Saturday, March 31, 2012

50k Training Progress

I don't know if this news has reached other parts of the country. It seems Micah True, the runner known as Caballo Blanco in "Born to Run" has been missing since not returning from a planned 12 mile run this past Tuesday in Gila, New Mexico. Let's hope for the best.

Having the week off for spring break has allowed me to run a bit more than I might have if I had been working, but there are only so many hours that one should train at a given point. Late yesterday afternoon I ran the hills on the open space nearby for about an hour and a half.

On Tuesday I ran about 3 hours and 25 minutes. I started at Chautauqua Park, ran south along the Mesa Trail to Bear Canyon, and then north up around the back side of Green Mountain to its summit for a net elevation gain of about 2400 feet. The descent took about 25 minutes less than the run up. I wanted to put about five hours together between two days, so the following day I ran for an hour and a half choosing a route similar to the one mentioned in the previous paragraph.

On the previous Saturday I ran trails in Eldorado Springs including Rattlesnake Gulch to the railroad tunnel. On a couple of runs recently I have experience an irregular heartbeat. I can't say that it has been atrial fibrillation each time or not, (something I have had diagnosed in the past). My impression of a-fib is that the rate goes to a flutter, which has occurred, but on this run it seemed that it was not so fluttery, but definitely not steady. I had to hike a couple of times on some of the 15% grade. At some point on the descent the beat returned to normal. It's strange, I can start a run with the beat irregular and at some point it converts to normal and now recently I have had it go irregular on a run which started out with a normal heartbeat. I have cut back on the caffeine although I typically drink half-caf anyway. This morning I'm at 1/3 caf and have done just 1/4 on some days. It may be best just to wean myself from it completely.

Muscle-wise things feel good; I never get sore, but I can feel some subtle tendon issues in the heel and plantar area in the left foot and some sensitivity where I've had stress fractures in the right foot. I think it will all hold up ok if I maintain a regimen of some rest days and stretch a bit during non-running times. My weight had gone up in February; I was caught off guard to find myself at 185 when I had been 178 at the new year. I'm back to 182. It seems to make sense to have as little extra as possible so that I'm not carrying that weight for 31 miles, but it may not hurt to have a little to draw from for fuel.

A nice surprise is that my running-resistant son Alex expressed an interest in doing the 50k. Actually, he expressed an interest in the 12 mile version of the same Dirty Thirty event but it is already full. He ran cross country in high school, does parkour, runs intermittently, and has 9 miles in the bank for training. He's 21 though and figures he can catch up quickly. My concern is that he has running-induced asthma which seems brought on by cold temperatures or altitude; this race takes place between 7900' and 9400'. We live at 5200' but some added acclimation may be in order.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Do as you're gonna do

A simple rule for training has evolved for me over time based on observation. Do in training what you're going to do in the event. A notable breach of this axiom occurred last winter when Anton Krupicka came in second in the Rocky Raccoon 100. He was in great shape from having maintained a almost unfathomable plateau of training intensity; His training for January 2011 had almost 700 miles and over 100,000 feet of ascent and descent much of that on ice, snow pack, and rocky trail. The Rocky Raccoon is a flat course; in effect he still hasn't recovered from that race. His body wasn't trained for the flat. He certainly had the horsepower, but the suspension wasn't designed for the angles of impact.

The Dirty Thirty 50K is almost all single track mountain trail with long ups and downs. Only eight percent is considered flat. I figure I am going to be there for somewhere around 7 1/2 hours after some period that will be considered a taper. My training so far has mimicked that scenario. I have run once each of the last three weekends without any midweek running. Yesterday I ran for just shy of three hours on icy, snow-packed, and rocky trails with most of the incline between 6 and 15 percent. Oh, and it was windy.

If you haven't spent sometime along the Front Range of Colorado you may not know what windy is. Pressure gradients can cause wind velocities of over 100 miles per hour. I don't know the wind speed of yesterday, but there were times that heading into the wind I was almost held to a standstill, running perpendicular to the wind caused my trailing leg to blow behind the other leg and strike the heel of the lead foot as it came forward, and with the wind at my back I couldn't synchronize by legs to the pace that the wind wanted to carry me. Fortunately, steep mountain sides and trees protected me somewhat. Any trees or branches that would blow down would already be down from previous winds. I was still vulnerable to the wind even when I got back to the car. I was sitting with one leg out the door as I drank some water; suddenly, a gust whipped the half-open door against my shin. At the moment I thought ooh, that was hard, but I think that in my endorphin-infused state I didn't feel it. Today it looks like someone tried to raise a purple baseball under my skin by striking it with a bat.

The point I was leading to earlier is that I see myself running the 50K on June 2nd without being able to rack up the miles typically expected for such a distance because of various obligation but I figure that if I can continue to run progressively longer distances on steep terrain each weekend I should be able to go thirty miles or so by June. I anticipate adding a shorter long run on Sundays as I move through March and April. I may even begin that today with an hour recovery run. I expect to insert a 5 to 10 miler on Wednesdays.

I'm not saying that one should exclusively mimic the anticipated activity; some speedwork makes sense to have a faster marathon and some longer runs help with endurance in a shorter race, but I believe it makes sense that the bulk of the training should be geared toward the nature of the event.

Yesterday's run took place in Eldorado Springs. About 12 miles from the house, it is the closest access I have to mountain trails. I had planned to include Rattlesnake Gulch in the course but as I turned onto its trailhead I could see its north facing incline was a river of ice. I continued west and took the sunny snow-barren trail up the south facing side of Eldorado Canyon. Pictures below show the cold shady gulch with its reddish scar where the railway passes between tunnels. The railway is about 1000 feet above the creek at the bottom of the canyon that lies between where the photo was taken and the railway.

I have one physical concern so far. I've had a metatarsal stress fracture each of the past two summers in my right foot. First it was the second metatarsal and last summer it was the third. I don't feel pain when I run, but I notice pain the day after if I step with pressure directly under them. My impression is that bones end up stronger at the break, but in light of my experience of the past two summers and what I anticipate doing to it over the next three months I am concerned.