Tuesday, March 31, 2015

March Training Wrap

Let's just start with the raw stats:
  • Miles - 280 Miles (2nd most all-time, 309 in July 2012)
  • Time* - 45 Hours (2nd most all-time, 55 hours in July 2012)
  • Vertical** - 22K (very pedestrian number, around 10th all-time)
* I didn't count race months in this because it skews the training data. For example, in Sept of 2014, Bear 100 was 30 hours in just one day!

** A quick note about vertical gain: I bought a Suunto Ambit 2 this year and am now able to track my vertical gain with altimeter data. Previous years gains were tabulated by Strava, which appears to be generous by roughly 15-20% for the routes I typically run.

My biggest training month ever was July 2012 as I peaked for LT100. I have never taken on another goal with the same gusto as I took on that race. However, I also wound up injured the week of the race. I have been in sort of a rut the past few years of constantly being worried about that happening again and unwilling to push as hard, constantly seeking the perfect balance between training and recovery (like anyone knows where that line is!).

My big picture thoughts for this month were shaped by reading an interview with Matt Carpenter and re-reading Lucho's famous Quality vs Quantity rant. First of all, I really like Matt's idea of not tinkering with things for 5 weeks. That sort of works well with my idea of starting to only look at my training by month (instead of weekly). The one comment that always stands out for me after reading Lucho's post is this: "Once you have built an adequate base then quality is king!". (Of course, he goes onto qualify that as quality is never always more is better.)

To summarize, the first 12 weeks of training now have been mostly about build up and easy volume. I have been doing lots of hilly, low intensity road running with just a little bit of quality and trails thrown in. I am something like 200 miles (40%) ahead of my intended volume for the year. That leads me to believe that I have done a good job of base building (almost 90% of my miles in Zone 1 or Zone 2) but that I may be reaching the tipping point of falling in love too much with volume as a metric for training. I am certainly getting good HR feedback and know that I am at a level typical for me after a true base-building period.

Now comes the crucial question, how do I spend the last 12 weeks of training before the most-hyped event of my life? When looking for clues, I try to see what has worked well in previous training cycles. Last year, when training for the North Fork 50 miler, my "A" race for the year, May was a monster month for me. I raced three times that month, twice as part of a back-to-back weekend. Considering that was my best ultra result ever and the same weekend as WS100, I think the lesson is to do plenty of quality in May! The risk is that I was never right the rest of the summer, clearly spending everything I had in May and June. So, it must be timed right.

At this stage, I think it would be best to ease off the miles just a bit and force myself to take one day a week off. And, I need to really make a focus on adding one or two quality/structure days per week. Finally, I need to start getting out to the trails a bit more as I increase the focus on my B2Bs.

Before I go, here are a few updates from my goals:
  • I have definitely started to incorporate some heat training into my runs, mostly just by mixing it up and getting out midday on hotter days. I won't count this as true heat training, but definitely working in that direction.
  • Night running has become a good focus and something I am ahead of schedule tinkering with. I have now done two night runs and one early morning run (with a headlamp) on trails. It definitely feels like it is paying dividends.
  • Volume, as I mentioned above, has been a slam dunk.  I am averaging close to 60 miles a week for the year, well above my intended 55 mile per week goal. And I already have two 70+ mile weeks in the bag.
  • I still haven't quite nailed the "light quality" or true quality workouts the way I would like. I've spent quite a few days just logging miles.
  • Winter is over, so I think it is fair to check off "Don't fight winter" from my list. It is April (tomorrow) in Colorado, so there are likely still some challenging days of weather ahead, but nothing like January and February!
  • Cross training is something I always feel I need to work more on, but somehow I always cobble together 2-3 sessions a week, so this is a pass, I think.
  • Trails and vertical is definitely an area I suddenly feel lacking. The plan was to not overdo it, but I definitely feel an urge to get out there more and get prepared for the specificity of doing a trail race.
One additional note, I've been tracking my time walking my dog. This is somewhat silly, but it is does add up to about 40 extra miles per month. I like to do this as a cool down after my long runs on the weekends, when it is convenient that is. It is also a good time to just hang out and chat with my wife!

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