..."the key to success for advanced athletes is intensity—not volume. If you want to go fast you must train fast. How many miles, kilometers, or meters you accumulate in each of the last 12 weeks before your event have much less impact on your performance on race day. If you’re going to make a mistake make it on the side of too little volume—not too little race-specific intensity."
"In the grand scheme of things, when folks see a performance, they see the fruits of what I do often. My running is a habit. It seems natural and a talent now ... but that is only because of that habit." George Zack
row 4 x 2000 meters/5 min rest - 7:50.9, 7:47.7, 7:45.8, 7:39.4 total 31:03.7 (26/125)
The quote above is from this blog post -- Hang Nine Blog. Measure improvement over years, not days or months, and you will be shocked at what you can achieve.
This is a picture of me doing pullups at the Marine Corps booth at the Reno Rodeo. I did 18 and won a t-shirt. The year before I did 20, so this wasn't all that cool. But my daughter did like the t-shirt.
"A run begins the moment you forget you are running." Adidas
run 20 miles (20 pullups at mile 4, 15 pullups at mile 16)
total time ~2:58 (includes the pullups and a bathroom break)
Solid run only a week after the race. I wanted to do two sets of 20 pullups (20/20/20 seemed like a cool concept), but it wasn't happening on the second set today. Something to shoot for in the future.
Here is a race report from a guy who ran the 100 mile race in Tahoe last weekend. He took a ton of pictures and the race report is really good. I have followed Donald's blog for a couple of years, and actually ran into him on the Glacier Point trail in Yosemite. It's a small world, and the internet makes it smaller.
"Do you have a performance goal? Do you wake in the morning knowing what you'll do to help achieve it that day? Goals require action." Joe Friel
row 8 x 500/1 min rest -- 1:46.5, 1:47.7, 1:49.0, 1:48.1, 1:48.2, 1:47.7, 1:47.5, 1:46.4 total 14:21.0 (28/125)
In honor of the Tour de France, an article about one of the more compelling cyclists on the tour -- Nobody Suffers Like Jens Voigt
... Voigt is adored because he rides a bike like it's his last day on it. He is full gas, always. A race like the Tour de France can be maddeningly conservative—riders at the top of the standings watch each other, cover attacks, avoid risks, do just enough to cling to their position.
But Jens? Jens pummels the race. He rides like he's fleeing a bank heist. He rides like he's got a paper route with 100,000 papers. Voigt on a bike is a boxing match—relentless, confrontational, jabbing, punching, attacking. ... It's Voigt's suffering that clinches his popularity. Cycling fetishizes pain—the more agony a rider can withstand, the more his or her legend grows. Voigt is a beautiful sufferer, sometimes a comical one. "Shut up, legs!" he's known to bark when the agony begins. (It's become his catch phrase, his "Make My Day.") Stories about Voigt's grit are abundant. The time he rode two stages of the Tour of California with a broken hand. The time he crashed, destroyed his own bike and had to borrow a tiny yellow kid's bike with toe clip pedals to finish the race.
"It's never too late to be what you might have been." George Elliot
100 pushups (4 x 25)
row 4 x 2000 meters/5 min rest 7:41.0, 7:42.9, 7:42.5, 7:38.1 (28/125)
I was looking back at my training prior to the 50k to see what I can learn from it. I think the most interesting part was how low my weekly running mileage was. I am happy to have placed so high in a 31 mile race with an average weekly training mileage of around 25 miles/week. I think the cross training on the rower made the difference. Here are my monthly running mileage totals so far this year:
January -- 53 miles
February -- 0 miles
March -- 21 miles
April -- 58 miles
May -- 87 miles
June -- 104 miles
July (1-16) -- 52 miles
-- two 2+ hour runs and two 3+ hour runs in June and July.
My current training approach seems to be working well. I'm injury free and my motivation is high. I think the variety in the workouts helps with that. For the rest of the year I plan on sticking with the same approach, but increasing the intensity and substituting some of the long trail runs with road runs.
Here's the current plan - run 3 days per week. One day at the track, one hard 8-12 mile run and one 2-3 hour long run. Intervals on the indoor rower on the other days.
"If it wasn't hard, everyone would do it. It's the hard that makes it great." Unknown
row 10000 meters 41:56.4 (25/125)
As I mentioned a couple of days ago, I thought the race this weekend couldn't have gone better. The course has about 6,500 feet in elevation gain (and loss) and I thought around 7 hours would be a reasonable time, though that was more of a guess than a time goal. Regardless, I felt like I ran as hard I possibly could, and I finished in 6:42:47 (that's what the website says, the clock said 6:43:30 when I crossed the line. I didn't wear a watch so whatever they say is fine with me). The best part was I finished in 20th place out of about 190 finishers.
Here's how the day went:
My 7 month old son woke me up at 1:30 am, and unfortunately I never went back to sleep. It was an hour drive to the race start, and the race began at 6:00 am, so let's just say I wasn't late. I didn't sweat the lack of sleep, that happens a lot and has never bothered me.
The most exciting part of the whole day was prior to the race. For reasons I won't drag you through, I decided to jog the 1/2 mile from the parking area to the race start area. This meant I had to run along the highway for awhile, but it's 5:00 am, who is going to be driving then anyway? Well, it turns out a lot of people. The shoulder was very narrow and there was a curb that I was running along. And then from the "you couldn't predict that" department, I caught my foot on the curb and turned my ankle hard. I hobbled around for awhile and it hurt enought that initially I figured there was no way I could run the race. But I took a couple of Advil and luckily it loosened up enough that I ended up racing. It didn't hurt at all during the race, but has been sore as hell the last couple of days. What a moron.
I felt good early and was surprised that I was able to run the entire first climb (about 1200 feet elevation gain in 4 miles) in a pretty effortless manner. After the first climb I fell into a pattern that I followed for the rest of the race. Run the flats and downhills at a fairly mellow pace, grind up most uphills and hike the steep stuff. There were also 3-4 fairly large snowfields that we had to navigate. I walked all of these to minimize the risk of falling on my ass.
The plan was to pretty much push as hard as I could while keeping my energy, hydration and stomach in line. It worked well. My stomach completely locked up about 2 miles from the finish, which was fine because I didn't have to eat anything more to finish. I ended up eating only Gu or Gu type gels the whole day. I ended up eating about 20 Gu's, took about 30 salt tablets (in hindsight this was probably too many) and drank about 12 twenty ounce bottles of water (again, probably a bit too much). The extra water and salt didn't hurt me during the race, but I could have probably gotten by with less.
The views were amazing the entire day. The course really is incredible. I didn't bring a camera, but here are some pictures stolen from other blogs (actually these two - runningroundreno.com and trailpigeon.com)
The trail up to Marlette Lake (about 2 miles into the course)
Marlette Lake (about 5 miles into the course)
View of Marlette and Tahoe from the Marlette trail. You could feel the altitude here (around 9000 ft)
Some of the Marlette Peak trail. There were some pretty large snow fields up there, otherwise nice single track running. The trail then enters some timber and runs about 5 miles to tunnel creek road. This was the first place where I got a bit bored. There was no one around and I felt like the trail went on forever. It was a short-lived mental low spot in the race.
This the road down to Red House (about 14 miles into the course). It drops about 1000 feet in 1 mile. There were also 4 creek crossings. The deepest one went about halfway up my shin, so my feet were wet for most of this loop. However, I wore my New Balance Minimus Trail shoes and Ironman brand socks and they were both great. I was a bit worried about the shoes being too minimal, but they were fine and had great grip on the hills. No blisters or foot problems at all. After running 50 miles in racing flats and 31 miles in barefoot style shoes, I guess I have fully transitioned to the minimal running shoes movement.
There is Red House:
Part of the climb back out of Red House:
The last climb of the day to Snow Valley Peak. It was a 1000 foot climb in 3 miles, which was pretty mellow. I run a hill near my house that is almost the same grade, so I was able to hammer most of this climb.
The last aid station on the course (about 7 miles from the finish). Lonely up here, but the aid workers were very nice.
The view from Snow Valley Peak just past the aid station:
The last part of the race sucked the most. It was 5 miles of downhill running from Snow Valley Peak to Spooner Lake. The downhill was pretty hard on my legs as well as my stomach. For the last 10-12 miles I had been running completely alone. So I was lonely and bored. I was in a fairly decent place mentally and my motivation was still pretty high, but this portion of the course just took forever. I had been looking forward to the downhill most of the day thinking that this home stretch would be easy. It wasn't.
That was about it. In the last 12 miles I passed three people and got passed by two others. So my pacing was pretty solid in relation to the rest of the field.
Overall this experience confirmed for me that 50k seems to be the most comfortable ultra distance for me. The best trail races tend to be ultras, and 50k's are pretty reasonable as far as time and training commitment. Stepping up to the 50 mile distance is a whole different world. I have run one 50 mile race, and I don't really have anything to prove there. So I will be looking for 50k's in the future to put on the race calendar. I may even do this race again next year.
One of the links on the sidebar of this blog contains some racing motivation quotes. I have collected them over time and unfortunately have been a bit lazy about attribution for many of them. It's just a bunch of stuff that I have come across over time that helps get me into the right mindset for a race. Here's the link Race Day
I like them all, but this one sticks out as one of my favorites:
"Always remember that every other good rider is hurting just as much – you are not the exception. Pain is normal and it is necessary. Anyone who does not hurt is not going as fast as he can. Pain is what guarantees success. So don’t think about pain as a negative thing, think about it as proof you are riding the race correctly."
The elevation profile for tomorrow's race (click to enlarge):
"There's no ultimate test. Everything can become harder. When you get to the next level and say 'I've made it' you might as well quit." @danharm
100 pushups (25 x 4)
This is an absolutely incredible race report. This guy is an experienced, elite level ultrarunner, and he got his ass kicked at the Hardrock 100, which is probably the hardest 100 mile race in the U.S. The report is long, but it's worth your time. It reads like a gripping short story. If you want to get a glimpse into the appeal and the insanity of ultrarunning, it's all here.
"You know you're an ultrarunner when a livestock salt block looks good during a run." (twitter @nttr)
run 4 miles (Manzanita)
I have had a few people ask me about preparation for running an ultra. I have only run one 50 mile race and done about 8-10 runs over 4 hours, so I am clearly a rookie. But here is what I have learned thus far:
Pretty much just run really long one day per week. When I say really long, I mean at least 3-4 hours. I am convinced if you just did your regular training (whatever that may be) and simply added a multi-hour run on the weekend you could finish any ultra under 100k.
Running an ultra is all about managing nutrition. For marathon distances and under, you don't need to worry about nutrition because you can just run into a nutrition deficit and still finish. In an ultra, you are running for so long that you have to re-fuel in the middle of the race. Otherwise you will bonk. When you bonk your body is shutting down because it has run out of fuel. You get light headed, stupid, and your body stops functioning. Not fun.
So the key is to manage your nutrition intake so you have enough energy to keep going, but don't make yourself sick. My rules of thumb for nutrition are:
- at least 20 oz of water per hour (one handheld water bottle)
- 2-3 Gu's per hour (about 200-300 calories)
- 1-2 S-cap salt tablets per hour (about 300-600 mg)
The key to nutrition is balance. Too little water and you are dehydrated. Too much and you get hyponatremia, which is even worse (too much water and too little salt is a bad thing for your body). Too little food and you bonk, too much and you puke. You get the picture.
I tend to stay away from real food and stick with Gu's and Gu Chomps (gummy block type things). Everyone say's Gu's taste bad. I eat Vanilla Bean flavor and I am so used to them I think they actually taste good now. Plus, it's better than puking.
Everyone is different, but I key all of my nutrition off the basic formula above. If it is hotter, I drink more water and take in more salt. If it is colder I back off on both. I should mention that this all applies for runs over 3 hours. Anything under that I usually don't bring water or worry about nutrition. That sometimes induces some suffering, but it's good training right?
Your mental outlook is everything on these long runs. It is easy to get depressed if you are bonking, in the middle of nowhere and maybe a bit lost. In a race you just replace the getting lost part (though you can get lost in races) with anxiety over race expectations, time, etc. I have found that worrying too much about nutrition or race times or how lost you are drains energy a lot faster and burns you out quickly. The key is to stay in the moment, enjoy the scenery, don't sweat the race and to make a habit of being aware of your surroundings so you always know how to find your way back to the car. Sometimes I have had to sit down for a couple of minutes to get grounded and remind myself that I am in good shape and can easily get out of the mess I got myself in. These are character building experiences, but if you do them enough, it really increases your confidence in yourself and your fitness.
We'll see how much of this "wisdom" I can incorporate into the race Saturday. I will probably end up going out too fast, not carrying enough water and blowing up on the race course. That would make a "lessons learned" post a lot more interesting to write.
It seems like I used to train for races because it would cause me to hurt less when you raced them. You would pay a little bit of the price everyday to build strength to achieve a successful outcome in a race. However, at some point it seems that changed. Training is about building strength so you can suffer more in the race. I am not sure if I am drawn to or afraid of that suffering. Maybe both but it depends on the timeline. Seems like the further way from the race I am, the braver I am. Then as it nears, I dread the moment. While in that moment, its a surreal feeling at times and probably the core of why I do it. Then after its a victory. Then I recover. And the cycle repeats.
"We often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one that has opened for us" Alexander Graham Bell
DB press 35lb x 10/3 run Hunter Creek ~5.5 miles 1:09 wall sit 3 min
Best trail run of the year. I usually hike the steep portions of this trail, but today I ran all of it and it was pretty easy. I kept the distance short because the race is next weekend, but I could have spent all day in the mountains today.
Another plus was my shoes. I bought some New Balance Trail Minimus shoes awhile ago, but I was afraid they might be too minimal to run in. I tried them today and they were amazing. Incredible traction and ground feel. They are definitely light, but they will work on trails.(Disclaimer - I've spent the last 18 months easing into shoes with more minimal soles, I wouldn't recommend anyone jumping straight into minimal shoes, unless you like shin splints).
Pretty obvious stuff. Essentially, you have to stick with it each and every day (you know - Consistency Wins). I liked this quote from the article: "If one seeks to lose body fat, one day of “being at it” per 10 days will equal jack-shit.".
"If nobody cared, if nobody was watching, if you were the only person on earth, would you still wakeup with an undeniable rage to push your body?" Dan Harm
run 10 miles (15 pullups at mile 9)
This is the last hard run in the training cycle for the 50k. I am really tired and have no second wind when I run anymore. Which is exactly where I want to be 9 days out from the race. I will take it easy for a week, and then hopefully hammer it at the race.
This has probably been my best race training cycle ever. My fitness has consistently improved with no running injuries or aches and pains. My mileage is way too low for a conventional 50k training program, but that was by design. I have averaged between 20 and 30 miles a week on three runs, where a regular 50k program would probably be double that. But I am counting on the intensity of my runs, plus the heavy cross training on the rower and stepmill, to have strengthened my legs enough to do well in the race.
This is Marlette Lake (with Lake Tahoe in the background) from Snow Valley Peak. This is at about mile 25 of the race.
The Tahoe 50k is in 2 weeks, and I will be running in the heat of the day, which I rarely do. So today I ate very little, and went for a run in 93 degree heat with no water. To add to the fun I threw some high rep upper body work in to build up some lactic acid. I ran hard enough to stay just on the edge of a full bonk, but it still royally sucked.
Basically, these are exactly the conditions I will be running the 50k under if I screw up my pacing or fuel. Better practice now than suffer during the race. Great workout.
I wanted to run about 20 miles of the Tahoe Rim 50k course. Unfortunately, heavy snow on the trail cut things short, but it was still a great training run.
Here's the run in pictures:
Spooner Lake, about 5 a.m.
Just so we know where I am:
Snow above the campground near Marlette Peak. I got bored with looking for the trail here and turned around.
So I bushwhacked up the hill to the loop trail to take some pictures. Marlette Lake in front, Tahoe in back.
I tried to then take the Rim Trail from Hobart to Snow Valley Peak. This picture is about 1/2 mile from the Hobart Junction (Snow Valley Peak is still 3 miles from here). The Rim Trail is somewhere under all that. The race is in 2 weeks. Hope some of this melts.
A few of these on the trail too.
I bagged the Snow Valley Peak idea and backtracked the way I came. This is Spooner Lake again, with a bit more daylight.