I think the foundation I'm building for my Leadville training is going really well. I'm loving my weight-training. I'm going to the gym 2-3 times a week and focusing on my quads, hamstrings, glutes, hips and core. I think I've found some weakness in my left hip that I'm addressing. Already I'm feeling a difference when I run. I don't necessarily feel faster, but I do feel stronger and more "balanced."
I used to think successful ultrarunning was mostly about running lots of miles and having a strong core. Now I'm thinking weight-training has been a huge missing piece of my approach for the past few years and I'm excited to see where it takes me. Another benefit is that it makes me feel great and it doesn't take that much time!
I'm also doing well with getting to the trails at least once a week to do some climbing. Because of time considerations, it's hard to get to the mountain trails during the work week, so the weekends are when I get in my climbing. I've never started with a structured climbing program this early in the season. I think it's going to pay off in a big way come Leadville! By June I'll be doing a lot of volume on the trails with some big, big climbs and descents. Right now, my focus is on getting my body ready for training, and that means 1) weights and 2) climbing. Oh yeah, and some fast stuff, too!
I continue to go back and forth on my race schedule. Part of me wants to sign up for a bunch of races but then another part of me says not to do that but instead to focus on Leadville. I've been thinking about going back to the Golden Gate Dirty Thirty, a gnarly 50K near Golden, but then I realize I could use that weekend in early June to train in Leadville. What's more valuable in getting me ready for Leadville--running Golden Gate or training on the Leadville course? Right now I'm seeing more value in training on the course.
As my work career has progressed, "value" and "return on investment" have taken on greater meaning to me. So I'm now applying what I know about value and ROI to my training. Is the ROI for the Golden Gate Dirty Thirty greater than the ROI for a run of 25-30 miles on the Leadville course itself? I continue to think about this, and the more I think about it the more I see the merits of on-course training and total focus.
I do think most ultrarunners over-race. I've been guilty of over-racing and I think that, as we age, over-racing can become a big problem. It can put us in the over-training hole. I have never been good at using races as training runs. When I enter a race, I go harder than I would in a training run, and so more recovery is required. While I think using races as training runs has some value at times, I also think it involves some risk when you're an aging athlete focusing on a grueling 100-mile race at the end of the summer. That said, it's good to do some races to stay mentally sharp.
I still have some time to iron out my race schedule. But at this point I'm thinking I'll do either the Cheyenne Mountain 50K or Greenland Trail 50K for fun and then just basically spend my summer training on the Leadville course and doing other high-quality runs that get me ready for the big day.