I didn't quite make it through last year with two DNF's (which doubled my lifetime total) but for some reason the mind kept pressing on while the body disintegrated. I've been running trail ultra's for 10 years now, accumulating 24,704 myles while making it to the finish line at 64 ultras - something eventually had to give. Whether it was the mind or body, it was hard for me to take a step back and not do something I truly love.
Last October I decided to take that step back to put everything back together and re-evaluate my passions. I ran a total of 628 myles in 3 months and only ran when I wanted to and only if the body had allowed me to enjoy it. Rewinding to the beginning of last year, my job had me traveling quite a bit but I still wanted to maintain a race a month so the only way to do that was to race myself into shape. I picked 4 - 50 mile races in a span of 8 weeks and paid the price with shin splints. Doesn't sound too bad but since shin splints were the very thing that almost made me quit the Colorado Trail back in 2009, I had to let them heal or miss out on Hardrock. Next up was the lower back that I had been "putting up with" on and off for the past two years. If I would have just looked at the tread wear on my shoes I would have seen that my stride was not symmetrical. I was wearing through the tread on my left outside soul within two weeks. The PT in October told me I had a proximal rotated hip which caused my SI joint to cease up on the left side. Cindy Stonesmith fixed me up during Leadville this year but my non-symmetrical stride put the hip rotated again before I hit Winfield, resulting in a DQMITTFL. I did, however, manage to finish UROC 100K in Virginia afterwards but I did so only to get the sour taste out of mouth and because it was relatively flat on even running surfaces.
From October through December of last year I concentrated on core work every day. One of the books I purchased was Run with No Pain by Ben Greenfield , which had me doing very specific one sided resistance and stretches. The pain slowly went away and with a little maintenance I am now relatively pain free.
In January I put in 245 myles with another 40 on the skate skis for some cross training. I can't confirm this but I feel the skate skiing complimented the core work I was doing to straighten out my hip. My approach to training has taken a little twist as well. I have taken things I have learned from coaches I have had and combined them with nutrition. More on nutrition in the next paragraph. January training has been a base building month by using a heart rate monitor. I used the first 3 weeks with nothing over 150 bpm. Then for the last 3 weeks I integrated some tempo work twice a week in the range of 160-170 bpm. One workout designed as an LT (mile repeats) and one as a tempo (10 mile @ mp) each week, alternating weeks with flat and hills. Here is an example:
|Flat week||Hill week|
|Monday||2+ hrs||Long run||3+ hr||Long run|
|Tuesday||1.5 hrs||recovery||1+ hr||recovery|
|Wednesday||4 x 1mile||LT run||10 x 1 min (7%)||LT run|
|Thursday||1.5 hrs||recovery||1+ hr||recovery|
|Friday||10 mile||Tempo||2 x 20 min (undulating)||Tempo|
|Saturday||1 hr||recovery||2+ hrs||recovery|
This schedule has been giving me about 70 myles and 10+ hrs on the feet. Little by little I have been watching my HR drop with the same perceived effort during those long runs. For instance, in the beginning I averaged 145 bpm with a pace around 8:20 on a course that offers 1200 ft of climbing over 15 myles. Now the pace has dropped to 8:00 with the same average. As I get past The Buffalo 50 mile race I will drop the flat week and go strictly on the hill week to get ready for Hardrock and other 'hilly' 50 mile races. Here's a profile my most recent run to show where my fitness is at right now. Getting fit.
As some of you might know every year I give up a food that I really love and is really bad for me. This year it's bread. I also gave up coffee last September so the "Bakery and Espresso shops" are a sinful place. At any rate, I'm trying to teach my body to rely more on nutrient dense foods as opposed to carbohydrate dense foods. I have never been a good eater and always find myself gravitating to the sweets, pastas, and breads because they satiate me most. Call it a high carbohydrate craving that needs to come down. Truth be told there is a real chemical dependence here with serotonin but I won't get into it.
In the October 2012 issue of Ultrarunning, Sunny Blende wrote an article entitled "Metabolic Efficiency - Becoming A Better-Butter-Burner" and a light bulb went off in my head. I thought "I'm a carb-whore and that's what I burn, when it's gone so is my energy." Then I watched this and read "High Fat/Low Carbohydrate" by Tim Noakes. And the last piece of influence, First Endurance has a great article on how to implement a low carb diet into training and racing. Ultimately I am trying to teach my body to become more efficient, and by "efficient" I mean burn fat. I honestly feel I will be better off in the late stages of 100 mile race and I will be healthier because of my eating habits.
Will this work or is this a bunch of mumbo-jumbo? I don't know but I'm willing to give it a try and have been doing so since the beginning of the year. I believe there is real substance here and with all the processed food here in America, it's time to train my body to reacquant itself with nutritious based food and less carbohydrate dense food.
If you care to remember anything from this post, remember this "You will never out-train a bad diet"