Just as my training for Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run was getting started, I put myself into a position that quickly reminded me what not do when training for an ultramarathon…
January 11th-17th Workouts (Total 32.5 miles / 4 h 20 min):
Monday – Rest
Tuesday – 20 minutes strength
Wednesday – Rest
Thursday – 20-minutes strength, 4-miles running
Friday – Rest
Saturday – 13.4 miles in 1:42:06 moving time
Sunday – 15-miles in 2:03:07
It was week one of training and the schedule of work and other activities for the week did not line up very well for me to complete the original goal of 35 miles for the week. I was able to sneak in just one 4-mile run on Thursday and a couple 20-minute strength sessions prior to the Charleston Marathon weekend.
For the third straight year, I was in-charge of organizing the pacers for both the half and full marathon. A good group of runners were assembled to lead race participants to their goals and I spent the day on Friday hanging out at the expo to let pacers pickup their shirts and CEP compression socks that had been donated to us. I had put myself into the 1:30 pace group for the half marathon despite all internal messages telling me that I was not going to be able to hold this pace right now.
Sure enough, my pacing duties were an epic fail as I fell off the 6:52 per mile average at mile 7. Thankfully, as the pace group organizer, I had two runners slotted in most of the groups, so there was someone there to continue on when I had to slow down. By mile 9, my turnover in my legs was gone and I spent a couple minutes kicking myself for putting my name down at that pace. What was I thinking? I shouldn’t be out here trying to run this pace for 13.1 miles when my main goal is to be competitive at WS100. Sure, to drop a few sub-7:00 minute miles in a tempo run every couple weeks is probably good training, especially considering I live at sea level, but this was not the way to enter into the toughest training plan of my life.
I poked along the course for the next mile, encouraging other runners, until a running friend caught up to me as she was trying to break 1:40 for the first time. I decided to keep a few paces in front of her for the last bit of the race to help keep her on target and block some of the strong headwinds. When we reached a half mile to go, I saw the race director from Eagle Endurance, Chad Haffa, on the course and decided to pull off there. I gave the friend one last bit of verbal encouragement to push all the way through the finish and began chatting with the Chad. Probably a good 20-minutes later I jogged up to the post-race area, but never through the official finish line. Couldn’t even finish a half marathon, I joked to myself, then I moved on with the rest of my weekend.
On Sunday, I was out running more ‘my kind of pace’ for a total of 15-miles. Being able to start my run at my own pace, put my mind at ease that yes I can train for WS100 if I just stay focused on what it takes to get there. This was my first run over 10-miles in several months that I finished not feeling heaviness in my legs and I was glad to be showing signs of my body getting back on the ultra track!
January 18th-24th Workouts (35 miles / 4 h 37 min):
Monday – 5-miles
Tuesday – 20-minutes strength, 1-mile running
Wednesday – 1-mile running
Thursday – 20-minutes strength, 1-mile dog run
Friday – 3-miles running
Saturday – 4-miles running
Sunday – 20-miles in 2:40:56
I decided to sort of hit the reset button on my second week of training and make this week be more like the start of training that I was looking for. With three consecutive days of running in the books, I gave myself a new goal to run at least one mile everyday between January 16th and June 25th (total of 162 days). Making this daily commitment will remind me of my goals even on the days that I am not logging significant miles.
With Monday being Martin Luther King day, Nicole had the day off from school so it wasn’t until later in the day that I was able to sneak in my 5-mile run. After the 15-miles on Sunday, I wanted to throw in a few sub-8:00 miles just to get the legs going and everything felt great.
Tuesday started at 5:00 AM with helping to get Nicole and Samuel ready for the day. I had intended to complete my workout before going to work, but things just did not go as planned. After a full day of work, I drove home and got right out the door to complete my 1-mile run and 20-minutes of strength work. For me strength work consists of a simple circuit training routine of 4-6 mostly body weight exercises such as push-ups, squats, lunges, calf raises, and core exercises. When it comes to the lunges, I try to add a lot of variations (walking, reverse, lateral, pulse, jumping, etc.), which helps me develop the balance and strength needed to run technical trails. I have tried to do more weights in the past, but I do not like how I end up feeling more fatigued and pushing harder to maintain pace during my runs, so I keep it basic.
The big run of the week was my first run of at least 20-miles in length since Grindstone 100 last October. At the start of the run it was 28-degrees and I questioned whether it even got above freezing despite the 36-degree reading in my car when I finished. I bundled up with running tights, a long-sleeved shirt, mittens, jacket, and beanie. I felt pretty comfortable after 2-3 miles of running in the dark, but my face remained numb from the cold the entire run. The goal with this run was to keep my pace comfortable between 8:00-8:30 (50-mile goal pace). The day went great and I felt like I had lots of energy at the end to go more. I finished up in 2:40:56 (avg 8:03).
January 25th-31st Workouts (38.2 miles / 5 h 14 min):
Monday – 6-miles
Tuesday – 20-minutes strength, 1.5-mile running
Wednesday – 1-mile dog run
Thursday – 20-minutes strength, 4.5 miles
Friday – 8-miles
Saturday – 1-mile dog run
Sunday – 16-miles in 2:09:58
Having just completed the third week of training, I am still bringing my weekly mileage up and trying to learn how to fit it into a busy schedule.
On Monday’s, I am reasonable for watching Samuel during the day while Nicole is at work. As soon as Nicole got home at 4:00 PM this past Monday, I was out the door running. I made it 6-miles on the Sawmill Branch Trail before I started to lose too much daylight to continue.
While I was able to keep my run streak going Tuesday and Wednesday, it was not until Thursday evening that I was able to get in some significant miles again. After a difficult day at work, I jogged around my neighborhood for 4.5 miles and cleared my thoughts. By the time the run was over, I was feeling very energized and found the time to sneak in my strength workout just after we put Samuel down for bed. As I uploaded my run to Strava that evening, I realized that I was going to have to really work on being diligent with time over the next few days if I was going to hit my mileage goal for the week while keeping my Sunday long run down in distance.
I found time Friday evening just as the sun was going down to get in a relaxing 8-miles on the Sawmill Branch Trail. On Saturday, I did a 1-mile jog down the beach at Sullivan’s Island before volunteering at the Charlie Post Classic 5K/15K. It was great seeing so many familiar faces come through the aid station at mile 7 of the 15K and it reminded me of just how much I enjoy being out in the running community. On Sunday, I closed out my 38-miles for the week with a 16-mile run. This was deliberately a shorter long run this weekend, as I prepare to jump over 40-miles next week for the first time in months. My run streak now sits at 16 days and counting and there are just 144 days left to train for Western States 100!