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.

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