Monday, March 19, 2012


Every training plan needs some training elements, right?  I like to be very specific with my training so I can get the most bang for a limited amount of time. I can't log big miles. Back in the late 90's and through 2003 I would stack big weeks of long training runs. Though that got me where I wanted to be it really took a toll on my body.  I would find myself struggling with minor injuries and more often I was sick. There were training plans where I logged 10+ weeks at 100+ miles. That just doesn't work for me. My body won't take it and since it takes me a long time to run that many miles time become a factor. :) Below are some of the elements I have included in my training plan for Ulmstead 100M.

Periodization or Cycle Training: I like to work in 3-4 week cycles.  As I head into the Peak Phase I like to bump it down to 3 week cycles because when I am logging more than 70 miles a week I need that recovery week sooner or push myself over the edge.

Speed Sessions: This element is the most crucial for me. I need to work for every ounce of speed I have so having at least 1 solid speed workout per week is critical, maybe 2.  I started with determining a VDOT so I could use the Daniels Method of training.  This method works really well for me during Ultra training.  The speeds are not too intense to dig into other training but very effective is gaining speed.  Once I had a number I had 5 types of speed workouts. True T-Pace sessions, Cruise Intervals at T-Pace, Sustained M-Pace session, Segmented M-Pace Work, and finally VO2 Max Intervals.  For the first part of my training in Dec and Jan I alternating between True T-Pace, Cruise Intervals, and both M-Pace types of workouts.  During the Feb I did only long M-Pace work.  In March only VO2 Max intervals (long track workouts) and one shorter M-Pace type of workout. On a recovery week I would only do 1 speed session.

The Long Run: Of course every plan needs a long run.  I don't like to do long slow runs very much. I like to add quality into my long run and keep it under 5 hours most of the time. Unless there is a really cool group run. In the final 2 weeks of training I will push it to 6 hours but beyond that, unless it's for Hardrock, it's too much for me. I have several workouts I like to do for the long run. The Progression run, The 10 min, 4 min at AT cycle run, Block runs (varying intensity in blocks), 15 min. easy running with 30 sec. sprints throughout, long AT hill repeats or a Goal Pace Run.  A bunch of options for long runs. I pair these appropriately with they type of speed session so I cover all the upper zones in a weeks time.

Recovery Run: Usually 2 recovery run per week. In the Peak Phase one of these will be 90-120 minutes of total cruising and maybe power-hiking if necessary.

Back to Back Runs: Every Ultra runner generally doesn't feel complete without the back to back. I am one of them. Though I only do back to back long sessions in the Peak Phase so 6 weeks, before the taper.  I like to build my back to back runs so I get a good hard session on one day and the next is easier but back end pacing or focus. This helps me be ready to run on very tired legs and reminds me that a huge part of the 100M run is the metal hurdle we reach at 60+ miles.

Off Days: I suck at off days. I don't like them and struggle to stick with them. Though I know they are a huge corner stone for improvement I still stink at taking them.  I plan at least one day off.  On a recovery week I take 2 days off.

Cross Training: For this training plan I had to do some MTBing in Dec, Jan and Feb. I needed to get on the bike in order to ride Old Pueblo 24HR.  This was actually really nice!  I did back to back on Fri/Sat and rode on Sun with Bill. I only rode for 3 hours max per session in training for OP24HR. It was the perfect recovery session after a week of solid running. When I was done with the race in mid Feb. it coincided nicely with the Peak Phase for Ulmstead.  I bumped my back to backs to 3-6 hours of hilly effort on Fri.  Saturday would be shorter, flatter and faster but no more than 4-4.5 hours.

I have 2 weight sessions a week.  One upper and one lower and Bikram 2X per week.  Can you tell I like details? I use heart rate training for some of the longer stuff when pace won't really work.  I am anxious to see how Ulmstead pans out.  I feel like I am getting in better shape with this focus on training. I hope it works because if it doesn't I am going to have to really hold fast to my goal of no coach.  Wish me luck!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Fortitudine vincimus - By endurance we conquer!

I have some specific goals for 2012. Nothing all that earth shattering but I am finding them to be frustratingly that ok word combination? It might be because they have to do with habits and routines. The two things I really really like. First, no coach other than myself. Second, add some sort of restorative workout to my weekly routine. Third, to change up my weight room routine. They seem simple enough but not easy for me to implement. I take pride in the one thing and that's the ability to endure. Once I wrote these goals down I felt the urge to see them through. I knew this would be the case. That is why writing them down was so difficult. I am a dreamer/flounder-er by nature but have taught myself to stay on task. It's not simple to cage the dreamer but ultimately I have found that managing my dreams with the accountant like nature serves me best. When it came time to cement this in writing I knew I had to act on it or suffer my own disappointment. Interestingly this gives more freedom to be successful in all parts of my life.

Goal 1: No coach, uhggg. I thrive on accountability, sad but true. I am not that interesting in what I think! There is no doubt accountability drives me and I love it. Being accountable to myself is not a fire starter. I made this decision because I felt it was time to use what I have learned. Also, I know more than I want to know about how I function and what makes me stronger. I also know a lot about endurance training, I know how to fuel myself through 100M with ease, I know how to manage my pace and mostly I know when I am in good shape. Since I have been coached by Scott, Matt and Howard and followed their plans to letter I have a really good idea of what I need to do and what works for me. I feel it's time to give myself the opportunity to combine all I know to make me better. I can write a great training program but can I follow it?You would think so but it has been extremely challenging. I am incredibly co-dependent on people when it comes to running. I get charged being around people, answering to people and being held accountable to people. I am fortunate to have a solid group of amazing friends to run with. The issue is I want to run with them, whatever their running, all the time. That makes sticking to a plan harder. Nobody is expecting me to adhere to a plan. Also, when I fork out money I plan to get the most for it. I hadn't realized just HOW co-dependent I really am.  It's been good for me but I can't tell you how many times I wanted to re-visit this goal. The year is young so hopefully I can endure, sustain and hold strong. Hopefully I will become an even better runner. Race, by race I will have my answer.

Goal 2: Restorative!, Yuk! Over the last couple of years I have noticed a couple of things. First, I am super tight. My body is just bound up. I roll and try to stretch but not with any regularity. My posture is not great and I look bent and hunched, ick! I cram my days full and the first to go is anything restorative. Fairly regular massage is the only thing that has saved me. I have been super fortunate to escape any serious injuries so far but I felt I was riding a fine line as of late. Not only was I pretty bound up I was shrinking! Oh boy, how does a 5'2" person shrink? My mid back was disappearing and with the additional of MTBing it was become incredibly tight and inflexible. It was also sore often. All of this drove me to give Bikram Yoga a try. Why Bikram? Because of the heat and the length of time you hold a pose! With my very tight muscles I needed the long sustained heat to open up. Adding this was mentally challenging too. I am not a fan of yoga in any form, I am not a heat lover and frankly I don't like to be that

still and quiet. However, I committed to do it 2X per week for 10 weeks then re-evaluate. The first 4 sessions were brutal. I don't sweat when I run at all especially as of late. I have never worn deodorant! I don't sweat and I don't stink, not kidding. Bikram was going to make me sweat and at first my body completely protested. Not only that but I was a total abomination to yoga. I knew it would be bad but I was rather frightened at how inflexible I had become. Also, any static contraction of my lower extremities was a joke. Very eye opening. Speaking of eye opening I learned another thing about myself (just when you think you can't learn anything else).  I never look at myself in the mirror for more than a glance. I was super uncomfortable staring at myself for 90 minutes. The negativity was so oppressive. Finding every flaw and imperfection was not what I expected. Looks like this too is going to be something I NEED to endure! It took me about 3 classes before I decided I had a self image issue and needed to get a handle on. I have never really thought about it until I was forced to reckon with it 2X a week for 90 minutes. I know I am a perfectionist but why couldn't I look at myself? I worked on finding every beautiful thing I could and for the first 3 weeks all I could find was my neck! Pretty sad to say the least. I was very disappointed in myself. I gradually got more opened up in my body and could see huge improvements. It was a tough first 2 weeks though. My body felt like it got hit by a truck and things were poppy and cracking like crazy. I also found some incredible ways to view myself for 90 minutes and eventually began to thrive on the challenge. Finding beauty everywhere and embracing myself with a different more positive outlook. I stuck with my 10 week goal and extended it to 20. It has been almost a miracle. After the 2nd class and my second viewing of my nearly naked body I decided to measure myself from my collar bone to my pelvic bone. I thought I looked very scrunched. I apparently was because I have grown my midsection 1.2 inches! No wonder I was so tight in the back and hips.  Dr. Tollenaar (chiro) constantly says, "wow". Now, I crave it and went from an abomination to an example. Hopefully I will love it in the summer when it's warm out. Right now it's pretty easy to go into that hot room ;) Oh, and I am sweating on my runs now, so weird.

Goal 3: The weight room: I love the weight room and for years have done consistent solid training. Though I have changed up the routines I was feeling over muscled in some areas. I love muscle but I don't like big!  I am tiny person who can put on muscle just by looking at dumb bells (or at least that's how I feel). My body type is very proportionate. I am lucky to have that type. Runners don't need big muscles to run well.  I think there's a balance for sure but I felt I was getting out of balance. In addition, I wasn't loving how I looked. The biggest indicator that I needed to make a change was my inability to move functionally!  I was horrified when I worked out with a trainer who put me through a functional routine and I failed badly! My squats were horrible, Walking lunges just about ripped my legs apart and my shoulders were so tight they wouldn't move more than about 3 inches without hyper extending other body parts. Being tight was one of the major problems so Goal 2 would help with that. However, I was determined to become more functional. I wanted to be quick and agile and not feel like I am going to bust something if I took a wrong step. I also wanted to change my structure some. Instead of 3-4 days a week in the weight room doing dumbbells and loaded bars I was now doing 2X a week. One session of upper body functional work and one day of lower body functional work.  Both challenging and hard. I am very sore but in a different way. I was not a fan of the workouts at first because the pump from lifting was gone. The isolated muscle wasn't sore. Also, mentally I felt like I was letting years of hard work go. I knew I needed to stick with it though. Mainly because I was functionally off! I wanted to remedy that and improve my running. My body alignment was slowly shifting and each week I would be able to perform a bit better. I have lost some mass but I am happier this way as long as I stay lean. Good thing Girl Scout Cookie season is coming to an end. :)

I plan to stay at this for 2012 and see what comes of it.

Friday, March 16, 2012

What a difference a year makes!

I have been super lazy about blogging. I have a ton of excuses but won't even start. 2012 has started off amazing! Trying to figure out what I wanted to focus on with regards to running or MTBing was hard. However I finally got a grip and have signed up for most the races I want to do.  With Ulmstead 100M looming I have spent most of my time running and very little time on the bike. After Javelina 100M where my lack of overall mileage really showed me who's boss I wanted to get more time on my legs for Ulmstead.  Without the aid and accountability of coach I was left to my own devices. It's been interesting trying to corral my desire to run with all my friends all the time. I have been fairly diligent. There were a couple of weeks where I got out of control but all in all I would say it's been a good challenge. I won't use the word success yet. After Ulmstead I will be able to tell if flying coachless has worked. Since I have the fortunate opportunity to work with 3 great coaches I have tried to combine some of the methodology I learned plus add in what I know I need.

The biggest news I have to share is the amazing race I had a Old Pueblo 24HR MTB.  With my longest session on my MTB being 2 hours I was really concerned about how my body would hold up for 24 hours in the desert. Since I have been logging some really great miles and awesome running workouts I was certain I would have no issue hanging strong for the 24 hours.  But, what about my butt!  Not to mention my hands and feet.  All the contact points with bike have very little endurance.

Even undertrained I was really excited to go back to this race. It's really much easier to go into an event with very low expectations :) In 2011 this was first MTB race I entered. At that time I was still learning how to pedal, which brake was the front and how to unclip without incident. I was incredibly thrilled to just see what kind of MTBer I have become in a years times. On Friday we went out to per-ride the course and from the moment I clipped in I was forever enlightened. I was not the same person who showed up there last year.  Absolutely everything was different! My body, my outlook, my mental state, my ability and almost every single ounce of me was different, better and certainly more confident. With a smile as wide as I my face would allow I rode with ease of effort and not one ounce of fear. I blew my own mind! At this point in life to be able to experience such a huge shift is a gift. Within just one short year, wow.

There wasn't one piece of that course that scared me. There wasn't one section I felt anxious about and for most of the race I had to remind myself to not get cocky or go too fast.  A far cry from the race report form last year.  I rode 34 more miles in 2 hours less this year.  On top of it I felt good the whole time.  My back was hurting some and I felt my contact points but I am still in shock at how my body responded.  Better yet the strength and power I had on the bike was night and day. I did take one good fall but my bike took the brunt of it. I took out a paddle cactus and over 20 thorns got my front tire.  Thanks to STANS I just spun it and bounced it a couple of time and it re-sealed perfectly.  I did make the mistake of trying to pull a few thorns out.  After watching the bubbling and hearing air quickly leave my front tire I just spun it again and it sealed.  My hand got a couple of thorns but I pulled them out with my teeth and was off.  With only a small bruise on my knee and an extra boost of adrenaline I was reminded that night riding is not yet my strong suit.

Though I had great race Bill did not.  He and Darin were off to a blazing start but Bill fell on his second lap and dislocated his shoulder. I had no idea he was at the hospital being put under so they could re-set the shoulder.  On my 8th lap I was getting very suspicious since I hadn't seen them.  After they arrived back and Bill was sleeping all drugged up Darin came out and gave me the news then rode with me.  We came home and Bill had shoulder surgery.  He is doing really well and is already making huge progress with his PT.

Now that Old Pueblo 24 HR MTB was done it was 6 weeks of Peak training for Ulmstead 100M.