Trail Monster Running

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Sunday, April 15, 2012

Big Mileage

I've always considered myself to be a low-mileage runner, even when training for an ultra I rarely seem to log as many miles as many other runners I know. However, for the past four and a half months I have stepped it up a little bit and have consistently averaged just over 50 miles per week, which for me is a lot. Over the past few years I have had a handful of big weeks, but I have never sustained this kind of mileage for this amount of time. It's also worth pointing out that I have quite a bit of variation in my weekly mileage, ranging from about 25 to 75 as I go through cycles of building up and recovering. Lately it seems that I have plateaued and a lot of my runs haven't been quite what I hoped for; for some runs it's speed, others distance, or just the feeling of being a bit worn down that has me feeling that my training for the Peak 50 isn't going quite as well as I'd like.

On the other hand, I'm still putting in more miles than I ever have before when training for a 50, and I've had some pretty good races so far this year. So perhaps it's my expectations that are a little out of whack. Part of this might have to do with my being more aware of what so many other people are doing for training since so many of my fellow Trail Monsters are training for spring ultras. It's great to be able to be inspired by others, but I have to be careful to run what works for me and not get caught up with other peoples plans.

Here's a summary of what I got up to in my highest mileage training week (although I didn't get in as much as I had planned). Oh yeah, I think I broke my little toe last Saturday night which lead to an unexpected rest day on Sunday 4/8.

Monday: Twin Brook - with Emma and the dogs
time: 50:37, distance: 5.8 miles, pace: 8:43
Easy paced run to test out the toe and make sure it wasn't badly damaged. There was some pain but not enough to significantly hinder my running.

Tuesday: Twin Brook - TMR TNR
time: 46:50, distance: 5.5 miles, pace: 8:34
Slightly quicker than the day before, but still a comfortable pace. Toe was still purple and swollen, and a little sore when running.

Wednesday: Roads from home
time:  2:35:00, distance: 20 miles, pace: 7:45
Since I was racing this weekend I couldn't get in back-to-back long runs so I opted for a mid-week long run, and went with roads to go easy on my toe. This was a pretty lousy run, the first 10 miles went by in 1:15 and the second 10 in 1:20. I had really hoped to maintain a consistent pace throughout but I felt crappy in the second half, even walked for a few minutes because my breathing was labored and my heart-rate felt too high. Felt pretty beat-up afterwards which I suppose is not surprising since this was my longest road run in quite a while.

Thursday: Leighton Hill - with the dogs
time: 46:15, distance: 5.25 miles, pace: 8:49
At the beginning of the week I said I was going to avoid hills and technical trails to make sure my toe had a chance to heal, so I'm not sure why I decided to head to Hardy Road and run a loop through the Skillins Tree Farm, power lines and up the first of the Three Bitches. I guess it's because the dogs like to run here. It was a fun run but my toe was a bit grumpy. My quads were pretty sore from yesterday's road run and the hills didn't help.

Friday: Roads from home
time: 43:36, distance: 5.45 miles, pace: 8:01
This was an easy road run just to try to shake out the lingering soreness from Wednesday's long run. Felt good apart from the tightness in my quads.

Saturday: Merrimack River Trail Race
time: 1:12:17, distance: 9.37 miles, pace: 7:42 (plus ~3 miles of warm-up and cool-down)
Ran a good race and got a course PR by nearly 3 minutes (previous best 1:15:05 in 2009). My legs still didn't feel as fresh as I would have liked, but at least my toe wasn't an issue. Definitely lacked strength on the uphills which come in the middle of the out-and-back course. After running right around a 7 minute pace for the first 3 miles I slowed on the hills in miles 4 and 5 and then pretty much hit a wall during mile 6 when I ran a 10:03 mile. I think the hills are steeper on the way back than on the way out, but still... I couldn't climb. It was hard to get my pace back down for the flat finish but did manage to get it close to 7 minutes for the last 1.37 miles. Finished 22/240 which I'm pretty happy with. I can't help but wonder if I could have gone a little faster had I not done the 20 mile road run in the middle of the week, but this wasn't my goal race so it's all good training for the 50 miler.

Sunday: Falmouth Trails - with Jeremy and Tyler
time: 4:16:21 , distance: 23.19 miles, pace: 11:04
My plan was to run 25-30 miles, but decided I'd go with what felt right rather than trying to get the numbers for my training log. I definitely wasn't feeling fresh when I met Jeremy and Tyler at 7AM, although I was pleased not to have any significant soreness after the race, just not super perky. Jeremy had a pretty sadistic plan for 35 miles that would take in all of Falmouth's best hills and gnarliest terrain. The first part of our run was a nearly 12 mile loop that brought us back to our cars for refueling. The second part of the run turned out to be an 11 mile loop, mostly on snomo trails that were new to us. With warm temps and big hills I was sweating a lot and drinking more than I was used to, and as a result ran out of water around mile 21. Jeremy tried to get me to refill my pack and go out for a few more miles but when we returned to the cars at 23 miles I felt ready to stop. My energy level was actually pretty good, my biggest concern was that after running 2 miles without any fluids I was in a state of hydration deficit that would be hard to come back from if I kept going. Maybe I would have been fine to keep running once I drank, but I decided that I'd rather end the week feeling good instead of running myself into the ground and needing to take more time to recover afterwards. The little toe was definitely complaining about the technical terrain, but it really doesn't effect my running. Tyler had turned back around 17 miles, to finish off with about 20, and Jeremy continued on for another 12+ miles after I stopped.

I came very close to hitting a total of 80 miles this week, but I'm glad that I decided to listen to my body instead of becoming a slave to the numbers. 77+ miles is still a lot for me.


unstrung said...

I love that you are so tuned-in to the present. It's no wonder that you run/progress like a crazy beast. Kudos on the big miles, even if they are just a byproduct of doing what feels right. Still wicked awesome.

pathfinder said...

congrats on the PR Ian...thats crazy weekly mileage. I didn't think at the time that mile 6 hill was bigger...but it was my slowest mile.

Sparkplug said...

Impressed with your consistent mileage this year so far, Ian. I think you have some good things coming! I totally get what you mean about finding it hard not to compare to others - with all the talented Trail Monsters in our group, it is tough to find and stick to what works for you without feeling like you are slacking (or at least it is for me)! But it is also always interesting to test something new (like big mileage) and see how it works out in the end for us. We are an experiment of one, as they say :-)

Aslo great job on the PR at the Rivah too - NICE!!

Scout said...

Holy moly! A 3 minute pr sandwiched in all those tough miles. Peaks coming down :D

mindy said...

What Scout said! Big miles, fast runs, injury are so superfit and ready to tear it up!

Jeremy Bonnett said...

Excellent day, great work and decision in the end!