Becoming an octamilarian, mile intervals and a 50k PR…
Back At It…
It’s been awhile since I’ve recapped the ol’ training, but I’m back now. After an ankle sprain killed my running streak on 2/14/16 (R.I.P), I had to take a little time off, but training has been great since I’ve been back. I was able to hit about 67 miles for the week of 2/22/16, with a 28 mile solo long run that was tough but my body held up fine. I can tell that I’m much stronger now than I was leading up to my 50 mile race last December. So coming out of a strong return week, I geared up for what is planned to be my two biggest volume weeks, and last of this build-up, before the 100k. Eeek.
March Mile Madness
Last Tuesday I set out on a 12 miler with the intention of picking up the pace and tickling that lactate threshold, something I haven’t really been able to do for a very long time – the ol’ calves tend to get pissed off when the pace dips below 6:30/mile. BUT, I think I’m getting close to cracking the decade-long mystery of my chronic calf strains, and it’s exactly what I thought all along: tight hips. Recently I’ve been actively trying to engage my glutes (butt) when running and have found that it takes a lot of stress off of the smaller muscles in the calves. More on this in another post…
So back to the run. I decided I would break my run into hard mile efforts with mile long recovery at a steady-state effort (quick but comfortable), book-ending the meat of the workout with a 2 mile warm up and 2 mile cool down. The hard effort would start around half marathon pace and progress faster towards 10k pace at the end. I ended up with 5 hard effort miles and 4 steady state miles in between. The workout went swimmingly. Here are my splits (hard effort bolded):
- 2 mile warm up: 8:27, 7:59
- 8:15 (starting to feel it)
- 2 mile cool down: 8:13, 7:34
The hard efforts averaged out to 6:24 per mile, which I’m pretty pleased with. As I’ve focused on building my aerobic and muscular endurance to handle the 100k distance, I’m beginning to see that the endurance has improved but the speed has not. These kinds of workouts will be really important for me to take the next step when it comes to ultramarathons – not just completing the distance but actually racing.
The Rise of the Octamilarian
Yea, I made that word up, so what? And I created a definition for it: One who runs 80 miles per week. It can be applied to other mileage ranges, like septamilarian, sextamilarian, pentamilarian, and so on.
Anyway, yea, I cracked the 80 miles/week barrier last week for the first time since 2003. And the best part is that I’m not completely thrashed! Because this training cycle has been a steady 16 week volume increase (with the exception of #kanklegate) my body has adapted to the progressive increases in mileage to the point where this was the logical next step in fitness improvements.
There is another reason to celebrate this beyond being a total mileage whore, and that is that running starts to become easy for me when my fitness level is able to handle 80+ miles per week. I found that while training for college cross country, once I hit that 80 miles per week threshold, my easy runs became more fluid, the pace was quicker, and distance flew by. Hills also became flatter and the pace for hard efforts began to drop naturally, without speed training.
In 2002, after a summer of base training where efforts never exceeded tempo pace and weekly mileage peaked at 107 miles/week, I was able to run a 5xMile workout (with 1 minute recovery) at 5:05-5:08 per mile. Granted, I was used to running faster paces back then, but it goes to show just how effective high mileage can be for me. I’m hitting another 80+ mile week this week before cutting back mileage and tapering for the 100k on 4/2.
A New 50k PR? A New 50k PR.
While pace was not the focus of my long run on Saturday, it happened to work out that way. I had the pleasure of running with my two main men Jaime and Rocky through the hills of Griffith Park, shooting for about 30 miles for my longest run of this cycle. We chose Griffith because they were having marathon/half marathon race there hosted by local RD Keira Henninger. Both Jaime and Rocky’s girlfriends were racing the half marathon, and they wanted to be at the finish to cheer them in. They were both shooting to hit about 20 miles on Saturday, so we got a 5:15am start to allow us enough time in the hills to complete the run and see the girls finish. Both Molly and Steph ran awesome, which is exciting as they have been training hard and a solid performance was definitely warranted. Steph recapped her race on her own site, While You Were Sleeping In. Go give it a read for a play-by-play of her race experience.
It turns out that running with guys who are shooting for 10 miles less than you leads to a bit of a faster pace than I was planning on. Led by Jaime, who was feeling good that day, we found ourselves humming along at 8:15 pace at times and I just tucked in the back and tried not to think too much about the pace. We hit 20 miles, 3,800 ft of gain, and the finish line well ahead of schedule at about 3 hours and 40 minutes (I estimated a 4 hour finish). At this point, the guys dropped off and I was on my own to finish the last 10 miles. Recognizing the impact of a fast pace, I opted to keep the remainder of the run pretty flat and just cover the distance.
Once I got out on the perimeter trail, I fell back into a quicker pace as I ran alongside marathoners on a 6 mile out and back section. At my marathon mark, I was around 4:35 of elapsed time since the start of the run and was still feeling pretty good. I made the decision there to tack on another mile to run a full 50k. Why not, right?
Once mile 28 hit, I was starting to feel it. The deep ache of long miles flooded my legs as I slogged through the soft sand of the horse trails. Void of technological distractions (read: iPod), I was left to my own thoughts and internal arguments with the “just stop” demons. As I turned around to head back to the finish line I was thrilled to realize that I had been gradually climbing for the last 3 miles and had a lovely net-downhill to the finish. I forced a smile, encouraged marathoners that I ran by, saw some familiar faces, gave high fives and gummy bears, and plugged along.
Then I hit 31 miles. Elapsed time on the watch: 5:25:18 – a new 50k PR. Granted, the only official 50k I’d run was a miserable, cramp-filled, hot and windy experience, but I beat that finishing time by almost 40 minutes. Pretty encouraging result for a long training run leading up to my longest race yet.
The math I had done in my head was wrong, and I still had over a mile to go to reach the finish line. So I turned up the side trail and plodded along back to the parking lot stopping the watch at 32.07 miles, 5:37:42, 3,941 ft.
What’s On Deck?
I have a few goals for next week(s):
- I’ll be aiming for another 80+ mile week this week. The long run will be shorter, but I’ll be hitting a back-to-back: 24 & 20 miles.
- With only 3 weeks until race day, I need to dial in my nutrition/diet better (that sentence was typed while eating pizza…). Not trying to lose weight, but instead feed my body the nutrients it needs to be strong and healthy.
- Continue with yoga. This has helped me a lot so far, I can really feel a difference in leg freshness and the hip openers work wonders for me. The core work is an added bonus.
Run Streak: 10