Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Old Pueblo 50 - Midway Training Update

It occurred to me yesterday that I often put out my week-to-week training blogs and don't always consider the "big picture". And, thus, this is my big picture training update, which also happens to be almost exactly the midway point of the 24-week plan I put together for the Old Pueblo 50.

Before diving into the update, I think it is important to provide a quick update on where I've been. 2012 has been my second full year ultra training and my second full year of training on relatively high mileage (almost 5,000 miles in two years or a little more than 200 miles per month). In between those ultras, I have also run/raced about half a dozen marathons. So I am familiar with marathon training, speed work, etc...

This year I took a big leap and signed up for the Leadville 100. I completed the race, but I wound up injured during training. I think it is important to note that I got injured during training and not in the race. During the month of July, I pushed to 310 miles of running with nearly 40K of vertical gain in nearly 53 hours of training. My body was giving me signs well in advance and I ignored them. I honestly battled injuries on and off for most of 2012. Fortunately, I was somehow able to get through the race. Afterward, I shut down and decided to rededicate myself to getting healthy and running smarter.

Long story short, like many mid-pack runners, I struggle with the trade off between quality and quantity. Should I run big miles or fast miles? Should I run up mountains or on roads? After evaluating my results, accepting my injury, and studying the practices of others, I decided that I had swung the pendulum too far in favor of quantity and perhaps not given up enough quality in the process (vertical primarily). I set two primary goals for training this cycle:
  1. I needed to take a small step back in mileage as I rebuild.
  2. I wanted to add more quality (speed work and tempo work) for this ultra cycle
And finally, onto the midway update, here are some quick stats:
  • I have been back at it 10 weeks with regular running (4 or more days a week)
  • Of those 10 weeks, I have averaged about 38 miles per week
  • The last 5 weeks have been an average of about 47 miles per week
  • I have done 3 quality sessions (anaerobic hill repeats, a set of hard intervals, a tempo long)
  • I am averaging about 4 sessions per week of either strength or core training, or both
Unfortunately, I started getting doubts in my own head, wondering if I am putting in enough quality or quantity. Yesterday, I re-read this incredible blog by Lucho* and I think the following paragraph really sums up how I planned to approach training (based on a Hudson plan):
So, in terms of periodization we must prepare our body for the training to come. In a well planned periodized plan you have 12-16 weeks of training that is ONLY preparing you to train effectively in the last 8-10 weeks. There must be a period of time where we focus solely on training that strengthens our tendons and muscles and metabolic economy. I think we should get as fast as possible at 20 beats below threshold first. Once you do this then start thinking about getting truly fast. For most of us the distance we are trying to race is part of the challenge! So build your body to be able to handle this aspect first. How can you consider the speed for 26.2 miles when simply finishing is still the major challenge? Don't put the cart before the horse. Once you have reached a solid level of fitness then start to think about quality. Once you have built an adequate base then quality is king!
Anyway, the long and the short of it is that I am going to get out of my own head and stick with the plan. I think I need another two weeks of primarily base building to keep me in the 50 - 55 mile per week range, where I like to be. From that point, I will be 10 weeks out from the race. Then I can start hitting the quality runs more routinely, maybe step up to two in some weeks (as in a speed workout plus a hard long run).

* By the way, Lucho's stuff is great and he is available for hire as a coach if you are interested. He also won the Leadman competition last year (setting a new record for the series) and finished 11th overall at the LT100.

1 comment:

  1. Great post, AJ. There are many hugely important topics in here. First off, to your question, "Should I run big miles or fast miles?," I think the answer depends on your goals. I'm not a big believer in LSD. For most folks, the goal is to get to the finish line in the fastest possible time, so it makes sense to work in some speed. That said, I'm starting to think a few super long runs per month (let's say 25-35 miles if you're training for a 100) with the rest of your runs being quality, easy and medium-range efforts is the way to go. I also think it's really beneficial to emphasize recovery after a big effort, versus pushing through fatigue and thereby risking injury and overtraining syndrome(though an occasional back to back is great--provided you follow it up with recovery).

    My understanding of Canova is that he has you doing quality throughout--there's really no low-intensity base-building. Then as your goal event nears you begin focusing your quality more on race-specific pacing. I'm not sure how that all ties into ultrarunning, but I'll bet there are Canova practices that translate well.

    I still haven't figured out how to properly train for 100s here in CO. Back East my plan worked perfectly, as reflected in my results. But out here in CO I'm still struggling to put it all together and figure out A) how to peak at the right time, B) how to balance quality v. quantity and C) how to hit the right amount of recovery (which includes diet) so as to stay healthy in mind and body. Training at elevation, recovery is huge. The last three summers I've definitely flirted with overtraining and obviously injury has plagued me.

    Keep at it!