Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Training Week 5/2-5/9 - The Ups and Downs of Ultramarathon Training

It's funny how some weeks running is a slog and then the next week you're cruising and feeling good. The week of 4/25-5/1 was one big slog capped off by a nasty bonk on Sunday that kind of shook my confidence. I guess I can chalk it all up to post-Cheyenne Mountain 50K recovery.

But last week, 5/2-5/9, things starting clicking again. I felt strong and the leg turnover was good--clear indications of recovery. The week saw eleven total runs, 90.1 miles and solid quality on Tuesday with fast hill repeats, Thursday with 6 miles at tempo pace (6:10-6:20), Saturday with 21 miles and Sunday with 16.6 miles. All other days (Monday, Wednesday and Friday) were "easy."

To sum up the week:
  • Total miles: 90.1
  • Total runs: 11
  • Total time running: 11 hours, 31 minutes
  • Yoga and core strengthening
Total miles for the year: 1,206.85

After the Leadville 100 in 2010, I went back and carefully studied my training for all the 100s I've done (5 in all, including the USA 24-Hour National Championship in 2009), with the hopes of figuring out where I went wrong and why I arrived at the starting line with a serious injury (plantar fasciitis) and depleted endocrine system. My "study" was based on the assumption that I was in my all-time best shape going into the 2009 Mohican 100, a race I won and got through injury-free. So Mohican 2009 was kind of the template for success.

What I determined was that, while I was clicking off 100-mile weeks for the 2009 Mohican, my per-run average mileage was around 9. That is, if I ran 10-12 times a week, each run averaged about 9 miles. For Leadville, again running 100 miles/week, my per-run average mileage was about 11. So with Mohican 2009 and Leadville 2010, you have similiar aggregate mileage but a far different story in terms of total runs and per-run mileage. I think fewer workouts and more miles per run, as with Leadville 2010, over-stressed my body. I seem to better-handle more runs and less per-run mileage, as with Mohican 2009. This approach seems to keep me healthy.

(Parenthetically, I recently read that a well-trained body can handle runs of 9 or fewer miles with minimal recovery. But when you go beyond 9 miles, you have a need for recovery. With my 2010 LT100 training, I was clicking off 11 miles every morning Monday-Friday and then 3-4 each night, in addition to 30+ miles each weekend. Now I keep my mileage to about 9-10 every morning with about 3-4 at night (when I run at night) and the usual 30+ over the weekend.)

There are many reasons why this change in total runs happened--mostly "real life" reasons that are too lengthy for this blog given all the drama of our relocation to Denver last spring. But now that I have a treadmill in my basement for second runs of the day (we were in a temporary apartment last summer and so a treadmill, which I almost always use for my second runs of the day, was hard to come by), have an outstanding coach and have learned from a few mistakes I made (too much pavement; not enough dirt), I think my 2011 LT100 training is poised for success. I also have greater flexibility now and my stress level is way lower than it was a year ago.

Maybe the biggest change, though, is my recognition that high mileage isn't the magic bullet. I will keep my maximum mileage right around 90/week and continue focusing on quality and recovery. I might get up near 100/week every so often, but for the most part 90 will be my cap. Like in 2009, I also have some races on the calendar that will prepare me for my big goal race.


I like where my fitness is with the Leadville 100 now just a little over three months away. But I have so much work to do between now and my taper in early August. A lot of this work will be in the mountains with a few 14'ers, multiple training runs in Leadville and of course three mountain races (Jemez on 5/21, Mt. Evans Ascent on 6/18 and Leadville Marathon on 7/2) on my to-do list. With vacation time now available, it's all possible, whereas last year it wasn't.

Man, I have gone back and forth with my plans for Jemez on 5/21. When I signed up, I was just coming back from my plantar fasciitis and feeling quite defiant. But now that I'm close to 100% and the Leadville Marathon and Leadville 100 are definites, part of me wonders if running 50 miles on one of the hardest courses in the US is wise. I have no doubt I could finish 50 miles at Jemez strong. But will it trash my legs for weeks and derail my training? I keep wondering if I should downgrade to the 50K. Either way, I'm doing the race. My plan will probably be to aim for 50 miles and then when I reach the point where I can downgrade, I'll make a judgement call based on how I'm feeling. My #1 goal right now is to prepare for the Leadville 100--all races on my calendar need to get me to that objective. So at this point whether or not I do 50 miles or 50 kilometers at Jemez is a fluid situation.


With all that said, check out this incredible video. She has the heart of a lion.

1 comment:

  1. I find most people's mileage limits interesting. Everytime I have tried to run a new mileage plateau I have failed ... the 1st time. By failed I mean it has led to less results than lower mileage. The 2nd time it has produced better results.

    That being said -I do believe that each of us has a sweet spot of training. The point where the mileage, realative intensity and types of workouts are producing optimal results.

    I have run all sorts of build up plans. I have yet to find one that I am satisfied with.

    It will be fun to see if your return to a known solid strategy will give the expected results. I sure hope it does.

    Michael Henze