Monday, December 15, 2014

Western States 100 Training

Well, this could be long, better grab coffee if you plan to follow along.

A few general notes first. Obviously, like all training plans, I will not follow this day in and day out. Rather, it is a guide to get me to my goals below. Lots of the goals and ideas I have will require flexibility and adapting to how life (and the weather) unfolds. This is particularly true of heat, night, and long run training. For example, last year we didn't get any heat until late June, after WS100 was over. That will make it tough to train for heat if it happens again. I have also tentatively outlined a few events that I'll do. Most of the events are just organized long runs that help me to get to my fitness goals. I noticed that short tune-up races were a big advantage for me in 2014, so I hope to repeat that. In particular, I enjoyed running the Colfax Marathon as a structured long (with no calories).

My plan is roughly based on mileage from the book Relentless Forward Progress. However, it will be easiest to explain this in terms of my training goals. Here are those goals:

2-3 good night runs on trails 

As I noted after my Bear 100 run, I just don't feel comfortable at night running. There are obvious things like footing and ability to see. But, there are subtle things like changing temperature and non-fasted state that cause me issues as well. I hope to spend a few evenings on long-ish trail runs (3+ hours) to try and work through some of these comfort zone problems.

8-10 heat runs up to 2 hours in length 

I have a few place in the plan where I put "heat?". As I mentioned above, I will try to remain flexible. The easiest and most obvious thing will be to throw on a long sleeve shirt at lunch and go run something flat and short. That serves a double purpose of heat and added mileage (to get me closer to my weekly peak below). But, if the weather doesn't cooperate, I may take my heat training inside and use the treadmill at the gym and/or sauna. I don't plan to go crazy with my heat-specific work, making only those runs that are specific in nature about an hour on average. However, there are a few trails in Colorado where I can get some exposed climbs and stagnant, hot conditions, which I will try to tackle a bit more in the Spring.

***UPDATE***: I decided against heat runs and used sauna training instead.

Consistent mileage above 55 

For me, good mileage is 5 days a week and about 50-55 miles total. This is "base" fitness for me. While my plan only has 5 days a week, I will probably try to get more like 6 days a week on average, using that extra day to get some free mileage and possibly some heat work.

Peak mileage at 70+, 4-6 times 

In reviewing my logs, I feel I reach peak fitness about 65-75 miles per week. So, my goal will be to get to this level about 4-6 times, clustered mostly toward the back-half of training. Again, the plan only has 5 days and I plan to add to that when I can. Some of the days on the plan have huge morning runs (like 14 miles) and I don't know that I can do that frequently. I may utilize some doubles on those days as well.

Lots of "light quality": Fartleks, Progression 

Another topic I have covered at length on this blog is my belief in "light quality". These are structured runs with a purpose but don't push me too deep in the red. I will utilize LOTS of these types of workouts in addition to my typical Maffetone/easy-aerobic workouts.

Modest amounts of true quality: tempos/threshold, intervals, hard longs

I definitely see the benefits of "true quality workouts", even to ultra runners, but I think there are diminishing returns on those workouts for ultra runners. Therefore, I plan to do a workout like this only every 7-10 days. Of course, some people will argue that any long run is a quality workout, and I tend to agree. For these purposes, I am only counting the workouts listed above.

Don't over-do trails and vertical 

This is self-explanatory. If you know me, I am a more is better kind of guy. Once I start training for a particular type of thing, I can really go bananas doing just that. In the context of trails, that is fine if it accessible and you love it. But, my kids are at an age that makes getting away tough. We have family plans nearly every weekend and time is short. The best trails around are 35-45 minutes away. It just isn't convenient to do that everyday, or even every weekend. I do live in an area with some modest trails and decent vertical (75-85 feet of vert per mile) just running around my home. My plan is to be generally fit and just specifically fit enough to finish the race well.

Don’t fight winter 

This is a tough but obvious reality living in Colorado. Most of my favorite trails will be covered in ice and snow until April, at least. Trail running really gets good in the Front Range about May. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy a nice fresh powder run in the serene environment of a nice trails. But, last winter, I spent a ton of time running on ice and snow and was largely negative on many of those runs. It just wasn't fun, particularly the ice. So, my plan this year will be to not fight that. If we have a tough snow year, I'll stay close to home and work on "general fitness" until the trails are ready.

Emphasize body weight training for XT

And, finally, I want to continue my cross training regimen. In 2014, I managed to average about 1.5 - 2 sessions a week of cross training. I plan to carry forward that plan in 2015, but adapt to a bit more body weight training and less weight training. Instead of weights, I'll do more body weight exercises (bridges, single legged dead lifts, push-ups, and pull-ups for example), tons of core, and lots of balance work. The double duty on my legs of strength training plus lots of vertical took a toll in 2015.

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