Thursday, May 31, 2012

Week Ending May 27

Jumping ahead a bit, on Memorial Day/Monday I got to Mount Bierstadt, a 14,060-foot mountain, with Scott Williams and Bob Sweeney. I'd been wanting to summit Bierstadt for well over a year, but either life circumstances or the weather always seemed to get in the way. Not this time! Scott and I arrived at the Bierstadt trailhead via Guanella Pass at about 7:15 a.m. and met Bob there. The weather was a mixed bag. On the good side, the sun was out in full force and the sky was clear. On the bad side, the wind was quite hostile, with gusts of 30-40+ miles per hour, and the temperature was in the twenties. It was a good thing we bundled up. I had on most of my winter running gear, including my windproof/waterproof North Face gloves.

That said, we went right after it, reaching the summit in about 85 minutes. In most areas, the trail was in excellent shape. However, there were a few icy, but small, snow fields to contend with, and of course the wind added to the adventure. We put on our spikes about halfway up. Spikes were nice to have, but not required.

The views from the summit were incredible. Despite a wind chill in the teens, I marveled at the Sawtooth connecting Mounts Bierstadt and Evans and at the spectacular view of Grays and Torreys peaks, two notable Front Range 14'ers, off in the distance. Even better, I had a good descent, moving smoothly and feeling strong, though my quads were slightly tired. The stats on the adventure were 7.45 miles in 2:04, with 2,800 feet of climbing to an altitude of 14,060 feet.

There are few better feelings than standing atop a 14,000-foot mountain! The perspective you are afforded is almost life-changing. Here are some photos from our adventure.

View from the parking lot. Bierstadt to the right; Evans to the left. The sawtooth is in the middle.
This photo doesn't do the size of those two mountains any justice.

Bob gearing up. He's been on a 14'er kick lately.

Not sure what that pointy peak is. I heard it's a 13'er.

Grays and Torreys are to the right. They're the twin peaks.


A nice view of Grays and Torreys (in the middle).

Kind of a bad view of the Sawtooth, but you get the idea.

Don't know who this is, but this shot was from the summit. Mount Evans is off in the distance.


At the summit.
Yeah, I know--I'm not much of a photographer. Had the weather been better, I'm confident I would have taken some better photos.
 
***

Here's how the week went:
 
Monday: super-easy
AM: 4.5 miles in 37 minutes on my treadmill. Very easy pace. Legs didn't fully wake up until about 3 miles into my run.

Tuesday: easy
AM: 9.75 miles in 1:13 on the trails and a few roads in the Parker hills. Felt much better than yesterday, even as I slept poorly last night.This is usually my interval day but I decided to push my speedwork back a day to allow my legs one more day of recovery.

Wednesday: intervals
AM: 10.5 miles in 1:18. This was an excellent interval workout at the Legend High School track with Scott. After jogging a mile from my doorstep to the track, I did 3x100-meter striders to warm up and "wake up" the legs. Then I went right into my repeats, running 4x800 meters at 2:45, 2:47, 2:47, and 2:47 (400-meter recovery in between) and then 3x400 meters at 1:22, 1:20 and 1:19 (200-meter recovery in between). Very pleased with those last two 400s as they show I got stronger and faster. Cooled down on the trail loop behind the school.

Thursday: easy
AM1: 9.9 miles in 1:18 on the trails and a few roads in the Parker hills. Felt a little beat up; the outside of my left shin was sore. Not too worried, though.

AM2: 4.1 miles in 34 minutes on my treadmill. I had a few extra minutes before having to jet off to work, so I did what I always do when I'm alone and have some time on my hands--I ran.
 
Friday: tempo
AM: 10.25 miles (7 at tempo) in 1:12 on roads in the Parker hills. Still feeling pretty beat up, which translated to slow legs, bad turnover and an overall labored tempo run. Splits were pretty bad: 1) 8:48 (warm up), 2) 6:36, 3) 6:20, 4) 6:24, 5) 6:28, 6) 6:17, 7) 6:26, 8) 6:35, 9) 7:57 (begin cooldown), 10) 8:01, and 10.25) 1:56. My tempo splits were 15 seconds slower than they should have been--a sign that I'm tired and may need an easy week.

Saturday: long/road
AM: 15.25 miles in 2 hours on the Tomahawk and Legend High School trail loops. Besides nasty and annoying winds, my breathing capacity was horrible, and I was also quite tired and flat. Not sure why I couldn't breathe well--smoke from wildfires, allergies, tired? Rather than doing a second workout later, as I usually do on Saturdays, I decided to take the rest of the day off. Exceeded 1,000 feet of gain.

Sunday: long/trail
AM: 15.75 in 2:04 at Hidden Mesa Open Space. The wind from the south/southwest once again sucked. But Hidden Mesa is a fairly enjoyable place to run so I had a good time. I felt much better than yesterday and my breathing capacity was excellent. Unfortunately, I got dehydrated when I ran out of water with about 2 miles to go. Climbed about 1,300 feet.
 
Weekly totals:
  • 80 miles
  • ~5,000 feet of climbing (estimated)
  • Total training: 10:18
  • 8 total runs
  • Averaged 7:44/mile
  • Lots of core work and push-ups. Also incorporated some upper-body weight-training.
Year to date mileage:
  • 1,400 miles run
  • 118 miles biked
  • 6.55 miles walked
***

For this week (week ending June 3), my main goal is to get ready for a solid training run at the Golden Gate Dirty Thirty. I was a late entrant, getting into the Dirty Thirty via the waiting list only two days ago. I'm putting zero pressure on myself for the Dirty Thirty. It's a tough course and my legs are feeling it a bit from some solid training of late, so my goal is to be strong over the distance and on the climbs and descents and have some fun. But most of all, my goal is to put in a solid training run that gets me one step closer to a strong performance at the Leadville 100.

Monday, May 28, 2012

From the Summit of Mount Bierstadt Today (Sorry about the Side View!)

Bierstadt is a 14,060-foot mountain about 90 minutes from Denver. The weather today was very cold (about 15 degrees at the summit) and windy (gusts 30-40+ miles per hour). Fortunately, the sun was out!

Sorry about the side shot and the video quality. The original file is actually excellent in video quality but Blogger reduced the file size when I uploaded it.

video

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Week Ending 5/20

My review of Scott Jurek's new book, Eat & Run, due out on June 5, has gotten tremendous interest. If you haven't yet read my review, it's here.

***

My energy wasn't good a the week wore on. I'm not sure what the issue was, but I was cranky (just ask my wife), a bit mentally down and just flat-out tired. The fact that I had 7:30 a.m. meetings on Thursday and Friday, which caused me to get up at 4:15 for my runs, obviously didn't help. Sometimes I'm my own worst enemy. Anyway, I still managed decent volume (72.5 miles) and decent quality with my intervals and tempo run.
 
Here's how the week went:

Monday: super-easy
AM: 4 miles in 32 minutes on my treadmill. Felt good for a Monday.

Tuesday: intervals
AM: 9.05 miles in 1:08--about half at the track and half on the trail loop behind Legend High School. Was a bit late getting out the door because I couldn't find one of my arm sleeves.... After a 1-mile warm-up run to the track from my doorstep, I did 3x100M striders to wake up the legs and then went right into my workout: 1x800 at 2:43 (400M recovery), 2x1200M at 4:13 and 4:15 (400M recoveries) and 2x400M at 1:24 and 1:22 (200M recoverie)s. I continue to see improvement in my times. Felt better than last week--lungs good, leg turnover good. Feet hit the track gently. Nice to have some good company with Scott also there working away.

Wednesday: easy
AM: 9.7 miles in 1:13 on the trails around my neighborhood. Lower back a little achy, probably from tight hamstrings.

Thursday: tempo
AM: Unfortunately, I had limited time due to my early meeting, so I did what I could. 7.4 miles in 51 minutes on Parker streets and the Sulphur Gulch "Trail" (paved). This was a decent, albeit short, tempo run. Splits were: 1) 8:40 (warm-up), 2) 6:23, 3) 5:50, 4) 6:03, 5) 6:11, 6) 7:30 (begin cooldown), 7) 7:34, 7.4) 3:08.

Friday: easy
AM: Once again very limited time because of an early meeting. 7.2 miles in 54 minutes on the trail loop behind Legend High School. (Would have liked an afternoon session but I spent the entire day in meetings.)

Saturday: long/road
AM: 17.2 miles in 2:14. From my doorstep, I basically took East Parker Road all the way to its end, and then turned around and came back, hitting the Legend High School trail loop for a few miles. This is a fairly hilly course. My original plan was a 20-miler but the weather absolutely sucked for running--cold, rainy and windy. My legs got numb and week toward the end because of the cold, wet conditions. My Garmin says the run involved 987 feet of climbing but there's no way that's true. I'd estimate closer to 1,500 feet. I no longer trust my Garmin on climbing--I've seen too many inconsistencies and crazy findings, such as climbing while I'm running intervals around a pancake flat track (WTF?).
 
PM: 4 miles in 33 minutes on the treadmill. Legs a little wobbly from getting frozen earlier in the morning.
 
Total miles for day: 21.2 miles

Sunday: long/trail
AM: 14.05 miles in 2:12 at Mount Falcon. Intended to go for at least 3 hours but my legs were trashed--not sure why. Made it to Walker's Dream in 34:55--a nearly 2,000-foot, 3.5-mile climb up rocky trail. After that, I felt an unusual amount of fatigue on the climbs up to the summit of Falcon. GPS reports 2,700 feet of climbing. That's actually fairly accurate, though I would have guessed closer to 3,000 feet.
 
Weekly totals:
  • 72.5 miles run
  • ~7,000 feet of climbing (estimated)
  • Total training: 9:39
  • 8 total runs
  • Averaged 8:00/mile
  • Less core work than usual because of mild lower back issues
Year to date mileage:
  • 1,320 miles run
  • 118 miles biked
  • 6.55 miles walked
So, overall, not the greatest week ever because of: a) limited time during the week due to meetings, b) general fatigue and c) crappy weather on Saturday that, for some reason, sapped my legs.

***

I think it's getting time to stretch out my tempo runs a bit. I've been keeping my actual tempo mileage (not including warm-up and cooldown miles) to about 6 each session. I want to start ratcheting that up with a goal of eventually getting in a tempo run of 10-12 miles by the time Leadville comes along. I'm fairly happy with my track workouts because, for the most part, I'm seeing improvement. I miss mile repeats, like what I used to do back East, but at 6,200 feet I'm finding that 400s, 800s and 1200s provide a nice workout.

My goal for the coming week is about 80 miles, including some quality trail work. On Memorial Day a few of us are planning to run Mt. Bierstadt, a 14,100-foot mountain that's pretty tame and runner-friendly. To the summit and back is about a 7-mile roundtrip, all between about 10,000-14,000 feet. In addition to a time trial on the Hope Pass double-crossing (would like to do Twin Lakes to Winfield and back to Twin Lakes in 5:30 or faster, which is what I need to break 20 hours at Leadville) and some more work on the Incline, this summer I also really want to run the Bross/Cameron/Democrat/Lincoln loop, which is about 7.25 miles and hits four 14,000-foot mountains. Can't beat that!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Book Review: Eat & Run, by Scott Jurek

Scott Jurek was, in his own words, “a shy kid with high blood pressure.” In school, he was spit on, called Pee-Wee and a target of bullies. Few could have ever imagined this scrawny boy would one day become a world-class endurance athlete and running legend.
 
Over the course of his nearly 20-year career, Jurek has won some of the world’s biggest and toughest ultramarathons, starting with seven consecutive victories at the Western States Endurance Run, a 100-mile trail race in northern California he dominated from 1999-2005. He’s broken the tape in the mountainous Hardrock 100, twice won the 135-mile Badwater Ultramarathon, and found victory three consecutive years at the 152-mile Spartathlon. In 2010, the versatile Jurek, who many had incorrectly dismissed as washed up, set a new American record for 24 hours, covering 165.7 miles in the IAU-IAAF World Championships in France. He ran in his mother's memory.

And he did all of that and more while adhering to a vegan diet—a diet devoid of animal byproducts.

Now, the 38-year-old Jurek has come forward with his inspiring life story, Eat & Run: My Unlikely Journey to Ultramarathon Greatness, written with Steve Friedman and published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. In this honest, deeply personal 231-page, 22-chapter autobiography, Jurek traces his evolution as a vegan, his spiritual growth and his unparalleled dominance as an ultrarunner.

Having met Jurek twice, he comes across as a guy with everything going for him. He has the looks, resume and persona, though one might also be struck by his humility—a virtue he likely developed as a child and through the travails of running super long distances in extreme conditions such as Death Valley in the dead of summer. Beneath it all, though, Jurek is a man who has suffered—and endured. Indeed, Runner’s World (in an unfortunate feature in 2010) once called him “The King of Pain.”

Born in 1973, Jurek grew up in a modest home near Proctor, Minnesota, eating “government cheese” (his own way of saying food bought with food stamps), while the “cake eaters” across town lived the high life. His mother, a caring woman and accomplished cook who dedicated herself to made-from-scratch meals, suffered from multiple sclerosis, while his disciplinarian father, who worked two jobs, pushed Scott and his younger brother and sister hard. They had little time for play. Indeed, Jurek recounts that one time he couldn’t play with a visiting friend because he still had a few more hours of wood-stacking. His father’s motto, “sometimes you just do things,” has, for better or worse, remained with Jurek his entire life—and is often repeated throughout Eat & Run.

Jurek grew up on a “meat and potatoes” diet, learning at a young age how to cook pot roast, tuna noodle casserole, fried fish (which he caught and cleaned himself), pies and the like. He tells stories of helping his mother in the kitchen and painful memories of her gradual decline because of MS, the first signs being her propensity to drop things in the kitchen.

A skinny adolescent who studied hard (he was high school valedictorian), Jurek avoided contact sports and instead gravitated to endurance activities such as cross-country skiing. Through his experience as one of Minnesota's top-ranked high school cross-country skiers, he took his first taste of a plant-based diet, discovering healthy dishes like brown rice and vegetarian chili, but remained a meat eater. In these formative years, he met a hell-raising, rebellious kid named Dusty Olson, who would become his lifelong friend and a key part of his success in ultrarunning. The two eventually turned to ultrarunning, perfectly complementing each other like yin and yang. Olson called his friend "Jurker," a nickname that has stuck over the years.

Olson, a very talented athlete, exposed the inexperienced Jurek to trail running. Even as he went to college full-time in Duluth and worked jobs to pay tuition, Jurek found time to run the trails in Minnesota, often fueling his recovery with greasy chicken sandwiches from McDonald’s since it was a cheap source of protein. He kept running and soon set his sights on the 50-mile Minnesota Voyager, which Olson had won in 1993.

Jurek won the 1996 and 1997 Minnesota Voyager and, fueled by ambition and competitive drive, later moved to Seattle with his new wife, Leah, a vegetarian he met in McDonald’s of all places, to work as a physical therapist and take his running to the next level (he did, however, return to Minnesota and win the Voyager many more times). Driven by a desire to win on the biggest stages, he logged hundreds of miles on the local peaks, transforming himself into a bona fide mountain runner. Now a plant-based eater, he thrived in the progressive Seattle and realized great benefits from conscientious eating and living.

After placing second at the challenging 1998 Angeles Crest 100-Mile Run, where he encountered a team of Tarahumara Indians, Jurek, ringing up debt to finance his goals, set his sights on his next challenge: the Western States 100. Of course, Jurek, with Olson by his side, won Western States in his first attempt, despite those who discounted him as a flatlander. Indeed, when he crossed the finish line, he yelled, “Minnesota!”

Jurek recounts many other races, as well, such as the 2007 Hardrock, which he won despite a sprained ankle. In that race, the in-your-face Olson had the audacity to taunt record-holder Karl Meltzer, the imposing, unflappable “King of Hardrock” and “Wasatch Speedgoat." Jurek eloquently writes of the Copper Canyon Ultramarathon, where he befriended a low-key guy named Micah True, a.k.a. Caballo Blanco, and was a central actor in what would become a best-selling book by Christopher McDougall. He shares stirring details of Spartathlon.

To his credit, Jurek also tells of the bad, such as when he paced Brian Morrison at the infamous 2006 Western States. Just 300 yards from glory, an exhausted, overheated Morrison, who was firmly in the lead but foundering, collapsed on the track and was later disqualified for being assisted by Jurek across the finish line (warning: that video is painful to watch).

Like many of the great ones at one point in their career, Jurek found himself lost (think Michael Jordan in a White Sox uniform). In 2008, his marriage to Leah crumbled. According to Jurek, she no longer found him fun or interesting and had developed feelings for other men. Having just gotten out of debt, Jurek now faced a nasty, expensive and embarrassing divorce. In the ultrarunning world, there are few secrets….

But things only got worse. In 2009, one of his closest friends, Dave Terry, an accomplished and beloved ultrarunner, took his own life, leaving many, including Jurek, devastated. Then his longtime friendship with Olson, who had paced and crewed Jurek in nearly every race, began foundering. Olson, in his own right an accomplished runner, was “tired of being Jurker’s bitch.” The two stopped talking.
 
In the face of crisis, a cynical, albeit heartbroken, Jurek retreated to the trail, hanging out with his pals, Ian Torrence, Hal Koerner, Anton Krupicka and Kyle Skaggs, and even considering “going off the grid” and working at an organic farm. In one touching moment, Jurek, still reeling from his failed marriage, writes of telling Krupicka that love wasn’t forever, to which the younger runner responded that love was everything (just makes me like Krupicka even more). At about this time, rumors that Jurek was washing dishes made the rounds. Critics said he had lost his edge.

Jurek also tells of a life-changing, redemptive experience in the Grand Canyon with his friend, Joe Grant. The two ran through the day and night, enduring harsh conditions and running out of food—and yet they reached their destination through sheer determination. There was, indeed, a light at the end of the tunnel. It was an experience that very much paralleled the state of Jurek’s life at the time—an experience that gave him hope.

Jurek soon rediscovered love when he met Jenny Uehisa, an employee at Patagonia. The two kindred spirits quickly bonded, and she was there with him when his mother passed away in 2010 after her long battle with MS.

The book’s final chapter recounts Jurek’s American 24-hour record attempt in France and what he endured as he ran countless loops and ultimately came to grips with his demons. Here we learn of his reconciliation with Olson, his visit with US troops in Afghanistan, and his feelings for his mom and dad. “This is what you came for,” he tells himself. His American 24-hour record still stands.

One miss I have to mention is the editing. Eat & Run, though a well-written and deeply personal self-portrait, could have used a more critical editing eye.

Eat & Run gets into the nitty-gritty of what it means to be an ultra racer, the sacrifices we must make to train, how to live and thrive on a plant-based diet, and how we ultrarunners do what we do. But it also explores what it means to be a human and to deal with pain and loss. In that respect, it’s a book for all audiences.

A few additional notes: I applaud Jurek for interspersing his favorite vegan recipes, providing reference notes in the end, and including a detailed index—something you wouldn’t expect in an athlete autobiography. Props also to Jurek for providing excellent photographs for the reader's enjoyment.

Eat & Run: My Unlikely Journey to Ultramarathon Greatness, due out on June 5, is highly recommended.

Friday, May 18, 2012

So, Who Wins...the Fast Guy or the Mountain Guy?

Regarding this post, which continues to get a lot of reader interest, I haven't yet provided my own take on who has the better chance at a fast finish at Leadville--the fast guy or the mountain dude. But now I'm ready to offer my take.

I see myself more as the guy whose weekly approach is to run 100 miles in 13 hours versus 100 miles in 18 hours. That's partially a product of the environment in which I live (Parker, Colorado, which has limited dirt trails and is 40 minutes from the mountains) but also of my identity as a runner. When it comes to races, I'm a runner, not a hiker (though I love recreational hiking). I do like the occasional difficult mountain race, such as the Jemez 50-Mile (which involves some insanely steep, scree-laced climbs and descents), but by and large I'm attracted to races that involve a lot of running, not hiking. That's not to minimize races that involve a lot of hiking; I consider Hardrock to be the ultimate challenge and one day I will confront that gnarly course as an official entrant.

What I most like about Leadville is that it gives me everything I want in a race at this stage in my life--mountains, beautiful trails and a little bit of road. My favorite section of Leadville is when you're dropping into Twin Lakes on the outbound. This part of the Colorado Trail is awesomely runnable and you can just fly into Twin Lakes.

Getting back to who has the better approach--the fast guy or the mountain guy--I think that for Leadville the faster guy's training is, by its nature, higher-risk/higher-reward than the mountain guy's. Because he did his intervals, tempo runs, etc. and has good turnover and efficiency, the fast guy stands the chance of running a stout time at Leadville since it's a "runner's race." But, if things go bad for him, which is very possible in a high-altitude environment like Leadville, he may have a hard time getting into the finish since he didn't put in a lot of time on his feet like the mountain guy.

Conversely, the mountain guy, even though his speed and efficiency aren't as good as the fast guy's, has put in the time on his feet to be able to withstand lots of punishment and a long day out there on the Leadville course. His training approach, while quite taxing from a time standpoint, has built up tremendous strength that will benefit him on Hope Pass as well as late in the race. His approach is lower-risk, but I'm not sure if it's higher-reward or lower-reward since he probably wouldn't stand a chance if the fast guy is having a good day.

At Leadville, I give the slight nod to the fast guy. Only slight, though.

In a race like Hardrock, I go with the mountain guy ten times out of ten.

I believe to my marrow that if you want to be a better runner, yes, you have to hit some good volume and go really long on a regular basis. If you're doing a race like Leadville, you'd better get out there on the mountain trails and do some serious climbing and descending. But you also need to log good quality. Go to the track and challenge yourself with some fast intervals that will improve your VO2 max and efficiency. Do a weekly tempo run, which will enhance your strength and lactate threshold, allowing you to go harder for longer. If you do no quality and just emphasis long, slow distance, you're not going to get faster.

Ultimately, I think the optimal training program is to marry both approaches and get to the mountain trails while also spending time at the track and on the road doing fast stuff. If you can do both, you're in a good place.

Where am I right? Where am I wrong?

Monday, May 14, 2012

Week Ending 5/13

Despite a lot going on in my life, I managed a very solid week, hitting nearly 83 miles, good quality on Tuesday and Thursday, and 32 miles over Saturday and Sunday despite time restrictions due to visiting family and, of course, Mother's Day. The only thing missing was a big climb in the mountains, which just wasn't possible because of scheduling issues.

Here's how the week went:

Monday: super-easy
AM: 5.2 miles in 42 minutes on the trail loop behind Legend High School. Enjoyed the light rain. We get so little rain on the Front Range, so I try to enjoy it when the sky opens up a bit.

Tuesday: intervals
AM: 10.3 miles in 1:18 at the Legend High School track, followed by some cooldown miles on the trail, all with Scott. Warmed up with 3x100-meter striders at a comfortably hard and fast pace. Then I went into the meat of my workout: 4x800 at 2:42, 2:50, 2:48 and 2:49, each with a 400-meter recovery at about 2:00. I would have liked to get in a few more 800s, but my breathing was off because of allergies, so I did 2x400 at (a slow) 1:23 and 1:24 with a 400-meter recovery in between. Definitely felt the Cheyenne Mountain 50K in my legs. Finished off with some trail running behind Legend High School. Nice to have some good company.

Wednesday: easy
AM: 9.7 miles in 1:13 out on Buffaloberry and then on the Legend High School trail loop. Legs felt good.

Thursday: tempo
AM: 10.5 miles in 1:15 on city streets. My allergies were still affecting my breathing but I still managed a decent run and decent splits. Splits were: 1) 8:27 (warm-up), 2) 6:25, 3) 6:06, 4) 6:15, 5) 6:09, 6) 6:15, 7) 7:33 (begin cooldown), 8) 8:24, 9) 7:32, 10) 7:53, 10.5) 3:54. I would have liked to get another 1-2 miles at tempo pace, but my allergies made breathing a little difficult for such intensity.

Friday: easy
AM: 10.8 miles in 1:22 out on the Tomahawk loop followed by the Legend High School trail. Skies were gray and the air cold. Otherwise felt good, especially a day after my tempo run.
 
PM: 4.2 miles in 35 minutes on the Cherry Creek Trail single-track during my lunch hour. Legs felt super fresh.

Total miles for day: 15

Saturday: long
AM: 15.3 miles in 1:53 on the Forest Hills loop followed by the trail loop behind my house. Legs felt incredible. Would have liked to run several more miles but needed to get home, seeing as how we had family visiting over the weekend. The weather was more cold and more gray.

PM: 4 miles walking at a brisk pace with family. 58 minutes.

Total miles for day: 15.3 running, 4 walking

Sunday: long
AM: 13.5 miles in 1:43 on the Tomahawk loop and Legend High School trail. Legs a little fatigued. Needed to get back so we could get to breakfast for Mother's Day. Cold, gray and very foggy. I haven't seen the mountains since Thursday--it's that overcast on the Front Range.

PM: 3.5 miles on the treadmill.

Total miles for day: 17
 
Weekly totals:
  • 82.9 miles run
  • ~5,000 feet of climbing
  • 4 miles walked
  • Total training: 11:31
  • 9 total runs
  • Averaged 7:58 (includes walking)
  • Push-ups and core work
Year to date mileage:
  • 1,243 miles run
  • 118 miles biked
  • 6.55 miles walked
Next week I'll continue with the good quality and definitely get to the mountains for a nice climb of a few thousand feet--maybe the Incline followed by the Barr Trail.

I've added Udo's Oil to the mix, taking the recommended tablespoon each day, and I've begun to notice even speedier recovery between workouts. I already knew Hammer Recoverite, which I take after every workout, speeds up recovery, but it's nice to boost things even further with some Udo's Oil in my oatmeal, salads, eggs, sandwiches, etc. Udo's should be used cold and should never be heated. Maybe something to try?

***

I rarely comment on race results, but I have to say I was pretty amazed by Dakoka Jones' performance at the Transvulcania Ultra in the Canary Islands this past weekend. Dakota, who hails from Colorado, beat out Kilian Jornet and a very stout field of international talent, besting the previous course record by 33 minutes. At just 21 years of age, Dakota, who goes by "Young Money," has a hell of a bright future in this sport and will certainly be in major contention at this year's Hardrock 100. And, he also happens to be a really nice kid (being that I'm almost twice his age and he just hit the tender age of 21, I consider him a kid). Click here for an interview Dakota did with Bryon over at irunfar.com after the race.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Speed vs. Time...You Make the Call

Note to Reader: This is the fourth article in a series that challenges various assumptions in ultrarunning. In some cases, we may find that certain assumptions are correct; while in others we may find a new and better viewpoint. Please contribute your insights in the comments section. Enjoy!

Runner #1 and Runner #2 are both training for a fast time at the Leadville Trail 100 but take different approaches in their preparation--mostly because of varying interests, time availability, and strengths.

Both runners live in the Denver area. Both are the same age and gender (male). And both are about equally experienced.

Runner #1 runs 100 miles a week in 13 hours, averaging about 7.5 miles/hour. He runs most of his miles on roads and smooth trails and gets to the mountains once a week for some quality climbing. Runner #1 also does very solid quality at the track and in his tempo runs and has excellent efficiency and leg turnover. He rarely does training runs over 3 hours (except in races) but has excellent daily consistency. He trains on parts of the Leadville course a few times during the summer.

Runner #2 also runs 100 miles a week, taking him usually 18 hours, for an average pace of about 5.5 miles/hour. He trains mostly on mountain trails, never goes to the track, and rarely does a tempo run except for some fast descents. Runner #2 isn't that fast but he's strong on the big climbs, pretty formidable on the downs, and an excellent hiker. He often does training runs of 4-6 hours on mountain trails and runs on the Leadville course a few times during the summer.

For Leadville, who's doing better training and has the better shot at a top finish...Runner #1 (the fast guy) or Runner #2 (the mountain guy)? And why?

Monday, May 7, 2012

Week Ending 5/6

This week I decided to ease off the quality, while still getting in some decent volume, in order to recover from the Cheyenne Mountain 50K on 4/28.

Turns out my recovery from Cheyenne has been much faster than I anticipated, maybe as a result of my vigilance in taking a full serving of Hammer Recoverite after every single workout. Or maybe my calf sleeves are really paying off, as I haven't felt much of any muscle soreness in my shins or calves in weeks. Or maybe I'm just really getting into good shape. Actually, it's probably a combination of factors. At any rate, there used to be a time when I recovered pretty well from races, and maybe now--after two years of struggles--I'm back to that place in my fitness?

Here's how the week went:

Monday: super-easy/recovery
AM: 4 miles in a little more than 34 minutes on the treadmill. I was surprised how decent my legs felt only two days after a 50K trail race.

Tuesday: easy
AM: 7.65 miles in 1 hour on the trails near my neighborhood. My legs and hips, which are usually sore after a long race, felt fantastic. Unfortunately, I'm still having some lingering posterior-tibial issues in my right leg. Will continue to ice and wear calf sleeves as a precaution.

Wednesday: mid-level effort
AM: 9.1 miles miles in 1:08, taking Buffaloberry out and back and then hitting the trails for a few miles.

Thursday: mid-level effort
AM: 9.35 miles in 1:10, mostly on the nearby trails. My legs were a bit tired. I was also labored in my breathing toward the end--maybe allergies?

Friday: mid-level effort
AM: 9.25 miles 1:10 on the trails. I felt much better than yesterday.

Saturday: long
AM: 16.05 miles in 2:05 on the Tomahawk loop and dirt trails in Parker. 1,000’. Not a very good run; I was winded and labored on the trail--maybe because of allergies?

PM: 4 miles in 33 minutes on the treadmill

Total: 20.05 miles
 
Sunday: long/trail
AM: 12.8 miles in 2 hours at Castelwood Canyon State Park. Did 2.5 loops around the canyon, hitting the Rim Rock Trail twice, and discovered a few new trails, as well. Enjoyed this outing and felt good--much better than yesterday. Felt like I ran well on the technical sections. 1524'.

PM: 3.1 miles on the treadmill.

Total: 15.9 miles

Weekly totals:
  • 75,2 miles run
  • ~5,000 feet of climbing
  • Total training: 10:08
  • 9 total runs
  • Averaged 8:06/mile
  • Push-ups and core work
April totals:
  • 301.6 miles run
  • 40 hours, 37 minutes
  • Averaged 8:05/mile
  • Several hundred push-ups and core work reps
Year to date mileage:
  • 1,160.1 miles run
  • 118 miles biked
  • 2.6 miles walked
This week I'll be getting back into quality, with intervals on Tuesday and a tempo run on Thursday, and will gun for about 80-85 miles. I'm also giving myself until Friday to make a decision about the Colfax Marathon on May 20. That would allow a one-week taper for the marathon. My hesitance is that I'm still fighting some lingering effects from poster tibial tendonitis in my right inner calf. The lingering effects aren't bad by any stretch. But the injury sidelined me for two weeks over Christmas, and sometimes too much road work can inflame the situation--so I'm inclined to be cautious. At this point, I'd say Colfax is 50/50.

I'm excited about the spring and summer and am planning some big outings in the next few weeks, including a Memorial Day weekend run up to the summit of Mount Bierstadt, a 14'er that sits right next to Mount Evans. Alternatively, I may do Greys and Torreys. Such limited time....

The plan still stands--keep my weekly mileage in the 80s in May, and then jump up to the 90s in June and the 100s in July, with some recovery sprinkled in. Because of work stuff, I'm going to have to do a two-week taper for Leadville instead of a three-week taper. I'll go into more detail on that later. For now, I think I'll go for a little run....