Tuesday, May 29, 2012

No news is good news

Training for Leadville has been going well -- although, with a 100-mile race, it's always difficult to know if you're doing enough.  In May, I've run (or hiked with HR between 140-150) between 11 and 15 hours each week, with mileage ranging from the mid-60s to the mid-90s, and elevation gain fairly constant around 8-12K each week.  The training plan has been relegated to a landfill somewhere, but that's ok. This is probably the best block of training I've ever had, which is a nice contrast to my fortunes with running over the previous six months (which was dictated by a training plan).   

Given how badly training went from January to March, I'm happy with my progress. Last week, I went to visit my sister in Boise.  On Sunday, I ran my first sub-7 mile on flat or rolling terrain with my HR below 150 the whole time.  Then, the next mile I did it again.  Then, on Tuesday, I did a recovery run, and my HR was below 140 for a sub-7 minute mile on gently rolling hills. In contrast, when I first started measuring my HR less than two years ago, my pace averaged about 8:20-8:30 per mile for sub-150s.  Boise is at lowish elevation, but that's still very encouraging for me.

Then, on Thursday, I went up to Leadville for a couple of days where my average pace was closer to 12 minutes a mile.  Definitely good for a dose of humility. 

Regardless, I believe that when your training is going well, you should be getting feedback on your runs that shows you're improving.  And I think I'm finally getting there. So, yay for me, I guess.

Then yesterday, I started doing speed work for the first time since, well, um, my sophomore year of college, I think.  I ran a sub-20 5K as a progressive effort tempo run, with HR at 155-165-175 for each mile. That translated into a 6:45-6:33-5:52, with a little kick in the last .1 for good measure.  I'm pretty sure that was my first sub-20 in 15 years. So yeah, I've been slow for a long time. I'm actually kind of looking forward to more of these workouts.  I think it'll be a fun way to mix things up.  

I'm not breaking any land-speed records by any means, and Kilian Jornet probably doesn't need to be concerned just yet, but I'm making progress at my own pace, and that's all I'm really looking to do out there.  There's no guarantee that any of this will translate into a big buckle or even a finish at Leadville.  You need a little bit of luck and a whole lot of resolve to actually get it done in a 100-mile race.  But if I can stay healthy and keep going on this path, if I don't get it done, it won't be because of lack of fitness. 

Looking forward to the challenge!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Blowing up the training plan!

Last week, I started training for the Leadville 100.  It's a race I've wanted to run since I was a sophomore in high school.  More concretely, I've been training specifically with this race in mind since early 2009, when I pretty much re-started running from scratch (I was well over 200 lbs at the time).  And I like to plan.  So I've had a training plan set out for this three month stretch for a long time.

And then, last Thursday, just four days into the plan, I blew it up.  I had set out to go on about a three-hour run.  Up Chimney Gulch, down around Apex, and then back.  But my body wasn't responding.  Just two miles into the run, my pace was two minutes a mile slower than it had been on the same loop just two weeks prior, and my heart rate was just as high, if not higher.  I'm not sure if it was because I recover slowly from races (true), that it was a little hot, or that I had been sleeping badly, but regardless, I didn't have it.  So I turned around. The next day, I didn't have it either. So I went on two easy four mile runs, rather push a longer run and delay my recovery further.

Yesterday, I ran for two and a half hours around lair o' the bear, and I felt great. So I went on another easy run yesterday afternoon.  I'll go on a couple of easy runs today and then do two hours tomorrow morning if I still feel decent.

What's the conclusion behind all of this?  Not sure, but this is what my gut is telling me. To be successful at ultras, you need to run a lot.  A lot a lot.  The more volume you can do without injuring yourself or overtraining, the better. But when and how to do that lots of running should be dictated by how your body feels, rather than the calendar.  Some days you'll have and some days you won't. 

From now on, I'm just going to put my ear to my legs before and during every run and see what they can give me. Because between now and Leadville, they're in charge.