Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Lots of Vertical (For Me), Freelance Writing and Maybe Even Coaching

I just wrapped up one of my better weeks in a long time. For the week of June 2-9, I hit 92 miles, 14 hours and 14,400 feet of vertical. Obviously the mileage, total time and vertical are super solid. Where I think I fell short was in the long run. My longest run of the week came on Sunday, when I ran 19 miles and climbed 4,100 feet in a little over three hours at Deer Creek Canyon. I need to start working in some longer runs of 4-6 hours. I think runs beyond six hours can be problematic in terms of recovery.

It's incredible how far my climbing has come in the past few weeks. Climbs on rocky trails in Colorado are almost never easy, but with practice they become more physically and mentally manageable. Some days you're on, and some days you're in a bad way. For example, on Friday I ventured down to Colorado Springs to run the Barr Trail--the trail that takes you all the way to the summit of Pikes Peak. My plan was to at least get to Barr Camp and then hammer it back to my car, for a total of about 14 miles and 4,000 feet of climbing. Well, I struggled from the start, particularly in the "W's." The W's involve a lot of switchbacks. If you run the W's too aggressively, you'll be cooked in no time and eventually find yourself in oxygen debt. I ran the W's too hard and paid for it mid-way to Barr Camp when I was out of gas. The lesson here is that successful climbing is about patience and experience.

A few days later I seemed to regroup quite well, nailing those 19 miles and 4,100 feet of climbing at Deer Creek Canyon. I ran every step and hit every climb I could find.

There are two major needs with my training over the next seven weeks:
  1. More high-altitude running--preferably above 10,000 feet. Most of my trail runs up until now have been in the 7,000-8,000-foot range--still pretty good but I need to get higher. Next week I may do the Hope Pass double crossing.
  2. Longer runs of 4-6 hours. I've done quite a few runs of 3-4 hours and my daily consistency is awesome, but I need to get out for some really long jaunts. It would be ideal if these really long jaunts were also at high altitude.
In short, my training right now is exactly where I want it to be, which I credit to my commitment to the Maffetone Method earlier this year. I'm getting in super shape and I'm feeling good. My weight is down to a lean 162-163, even as I'm eating quite well. Honestly, there's not much fat on my body right now. I need to keep progressing over the next seven weeks and make sure I don't go stale or get injured. Some planned recovery days/weeks will be critical. I will probably take the week after the Leadville Trail Marathon on June 29 pretty easy and then hit it hard for the last three weeks of July.

***

The job search is what it is. I have a lot of applications out and last week I interviewed with an organization that really interests me on many levels. We'll see how things go. I think searching for a job is just a really long, tedious process that requires a ton of patience and faith.

In the meantime, I've decided to do some contract/freelance writing work, particularly work that involves grant-writing and PR. I've helped raise almost $50 million over my career through grants and proposals. Writing would appear to be a strength of mine. I've also done some cool stuff with PR and media relations. So, I'm creating an LLC and building out a website with the hopes of developing a successful business focusing on grant-writing and PR/communications. If you have writing needs, let me know!

Additionally, I continue to consider starting a coaching business for ultrarunners and those aspiring to get into the sport. For years, people have been e-mailing me with questions about training, races, shoes, diet, etc. Obviously, there are folks out there who think I know what I'm doing (yeah, kind of scary). Plus, with the growth of the sport (almost every hundred-miler is selling out early), I see a big demand for good coaches.

I love helping ultrarunners and I would really enjoy working with athletes on a more formal basis. My running resume is pretty solid, and over the years I've learned a lot through personal successes and failures. I've done a lot of things right, and I've also done a lot of things wrong. That's what you want in a coach--someone who's learned through trial and error and has developed various approaches that can work for athletes of all abilities and experience levels.

Anyway, if I start a coaching business, I would use a very customized, personalized and holistic approach, meaning my athletes would benefit from:
  • FLEXIBILITY: A flexible training program that aligns with the athlete's lifestyle and helps him/her achieve personal goals. It's critical that a training program take into account how the athlete is feeling and progressing and what other life demands and pressures (family, job, etc.) he/she may be facing. It's equally important for a training program to allow the athlete to have fun with running.
  • PERSONAL CONTACT: Lots of contact via phone, e-mail and (ideally) in-person meetings/runs. The goal of the check-ins would be to assess and discuss progress, make training program tweaks, address questions and concerns, etc. I do not believe in training programs that are built out way in advance and don't involve regular check-ins, adjustments and listening to the mind, body and spirit. And I'm even more suspect of cookie-cutter programs like those offered in popular running magazines.
  • MOTIVATION: Tons of motivation and, when necessary, constructive feedback. I love to motivate and inspire runners, mostly because I have a deep passion for running. But I won't be a Pollyanna; I'll expect and demand 100% commitment from my athletes and I will let them know when I think they're not giving it their all. That said, during training there are times when you simply have to take your foot off the gas pedal, like when you have a sudden family or work commitment (e.g., sick child, deadlines at the office, illness, etc.).
  • HEALTHY EATING: What you eat can profoundly influence your development as a runner. As someone who's lost nearly 60 pounds and kept it all off for over a decade, I can help runners achieve their optimal body weight and eat the right foods.
  • WORK/LIFE BALANCE: I totally understand what it's like to run high mileage and have big goals while also fulfilling your responsibilities as a full-time employee, spouse, parent and homeowner. Balancing it all, while also getting proper sleep, can be very difficult. I can help runners find the right balance.
I think my focus would be ultrarunners and creating programs that help them successfully train for and complete races from 50K-24 hours. I've never really nailed the marathon so I wouldn't be too comfortable helping athletes run a fast PR at the 26.2-mile distance, though I could certainly help athletes finish their first marathon or maybe even qualify for Boston. I think my expertise is mostly with ultra distances, especially hundred-milers.

It's just a question of whether anyone would even hire me! If you're interested, e-mail me.

***

A final note. As previously stated, the Maffetone Method has transformed the way I train. You can learn more about MAF at Dr. Maffetone's website, but I also encourage you to check out this podcast interview Dr. Maffetone did with Endurance Planet (note: it's available for free on iTunes). It's incredibly educational, helpful and engaging. Highly, highly recommended.

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