Sunday, August 23, 2015

It's Just Running. No Pressure.

It's just running. So just run. No pressure.

Not sure why I posted a training schedule for my upcoming Barkley Fall Classic 50K. I never successfully follow a schedule. I sign up for race, think I should "perform well" (whatever that means), then plan a training schedule, post it, follow the plan for about 2 weeks, then start skipping specific workouts and weekly mileage goals. I become frustrated. Why? Just because I failed to stick with an arbitrary training plan? Why feel bad about that? Yet, I typically feel guilty for not following the plan and being a failure. No more. An old buffalo running buddy, Wee-Haur, used to say "It's just running." Yep. So why put pressure on myself to perform in a pre-determined manner? It truly is "just running." So just run. No pressure. Fast or slow. Short or long. Roads or trails. Just run.

This revelation came to me during my long run yesterday while listening to the following Queen (with David Bowie) song:

"Let me out! Insanity laughs, under pressure we're breaking. Can't we give ourselves one more chance."

Time to give running another chance. Without pressure.

Freddie Mercury sure was amazing.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Barkley Fall Classic Training

I finished my 100th ultra/marathon last weekend. I now have 18 marathons and 82 ultras to my name. My attention has now turned to #101...the Barkley Fall Classic 50K on September 19. Rather than 50km (31 miles), it's more like 35-36 miles. All on ridiculous trails in backwoods Tennessee. It'll easily be the hardest race I've ever tried. Lots of extreme hills. Over 20,000' elevation change. Technical trails. Many unmarked trails. Minimal aid stations. Briars. With thorns. Big thorns.

No way to really train for this race when you live in flat central Illinois. But, I'll try my best. With only 5 more weeks to race day, there isn't much time. I experimented this past week with some "hill work" that might help me. Here's a typical week of training from now until Barkley:

Mon: 2-3 miles on treadmill at maximum incline (15%)
Tues: 7 easy miles on trails
Wed: 2-3 miles on treadmill at 15% incline
Thur: 10 miles on trails, 3-4 at tempo pace
Fri: off
Sat: 15-20 mile long run on trails
Sun: 3-5 easy miles on trails

Primary training focus is on more overall miles, almost all on trails, with long hill walks on treadmill. Touch of lactate threshold to increase stamina. I realize this is still insufficient to be ready for Barkley, but no one is ever "ready" for Barkley!

Saturday, August 8, 2015

DNF at Timed Ultra? Sad.

I "ran" the Howl at the Moon 8-Hour ultra today. Ended up stopping at 6 hours. I quit early. Is that a DNF?  Supposedly you can't DNF a timed event, but this sure feels like a DNF. Only 29.61 miles (nine 3.29-mile loops). Barely an ultra. No elaborate explanations. It's simple. Miles matter. Long runs matter. I didn't have either. I was unprepared and I paid the price. Nothing more to say.

Time to train for the Barkley Fall Classic. In only 6 weeks I'll be in Tennessee tackling one of the toughest races in the country. That race will punish even the well-prepared. I'm in trouble.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Pre-Howl Race Thoughts

My 14th Howl at the Moon 8-Hour ultra is coming up this Saturday. Only 4 days to go! I'm excited, but also realistic.  This will not be my best year.

Here are my statistics going into this race (13 previous races):

Total race mileage: 551.31
Average mileage: 42.41
Lowest mileage: 33.9 (2010)
Highest mileage: 47.06 (2006, 2008)
Best placing: 12th (2005)
Worst placing: 99th (2010)

My progressive goals for this race are simple and straight-forward:

1. Exceed 50km (31 miles)
2. Break 40 miles
3. Hit my "average mileage" for this race (42.41 miles)

If I break my average this year, I'll be very happy. Training has not gone well and my pneumonia in June knocked me out for about 4 full weeks. I'm back to regular running, but my endurance is simply not there. I'll be lucky to greak 40 miles at Howl. A 50km finish should be easy, but moving from 31 miles to 40 will be difficult.

My race strategy:

1. Keep the heart rate low from the beginning. Don't exceed 144 (about 89% lactate threshold, 67% heart rate reserve). Walk the hills. If I can keep it easy for the first 4-5 hours, then I _should_ have a little energy left for those tough last 3 hours. Walk when needed and don't give up.

2. Take in more calories. I'm relying on GU energy gels this time. I'll skip most, if not all, aid station food. Lost of gels (maybe one per 3.3-mile loop). Hopefully this will be easy on my stomach and also provide the extra calories needed to keep moving.

3. Leverage caffeine. Half my GU gels will have caffeine and I'll supplement with RunGum (caffeine and B vitamins) plus Tailwind sports drink (Razz Buzz flavor with caffeine). I can't stop moving if I'm jacked up on caffeine!

4. Wear my UnderArmour Heat Gear shirts. These technical running shirts really seem to work well in the heat. If we have a break in the humidity, they will wick sweat and cool me even better.

It's going to be fun to see all my ultra friends on the course. That's the benefit of a 3.3-mile loop you do for 8 hours. They pass you, you pass them. Lots of opportunities to chat. I wish all the Howl runners the best. Free beer is on me after the race...well, maybe that's Kennekuk's thing. Let's do this!