Sunday, April 29, 2012

Weekly Training Wrap - 4/23 - 4/29

This week was somewhat disjointed as I continue to balance multiple things:

  1. Trail running - I love it and look forward to it all week long.
  2. Cross training - squats, push press, and dead lifts are a central part of my plan to have strong quads for LT100.
  3. Recovery - the thirty-two mile run from the Sunday before required a few days to get fully energized.  I could run, but speed work wasn't happening for a few days.
  4. Tapering - with Colorado a week away, I am trying to rest and fine tune things for race day.
I remain optimistic that I am doing the best I can on all fronts. That said, I am excited to race Colorado this week and move on because I have a HUGE plate of events this summer -- at least one a month. For many of my friends, Colorado Marathon represent the finish line of a training cycle and the beginning of some easier/maintain-fitness weeks.  For me, I am gearing up to shift my focus to only one goal. In summary, bring on Colorado! Then bring on the rest...

And before I leave, I guess I will mention my goals for Colorado Marathon. After careful consideration and discussion with Jon, I have decided that a 3:15 goal is appropriate. Based on my sub-1:32 half marathon (into a 20 MPH head wind) at Platte River two weeks ago, he thinks I could go after a 3:10 if I were willing to lay it all out there and redline my body.  (By the way, 3:10 would be a BQ for me.) But, the plan is to NOT redline my body and NOT lay it all out there because I have less than two weeks to my Grand Canyon R2R2R attempt. The belief is that 3:15 is achievable without killing myself. It would be fun since I have been mentally chasing that number since my blow up in Las Vegas RnR. Of course, knowing he thinks I have 3:10/BQ potential is a bit of a tease! Who knows, maybe if I have enough left in the tank to run sub-7:00 (DOUBTFUL) the last 6 miles then I will go for it. Equally possible is that I get 18 - 20 miles in and decide to back off if I'm not feeling it. We'll see.

Day Miles Notes
Monday Rest x-training
Tuesday 5 Recovery Pace
Wednesday9 Trail Run
Thursday92 x 1 mile @ 10K
FridayRest Hard weights
Saturday 14 GA Taper Long
Sunday 8 Trail Run
Total 44 About 4700 vertical feet

Friday, April 27, 2012

Colorado Marathon Race Preview

The Colorado Marathon is billed as the "the fastest and most scenic marathon in Colorado". It starts 26 miles outside of town at Steven's Gulch Campground and follows the Poudre River into town. A view of the course profile shows that it is nice and steady downhill with the exception of one stretch between miles 17 - 19. I have set my goal at 3:15, but I won't be afraid to back off that goal if things are not going well. My first priority is to be able to recover quickly for the big summer of events I have planned.

Gear Check List

The below is a good list of items that I will need to bring. However, there are a couple of things I have yet to decide. The first is whether I will carry two hand held water bottles. The race provided beverage is GU Brew and does not provide as many calories as I would like. I am thinking of bringing my own. This leaves me with a few options. I think the most sensible option is to carry individual packets of my own powder and then mix as necessary at the aid stations. However, if I can find an acceptable plan, I may also meet my wife along the course and switch of bottles.

The other variable that I have yet to fully decide on is my choice of shoes. I have been training in more minimal shoes and had good success racing in my Saucony Fastwitch. Lately the Saucony shoes have been bothering my feet an ankles a bit. So I may opt for the light weight but cushioned PureFlow.

  • Breakfast for race day: whey protein powder, bar of some kind, apple sauce
  • S!Caps
  • Individual baggies of GU Roctane (3 of them)
  • Two hand held water bottles
  • Shoes (Brooks PureFlow or Saucony Fastwitch)
  • Race shorts & shirt
  • Body glide
  • Garmin
  • Sun glasses
  • Visor
  • iPod

Day Before

We will arrive in Ft Collins in the afternoon of May 5th and pick up my gear bag at the expo (the Hilton Ft Collins). That night we have reservations at the Best Western University Inn. For dinner, I plan to eat a normal meal but include some potatoes for additional carbs.

Race Day Morning

The buses leave for the start line between 4 am and 4:45 am. I will need to be up by 3:45 to get ready. And I will try to eat 500 calories before the race starts. I am still working on the details of this, but my thinking is to buy either a drink or a bar that contains primarily slow burning carbs (little sugar) and a little protein. I can get the remaining calories I need with some smart snacks or a quick gel before the race starts (10 mins or so).

Race Strategy

  • Miles 1 - 16 shoot for 7:20 - 7:22 splits
  • Miles 17 - 19 ease into the 7:30 to 7:40 range
  • Mile 20 and beyond -- smoke em' if you got em' :)

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Weekly Training Wrap - 4/16 - 4/22

This was a big week for me, 65 mile is the most I've had in 8 weeks, and my third largest week of the season.  All totaled, I logged a total of 12.5 hours of training.  Mixed into that training were a couple of big runs. The first was a darn good tempo run on Thursday. With that run, I have run 23.5 miles at half marathon pace in the past two weeks. I think I am peaking at a good time for Colorado. It has been tough to balance the two training schedules (Colorado and LT100), but I think I have done a pretty good job.

The other big run was my long training run for the month of April. My goal is to do at least one run per month that is 30 miles or more (or a minimum of 5 hours). This run was a big confidence builder because I have been working hard on nutrition and hydration and it is paying off. I felt strong and was able to eat and drink just as I hoped the entire day. I wound up consuming almost 2700 calories from:
  • GU Roctane Drink - 1450
  • Protein Bars - 820
  • Organic Enery Bar - 270
  • Honey Stinger Gel - 120
  • 75% from carbs, 10% protein, and 15% fat
All in all that left me right at the calorie level I desire (more than 400 per hour). The trouble is that I need to find a way to get more protein and fat. I may have NO choice but to alternate in Accelerade to get some additional protein, but I clearly prefer the GU Roctane. I will continue to tinker as I move forward, but I have a darn good starting point. And, by the way, the GNC Pro Performance Chocolate Brownie bar is amazing!

That pretty much winds down my current marathon training cycle. I will begin tapering for the Colorado Marathon so that I can put up a good number there, possibly even a PR. That means I will have to be patient with my ultra training for a few weeks. I may try to squeak in a trail run or two and will continue weight training up until a few days before the race.

Day Miles Notes
Monday Rest x-training
Tuesday 8.1 Recovery Pace
Wednesday8 Recovery Pace
Thursday102 x 3 @ HMP
Saturday 6.5 Recovery Pace
Sunday 32 Long Training Run
Total 65 About 4200 vertical feet

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

LT100 Crew and Pacers

Things are always in flux, so this may change.  But I think that the group I have assembled is in it for the long haul with me. This is a bit about the fine group of men, women, and children that I have selected to help me conquer 100 miles at 10,000 feet.


My Sister Heather - Crew Chief and Pacer
So why would I pick my sister to be my Crew Chief instead of my wife? For two reasons, the first is that my wife will have her hands full with our children. I didn't want to burden her with worrying about me and them. Secondly, my sister and I have found a great bond in our middle age through running. This is a great opportunity to continue that bond. As a wife and mother of three, she is plenty qualified to organize this circus. Her discipline, strength, organization, and no-non-sense attitude are just a few of the qualities I hope she brings with her on race day. The most important role she has is keeping this whole show moving forward -- being at aid stations, picking up pacers, knowing what gear/supplies and where, etc... Her reward for the hard work is that she gets to be my last pacer and experience the emotions of the finish line.

My Wife Johanna - Crew Member
My wife has put up with my crazy notion to start running ultras and I think she even enjoys it a little. I am so thankful that she and the kids are committed to being part of this journey. She has an amazing combination of understanding, compassion, and a little bit of tough love. Just the kind of person you want in your corner. In addition to keeping up with kids, I know she will be doing her best to support my sister and even relieve her.

My Daughter Savannah - Crew Member
Savannah is my oldest and often my most challenging child. (There is a reason I call her "trouble"). But she always rises up for these kinds of events and loves to support me. Her smiling face and compassionate hugs will be a huge lift each time I get to see her. And I have asked her to be my official videographer for the event.  Hopefully she doesn't spend too much time pushing her brothers' "buttons". I may also give her permission to send out Twitter updates.

My Son Dylan - Crew Member
Dylan is a little more low key and easy to keep happy: technology and food usually do the trick. It is fun to see him when I run because he is so carefree -- the kind of attitude I'll need to pull this off. They typically assign him to be the scout. His job is to peek around the corner and alert them when I am coming. The pacers may have to take over this job in the middle of the night :)


My pacers (in order of appearance) have already been assigned sections. All of my pacers are talented (each has qualified for BOTH the NYC and Boston marathon) and accomplished runners. And all of them are my friends. They don't have the experience one might require for this type of event, but somehow I know that each of them will be completely prepared for the moment. More importantly, they will know better than anyone how to motivate me and keep me going.

Chuck "Slim Shady" Radford
He's the fastest of the crew and definitely a contender for the best laugh. I will lean on him to make me laugh and raise my spirits as I make my second trip over Hope Pass and start the second half of the race. He has promised me -- under threat of nipple twisting -- that he'll start on some serious weight training so his legs won't buckle carrying 10 lbs of gear up the side of a mountain for me.

Chuck gets to pace me over Hope Pass. There is a short section of downhill road to the trail (Winfield Road), then it is straight up and straight down. I am optimistic that I can make up some time on this section. I have allocated 3 hours and 35 minutes, but I might be able to do it in 3:15 or 3:20. In training, I liked the backside better because it is shorter. The key will be to put in an iPod and just work hard.

Jen "Tie My Shoes" Johnson
Jen is another mom in my support team. You can't have too many of those. And she brings balance to our running group as the only female member. She has promised to double knot all of her shoes, even on the hills where they tend to "magically" untie themselves. We are all hoping she bakes some of her famous bread(s) for the event! Her role will be tough because it will be turning dark for an underrated section of the course -- the climb out of Twin Lakes.

Jen will pace me from Twin Lakes (mile 60.5) to Tree Line, mile 72.5. The first three miles are likely to be a real test for both of us with a 1500 foot climb -- the 4th largest on the course. In addition to being uphill, the first 3 miles are rocky in spots (like Deer Creek Canyon). After about a mile, the course connects with the Colorado Trail and can be narrow and slanted to the downhill side in spots. If it is too dark, safety could be a concern. After mile 63, the course gets wider and runs primarily downhill. At mile 66, the course veers of the Colorado Trail to the right onto a jeep road. The road is rocky in spots, but generally pretty wide and pretty runnable with a few rolling hills. This is a segment I must run to have a quality time. My projection has me averaging a 16+ min pace on this section. I could probably make up a good half hour here if I am feeling well enough to fast walk or run even parts of it.

Jon "The Hammer" Ahern
Despite the fact that he primarily runs road events, Jon's wisdom and attention to detail has helped guide me through my growth as a runner. He knew what he was doing picking the middle of the night segments: he doesn't back down from a challenge. His primary responsibility is to make sure I don't quit under any circumstances. While it could be bad for his reputation and street cred, he has promised not deny me any water.

Jon will pace me from Tree Line (mile 72.5) to at least May Queen (mile 87).  The first five miles of Jon's pacing stint are road/pavement miles. Hopefully I have enough energy to alternate running and fast-walking by this point and can shave several minutes off of my 16 minute mile projection. Then we will climb about four miles and 1800 feet up to Power Line (with about 5 false summits). Power Line should take roughly 90 minutes if I am moving well. After reaching the top of Power Line (Sugar Loaf Pass), the course moves onto a jeep road and then Hagerman Road for about three miles. These three miles should be extremely runnable as the road is wide and only a bit rocky. These three miles are a great section to make up time. The remaining miles in Jon's segment are down the Colorado Trail into May Queen. This is another section where I could see safety being a bit of an issue, particularly at night. It will probably be hard to move much faster than a 15 min pace through this section in the dark, even though it is downhill. In total, I think there is an easy 20 minutes to be made up on this section if I am moving well.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Weekly Training Wrap - 4/9 - 4/15

This whole week served two purposes for me: 1) cut back in mileage and 2) taper to race a half marathon.  It worked because the outcome of my race was phenomenal a 6 minute PR. Good thing it was fun because the road racing season is just about done for me. I am not 100% committed to a plan for the Colorado Marathon in three weeks, but it is doubtful that it will be a race effort.

This week is back to more of the same: hill work, weights, possibly some trails, and quite possibly a really long run (30 - 40 miles) to get some time on my feet and work on some nutrition plans. I finally got my head out of the LT100 clouds for a bit and thought some about my 50 miler in June.  That is a high quality race that will be an excellent opportunity to test my fitness, my trail running, and my nutrition/hydration plans. I have yet to think too much about the Grand Canyon, but that is next on my list of priorities to plan/understand. There will not be any time goals for that event, but I still need to be prepared for the excursion and how I am going to handle a largely unaided event.

The long and the short of it is that my season is really just beginning! Everything I have done up until now was just a warm up to keep me fit for the summer season.

Day Miles Notes
Monday Rest x-training
Tuesday 8 Tempo Workout
Wednesday8 Recovery Pace
Thursday8GA Pace
FridayRest x-training
Saturday 4 Easy Run
Sunday 14 Half Marathon PR
Total 42 About 1700 vertical feet

Friday, April 13, 2012

Balance for Runners

I have been blogging for close to a year now (not all here) about my adventures running. In that year I have learned and unlearned a lot of things. And I am sure that will continue as long as I follow this passion. Yesterday I was doing some research on heart rate monitoring and running ultras and came across this a rather lengthy page with all you need to know about ultras. And in that was a key little nugget that caused an "ah-ha" moment for me (though I sort of suspected this all along):

"Researchers who studied the effects of high training mileage found that there were no significant improvements in endurance in runners who trained more than 70 miles/week–not even in runners who were training up to 230 miles/week."

What? Could that possibly be? Why do so many runners strive to run 80 - 100 miles per week (or more)? So I researched a little further and found an article summarizing Noakes' research. A couple of really good take aways:
  • The breaking point of how much is enough may be a function of time, not miles
  • The exact mileage at which this plateau occurs depends on the individual, but beyond about 60 to 70 miles per week, there’s not much change taking place
  • A person with a lot of talent will almost always outperform a person with little talent and a lot of training.
  • Regardless of how much you run, genetics plays a large role in your performance. 
  • High mileage reduces body weight, which further reduces the oxygen cost (why not just eat better?)
  • It’s likely that genetically gifted runners who have high a VO2 max are capable of running more miles and faster races.
Wow, I could go on and on about my thoughts on this. But the main takeaway for me is that I know so many runners, myself included at times, that strive too hard to achieve high mileage. But the expense of high mileage is often at the expense of cross training, can induce injury, and can induce overtraining.

The purpose of training is to hit as many high quality training runs as possible in preparation for a race. The rest of the time the goal is to keep you healthy and recovering as fully and quickly as possible for the next run.

My recommendation for anyone hoping to hit a high target of running ability would be the following:
  1. Moderately high volume (50 - 70 miles per week).  I like to hit 70 half a dozen times as I peak in cycle, but not every week.
  2. Good diet and other recovery habits
  3. Overall body balance and cross training
  4. Mixing and matching the above to find the sweet spot for you
If you are a talented runner and dedicated, then your fitness will show through on race day. Don't push yourself beyond your limits in an attempt to compare an artificial number like miles run. Focus on quality workouts, total time training (including cross training), and doing a superior job of taking care of your body during recovery (eat well, rest, stretch, physical therapy, etc...)

Fueling the Runner Part IV: Paleo Diet and Nutrient Timing

Previously: Fueling the Runner Part IPart II, and Part III.

When we last left this trail of never ending posts, I had read a very good book called  "Racing Weight" by Matt Fitzgerald. The book was very well done and I enjoyed it. There was one particular concept that I enjoyed and wanted to explore more, the concept of timing your nutrition.

Before going further, allow me to back up a little and summarize this journey. I have struggled for more than a decade with weight. I like food and I am good at rationalizing any argument that makes me feel better about doing something (whether I should or not). Right after my daughter turned a year old, I was at Bed, Bath, and Beyond with my wife and stepped on a scale. It read 243 pounds. This was one of those moments that just sticks with you. How did I get this big? I am only in my mid-20's, where will it end? I made a commitment to getting healthier and bought some home equipment, including weights and a treadmill. The treadmill was the starting point to a decade long love of running (but we'll leave that story for another post).

Not long after I started to get serious about my weight, my brother-in-law mentioned a popular new diet called the Atkins Diet to me. I loved meat more than I loved sugar, so it was an easy sell. After a month of carefully watching my carbs and eating all the meat I wanted (no regard for calories or portions), I had lost 20 pounds. Easy as pie, or bacon as the case may be. The problem was that became a plateau for me.  Fast forward a few years -- eight or nine years to be exact -- and I began marathon running. I again dropped weight and got down to around 205 pounds (now down 40 total). What I didn't know at the time was that my second plateau was caused by a reckless attitude toward post-run recovery. When I ran 10 or 20 miles, I would eat whatever I wanted. And thus I hit another plateau.  Finally, I read Born to Run before my second marathon attempt and got the clue that I had NO IDEA what a healthy diet was.  I still may not, but I am at least committed to learning. During that marathon cycle I managed to get my weight down to about 190 pounds before hitting another plateau. I did this by making simple changes -- more salads, no soda, less gorging after long runs.

To summarize my weight shifts and the primary change in lifestyle:

  • 245 lbs down to 225 lbs was largely due to an increase in moderate exercise (3 or 4 hours per week) and control over my carbohydrate intake (namely refined sugar), though I did not exclude all sugar.
  • 225 lbs down to 205 lbs was largely due to another increase in exercise up to about 8 hours per week
  • 205 lbs down to 190 lbs was largely due to simple/common sense dietary steps

Now that I am up to about the 80th percentile in body fat percentage and regularly training for endurance events, the challenge has become to get from the 80th percentile to the 90th in order to find more gains in my fitness level.  But how? I cannot possibly commit more than 10 or 12 hours a week to exercise due to injury risk and life. Diet is the only way.

As I have mentioned through this series of posts, there are several schools of thought on how to eat properly in terms of macro-nutrients (carbs, fat, and protein). A common diet fad is toward protein and away from carbohydrates. Why? Because it works! Why does it work? Because most Americans eat RIDICULOUS amounts of sugar. Limiting that sugar will both change your body chemistry and create a calorie deficit in your eating (likely anyway) because so much of what we eat is sugar. I was very curious to read that Dean Karnazes has a diet similar to the Zone Diet (40% carbs, 30% protein, 30% fat). Most running coaches, including Fitzgerald, would probably take issue with such a low percentage of carbohydrates. The general thinking is that you need something closer to 70% carbs and only 10% protein with careful monitoring of your calories to properly train and control weight.

That was a lot of background, but I did it all to lead you to this: what have I learned over the last 10 years and how does it align with what I have found in the last 6 months of exploring my diet? The first thing that I have discovered is that counting calories is not all that effective. It is effective for people that were in my situation when I was 245 lbs -- out of control. But it is only a first step. Not all calories are create equal and neither is all exercise. Different nutrients have different impacts on your body chemistry and your body burns fewer calories exercising as you become more fit. I gained weight trying to monitor my calories with tools that attempt to predict how much I should eat.

The second thing I have learned is that eating a diet of 70% carbohydrates is not for me. I am not sure I fully understand the reasons for this, but I have a few theories. The first is that I am constantly hungry. With that many carbs running through my body, I don't have enough protein and fat to properly satiate hunger. The second is that I only keep my metabolism high for about 1 or 2 hours a day (on average). The rest of my day is sedentary. My body simply doesn't need the rapid energy provided by carbohydrates when I am sitting behind a desk (in comes nutrient timing). If I were a professional athlete that trains 6 - 8 hours a day, then perhaps I would need closer to 70% carbs. But I am a desk jockey.

One last thing before getting to nutrient timing, I want to briefly discuss the new diet (Paleo) and Atkins. The trouble with Atkins Diet, according to critics, is the fat (particularly saturated fat). In the early days of my adventures, it sure was nice to not care since saturated fat is so tasty. The Atkins Diet was a good starting point for me, but the fat was at least one reason it didn't take me all the way to where I wanted to go. Not all sources of protein are the same. And like most everything in our diet today, beef and chicken are farmed to be commercially efficient to keep costs low and profits high. (There's a reason that grass fed and organic meat costs more). The end result is animals that are higher in fat and lower in nutrients than ever before. The significant difference between the Paleo and Atkins diets are two: 1) you cannot have a reckless view toward saturated fat and 2) no dairy.

When I began reading The Paleo Diet for Athletes, I thought I was getting a book exclusively about the Paleo Diet with some minor adaptations for athletes. In a totally "ah-ha" moment, the book started right out with my favorite topic from Fitzgerald's book -- nutrient timing. The idea behind nutrient timing is that there are windows of time each day when your body has different nutritional needs. Paleo for Athletes defines five windows of time: Before exercise, during exercise, immediately after exercise (30 mins), short-term post exercise (90 mins), and long-term post exercise (rest of the day). Both books do a great job of explaining how to properly eat (with slightly different philosophies) prior to exercise or a race. Your body is depleted from overnight sleep (fasting) and needs calories to perform at a high level and "nail" a key workout. Both books do a good job of detailing a second window -- what to eat while you are exercising. It is in this window that I find the books the most similar, but not identical. They differ dramatically as the length of the event the athlete is training for increases (running for 20 hours has different demands than for 3 hours).

Where the books really start to diverge is the windows of time immediately after exercise. Both recommend eating plentiful to recover. And both recommend carbs to replace glycogen. However, Cordain and Friel are very specific: the window to eat carbs and replace glycogen is only 30 minutes long. Miss that window and you are going to delay recovery and replenishment of those sources. And, they insist on eating a Paleo Diet for the remainder of the day (after that 30 minute window closes). From that point on, nothing but lean protein and high quality fruits, vegetables, and nuts. Traditional carbohydrate dishes, including pastas, rices, legumes, and anything starchy are low quality choices of food. They cannot provide the same nutrients and amino acids that lean protein, vegetables, and fruit provide. Your body is slowing down and the demands that is has for energy, recovery/repair, and base metabolic functions are changing for the remainder of the day. Good stuff that I find easy to follow and highly intuitive. It takes discipline, but so does counting calories or tracking carbohydrate intake. A few simple changes to when and where you purchase groceries will go a long way.

I am going to try the Paleo Diet with the adaptations outlined by Cordain and Friel for an endurance athlete. The diet suggested by Fitzgerald (and many other running coaches by the way), did not work for me. My suggestion for anyone reading this would be to give serious thought to your diet, particularly as you are trying to balance the needs of training, growing older, and living a full life. It is easy to rationalize that you "eat better than most", but don't short change yourself. The fuel that goes into your body matters more than you realize. Spend some time thinking about what might work for you and trying different diets to meet your needs.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

LT100 Nutrition


Nutrition in an ultramarathon is a tough subject because it is very individual and any mistake can cause severe drawbacks in performance. That said, there are some good guidelines to use a starting point. This post is just a starting point and I will test and modify as the summer goes along.

I weight about 188 pounds and estimates suggest that I burn about 140 calories per mile (at high intensities). If I manage to finish Leadville Trail 100 in 25 hours, that would be approximately 4 miles per hour. Assuming an equal level of effort throughout the race, that would be 560 calories an hour.  Given the slower nature of ultras, I will burn fewer calories and will probably be in great shape if I can consume 400 calories an hour. At ultra marathon speeds/efforts, it is estimated that a well-trained athlete gets about 50% of their calories from carbohydrates (200 per hour).  So there you have it, I need at least 12,000 calories to complete this race without a deficit.  Chances are I will have a small deficit, but hopefully it is less than 100 calories per hour.  That means the bare minimum I need to consume is somewhere around 10,000 calories to perform at a high level.

Somethings don't change from shorter races (those less than 4 hours in length). A runner will continue to get significant portions of calories from beverages (a sports drink). Hydration and electrolyte balance remains the primary concern. But other things change significantly. At slower speeds, Hyponatremia (too much fluid and too little electrolytes) becomes a bigger risk. And the need to consume protein and fat becomes much more important.  The recommended percentage of calories is something close to the following: 65% carbs (260 cals, 65 grams), 25% fat (100 cals, 25 grams), and 15% protein (60 cals, 15 grams).  Those percentages look familiar.  Below is the reasoning for using the other "macro-nutrients":

Protein helps:
  • Prevent central nervous system fatigue
  • Prevent cramping
  • Prevent muscle wasting ("cannibalizing")
  • Ensure effective processing/usage of glycogen
  • Satiate hunger
Fat helps:
  • Satiate hunger
  • Ease the gut
Some other notes/things to consider:
  • Gel shots are not the best source of carbohydrates because they are concentrated and draw fluid away from the gut to properly process them (can leave you dehydrated).  It is estimated that you need to drink 6 to 8 ounces of water with every Gel shot.  Seeing as how you can only process 24 - 30 ounces of fluid an hour, you don't want to waste too many of those diluting gel shots.
  • A minimum of 500 mg of Sodium per hour to replace sweat, particularly in hot conditions.  1000 mg is the upper limit.  My plan is to use S-caps.  Probably zero early, 1 an hour when the sun comes up and maybe 2 per hours when the sun is at the highest point.  Something like that.
  • A banana every 3 to 5 hours will help to maintain electrolyte status (potassium and magnesium)
  • Drinks with maltodextrin or glucose (instead of fructose) are easier on the stomach
  • Caffeine is recommended, but intake of more than 200 mg can result in caffeine intoxication. I will probably leave most of my caffeine consumption for the night time.
  • Of course, as the weather gets warmer it will be harder to eat as blood and fluid are drawn away from the stomach to support the cooling of skin.  The only real option here is slow down some.  Hopefully much of this is already built into my pacing plan.
  • There are all sorts of other supplements/drugs to consider, but the primary ones are sodium, candied ginger (for an upset tummy), NSAID, and Imodium.


250 calories per hour from a maltodextrin based electrolyte beverage.  I am currently experimenting with GU Roctane beverage.  It is 240 calories per 2 scoops and mixes well with 21 ounces of water.  In hot conditions, I might be able to take this up to 30 ounces and 300 calories per hour. Another drink I will consider is Accelerade because it has the recommended 4:1 carb to protein ratio. A late entry into the electrolyte beverage contest is Clip 2. Clip 2 is a little different because it possess a better balance of nutrients than either Accelerate or Roctane. It is not as high in sodium, but it is made by the makers of S!Caps, so I am sure they are meant to supplement one another. Some pretty good ultrarunners swear that it yields superior results (low GI distress, reduced muscle soreness, reduced fatigue) in runs over 30 miles.

Drink Calories/Bottle Carb gFat gProtein g
GU Roctane 240 5900
Accelerate 240 41210
Clip 2 155 3512

Solid foods

Solid foods are a much tougher subject and lots of experimentation is needed. Below are some of the foods that I have found I can tolerate and am considering for the race.  To get the proper nutritional values I desire, I may have to make some home made recipes that combine these ingredients.

I have a little bit of experience here that will help me. First, I ran my first ultramarathon last year on nothing but fluids, some fruit, and sugar (gels and chews). While I had a decent race, my stomach was a mess and prevented me from finishing hard on the final 10 miles of downhill. In subsequent long runs, I have had very good success mixing in protein bars (Big 100) and Bonk Breaker bars to give my stomach additional nutrients beyond sugar.  I will certainly experiment with a continuation of those products and possibly create some of my own bars based on my nutritional standards.

Food Calories/Serv Carb gFat gProtein g
Cake Balls 200 1991
Peanut Butter 190 7168
Nutella 200 23112
Bananas 105 270.41.3
Bonk Breaker Bars 250 3598
Muscle Milk 120 14925
Cyto Sport Whey Protein 140 3227
Apple Sauce 50 1200
Pizza 230 28910
Red Bull 110 2800
Pinole (Corn Flour) 440 8848
Chia Seeds 137 1294

If you look at the data, you can see why the rage (based on Born to Run) would be toward eating some type of concoction that includes Corn Flour and Chia Seeds.  A really good recipe that I have been experimenting with was posted on

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Weekly Training Wrap - 4/2 - 4/8

It has been a good four week run since I started making my way back from injury.  I have averaged more than 50 miles per week with more than 5K of climbing each week.  And I have totaled 7.5 hours of cross training (nearly 2 hours per week) in that time.  Total time training over the 4 weeks is 40 hours.  In summary, the "comeback" is coming along well. That said, I am feeling a little beat up and ready for a cut back week. I think I will take an easy week -- including a week off of heavy weights -- and race this weekend's Platte River Half marathon.  It might be the only race effort I put forward until 8/18/2012 at 4 am.

Enough about me: my wife finally pulled the trigger and signed up for the Steamboat Marathon! I am super happy for her. She had a good 17 mile run this week and decided it was time. It will be fun to share this journey with her. I cannot wait to see the sense of satisfaction in her face when she crosses the finish line.

Day Miles Notes
Monday Rest x-training
Tuesday 4 TM Hill Workout
Wednesday8 Recovery Pace
Thursday10GA Pace
FridayRest x-training
Saturday 20 Long Run
Sunday 10 Mt Falcon Trail
Total 52 About 8100 vertical feet

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

High Intensity Interval Training

Those of you that follow my blog know that I recently started a committment to a new cross training program known as High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). I first became intrigued about HIIT by watching the popularity of CrossFit grow among my friends, including my sister and brother-in-law. And it worked incredibly well for both of them. Of course, the more I paid attention, the more I saw others doing the same thing. What's more, those people that participated took on a cult-like mentality, similar to runners. And I mean that in a good way. See, I figured that means that it is both working and enjoyable (as much as hard work can be enjoyable).

When I suffered my second "overuse" injury in two years from running, I started questioning some things. Injury always leads to a slew of comments like "listen to your body". What the hell does that really mean? I know I'm hurt. How do I get better? How do I avoid this in the future? Does two injuries in two years mean that I am, in fact, not Born to Run? Similar to Wyatt Hornsby, I began questioning the need to run endless miles in an effort train. Don't get me wrong, runners need to run in order to train properly. In particular, we need to run "specifically" for the type of goal race we are attempting. However, most of you reading this are non-elite runners that don't get paid to run for a living. Those of us in that group have limited time to train and recover. The reality is that a guy like Ryan Hall may run 70 - 100 miles a week, but he also spends significant amounts of time doing other things like strength training, physical therapy, stretching, etc.. And he has a staff of people that help him to keep his body and life in balance. The non-elite runner doesn't have those benefits. Instead, we must balance and prioritize and prioritize on our own.  We are left to interpret what it means to listen to our body.

The final piece of the puzzle was some experts from a book called the Four Hour Body by Tim Ferriss. An underlying principal in the book is that we should do the least amount of work to get the most benefit (the minimum effective dosage). Following that principal, Tim interviews a running coach that claims to build 100 mile runners on nothing but CrossFit and 30 miles of high intensity running (no runs longer than a half marathon). Not surprisingly, this did not end well for those that tried it. The obvious lesson learned was the need for the "specific" training I mentioned above. Nonetheless, I became intrigued by the idea of reducing training mileage -- particularly during non-peak periods of training -- in order to increase quality and total health.

Here is an example of why it intrigued me. I have had two overuse injuries in two years. Overuse is just as the term implies, overdoing it. Nothing serious, just your body's way of saying slow down and heal/recover. An efficient runner completes roughly 180 strides per minute (90 per leg). In an hour long workout that is 5400 repetitions per leg. And each one of those repetitions is performed using the same tendons and joints. That is a lot of repeated force on those joints and tendons. So what if I got rid of some "junk" miles in my training and replaced them with HIIT workouts that average 150 - 300 repetitions and distributed those repetitions among all the joints and tendons in my body? I would be replacing those miles with a workload that includes things I always know I should do like core training and strength training.

The program that I am following is based primarily (for now) on the book Cardio Strength Training. While I have not researched the entire history of this type of training, I am sure it is long. In talking with friends, it seems this type of training gained a ton of popularity with the movie "300" and the Spartan Warrior Workouts. And I would bet this is part of what has given rise to the popularity of CrossFit as well. Again, I have not done a ton of research behind the history of any of these training styles, and you have my apologies if I over simplified or missed important elements. The most important point that I am trying to make is that they all have similar elements to their training philosophies: the inclusion of intensity to traditional strength training and a focus more on functional/total body exercise.

In addition to the reduced load on your body, here are some benefits of HIIT:
  • Increased fat burning beyond your prescribed exercise period, serving to improve body composition (less fat, more lean muscle).  Studies show base metabolic rates stay increased for 24 hours after working out.
  • The sessions are short, typically taking less than a half hour to complete.
  • Studies showed that individuals performing interval training improved BOTH anaerobic and aerobic capacity.
  • Many of the movements are body weight only (no weights required)
  • The focal point is not to increase muscle mass, but to reduce fat (improved body composition)
  • Serves to improve strength in all the muscle groups in your body, improving muscle groups that are weak and/or ignored during running (until you are hurt of course!)
The idea of using intervals isn't all that foreign to advanced runners, most of us do "speed work" after all. Based on my current level of fitness, and the time I've spent interval running, I don't expect huge gains in my aerobic or anaerobic fitness. I do expect that I can maintain a high level when my running dips in between training cycles. And I am hopeful that a more balanced approach to training will minimize injuries and improve recovery times. Most importantly, I am hopeful that it will help me increase my race day performances when large muscle groups (like my quads!) take a continuous pounding.

One word of caution, keep any cross training in balance with your current training plans. Don't do maximial effort of HITT around maximal running effort or you may find yourself burned out. And plan for some soreness early on!

I admit that all of this is somewhat of an experiment -- one man's opinion on what it means to listen to his body. Stay tuned to see how it works for me. Or don't.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Weekly Training Wrap - 3/26 - 4/1

It has been a while, but I put together two pretty strong weeks of training. Things were on the easy side the first few days as I spent time with family in St George and recovered from a tough weekend. Then I got in back-to-back long runs for the first time in June of last year. Both runs had some quality to them -- Saturday was trails and Sunday was MP miles.  In total, my weekend was 34 miles and more than five hours of running. And I started a new x-training program that kicked my butt on Thursday and Friday. I am a bit whooped right now. But I am getting into a groove with my "ultra" training schedule (4 weeks in).

Saturday also brought the close of April. That is an obvious time to look at training from a macro level. The results are somewhat mixed. The disappointing thing was my first sub-200 mile month (198) since July of last year (when I both tapered and recovered from a 50 mile race). It is probably for the best longterm, but it was aggravating trying to deal with injury. The positive is that my 12 month moving average of training had me at just shy of 3000 miles. I have maintained a high level of training for a while now.

Day Miles Notes
Monday 5 Easy Pace
Tuesday 10 Easy Pace
Wednesday6 GA Pace
FridayRest x-training
Saturday 16 Deer Creek Trail
Sunday 18 LR w/ MP miles
Total 55 About 3700 vertical feet