Western States Training – May 2016

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Sunrise Running Company group run in South Carolina

The Western States Training for May 2016

The month of May was probably the most critical month for the Western States training. I ended my run streak of consecutive days at 113 to take on a more focused approach to my training. With the writing of this post, there is still a week to go in the month. However, I am going to write a separate post to cover my experiences during this last week. After all, it is going to be a crazy week with both driving solo cross country and participating in the WS100 Training Camp..

May 2-8 (Total 62.5 Miles / 10 h 52 min):
Monday – 3 Miles
Tuesday – 1 Mile
Wednesday – 3 Miles
Thursday – 1 Mile
Friday – 1 Mile
Saturday – Wambaw Swamp Stomp 50 Mile Trail Run (51.5 miles in 9:19:29)
Sunday – Rest Day

To start the month with a bang, I ran the Wambaw Swamp Stomp 50-Mile Trail Run for the fourth consecutive year. In 2015, I was able to bring my time down to under 8 hours for this event. This year, however, with a new course and a strong focus on WS100, I experienced a slightly slower time. For a full recap of the event, refer to the 2016 Wambaw Swamp Stomp 50 Recap on this site.


After a long day on the trails on Saturday, it was finally time to start adding back in some days of rest. I realized that intensity (speed work) needed not to be a point of focus any longer. Instead, it was time to start focusing more on growing comfortable with the ultramarathon pace for WS100. This pace was somewhere between 10-12 min/mile. I also needed to start honing in on this pace to help fine-tune my hydration strategy.

May 9-15 (Total 25.3 Miles / 3 h 36 min):
Monday – Rest Day
Tuesday – Rest Day
Wednesday – 8×400 Track Workout (6 Miles)
Thursday – 5 Miles with Strength Work
Friday – Rest Day
Saturday – 14 Miles
Sunday – Rest Day

As the second full week of the month got started, I  had planned on going out for a run on Monday evening. Unfortunately, no one showed up to a group run at Park Circle that evening. Thus, I decided that my legs could use the extra rest. This recovery spilled over into taking Tuesday off as well. On these two days, I accomplished a lot of things around the house. With the moving date fast approaching, both Nicole and I are feeling increasingly stressed. So, It felt good to be checking tasks off my list.

On Wednesday, I joined up with the weekly Summerville Track Night crew. After a brief one-mile warm-up, I decided that my legs could handle the planned workout. I completed 8×400 with a 400 active recovery between each repeat. I have learned that in the few weeks just after a long race, I can usually sustain faster speeds over short distances. Therefore, I was not shocked when I kept averaging between 5:00-5:20 per mile pace for each 400 repeat. Having the 400 active recoveries helped to maintain the legs from feeling tight and increased the overall distance for the day.

Temperatures were heating up when I got out to run on Thursday afternoon. The heat created the perfect opportunity to practice more hydration and heat training for the Western States 100. To practice hydration, I drank a bottle of Tailwind (200 calories) in the hour leading into the run. Then, finished off a bottle of water during the workout. On the 15-minute drive home after the workout, I cranked up the heat in the car and drank another full bottle of water.

The workout itself consisted of running an easy mile, then completing a lunge exercise variation for 1-2 minutes. Then, continuing on with the next mile of running. The burn in my legs for the first 30 seconds of running after each lunge exercise reminded me of completing brick workouts for triathlons. My legs feeling tired was the feeling that I needed to grow more comfortable with for the downhill challenge of Western States.

To finish out the week, I went out for a 14-mile run on Saturday at the hottest point in the day. Just like the workout on Thursday, I kept the pace comfortable and focused on drinking lots of extra fluids. When trying to run slowly on flat pavement, I usually find myself feeling exhausted at the end of the run. Sometimes I just feel tighter during these types of workouts, but this time it felt comfortable. The Western States 100 will be a very conservative start for the first 30 miles. Starting slow is something I am not good at doing in a race. Thus, I will need to learn to adapt and grow more comfortable with an even easier pace over the next month of training. Participating in the upcoming WS100 training camp over Memorial Day weekend will give me lots of time to practice.

May 16-22 (Total 39 Mile /  6 h 47 min):

Monday – 5 Miles
Tuesday – Rest Day
Wednesday – 6 Miles with Strength Work
Thursday – 6 Miles
Friday – 6 Miles with Strength Work
Saturday – SRC Group Trail Run (16 Miles)
Sunday – Rest Day

While my total miles for this week were not as high as I expected them to be, everything just felt like it happened the right way. I had a very easy run on Monday evening with a couple of people in Park Circle. Then completed three days in a row of 6-mile runs. The 6-mile runs on Wednesday and Friday were a repeat of the run-a-mile/complete-a-lunge set routine that I had started up the week before.  I was able to complete more reps of each lunge exercise during the allotted 1-2 minutes. Completing more work, of course, was not a sign that I was already stronger, but that I mentally was able to deal with burn in my muscles during each set.

Western States Training RunWhat seemed like a very quick and uneventful week, ended with one final group trail in Francis Marion National Forest. Nathan Dewey, Shane Morris, and Thomas Pollehn joined me for a loop of the Hell Hole race course. We started just after 7:00 AM from the Jericho Horse Trail parking lot off of Hwy 41. I took the lead position as I normally do and worked on running both slowly and relaxed.  As always, the conversations between the group ranged considerably from running to recent book reads, and more. By the time we reached my water stop at mile 6.5, it was starting to warm up on the day and feel extra humid. For me, it worked out to be a perfect day of heat training and focusing on slower more sustainable miles.

May 23-29 – Driving Cross Country and Western States Training Camp

As mentioned at the beginning of this post, I am going to save my experiences driving solo cross country and Western States Training Camp for a separate post. The reason for driving cross country is mainly to get my car out to California to make it one less vehicle to transport during the move. The training camp is Saturday, Sunday, and Monday of Memorial Day Weekend, so I will work to have a post up on quickly on the Tuesday after the camp.



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