 I had less than two months to prepare for Ironman Florida and I had to do a lot of hurried training.  This time I had thrown in some swimming all summer and I was at least ready for that.

Following both Ironman events in 2009 and 2010, I sort-of backed off my training for several weeks.  When I started back I had lost a lot of ground or maybe I just didn't want to go out an suffer. < (I think that might indicate an attitude problem.)  Anyway, I felt like I was staring over from the beginning with my hill training.  This year was totally different.  Maybe because I had such a good experience running Tahoe, or maybe because I finally had a totally functional heart for the first time in several year.  It could have been going out to Telluride and Silverton and actually meeting so many people involved with Hardrock and doing trail work and trail marking on part of the course.  It was probably some of all of these factors but what ever it was, I could not wait until I had recovered enough to get back into hard training again.

What ever it was I wanted to get right back up to speed and run some more races.  The only two 100 mile races within driving distance of Birmingham are The Pinhoti, here in Alabama (and my first 100) and the Georgia Jewel.  The latter was eliminated because it was the same weekend as my daughters engagement party in New Jersey.  I am helping Todd Henderson with Pinhoti so it is out.  Since I cannot run another 100 miler I am just going to run a bunch of races to stay in shape.

On September 18th I ran a local 50K, the Autumn Equinox Ultra, out at Oak Mountain State Park.  My time was 5:42 and that is the fastest 50K I have ever run.  October 1st, two weeks later, was the Stump Jump 50K in Chattanooga, Tennessee.  (Last weekend.)  That one has over 5,000 feet of climbing an took me 6 hours, 32 minutes.  October 15th I am running the North Face Endurance Challenge in Pine Mountain Georgia.  This is a 50 mile race that I think is going to be pretty tough and I have never run a 50 mile race.  The elevation profile looks like a saw blade, as do most races in this part of the country.  In mid November I may enter the Dizzy Fifties in Huntsville and I will enter the Tashka 50K in Tuscaloosa on December 10th or the Lookout Mountain 50 Mile race on December 17th.  That one is getting really close to Christmas.

The Hardrock lottery in on (or about) December 1st.  At that point I will know if it is time to start building up my training runs to 8 hour of nothing but hill repeats or try to figure out what 100 to run next year.  I will probably enter the Wasatch 100 lottery again, so I can run that last 12 miles with 5,000 feet of elevation loss that I was not able to run in 2010 due to an injured ankle. It will be hard to pass up Tahoe though if I don't get in Hardrock.

A quick note on the StumpJump.  I came in third in my age group, "Super" Grand Master!!  That is a little patronizing, I think.  I missed second by 1:49 and first by 5:15.  If you saw my last post you know I missed a turn along with 8 or 10 others and lost 8 or 9 minutes.  I think I will pay more attention to trail marking at the 50 miler and all races from now on.  At the training camp for Leadville in 2009 I followed a runner right past the turnoff to Twin Lakes and ended up running about 2 miles down the trail.  I knew from studying the course map and Google Earth exactly where Twin Lakes is in relation to the "twin lakes."  It is at the far west end of the upper lake.  I was headed east and all the way to the moraine between the lakes and almost down to the road when I finally turned around and headed back.  I met a group of 5 or 6 runners that argued with me that I was now going the wrong way and should turn around.  I wished them luck and continued back up the way I had come.  Sure enough, after a very long and hard climb back up the mountain I reached the turnoff I missed.  The trail was very well marked with all kinds of flagging tied down the trail we were supposed to take.  I was back on course and out of water and it was hot, but I was almost at the end.  I could not believe it was possible for all those people, and me, to miss that much flagging.

So what is the point in all the?  It now seems to me that the best plan in to jump back into training as soon as you have had a reasonable amount of time to recover.  I did a couple of hikes where we were still in Tahoe and did run up a very long hill but that was it for about 10 days.  That second week I ran an easy 6 mile run on  Wednesday and did a few hills and a little additional trail running at Oak Mountain that weekend for 2.5 hours.  The third week I ran Tuesday and Thursday for 6 miles each day and 3 hours on the weekend.  The fourth week after Tahoe I ran 9 miles on Tuesday and Thursday and 5 hours on the weekend with 6 hill repeats.  The fifth week was the same as week four.  On week six, I ran 9 hill repeats in a 5 hour workout.  I intended to run 8 repeats but I felt so good I ran 9.  Week seven I ran 8 repeats followed by flatter trails to get in 5 hours and the following weekend was the Autumn Equinox 50K.  I think this plan works.

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