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Weekly training recaps. Do people even read these? Or do we (running bloggers) just like to talk about ourselves?
I’m not ashamed to admit: for me, it’s a little bit of both. I love reading about other people’s ultramarathon training experiences, and assume I’m not alone in that enjoyment. I also unabashedly like to talk about my own experiences. Hell, I’ve been doing it for the last 11 years on this very blog, why stop now?
I’ve never been consistent when it comes to writing training recaps. You’ll typically get a half dozen in a row – then I’ll miss a few weeks. My blogging style has always been dictated by inspiration, rather than schedules (which is a creative way of saying consistency in this space isn’t a strength of mine). Never the less, I’m excited to be actually “training” once again, so much so that I want to write about it.
But…the exact finish line I’m training for is still up in the air. So I don’t have a catchy name for this weekly series, that I may or may not knock out all 26 (because this one counts for two) editions of.
But I digress.
In anticipation of hopefully getting into Ancient Oaks 100 (and of course, in hopes that races are even happening come December), I’m following a 27 week training plan that I’ve written for myself.
Let’s all take a pause to acknowledge that DECEMBER is less than 6 months from now. My mom called it the “Christmas solstice”. Time sure flies when 2020 is being crazy and unpredictable, doesn’t it?
Anyway, the outline of my training plan is very similar to the free 100 mile training plan I have posted on this very blog. The outline includes a 3 week “try to remember what consistency and training feels like” build, into a 24 week specific training plan.
Week’s 1 & 2 : The “Remember What Training Feels Like?” Refresher
Today marks the start of training week three. I’m grateful I built that three week buffer into this plan for a few reasons. First, it’s friggin hot out there. Summer in Myrtle Beach is no joke, our mid day temps are already well into the “feels like 103+”, don’t forget the humidity. Typically I’ve trained my way through the spring and felt adapted to the heat once summer finally sets in. Not this year!
A combination of moving in May and simply not having a training plan to follow means that I’ve barely spent time running in this weather. Thus, the heat and the humidity currently feels like a hot, wet, simultaneous slap in the face and sucker punch in the gut. I often end runs thinking something along the lines of “well, if I go down, at least there’s a bunch of neighbors around. Someone will resuscitate me, I’m sure…”
(I make training in the South sound so amazing, I know. The board of tourism should hire me to do their PR…)
Second, after taking seven months off, reminding myself that I have workouts I need to do has been hilarious, at best. In the past, training has been a huge priority for me. Now, it’s one of those “oh wait, I need to somehow find a spot in my day to run 6 miles before it gets dark” after thoughts.
What can I say, I’m out of practice.
But the workouts are slowly making their way from the bottom of the priority totem pole to somewhere in the top half of my “important things to do today” list. We’ll get there.
So while the last two weeks haven’t been demanding, mileage wise, they’ve definitely eased me back into routine and structure.
What I’m Doing Differently for this 100 Mile Training Cycle
While slowly readjusting to the same old song and dance that is a 100 mile ultramarathon training cycle, there are a number of things I’m hoping to do differently this time.
1. This is my only race goal
During my last 100 miler (Frozen Hell Hole, January 2019) I was simultaneously training for the Georgia Death Race at the same time. In retrospect, training for GDR didn’t hurt my 100 (though racing a 100 most definitely hurt my training for GDR). But, having multiple finish lines to focus on at once definitely put unnecessary physical and mental pressure on me.
This time? One goal. There will be two other races in that training cycle (a 50K and 50 miler) used solely for training purposes.
I honestly can’t remember a time in my running life where I didn’t have race goals piled up one after another. In fact, I don’t think it’s EVER happened. But I’m promising myself that this time I will not even contemplate “the next race” until this particular one I’m training for is over. It will have my 100% focus.
2. Quality over Quantity
In the past, much of my personal 100 mile training was about logging as many miles as possible, in that slow, ultra-slog style. This time, I’m going with a “quality over quantity” approach. Each workout serves a purpose. Yes, there will be long, slow miles – there absolutely has to be. But I’m also going to stay on top of my speed and tempo work, rather than spending my weekdays ALSO trying to log as many miles as possible.
Part of my reasoning is to see if my body responds better to lower mileage, but a greater variety of intensity. Yes, specificity matters. But I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that my last 100 mile training cycle left me feeling slow and lethargic. Sure, I could run all damn day, but I felt, for lack of better terms, “heavy” in my running.
The other part of my reasoning? I moved much further away from the trails. But I do have access to endless miles of pavement in a quaint, quiet neighborhood. Not ideal, but you work with what you’ve got.
3. “Adventure Days” in lieu of back to backs
The “back to back long run” is an integral part of ultramarathon training. It’s where, among other physical adaptations, you teach your body how to continue to run on fatigued legs. As a coach, I believe this is a cornerstone workout for ultra training.
But this time around I’m mostly going to skip them.
That’s right. In lieu of back to back runs, I’ll be riding my bicycle around, trudging through swamps and forests, and following my husband on “Adventure days”. And yes, this will count as “training”
You know that saying “Happy
wife husband, happy life?” Yeah, well…my amazing, supportive, full time running coach of a husband actually really prefers to ride his bicycle. And he REALLY loves adventure racing. So I promised him when I decided to dive into another 100 mile training cycle that I’d keep an AR training day in the mix.
I wouldn’t recommend this for someone running their first 100. I do believe there is huge value in the back to back runs. However, my hope is that substituting this AR training day for a back to back long run, rather than adding it in ON TOP of my training volume, will help keep my body happy. I know what running on tired legs feels like (boy do I ever), but I also know I want to avoid burnout this time around. So, tired cycling legs are going to have to do.
4. I’m currently not teaching
For the last few years I was working as a personal trainer and group exercise instructor while training for my own races. In addition to my own workouts, I was teaching spin, a strength training class, and a HIIT/plyometrics class. It may seem like that would keep you in “better” shape, but the reality is, that will run your body down quickly – even when you are teaching and not participating in the workout 100% . In retrospect, this was definitely a contributing factor to my ultimate crash and burn.
But, I’ve since left the gym (as an employee, still lifting there as a customer!) to focus on this blog and our coaching business. Therefore 100% of my workouts will be training plan specific (both strength and obviously, running). No “bonus” activities blowing up my progress.
As mentioned in a previous blog post, this training cycle I’ll be working with Wilfredo Benitez , the performance/sports nutritionist behind On Pace Wellness. Starting this week, he’ll be providing meal plans and nutrition goals for me to reach. I’m a little nervous – I’m a creature of habit when it comes to nutrition. But more than anything, I’m excited to see what I can imagine will only be benefits when it comes to my ultramarathon training.
It’s going to be an adjustment, actually giving a sh*t about what I put into my body post long run, rather than reaching for the obligatory pizza and beer. But I’m 100% committed to this process.
So…there’s my first official training recap for a race I’m not sure I’m even going to be invited to. These will get more detailed as training goes on, but for now the highlights: very different training approach, less is more, and I’m going to try not to eat like a college kid.