Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Ditching Junk Miles and Opting for Speed

First off, many thanks to the folks out there who shared support after my last blog post. I appreciated all of the blog comments and e-mails.
Saturday's Cheyenne Mountain 50K proved to me that volume-based junk mile training, which I've fallen into this year because I've been lazy and, at times, unmotivated, isn't working. I felt slow and inefficient and my feet were heavy. When you feel that way, it's hard to mentally engage. So Cheyenne was kind of a slog fest for me. With the Bighorn 100 in seven weeks, now is the time to make necessary adjustments.

On Sunday, as I ruminated on my race at Cheyenne (and pulled more cactus needles out of my left hip due to a nasty head-first fall down the trail), I read quite a bit about what happens to us runners when we age, especially when we reach our 40s. I read blogs and articles by Joe Friel, Jack Daniels, Tim Noakes and other highly regarded experts. Here's what I learned: I am doing precisely what a masters runner with a huge endurance base built over a dozen years should NOT do: I am running junk miles, stacking up volume, chasing numbers and neglecting anything that builds speed and strength. That is why I am now weak, slow and inefficient. 

So, it's time to hit the reset button. I did basically nothing on Sunday and zilch on Monday in order to speed recovery from the 50K and give myself the freshest start possible. This morning, feeling re-energized, I headed to the track (life makes sense to me at the track) and did 400s to jump-start things in the right direction. A typical week for the next five weeks might then look like:

Monday - Off or cross-training in order to recover; no more Monday junk miles
Tuesday - Intervals such as 8x400 meters in order to promote speed and efficiency
Wednesday - 60-70 minutes at easy pace on mostly trails in order to recover
Thursday - 10x2-3-minute hill repeats in order to promote strength and power
Friday - 60-70 minutes at easy pace on mostly trails in order to recover
Saturday - 10 miles at tempo or steep trail running in order to promote strength
Sunday - Long run of 25-28 miles on mountain trails, staying at "ultra pace," in order to promote endurance and practice nutrition

In terms of 2015, I'm staying the course and will line up for Bighorn. I want to finish Bighorn but I won't be too concerned about my time. I will be focusing on having fun (and staying qualified for the Western States 100 lottery). After Bighorn, the priority will be to recover, have a great summer with the family (most important of all), enjoy the Pikes Peak Marathon, and hopefully get qualified for the 2016 Boston Marathon at a late summer race like the American Discovery Marathon.


  1. I'm glad you've found a new focus in your training Wyatt! I've followed your blog for a couple of years now, and I'm happy to see that you're still at it. Over time things you're truly passionate about can become monotonous or tedious, and a mental reset or shift in perspective can be exactly what reunites you with what inspired your passion in the first place. Best of luck with the new training plan!

  2. ...and as Jay Johnson says....do short sprints on your easy days! I'm with you on running less, but faster as we age. Best of luck with your racing this year.