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50K Training

Posted December 23rd, 2010 at 02:09 PM by Black Spurs

I think, although I haven't gone back and actually looked, that I have mentioned running or exercising in some capacity in these blogs/posts/ramblings that I do from time to time. Right now, my deer season has been sidelined in pursuit of a new endeavor: Running an ultra-marathon. I will try to post once a week about my longer trail runs on here, mainly as a way to keep a journal of these tasks. If you care to comment, feel free. Suggestions and tips are always welcomed. I have never run a full road marathon, and many think that tackling an ultra prior to a regular is too ambitious. But, hey, if I listened to what others think, I wouldn't have been able to do a lot of the things I have been fortunate enough to do so far in life. Then again, if I had listened to some, a few unpleasant things may have been avoided. But such is life...

As I built up my mileage through the summer after coming off of shoulder surgery, I noticed my runs becoming faster. Then, stupidly, I turned an 8 mile tempo run into a 13.1 mile race one week before the BR Half Marathon, which is a race I was using as a fitness test while training for the 50K in March. Well, I finished the 13.1 in 1:41:35, which is well beyond my previous best, but I also ended up with a foot injury that caused me to have to pull out of the BR Beach Half. In the meantime, I have made a new friend, Dana Miller, who is a five time champion of the Wasatch 100 mile endurance race. He has graciously agreed to help me out with the training for this 50K, which turns out to be 31.2 miles.

I arose on December 21, 2010 happy that no one would be hunting at the deer lease. I wanted desperately to get that first 20 plus miler in on those trails because they are very similar to what we will run on in Mississippi come March. I ate a small breakfast before the run, which is unusual for me. I had plenty of fluids and food for pit stops every 4 miles or so. I have run out to 17 miles before with no problems, but I didn't quite know what to expect those last 3 to 5 miles. I did know that Dana had told me that there are three things that are paramount to the success of completing an ultra with a respectable time: 1. Adequate fluids 2. Adequate caloric intake during the first 3 hours 3. Time on your feet, running.

The first 16 miles were about as pleasant as you could possibly imagine. About every 4 miles, I would arrive back at the truck where I had some food that consisted of raisins, GU gels, NutriGrain bars, a half gallon of water, Endurolyte electrolyte tablets. I carried 20 ounces of Powerade in my hydration belt. I could have used a little more in the fluid/electrolyte department, but I felt no worse for the wear until around 19 miles. It was at 19 miles, I started to feel pretty tired and got a hot spot on the bottom of my left foot, on the ball of the foot. At mile 20, I could feel my left and right calf start to knot up on me a little. I slowed down, adjusted my stride and continued onward. I completed the 21 miles in 3 hours and 38 minutes, which is about 10:24 per mile.

Upon further consultation with Dana, we discussed race strategies to be within the 5 to 5.5 hours for the 50K, which is a respectable range in which to finish. One thing we talked about was a 9:1 running/powerwalking technique. Many different ratios can be done, but the 9:1 ratio is something that is helpful in saving your legs for a hard push at the end when you are in good shape. I tried a variation of this last night on a 7 mile run. I ran the first 4 miles at an easy pace: 8:35, 9:10, 9:12, and 9:00 per mile on the first four. After the initial 4 miles, I walked the first one minute of each subsequent mile. The splits were: 8:08, 8:10, and 7:52. The last three miles were significantly faster than the first four. Granted, those were track miles, but the point, although counterintuitive, is that one can go faster by strategically mixing power walking breaks into a run as opposed to running the whole way. Some will argue this is not accurate, but not only have I seen it myself, Dana is an advocate of these techniques. And he is the only person I know personally who has consistently won ultra marathons. Don't get me wrong, I am not expecting to win the race, but I do want to have a respectable time for all this effort.

My next long run is scheduled for December 28th. It is a 4 to 5 hour trail run in which I expect to cover 20 to 25 miles using the 9:1 ratio. I will report my findings back with as many details as I can remember.

Black Spurs
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  1. Old Comment
    Awsome, I too love running and have been doing triathlons for almost 10 yrs now. I did a half marathon last year and finished with 8:21 mile and finished in 1:49:20.....was planning to do it this year but went hunting instead....didn't feel I had the running in like I had last year and ready to start getting back in shape...I'm 43 now and find its getting harder and harder but still love to compete...good luck to you and Ill look for more tips from you.
    Posted December 25th, 2010 at 03:40 PM by daddyd daddyd is offline
  2. Old Comment
    Black Spurs's Avatar
    Thanks. This is pretty much trial and error with me, mostly error. I totally blew the whole half marathon this year. But I was lucky enough to only miss about a week of running. Unfortunately, it was the week I was supposed to be racing. I just couldn't do it with the Plantar Fasciitis.
    Posted December 29th, 2010 at 05:37 PM by Black Spurs Black Spurs is offline

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