Over the weekend I did two two-hour workouts, each with about 30 minutes of cycling, and the rest was running and fast-walking (about 3/4 running, 1/4 walking). I've found that walking engages the hips a lot more than running. Maybe that explains why I'm always sore after a long walk. I've also found that cycling is improving my leg turnover when I run. On Sunday I was effortlessly cruising along a flat section and looked down at my watch to find that I was going at 6:58 pace and not even working remotely hard. It was easy. Maybe it's the rapid pedaling motion while cycling that helps improve leg turnover in running. I do know that one of the keys to running big ascents like the ones we have in Colorado is quick turnover. So I really think there's something to cross-training, especially when I consider what Lee McKinley said in this recent pod cast interview, which is making the rounds.
Back East, I ran 100 miles a week training for big races and it worked well for me. Sure, you have hills back East, but the terrain isn't as demanding on the body as it is out here in Colorado, and so 100-mile weeks back East never messed me up much. If anything, triple-digit weeks made me super-strong. I also think the elevation here in Colorado puts a big strain on the body. When you're in a race like the Leadville 100, you need to be more than just a strong runner; you need to be a strong hiker and you need to have the strength to handle the big climbs and descents. This requires a lot of different muscles. Since moving out West, I've come to realize that my quads and hiking are major weaknesses, which might explain the decline in my race results over the past two years (it's obvious when looking at my results on Ultrasignup). My quads give out on me on long descents and I've never been a great uphill hiker. Hiking has just never felt natural to me. I'm now thinking that a cross-training regimen consisting of running, cycling and fast-walking, along with planks and other core work, will help create better balance in my hips and legs, more effectively preparing me for the challenge of Leadville. Along the lines of what Lee says in his interview, I'm floating a training formula for Leadville that would go something like this:
14-15 total hours a week of training
- 11 hours running (~75-85 miles)
- 1-2 hours cycling
- 1-2 hours walking/hiking (instead of running my usual two-a-days, I would still run in the AM and then fast-walk at night)
- 8 hours running (~60 miles)
- 3-4 hours cycling
- 2-3 hours walking/hiking
If you have thoughts on this, post away!