Six months from today I will–with good training, no injuries, lots of help from friends, and a little bit of luck–be finishing the Leadville 100. I’m as excited and scared about the race as I was back in August when we decided to give it a go. Both emotions have been helpful. Both excitement and fear get me through the days I’m lacking motivation, and encourage constant tinkering, planning, and motivation to be prepared–both in training and strategy.
In recounting the first six months of training (they went fast!), I think I did a pretty good job of laying a good foundation for the next phase. I remained (mostly) uninjured, very slowly built-up my mileage, and avoided the apathy that naturally comes with low temperatures and snow/ice. Winter certainly isn’t through yet, but I’ve done well to establish a bit of a routine in when and how I head-out for runs.
That being said, there is still (and always will be) room for improvement. The increased mileage (especially the downhills) have started creeping into my right knee. It’s mostly a small, nagging irritant but I definitely need to be regimented about stretching/yoga as well as strength/core training (especially in areas that will help alleviate knee pain). I’ve started doing both of these things but need to solidify them in my normal weekly routine.
I’m also going to return to the idea that each run has purpose. I’ve strayed a little from this idea the last month or two. For the five/six runs during the week, one will involve hill repeats, one speed/intervals, two MATs (keeping heart rate in the aerobic zone to burn fat, get used to a steady, even pace, and to act as a recovery run of sorts), and one really, really long effort. If I go for a sixth day that can be my ‘whatever-pace/effort-I-feel-like’ day (hey, a meandering day still qualifies as ‘purpose’ as long as it isn’t the norm). Included within this purposeful schedule will be Back-to-Backs. That is, each long day will be followed by a short-to-medium outing the next day (most likely a MAT run). This will allow for some rest in between days but will also help simulate the empty, low energy feeling one has later in ultra races. I.e., instead of doing 35 miles in one day, I’ll do 25 on Friday and 10 on Saturday.
These ‘purposeful runs’ will focus either on vertical gain (most important) or speed (well, more descriptively, getting my slow legs to turnover a bit quicker, which hopefully in turn makes for faster long runs). My vertical gain per mile goal (for a week) remains to be over +160’/mile on average. That outta get it done for the LT100 track.
Finally, my long runs/race nutrition plan is going through some revamping. I’ve tried to go more and more ‘natural’ in my nutrition plans for long runs and races, shying away from the GUs and crappy fake-sugar junk that’s easy to fit into a pocket. While convenient, they make my stomach go sour in a hurry and I know that my biggest concern after about 60 miles (during Leadville) will be my ability to take in (and keep down) calories. Now that my long runs are creeping up into the upper teens and lower 20s, I will be experimenting with different real food items (mostly homemade) that will provide the quick/long energy I require for 6, 8, 10 hour outings.
That sounds like a lot of new goals and tweaking of ‘the plan’, but really, I think the above notes simply add some focus and purpose to a training plan that is pretty solid, but requires a pick-me-up. I also want to have training, nutrition and my health be in a solid place for my two big tests which start in less than 3 months–Quad Rock 50 (May) and the Leadville Marathon (June).
Thanks for reading and following along! Hopefully the mileage will continue to increase and the odds will be in my favor come Spring…and Summer. Time to make the turn toward home.