Monday, June 11, 2012

Week Ending 6/10 / The Most Overlooked Component of 100-Mile Training?

This was, without question, the best week of training I've had all year. I decided to mix things up a bit and incorporate some fast-walking. If you've never fast-walked, let me tell you, it really works your hips to the degree that you'll be sore for days.

For the week, I ran 70.7 miles and fast-walked 19.3 miles, covering 90 miles total in 14 hours and 25 minutes. I hit some good quality on Wednesday with hill repeats, Friday with a strong tempo run, and Sunday with an outing to Pikes Peak with 5,200 feet of climbing. When I went to bed on Sunday night, I slept well knowing that I'd just completed a hell of a training week.

When we lived back East, I ran every step of my training, because in most 100-milers at sea level the entire course is completely runnable. Sure, there may be a few nasty hills where walking is appropriate, but for the most part 100-milers out East are almost entirely runnable (except for a few, such as Grindstone, Massanutten, Barkley, etc.).

Not so with 100-milers out here in the Mountain West. At Leadville, a time of 20 hours comes down to 12-minute miles, and that includes aid station stops. There are sections of Leadville, such as the Hope Pass outbound and inbound climbs, where you're walking regardless of how well-conditioned you may be. Yeah, I mean that. Most Leadville entrants also walk the inbound Powerline climb, a 1,500-foot climb that comes very late in the race. If you're not a strong walker, you may suffer badly at Leadville and come up short in achieving your goal.
So last week it just kind of hit me. To be in optimal shape for Leadville and truly race this epic event, I need to be not only a good, efficient runner, but also a damned-good hiker. I need to think not as a runner, but as a Leadville racer. Specificity! With my new thinking, this week I started incorporating quite a bit of fast-walking and, as the days progressed, felt it in my hips (in a good way). Walking/hiking really fast engages the hips in ways running doesn't. And believe me: walking fast is totally different than just walking at a leisurely pace. I actually think walking at 11:30 pace is harder than running at 8:00 pace (maybe because my running efficiency is far better than my walking efficiency). When you're hoofing it on a fast walk, it's hard to move efficiently, but with practice your walking efficiency improves and it becomes a more natural form of movement. My goal is to be such a good walker that I can use it to my advantage at Leadville, versus seeing walking as a form of defeat.

Here's how the week went:

Monday: fast-hiking
AM: Fast-hiked 4 miles in 45 minutes on the trail loop behind my house. Used my trekking poles for practice. Legs felt decent thanks to Sunday's layoff.

PM: Walked 2 miles in 26 minutes in the neighborhood just to keep my muscles loosened up.

Tuesday: easy
AM: Ran 8.75 miles in 1:10 on the Parker trails.

PM: Fast-hiked 3 miles in 38 minutes on the trail loop behind my house. Used my trekking poles.

Wednesday: fast hill repeats
AM: 9.3 miles in 1:14. Met Scott on Canterberry Trail for some fast hill repeats. Felt he Golden Gate Dirty Thirty in my hips but still managed five hard intervals, each at about 1/4 mile. Splits were 1:36, 1:33, 1:38, 1:39 and 1:41 (yeah, not great). Jogged back down between each. These were hard with a headwind coming down Canterberry Trail and my hips feeling quite tired. Will increase the number of intervals on a weekly basis leading up to Leadville, as I definitely believe these improve strength and efficiency. Will also continue to eek out a few intervals at the track.

PM: 3 miles in 33 minutes on the treadmill. Every 1/4 mile alternated between fast-walking and running. Transitions not easy! I had to do this workout indoors due to the horribly violent weather blowing in (severe thunderstorm with damaging hail and winds).

Thursday: easy
AM: Ran 8.35 miles in 1:08 on the Parker trails. Saw some bad destruction from last night's storm and hail. Lots of erosion and many of the trails I run were severely damaged. Took it easy and didn't push myself at all.

PM: Fast-hiked 2 miles in 26 minutes in the neighborhood just to stay loose.

Friday: tempo
AM: 10.1 miles in 1:11. This was a very solid tempo run, though I would have liked another fast mile but decided to stop after. Splits were: 1) 9:14 (warm-up), 2) 6:19, 3) 5:54, 4) 6:06, 5) 6:17, 6) 5:56, 7) 6:26, 8) 8:04, 9) 7:54, 10) 8:54 (included some fast walking toward end), 10.1) 0:33 (all fast-walking). Really like those two sub-6:00 miles.

PM: Fast-hiked 3 miles in 34 minutes down Club Drive and then back up the Sulphur Gulch Trail. Pretty warm.

Saturday: long run
AM: Ran 15 miles in 2:01 on the Tomahawk and Legend High School trail loops. Very warm. Went pretty easy pace so to avoid blowing up in the heat. Held up well.

PM: Fast-hiked 3 miles in 32 minutes down Club Drive and then back up the Sulphur Gulch Trail. Saw improvement over yesterday's time, despite extremely warm (read: hot) conditions. How does 96 degrees sound? Carried a water bottle. I thought of all the Denver-area Western States entrants and how Saturday's conditions were perfect for heat training.

Sunday: long run/mountains
AM: Ran 15.3 miles in 3:08 on the Manitou Incline and Barr Trail heading up Pikes Peak. Felt strong on the 2,000-vertical foot, one-mile climb up the Incline, setting a new PR of 27:18. Would have broken 27 minutes were the Incline not super crowded. I passed a ton of people, a few of whom were so out of it that they were slow in accommodating me as I went by. After the Incline, I dropped to the Barr Trail and then took it up to 11,415 feet. Man, I was so tempted to go for the summit but, because of limited time (and a lack of warmer clothing on hand), turned around and just absolutely cruised back into town. Very strong, confident descent, passing several runners on the way down (wore my Salmon Crossmaxes, which are perfect for aggressive descents). 5,208 feet of climbing. Planning a Pikes summit in the next few weeks--will have to wake up before dawn, though :(.

PM: Fast-hiked 3.3 miles in 36 minutes down Club Drive and then back up the Sulphur Gulch Trail. Legs and hips slightly sore and tired.

Totals for the week:
  • Training time: 14:25:40
  • Running mileage: 70.7
  • Fast-hiking mileage: 19.3 (included some brief running)
  • Total climbing: ~11,000 feet
  • Total outings: 14
  • Pace per mile: 9:37
  • Push-ups, weights and core work
Totals for the year:
  • 1,531.35 miles run
  • 25.7 miles fast-hiked
  • 116.5 miles biked

So, yeah, I'm going to stick with the running and fast-hiking thing through Leadville and then get back to running 100% of the time when I start training in October for a 2:50 at the Rock 'n Roll Phoenix Marathon.

This week I'm going to scale back my mileage with the hopes of feeling fairly fresh for Saturday's Mount Evans Ascent, a 14.5-mile run up to the summit of 14,265-foot Mount Evans for a total gain of about 3,500 feet. Last year's ascent featured absolutely hostile weather with extremely strong winds and frigid conditions up at the summit. I'm going to assume this Saturday's race will be equally as hostile and will pack for all kinds of conditions. The key to the Mount Evans Ascent is to dress for worsening conditions without carrying so much that you're weighed down. It's a delicate balancing act. For me, the perfect items are things like mittens, a skull cap, a thin vest, arm sleeves, calf sleeves and multiple upper body layers. Anyway, I just want to break 2:40 and get the trophy. Last year I came in at 2:41, having struggled quite a bit because of the wind. I am very confident that all of this fast-walking will pay off big time when I'm at 13,000+ feet this Saturday.

Planned schedule this week (a slight taper/race week):

Monday: Off or some light walking
Tuesday: 1) Hill repeats, 2) fast-walking
Wednesday: 1) Easy run, 2) fast-walking
Thursday: 1) Tempo run, 2) fast-walking
Friday: Off/taper
Saturday: 1) Mt. Evans Ascent
Sunday: 1) Deer Creek Canyon (easy), 2) fast-walking

Projected mileage: ~60-65


  1. Wyatt - I agree with the need for being a strong hiker - but every step of Evans is runable. Run that whole damn thing.

  2. GZ: I agree with all of Evans being runnable. There's no super-steep section anywhere, as you well know. Thanks for the reminder that Evans is runnable!

    Will miss seeing you out there this year. You had a hell of a race last year.


  3. When you get to Summit Lake ... it gets hard. Make your teeth sweat and never give in from there and you will have a great race.

    Easier said than done.

  4. OK, you guys have laid down the gauntlet--I'm running every step of Evans even if it, as GZ says, makes my teeth sweat.

  5. Dude - you're fast hiking as fast as I can run! I totally agree, walking is a huge piece of 100 miler training. I plan to do more of this when training for my next 100.

    Great job on your miles for the week!

  6. A good turn around mentally between last week and this week.

    Paul Dewitt used to regularly rotate walking into his workouts if I remember right, and he's a former 14h 100 mile guy and Leadville 100 winner.

  7. Wait until you're passing guys who are "running" up a climb and you never break out of a fast walk. It's like an adrenaline shot to the heart!

  8. Walking is for sissies. I never do it, even on the Incline.