Thursday, March 29, 2012

Hydration Packs vs. Bottles

I originally posted an article on hydration packs vs. water bottles, both hand held and in belts back in January of 2011.  Much of what I said I still agree with totally.  I always drink more if I carry my Nathan Quickdraw bottles than I do if I wear a hydration pak.  The trouble with any hand held bottle is that your hands are not fee.  The trouble with back packs is you have to stop and take it off, open it up and pull the bladder out to be sure you are adding enough water.  Probably the best alternative is the hydration belt, but for me, that is not an option.  Wearing the belt around my waste really bothers me and they bounce up and down.

Hydration packs are great under  certain conditions.  I always use use one of my Nathan vests in ultras where I will be using trekking poles.  I just can't figure out a way to combine hand held bottles and poles.  They don't bother me at all and I don't seem to have a problem with the packs rubbing sores on my back as I understand some do.  They are also great for storing all of your supplies.  This is really important if you are running in uncertain weather conditions or in the mountains where the weather can always be questionable.  

In all the 100 milers I have run I wore one of my hydration packs, even if I was carrying water bottles.  The pack (without the bladder) gave me room for things like spare a flashlight and batteries, light rain shell, a place to store my hat and gloves after I took them off as the temperatures warmed, trail directions or map in a baggie, a little toilet paper in a baggie and a few other things I did not want to be without.

I have a Nathan Endurance 70oz pack 

and a Nathan Xtreme 100 oz pack.

The Nathan Quick Draws I carry most of the time have two major disadvantages.  First, as I mentioned above, you hands are not free or at least one hand is not free.  

The second problem isn't really a disadvantage, it can be pure misery.  Your hands freeze in cold weather.  Even it the temperature outside is no colder than 45 or 50 deg. they can still make your hands numb.  In cold temperatures they are almost unbearable, even while wearing gloves.  To that end I decided to attach a layer of neoprene rubber (about the same thickness as tri wetsuite neoprene) to my bottles.  I glued it on with some wetsuite repair cement and it has now stayed on for over a year.  This really helps.  If you try it, remember to leave a narrow space down one side so you can tell how much water is left in the bottle.

I tried the Amphipod Bottle, mostly because it came with a neoprene sleeve, but I could not keep the bottle strap together during runs.  The top of the strap fits around the neck of the bottle and bottom strap is hold in place by tension between the two.  Loosen the tension and the bottom strap (loop that fits around the bottom of the bottle) just falls off.  To keep the strap attached securely, the part that goes over you hand must be tight.  That bothered me so I had to loosen it a bit.  When I would take my hand out at an aid station to refill the bottle, everything fell apart.  I retired the bottle.

That did give me the idea to put neoprene on my bottles.  First, I used the one that came with the Amphipod bottle and it really helped with the freezing hands but I could not tell how much water I had left.  Then I added my own layer of rubber and have used that ever since.

The following is the original article as it appeared in 2011.  I have made several changes in how I handle electrolytes while running now, but I am writing a new article on Hydration and Electrolytes that I will post next.

Like just about everything else involved in ultrarunning, it depends on what you like and the race you are running. Personally, I prefer the hand held bottles like the Nathan Quickdraw. Here is a link to Nathan hydration products. I used them in the first two 100 mile races I ran and they worked great. I use them for all the 50Ks I run and every training run I do that is less than 5 hours. I also use one in every road race I do including the run segment of Ironman events. You can even carry a flashlight while running with them.

I always use the hand held bottles in shorter ultras. If the aid stations are pretty close together, less than 5 or 6 miles,(and not too mountainous,) you will only need one bottle. For longer stretches, especially if it is hot, I carry two. I found out in 2009, at the Leadville 100, that two bottles may not be enough. I hurried through the Twin Lakes aid station and failed to drink anything. I did refill both bottles before heading up Hope Pass, but it was very hot. I used up one bottle crossing the valley floor before reaching the climb. I started rationing my water and totally ran out before reaching “Hopeless” Aid Station located at timberline, about 1000 ft. below the crest. I was so dehydrated by that time I had to walk all the way down the other side of Hope Pass and up to the Winfield turnaround. At that point, I really did not think I would be able to finish. Fortunately, my wife, Marye Jo, made me stay in Winfield a few extra minutes and eat and drink. I still had to walk the 4 miles back down to the start of the climb back up Hope Pass and all the way up to the pass but I recovered on the descent and was bale to finish.

One reason I liked the hand held bottles so much is that you always know exactly how much water you have. I used NUUN electrolyte tablets. You add 1 Tablet to 16 ounces of water for a perfect balance of water and electrolytes. I mark the side of my bottle at 4, 8, 12 and 16 ounces (20 oz. is full) and it is easy to tell how much of a tablet to add. I divide the tablets in1/4s and put them in baggies.

This works great as long as you do not need your hands. Unfortunately, this year at Wasatch I decided to use trekking poles. Wasatch has 26,882 feet of elevation gain. I had read articles talking about the benefits of using poles and I started using them in training runs. I really liked the poles on steep climbs and also used them on really steep descents. Trouble is, you cannot use hand-held water bottles if you are using trekking poles. I purchased a 3liter Nathan “X-Treme” Vest that I used for all my training runs and the race. It is great. You can carry all the supplies you might need and (unfortunately) way too much water. I was so concerned about the climb to the first aid station at mile 13.4 that I carried so much water at the start that I did not have to add any water until “Bountiful B” AS at mile 24. That is not smart! I carried several extra pounds of water up the longest climb in the race.

I also use a Nathan “Speed” belt. The one I like holds four, 10 oz. bottles and has a pouch in back and a small zip pocket in front. My favorite energy drink during all races from Marathons to 100 milers as well as all training runs is Hammer Nutrition's “Perpetuem” drink mix. I have found I can drink it for 30+ hours with no problems. I add two scoops of Perpetuem in every of the 10 oz. bottles I think I will need. At Wasatch, I think I filled 24 bottles (21 were in drop bags.)  I will carry two bottles all the time but only fill one. Each 10 oz .bottle will last me about 1.5 hours. I try to time mixing up the next bottle at aid stations as I have just about emptied the first bottle. (Extra Weight)

A lot of ultra runners like hydration belts. They are available in all kinds of designs, one bottle, two bottles and bottles with pouches. I have quite an assortment of these belts that I need to put on eBay and get rid of. I just do not like having the bottles around my waste. They bounce up and down unless I really tighten them up, then they feel like they are restricting my breathing. But that is just me. When you go to any 100 miler, you will see a lot of runners with them. Some runners claim the belts cause stomach problems late in the races, too.

One of the reasons I purchased the X-Treme vest is because it will hold a lot of equipment. When you do ultras in the mountains, especially the Rockies, it is important to be prepared for any possible weather conditions. I have been fortunate. I have had beautiful weather at Leadville in '09 and Wasatch this year, although it was unusually cold at Wasatch. The back pack allows you to carry a jacket, gloves and hat or have room to stow them if it warms up. It also has room for Ginger ChewsShot Blocks, Enervit TabletsHoney Stingers, extra contacts, sunscreen, or anything else you might need.

I have provided links to most of the suppliers for the products I have mentioned. The are the products I use and like. Many of the items like Hammer products and Nathan belts and vests you can find at local running stores and bike shops. If you cannot find them locally, go the the Zombie Runner web site. They specialize in everything ultrarunning and sponsor a lot of events.  I have purchased a lot of stuff from them over the past 3 years.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Recovery From Your Ultra

There in one key to successful recovery from any ultra.  Patience.  This is usually pretty easy the week after any ultra whether it is a 50K or 100 miles.  Your legs feel like lead, you are tired and really don't want to run at all. It is, however, important to get right back out there and run that next week.  Not very hard and not very long, but run.  The recovery I will suggest is for someone that trained using the program I outlined in the earlier post, The First Ultra - Training from a One Hour Run, posted 3/16/2012.  If you trained using a plan that included more than three weekly runs, you will want to run more than I suggest below.

Week 1, following the ultra:
If  you finish the race on Saturday, by Tuesday you are ready for a short run.  I would suggest running an easy 45 minutes, then on Thursday run another 45 minutes.  If you just can't run the entire 45 minutes, walk.  It would be fine to walk the 45 minutes, at least the first run on Tuesday.  Saturday go out and run an easy 1.5 or 2 hours.  Run at a relaxed pace and if you have been running hills, run an easy hill or two.

Week 2:  Your are ready to increase the speed on your mid-week runs to about as fast as you were running before the race.  Keep the length of these runs to between 45 minutes and one hour.  Saturday run a fairly hard three hours.

Week 3:  You are ready to run the same mid-week runs you were doing before the race.  The same distance and the same speed.  If you do not have a race planned in the near future you will probably want to hold your long training runs to between three and four hours until time to start preparing for the next race.  Run three consecutive weeks hard and take it a little easier on the fourth week.  Another option might be to run three hours for two weekends then four hours on the third weekend then back off and run a shorter run (maybe 2 hours) on the fourth weekend.  As you get back into these longer weekend runs pay attention to your body.  If the runs are really hard, back off again and give yourself a little more time to recover.  Don't over do it.

Week 4:  If you have a race scheduled then you are now ready to get right back into training.  Pick up the training plan at 4 hours when you are the correct number of weeks out from the race.  You will reach a point where a four hour run really isn't too hard.  This is also a good time to explore some new trails if you are fortunate enough to have that option.  Get a trail map and go out and get lost.

Sleep is just as important during the recovery phase as it was while you were at the peak of you training.  Try to get at least seven hours of sleep every night and eight when you can.  Sleep is especially important during those first few days following the race.  Your body cannot recover without it.

You may find yourself wanting to eat everything is sight following the race.  Personally, I crave all the stuff I almost never eat because it is so bad for you.  I keep threatening to stop at a Captain "D,s" following a race, but I haven't found one on the way home yet.  If you read my account of the drive back to Houston following the Rocky Raccoon 100 in February you will know what I mean.  I stopped at a Whataburger and got a double meat and cheese hamburger, order of fires, chocolate shake and large coffee.  And I ate almost all of it!  Need I say more.  This is really not how to replenish what you burned in the race.  You do need to eat a good meal after a race.

Following every long training run (3 hours or more) and race, have a bottle of a recovery drinks like Hammer Recoverite or Endurox with you to drink within 30 minutes of finishing.  I pre-mix the powder with water for training run and keep it cold in a cooler with a cold pack.  If I am running a race, then I wait to mix the recovery drink with water after the race.  The key is to drink it in the first 30 minutes.

"How well you perform tomorrow depends on how well you recover today, which is why you can't cut corners when it comes to your post-workout fueling. Recoverite supplies your body with the proper 3:1 ratio of complex carbohydrates and the highest quality whey protein isolate, along with generous amounts of multi-beneficial glutamine (a whopping 3 grams per serving!), the potent antioxidant l-carnosine, and a full-spectrum electrolyte profile. The result is rapid and enhanced recovery, which allows you to obtain the maximum value from all your hard workouts, ideally prepping your body for your next workout or race. Make sure you're recovering right with Recoverite and remember, it makes a superb meal replacement drink as well. Train hard, recover right today and feel great tomorrow."  From the Hammer Nutrition website.

Normally, I don't like to walk, ever.  Following the Tahoe Rim Train 100 in July of 2011, I actually walked a lot.  Two days after race, Marye Jo and I hiked up to Marlette Lake.  This is a 3 mile climb of 1,600 feet.  We then ran back down the hill to the car.  On the way back to the B&B we stopped at a small park with a beautiful overlook of the lake and hiked down to the edge of Tahoe for a picnic, then back up to the car.  (Probably 300 ft up over 1/3 mile.)  The next day we drove over to Emerald Bay on the West side of Lake Tahoe.  In route we climbed a large intrusive stock (Volcanic rock that cooled within the ground) probably about 250 feet tall near the town of Tahoe Pines.  We then drove on to Emerald Bay where we hiked around on top of the Eagle Creek Falls on the Emerald Bay Highway (Hwy. 89.)  We then hiked down the the Vikingsholm Home on the lake shore.  The trail drops 500 feet in one mile.  I decided to run back to the top while Marye Jo walked.  I didn't think I could run all the way to the top but I did, then I turned around and ran back down about 1/3 mile to where I met Marye Jo, then ran back up again and on to get the car and drive back to pick her up.  The run actually felt good although I would not have make it much further.  Below is a shot of Emerald Bay from the top of Eagle Creek Falls.

Following the Leadville 100 in 2009 we returned to Telluride for a week after the race.  Three days after the race we hiked up (almost to) Liberty Bell mine at 3.4 miles from out hotel, and climbed form 8,760 ft to 11,680 (almost made 3,000) and of course, we had to hike back down.  A couple of days later I ran up Tomboy Road to the Tomboy Mine Ruins, a five mile run climbing 2,650 feet and run back down.  Actually, I had to walk in several spots going up.  The real key is to make yourself go out and run a few days after you ultra.  Play it by ear and run as long as it is comfortable.  You will be right back into your training in no time and ready for the next race.  Below are three shots from Tomboy Road.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Tapering, Race Preparation

You have now spent ten or twenty or maybe thirty weeks building up mileage to prepare for your first 50K.  You have finished your third 5 hour training run and the race you selected is three weeks away.  What now?  Well, the taper is almost like a reward for all the work.  The taper runs will not be slow, easy runs.  You will run at the same level of effort as you runs during the building stage, they will just be shorter.

I am going to assume you are following the 30 week plan I outlined in a previous post, The First Ultra - Training from a One Hour Run.  The taper begins immediately following the final long run of your training.  If your final run was 5 hours, run your usual mid week runs (Tuesday and Thursday) the same as always.  If you have been running one hour each day, at an 8 minute per mile pace, then continue to run one hour at an 8 minute pace.  The taper is on the weekend run.

On Saturday, two weeks before your race, simply go out and run about 3 to 3.5 hours instead of 5 hours.  If I  have been running 6 hill repeats during a 5 hour training run, I will cut  back to 4 hill reps. then run a loop to complete a 3.5 hour run.  What you are trying to do is keep running exactly as you have been running. Reduce the quantity not the Quality.  Once again, your mid week runs should be the same distance and same pace as usual.  (If your long runs were 4 hours instead of 5 hours then you first taper run should be about 2 or 2.5 hours.)

It is now Saturday , one week before your big race.  Again, head out to your usual run location but this time run only 1.5 or 2 hours at your usual pace.  You will feel like you have barely gotten warmed up before the run is over.  Now, during the week I would only run one time, on Tuesday or Wednesday, and this time run at a slow pace.  This is just a run to get the muscles warmed up and the blood flowing.  Run for about 45 minutes.

Thursday night is critical.  Eat a good dinner and get a good nights sleep.  Go to bed early enough to get at least 8 hours sleep.  More if possible. You may not sleep very well the night before a race.  That really doesn't matter but you do need to sleep good two nights before the race.

Some people like to run on the Friday before a race.  I do not, but an easy run will not hurt anything and it might help if you are nervous.  If the race is local, just hang out and gather and sort gear.  Try to think through the course and figure out how you are going to run the race.  Look at maps and elevation profiles and estimate how long it will take to get from one aid station to the next so you will know how much water you should carry.  Check the weather so you are prepared.  If there is a chance of rain, consider whether you will need a rain jacket or not.  Remember, in hot or warm weather a shower or storm my feel good.  In even cool weather (50s) a storm can actually cause hypothermia.  Just be prepared for what ever you might encounter.

Friday night, eat a light meal and eat early.  Stay away from things that digest slowly like salads.  Some people prefer to eat a bowl of soup or even drink a "Boost" or similar drink.  I usually eat chicken and rice or pasta and I eat early, 4:30 or 5:00.  I try to go to bed early enough to get at least 6 hours sleep.

Saturday morning I get up more than an hour before I have to leave to go to the race.  Weekend after next is the Oak Mountain 50K, 10 miles from my house.  The race starts at 7:30 AM and it will take me 20 minutes to get to the starting area.  I will get up about 5:00, have a cup of coffee, eat a piece of toast or bowl of oatmeal and drink a Boost.  I will leave the house by 6:15.  I like to get to the race location early, otherwise I tend to get in a panic.  Then I wait.

If you are traveling out of town to he race then there will be a few things you should do upon arrival.  Most important is to locate the race site.  Check out the area, find out where the start will be, look at the trails and run or walk a little on them.  Drive around and try to see various sections of the course if that is possible.  Know the route from your hotel to the starting area.  Sometimes the start of an ultra is pretty difficult to locate.  The Stump Jump in Chattanooga, TN, is a perfect example.  I have run the race 4 times and I still print out a map and directions and usually make at least one wrong turn before reaching the start.

Don't forget breakfast if you are staying in a motel.  You will probably need to leave before the restaurant opens and you might not want to eat at McDonald's before the race.  I usually bring breakfast from home or stop at a store on Friday and buy what I want.  If the motel doesn't have a microwave, I use the coffee maker to heat the water for my oatmeal.  It works!

Recovery: Next.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Your First Ultra - Select the right race.

Step 2.  Select the first race.
First, estimate when you expect to be ready for your first 50K.  This can be determined in two ways.  Decide what type training program you intend to us and see when it will have you ready.  With the training plan outlined in the last post (30 weeks starting with one hour long weekend runs), look ahead 30 weeks.  If you start the plan running 3 hours, then you will be ready in 15 weeks.  Next, see what races you can find about the time you will reach the 5 hour training runs.  The second way is to find a race you want to run modify your training program to peak about three weeks before the race.  For your first ultra I would recommend the first technique.

Next, selecting the right race. has a great calendar of most of the ultras in the US.  Look at the upcoming races in you area. is another place to look for races.  You can also check the run calenders on your local running clubs and running stores web sites.  You might also want to try a Google search for "trail races in your city or state."  This will also turn up more local races that may not be listed on the major calendars.  I recommend trail races in your area for your first ultra just because it is a lot easier to go to a race close to home, and a lot less expensive.

Select several races that sound interesting and compare them.  If you live and train on relatively flat terrain it will be best to find a race that is relatively flat.  It will be even better if you can find a race on trails you are familiar with or at least close enough that you can run the trails in advance of the race.  Somehow, when you know the course, know where the difficult areas are and know where you can fly, the race seems a little easier.  If you can't find a race close by then look for an "Out - Back" race or a "double-loop" or "multi-loop" course.  This way you will know what is coming up when you are especially tired near the end of the race.  

One good race in North Alabama is “The Dizzy Fifties.” (This happens to have been my first 50K.) The course is three 10 mile laps in the form of a figure eight.  Each Lap consists of a flat, six mile loop and a four mile loop with one large hill. In the three lap 50K you will come through the start/finish area, which also is the aid station, six times.  Your stuff is never very far away. A loop course allows you to put any and everything you might need during the race at one location.  This makes planning simple.

If the 50K you select allows drop bags you will need to decide if you will really want to fool with bags and what to put in them.  Usually it is easier to carry what you think you will need and not waste time with drop bag on a 50K.  Another great first 50K would be the race I am putting on in Birmingham, Alabama on May 5th. It is the “Run For Kids Challenge,” a fundraiser for Camp Smile-A-Mile, Alabama's camp for kids with cancer. Take a look at the website, runforkidschallenge.comThe course is a 3.2 (approximately) mile loop on a beginner bike trail around the swimming and canoeing lake at Oak Mountain State Park near Birmingham.  The trail has gentle, rolling hills and is very runnable.

Keep it simple on the first one. After that, you will be able to tackle any 50K race you like. Well, you might want to do a few more before entering a run like Speedgoat. This is a 50K at Snowbird Ski Resort in Utah put on by Karl Meltzer. You will have to read about it.

Next I will talk about tapering and recovery.

Friday, March 16, 2012

The First Ultra - Training from a One Hour Run

I am rewriting some earlier posts on training and racing.  I will be posting them over the next several weeks.  The training plan I am presenting is not necessarily the best or the optimal plan to prepare for an ultra.  This plan is for someone, like me, that just doesn't have time, or is not willing to devote the time most ultra training programs require.  As I have previously stated, it in not necessary to run 6 days a week to run a 100 mile race.  I run no more than two or three times each week and have finished four 100 mile races and came within 12 miles and 5,000 feet of descent of finishing the fifth.

Prerequisites: First, you should be able to run a 5K in 30 to 40 minutes before starting this
plan or if you can run a 10K (run the entire race - no walking) then you are ready to start this plan. If  you cannot, then I would recommend doing some speed work and running a few 5Ks, then come back and start training for the 50K.  It would also be a good idea to run a 10K or two during your training.  Count the 10K as a long run in the early weeks of your training.  You should train on trails as much as possible if you plan to run a trail ultra.  There are a few ultras on pavement, but you will not catch me running one.  Well, maybe Badwater!  

The plan I outline below is the absolute minimum amount of running I think you should consider if you are training for any ultra.  If you can squeeze in additional runs or some cross-training, that will be even better.  I will break the post into four parts.  I think most people could follow this plan, and successfully complete a 50K in 30 weeks.

Step 1.  Getting ready - Training?
Step 2.  Select the right first 50K.
Step 3.  Taper and Recovery.
Step 4.  How to run the race.

Step1.  Are you ready to start training for that first 50K?
Have you run a Marathon or two or more?  Have you run a marathon in the last year?  If you answered YES to these questions, you are definitely ready to start training for an ultra.  Go out and do the evaluation trail run and jump into the training plan based on the length of your run.  Have you run a marathon in the last month or two, or are you in the final weeks of training for one right now?  Then skip most of step one and go directly to the three or four hour training runs on trails.  If you are in condition to run a marathon then you are in condition to run a 50K with one major exception.  You probably did you training on roads and you need to get out into the woods and become accustomed to running for long periods on the uneven, sometimes tricky surfaces of the trails.  

The general rule is that anyone attempting their first 50K should have run at least three marathons.  This seems like a reasonable measure of your ability to handle the discomfort of endurance running and you should have little trouble running for an additional 5 miles, especially at a reduced pace.  The time factor in running a 50K is, however, more significant than the distance.  If you run a marathon in 4 hours, a 50K will likely take you 6 hours or more.  The time factor can become even grater if the course is especially hilly or technical, as are most in the southeast.  This is one reason I emphasize time, not distance in training runs.  If you have never run a marathon I really don't think it is that important.  The key to all ultras is "time on the trail."  If you can complete three or four long runs (4 to 5 hours) on consecutive weekends, several weeks before you first 50K, you will most likely be able to finish the 50K with no trouble.  By "no trouble" I do not mean "No Pain."  It will hurt.

So go out a do a trail run.  See how long you can run without overdoing it.  This is an evaluation run and it should be run at a comfortable pace.  You will note I always talk about time not distance.  (Am I repeating myself?)  To me, distance is irrelevant in training runs.  I will sometimes spend 5 hours running at my local state park and cover about than 16 miles.  That is because I am doing hill repeats and all I do is going up and down a very steep 3/4 mile climb.  The workout is much harder than if I had run a marathon in 4 hours.  If you prefer using miles, that is fine.  Just figure out how many miles you cover in an hour and run the appropriate number of miles to get the necessary hours. 

Below I have outlined how I would train for a 50K if the longest I could run, with a reasonable amount of effort, is one hour.   After your evaluation run, just plug your time into the training schedule according to how long you ran.  That is, if you ran 2 hours, start at the 2 hour weekend runs.  If you ran 4 hours, run a couple more 4 hour runs, taper of two weeks and run a 50K race.  You are ready!

Starting your Training if you were able to run 1 hour:
Use the 1 hour run as the base point for the long weekend runs  Run two short runs (maybe 30 minutes each) during the week, every week.  Run as many of your runs on trails as possible.  On weekends 1, 2 and 3, run one hour.  On the fourth weekend increase the distance so the run will last 1.5 hours.  Evaluate how the one and a half hour run felt.  If it destroyed you or you could not finish it, drop back to the one hour runs for a few more weeks.  Probably, the 1.5 hour run felt about like the one hour runs so continue 1.5 hour runs for the next two weekends (That is, you will have run 1.5 hours on weekend 4,5 &6).  After three weeks of 1.5 hour runs take a break and on the fourth weekend (weekend 7) just do a 1 hour run.  Don't slow down on this shorter run.  Maintain the same level of intensity as you did on the 1.5 run, just don't go as far.  Now, on the 8th weekend of your training you should feel refreshed so increase you distance so the run will last 2 hours.  (Run for 2 hours on weekends 8,9&10)

By the way, the long weekend runs should be hard.  Even though I suggested doing the first run at a comfortable pace, the actual training runs should leave you tired or maybe just plain worn out!  At the end of each run, weekend and mid week, you should be tired.  In face, the last 1/3 or 1/4 of the run should be fairly difficult.  Only running three times each week, you don't have the luxury of casual runs.  Make each run count.
What you are doing is training in a 4 week cycles.  For three consecutive weekends you will do three hard runs approximately the same length.   Then, on the 4th weekend you run a shorter, and therefore, a little easier workout.  As I just mentioned, the shorter, fourth week run should all be at the same level of intensity as the long runs.  Do not slow you pace.  After every 4 week cycle increase your distance and evaluate how the longer run feels.  If it is too difficult or impossible, take a step back and repeat the previous cycle.

The 11th weekend is the shorter run.  Now, on the the next three weekend again increase your distance to 2.5 hours (weekends 12,13&14).  On weekend 15, drop back to 2 hours.  On weekend 16,17 and 18 again increase you distance up to 3 hours with an easier 2.5 hour run on week 19.  Now we make a big change.  On weekend 20, don't add 30 minutes to you weekend runs, add one full hour.  The four hour run should not be too much harder than the three hour runs from the previous cycle.  If however, you find 4 hours is just too much right now, then drop back and run 3 hours the next weekend, then move up to 3.5 hours instead of 4 hours for the next four week cycle.

 By the time you complete one full cycle of four, four hour runs, you should be ready for your first 50K.  If you have time, go ahead and add a set of 5 hour runs, before the first 50K.  The longer your your training runs are, the better prepared you will be.  By the way, following a five hour training run you will not be tired, you will be totally exhausted.  You will feel like you will never be able to run again.  But guess what, when you go out for your next mid week run, you will actually feel pretty good.  The legs may be a little heavy, but you will be able to run near you usual pace.  Before each 100 mile race I have done, I build my weekend runs up to very hard 8 hours.  That will leave you zapped!

As  you increase the length of you weekend runs also lengthen the midweek runs.  By the time you are running four hours on the weekend you will probably want to be running for one to one and a half hours each run.  Remember, these runs are not "strolls."  Make them count.
Here is an outline of what I just covered.

Week 1 – 3: Run 1 hour each weekend
Week 4 – 6: Run 1.5 hours each weekend
Week 7: Easier workout - 1 hour
Week 8 – 10: Run 2 hours each weekend
Week 11: Easier workout - 1.5 hours
Week 12 – 14: Run 2.5 hours each weekend
Week 15: Easier workout - 2 hours
Week 16 – 189: Run 3 hours each weekend
Week 190: Easier workout - 2.5 hours
Week 20 – 22: Run 4 hours each weekend
Week 23: Easier workout -3 hours
Week 24 -26: Run 4 hours each weekend
Week 27 and 28 Run 5 hours
Week 29 and 30 - Taper (We will discuss this later)
Week 31: Race.

You may be able to increase your training run distance much quicker than I have outlined above.  A strong runner may actually be able to condense the early stages of the training into just a few weeks.  Some people may be able to run, for example, one hour on Saturday, Tuesday and Thursday of week one and jump right to 1.5 hours the following week.  Run 1.5 hours on Saturday, Tuesday and Thursday and go right to 2 hours the next week.  At that point you really should slow down.  The general rule for increasing mileage (or time) is 10% per week.  This is a save level to increase distance without causing some type of overuse injury that can stop you in your tracks.

Below, I have copied a 16 week training schedule for running a marathon from a website, Marathon Rookie.  Look at it and compare it with my schedule.  In reality, training is like racing. You have great plans and you end up doing what you can make work.  There is only one critical link to successful training and running any ultra.  (Time spent running on the trail.)

16-Week Marathon Training Schedule from
Week   Mon     Tue       Wed       Thu        Fri       Sat       Sun      Total 
1           3         Rest          4           3         Rest        5       Rest        15 
2           3         Rest          4           3         Rest        6       Rest        16 
3           3         Rest          4           3         Rest        7       Rest        17 
4           3         Rest          5           3         Rest        8       Rest        19 
5           3         Rest          5           3         Rest       10      Rest         21 
6           4         Rest          5           4         Rest       11     Rest         24 
7           4         Rest          6           4         Rest       12     Rest         26 
8           4         Rest          6           4         Rest       14     Rest         28 
9           4         Rest          7           4         Rest       16     Rest         31
10         5         Rest          8           5         Rest       16     Rest        31 
11         4         Rest          8           5         Rest       17     Rest        35
12         5         Rest          8           5         Rest       18     Rest         36
13         5         Rest          8           5         Rest       20     Rest        38 
14         5         Rest          8           5         Rest        9      Rest        27 Taper
15         3         Rest          5           3         Rest        8      Rest        19 Taper
16         3         Rest          3        Walk      Rest     26.2    Rest        34.2 Race

They also provide at 26 week training schedule.  I included this just for comparison.

Friday, March 9, 2012

A Little More Ultra Humor - T Shirt Etiquette

T-Shirt Etiquette

In the ultra running community the wearing of race T-Shirts has become a sign of accomplishment and fashion. Choosing just the right T-Shirt for that special occasion can be a daunting and difficult task. The following guidelines have been compiled to help the responsible T-shirt wearer avoid potential embarrassment and/or elevate their status.

1.  A shirt cannot be worn unless the wearer has participated in and finished the event. (crew, significant others  and volunteers are exempt) 
2.  Never wear a race shirt form any race shorter than the one you are participating in.(Exclusions: Pikes Peak Ascent and Imogene Pass Run at road Marathons)
3.  T-shirts for any race, less than a marathon distance, shouldn't be worn to an ultra event. It simply doesn't represent a high cool factor and sends a red flag regarding your rookiness. If you set a PR at Pikes Peak Marathon, definitely wear that shirt whenever possible. 
4.  When returning to a race in which you previously finished, then wear the shirt from the first year you completed the race. Don't short change yourself by wearing the shirt from the year before. It doesn't adequately display the feat of accomplishment or the consummate veteran status that you are due. 
5.  Never wear a race shirt from the race you are about to run. It displays a lack of running integrity and real runners will think this is your first race. 
6.  Wearing a T-shirt of the race, while currently running said race, is discouraged. It's like being at work and constantly announcing "I'm at work". Besides, you wont have the correct post race shirt then. 
7.  Never wear a shirt from a run that you did not finish. To wear it is to say "I finished it"
8.  A DNF'er may wear a race shirt if... the letters DNF are boldly written on the shirt in question. 
9.  During a race the wearing of shirt from a previously completed year is acceptable. Wear the oldest T-shirt you have (see guideline #3). This is probably a good practice because you now have no excuse to drop out since you've done it before. 
10.  Runners should buy all crew members and, as appropriate, significant others (they let you run the race in the first place) T-shirts which can be worn without regard to running the race. (see guide #1) 
11.  Volunteers have full T-shirt rights and all privileges pertaining thereto. 
12.  No souvenir shirts!  Friends or anyone else not associated with the race may not wear a race shirt. If mom thinks that the Leadville shirt is lovely, tell he to send in her application early for next year so she can earn her own. 
13.  Wear the race shirt of your last race at the current race pre race briefing. The more recent the race the better. This is a good conversation starter. However avoid the tendency to explain how that it was a training run for this, and this is just a training run for the next, etc. It just sounds like your rationalizing mediocre performances.           Sometimes it's best to live in the here and now. ("I've never been more prepared for a race! this is the big one!) 
14.  It must be clean (dried blood stains are okay) 
15.  If you've finished Hardrock 100 then wear it as often as possible, since the race is so damn hard. (You are exempt from guideline #15)
16. Never wear a T-shirt that vastly out classes the event you're running (exception: see guideline #14) Example: Never wear a Western States 100 T-shirt at, say, Cool Canyon. Too many roadies will feel put down. It's okay to wear a WS100 or Leadville or Wasatch T-shirt at ultrarunner cult events such as Gibson Ranch or Jim                    Skophammer 24. It's probably not okay to wear your Trans-America footrace T-Shirt to your local around-the-lake Fat Ass 50k unless you want to psyche out the competition. 
17.  A corollary: never wear a blatantly prestigious T-shirt downtown. People will just think you have a big head, which you do. 
18.  If you don't know what things like DNF, WS100 or Crew are, then you shouldn't wear any race shirt until you know what they mean.  T-shirts must be used sensitively. Worn responsibly, they can help expand one's consciousness and immerse you in a great conversation with your ultra brethren. Worn stupidly, they can cause blisters, vacant stares, sprained ankles, and cause social anxiety.  NOTE: Publicly these guidelines will be denied and possibly ridiculed by ultra runners, but privately and when discussed confidentially, they sing a different tune. 

Thursday, March 8, 2012

You Know You Are an Ultrarunner If:

I borrowed part of this from Kevin Sayers UltRUnR website.  Several years ago I added it to my family website, with a bunch of personal additions.  Kevin notes the source of the list is "a bunch of different authors.

 You Know You Are an Ultra Trail Runner if:

1.You return form your standard run with dirt in your mouth and nose. -Yes, frequently
2.You occasionally stop by the emergency room on the way home form your standard run. - Yes
3.You only record hours in your training log.  Miles are irrelevant. - Absolutely
4.You have mastered the skill of moving rocks and sticks around in your shoes while running so you do not
          have to stop to remove them until the end of the run - Yes
5.You did not fall on your standard run.  If you did, you would be dead. - Yes (only in some places)
6.You take a new pair of running shoes out for a test run and the shoes look old when you return. - Yes
7.You don't need a trail map on your runs.  If you get lost you have enough stuff in your pack to survive for
           several days. - Yes
6.You head out to your favorite run route because you are under and severe thunderstorm warning or
          Tornado warning. - Yes, and I had the thrill of enjoying both.
7.You wonder why they don't make all running socks a dusty brown color.  - Yes
8.Your idea of a fun date is a 30-mile training run.  - Yes, frequently
9.You can expound on the virtues of eating salt. Yes
10.      Your ideal way to celebrate your birthday is to run at least your age in miles with some fellow crazies.
          Yes - but now I have to wait until my next 100 miler.  60+ miles is too far for a training run.
11.You run marathons for speed work.  - Yes, occasionally, however they are  usually to short to fit in
            my training schedule so I run 50K instead.
12.You run 50K runs for speed work. - Yesabsolutely.
13.You have more fanny packs, water bottles, gaiters and flashlights than Amelia Marcos has shoes. - Yes,
            and that is not much of an exaggeration! 
14.People at work think you're in a whole lot better shape than you think you are.  - Yes
15.You actually are in a whole lot better shape than you think you are.  - Yes
16.Your weekend runs are limited by how much time you have, not by how far you can run.  - Yes
17.You think of pavement as a necessary evil that connects trails.  - YesI only other time I run on
            pavement is during triathlons.
18.You really envied Tom Hanks' long run as Forest Gump.  - Yes and if I had time I would enter the 
            Race Across America.
19.You carry money around in a Zip lock bag because store clerks complain that your money's too sweaty.
             - Yes, at least I carry some cash with me when I run and it is in Zip Lock baggies. 
20.Your entire life is organized in Zip-lock baggies. - Yes - Yes - Yes
21.You put more miles on your feet than on your rental car over the weekend. - Absolutely
22.You start planning the family vacation around races, and vice-versa.  - Yes (Imogene Pass Run, 3 times,
            Ironman events, Leadville, Wasatch, Tahoe, Cascade Crest in August and many more)
23.Your races end in a different area code and pass through several different Zip codes enroute - Yes, and 
            most pass through several counties.  One I plan to run next year ends in a different state.
24.You don't finish on the same day as the winner. Yes
25.Your wife asks you the morning after your 50 k if you're still planning on that 100 miler in five weeks, and
            you say "Sure!"  - Yes, after all, that was just a training run.
26.People praise you to the high heavens for being able to finish a marathon, and you feel insulted. 
            - Absolutely
27.You're running a marathon and at mile 20 say to yourself, "Wow, only 6 more miles left, this is such a
            great training run!"  - Yes
28.You go for an easy 2 hour run in the middle of a Hurricane and think it is fun to get wet, muddy and run 
            through the rivers that were once trails. 
"Oh yeah! that was July 21, 2008, except it was a tornado not a hurricane".
29.No one believes you when you say "never again".  - Yes 
(Actually, I only say that to myself about 3/4 through all very long race.  By time I finish I 
                      am planning the next 50 or 100 miler)
30.You number your running shoes to distinguish old from new, since they all look dirty.  - Yes and 
            different colors helps, too)
31.Everything in your life, everything, is organized in different sized zip-loc bags. Oh yeah!  I already 
            mentioned that!  - Yes
32.You think a 100-mile race is easier than a 50 miler because you don't have to go out as fast. 
At first I didn't think this was true, but after running two 50 milers it is true at least for me.
                      100 miles certainly takes a lot more planning,and training.
33.A girl changes her tank and her bra in front of you at an aid station and all you do is take another drink of 
            water, look at your watch, and tell your pacer "Let's hit the trail." 
Actually, I have never had that happen.  But when you notice a woman runner off the side
                      of the trail behind a tree, you politely do not look!  Besides, I have never run with a pacer.
34.You've started a race in the dark, run all day, and finished in the dark (if your lucky). - Yes, but not a 
                      100 miler.  I start in the dark, run all night and finish in the daylight the next day.
35.You are falling asleep on your feet during the early morning hours on the second day of a 100 miler and
             lay down (anywhere) and it feels so comfortable. 
Not yet.  I don't get sleepy during the night while running.
36.6 am is sleeping in. - Yes, absolutely
37.You can recite the protein grams by heart of each energy bar and drink mix, and the sodium content.
             No, but I do read the labels.
38.Someone asks you how long your training run is going to be and you answer "seven or eight ... hours".
            Yes, of course.  I have no idea how many miles I run.
39.Someone asks how long your next race is.  When you tell them, they ask how many days is the race. 
            When you say "you don't stop" then they look at you like you have lost your mind.- Yes
40.When you meet an attractive member of the opposite sex on a run, you see a potential 
            entrant in the Run for Kids Challenge. - 
            Yes, I actually carry a couple of entry forms in my pocket  (in a zip-lock baggie)
                when I run.  If I meet a girl on trail, I tell them about the race and give them an
               entry form.  Oh yeah, I give them to guys too.
50.       The park police try to arrest you during your 7 hour (night) training run at the local state
             park because they think your are spotlighting deer.  After all, why else would anyone be
            out on trails in the woods at 11:00 PM, miles from anywhere.
            Yes and I even had a back country pass.
51.        You get to the 80 mile point of a 100 miler and say to yourself, "Wow, only 20 miles 
             left to go!"  - Yes, at mile 80 I know I have it made.
52.       You know your an ultrarunner when you actually sit down and read all of the postings 
            about, "You know your an ultrarunner when..." and can laugh and relate to all of the 
            comments.    (Or post them on a blog.)