Thursday, April 12, 2007

Thanks, I feel better

Wed- 4miles- jog/walk (sore foot)

Okay first off thanks for the huge volume of comments and emails...I feel better. Living here where 2 miles is a long run for most and running for "fun" or for "training" is a foreign concept I often feel quite a bit more like a freak than normal. So writing to the masses of those that do similar running and then hearing from you all makes me feel good. And yes, all you gotta do is email about 2,000 people on a list serve pleading for comments, and whammo you get 10!

Anyway very interesting exchanges with some folks; thanks. I think all it really settled for me is that different strokes for different folks. I think my brother Tim might have expressed it best when he said:

"There are absolutely limitations that will be placed on performance by "fitness" - aerobic enzyme efficiency, lactate threshold, hemoglobin concentration, fast-twitch/slow-twitch muscle fiber percentages, etc. But once someone has built those to even a moderate level, I think their own viewpoint and pre-conceived notions about their ability to perform plays a huge role."

Sure, LONG long runs will build up the level of fat mobilizing enzymes, teach your body efficiency, build capillary networks in the muscles, accustom the body to the shear enormity of being out and moving/processing energy/taking impact/ect for hours on end, but I think their value most importantly may be improved confidence.

When I was training for the grand slam in 2002 I ran 11 runs of 24-40 miles in the month of March. I was trying something new, and believe I lost a bunch of my speed doing that type of training, but one thing became clear. I was 100% confident I then had the ability to finish the slam. So much so I even threw in MMT and Big Horn 100's as well. The Ultra distance no longer scared me as I knew my body could handle long slow slogs in the mountains, AND that I could recover quickly from such efforts.

I also have, in the 8 years I've been doing ultras, almost always used other ultras as preparation for my bigger more "focus" races. Only on a few occasions have I not done at least a 50 mile race in the 2 months prior to an attempt at a 70-to-100mile race. And all but one of those times when I did not, ended in a DNF. Was this due to my body not being prepared for the distance? Or was my mind not prepared? What is more important?

Again my brother has some good insight:
"Of course, right now you are looking to get back to running top performances in the ultrarunning community, and you will have to have the physical training behind you to do that. But just as importantly, you have to have the confidence (no doubts allowed) that you can do it."

He is absolutely right...and part of this is how far do I need to run in training here in the desert to mentally FEEL CONFIDENT I can run well in the Vermont 100? Since, again, I will not have any pre- 100miler races to both test myself physically and mentally. No RACE opportunity to get that "fix" of confidence that...Yes! I can not only complete the distance...but, I can run well.

For me a big part of my confidence in ultrarunning has come from the fact that I used to be a good deal faster over shorter distance races than the majority of the folks competing in ultradistance races. And interestingly when I was fit enough to run a 5K in sub 17min, I was able to run a 100 under 17 hours. When I was in 19min 5K shape I ran a similarly flat 100 in 20 hours(despite getting lost for over an hour). Thus, knowing myself and knowing that in order for my stomach to be able to process food and even coke/energy drinks I have to be running at a pace that is considerably slower than my current 5K race pace. So for me now the focus is on first getting the speed back. For me to feel like I have a shot at holding 9:00mile pace in Vermont I need to be able to feel like 7:00 mile pace is EASY. As the race comes closer, I will also need to get comfortable with that "exhausted by the shear distance" feeling in training prior to the July 21st race date.

In any event, thanks for the comments and debate...keep it coming!


WynnMan said...

LoomDog- Great post, I really think you nailed it on this. After talking with some very accomplished ultra runners. It is clear that everyone is different and all is relative. For instance, while communicating with fellow and very accomplished trail/mountian goat runner out west said that 60-65 miles a week tops, focusing on at least 2-3 anaerobic 8-10 milers a week. I've also taken ahold of this method as it makes running slow seem so much easier. However I also do longer runs on the weekend as I do not have the accumulated base from years of running quite yet. Right now I feel like I have a decent amount of speed going into my first 100m in June, it's the over 50mile factor that I have yet to experience. I'm wondering if I should do a couple 4-5 hour runs, however I don;t want to lose speed either. Typically most of my weekly runs are in the 10-13 mile range and a long run on the weekend of 2-3.5 hrs. and a tempo run or another long run. I have another 50k and 50mile coming up, so hopefully that will help in the "longrun" confidence area.

Did you focus more on speed or longruns/slow when you placed 2nd at Massanutten that year? Did you find that training to be ideal?


Loomdog said...

Wynnman! Thanks for reminding me. I had been meaning to describe what I ment by the importance of the LONG long run when I started all this by explaining what I had the most success with. My best running came in 2001 when I followed a hap-hazard schedule during my graduate work at UVA. That spring I ran manny hard efforts of 10-15miles including hill work, averaged about 60 miles a week with some higher ones and had a few training runs with the legend Dr. Horton as he preped for his Barkley finish. The ABSOLUTE best thing I did was a two day run through Shenandoah NP on the AT where we did 56 miles in 12:03 on Sat and on Sunday did 51 in 11:30. Both runs had 10,000 ft of gain and loss. This was 8 weeks prior to MMT. Then I ran BRR 50 after a very hard 15miler 4 days prior at a modest effort where I intentionoally started too fast to put myself behind in calorie intake to get the training effect of essentially suffering. That week nearly killed me but, I bounced back after a week of like 30miles. I finished off my prep for MMT with a hilly 35 miler in 6 hours 2 weeks prior to the race. Looking back I think this was nearly perfect, except now I'd do the last long run 3 weeks out from race day.

GotLegs! said...

LoomDog - I think you're right about the speed and distance combination. In 2005, I was running in the low 3 hour range for marathons although I wasn't doing marathon specific training. Since my PR is 2:58 (1993 - age 32), I was surprised that I could still run that fast. I loved my fast training runs which generally were 9-12 miles at 7-7:15 pace.

I also use ultra "races" as supported long runs. That year was the only time I didn't have a 50 miler 3 or 4 weeks before doing a 100 miler. I was in Texas visiting family and it was way too hot & humid. I could barely finish a 20 miler in 3 hours (9 minute pace). I came back and ran the last 32 miles of the CCC course (as I do every year), and ran a PR by over 1:45 (23:26) that year. The speed I believe really attributed to my time. Had I not run the distance before, there is no way mentally I could have overcome the lack of the distance training however.

Right now my speed is lacking and I'm focusing on getting in some good long runs. Hopefully, I will get in enough running to have fun at States - my first WS attempt. If all goes well, I'll follow that with the White River 50 and CCC 100, 4 weeks later. *tc

Good luck training!

Dave said...

For me, my experience isn't much like the very successful trail goat, but more like what Van Aaken promoted.

90% of my runs are at a pace that keeps my heart rate at between 70-80% of my maximum for the bulk of the run. For a 3-hour marathoner, this is usually not much better than 8 min/mi pace. Along with that, comes a long run of 3 hours or more that drains the glycogen and oxygenates the system. Also, along with that are occasional runs at 90% of maximum heart rate - either the last mile of a longer run - or a middle section - or some intervals. This is rarely more than 10% of total volume, and is as hard as I can go w/o going anaerobic. Roughly 1/2-marathon race pace.

This gets me to about 98% of peak fitness for fast times. In fact, off this kind of training, when I increased my mileage from 45/wk to 60/wk - my times came down about 15 sec/mile.

If I'm peaking for something, then, and only then, will I throw in anaerobic work.