I am going on one month without a run longer than sixteen miles. The problem right now is not the legs but what is between my ears. I can only use the tired excuse for so long before I have to realize that something else is happening.
I quit the Never Summer 100k at the 50 mile mark and took basically the next week entirely off from running. I then did two of my biggest weeks back to back. The first week was sixty one miles and the next week was seventy one with forty nine of those coming over two days back to back with 6,400 feet of vertical. Then I decided to do a sixteen mile (3,400′ of vert) race the following weekend. This is when I first felt the fatigue as my legs seemed to have no spring in them.
I decided to make the next week easy and took three days off after the Continental Divide Trail Race and then added a rest day between each easy day of running along with being at lower altitude for most of the week visiting family in New England. When I returned home I figured an easy two laps around Stagecoach Reservoir would be a nice mellow long run to get back into the swing of things. When I got about a mile from finishing the first lap my mental strength laid down and I decided to call it a morning at ten miles. This mental drag seems to be limited to runs over two hours as I have had no problem with efforts in that time range and even adding intensity during those workouts.
I think I have allowed the mental laziness to persist knowing that next weekend I will be pacing a friend at Run Rabbit Run for twenty to twenty five miles followed by a fifty mile race down in the Denver area the following weekend. These runs will force me to go over twenty miles but I don’t think relying on external motivation will result in my best efforts pacing or finishing my first set-distance ultra.
I need to regain the mental edge I had all spring and summer. The plan is to cover twenty plus miles tomorrow morning not because it is necessary to pace next weekend or finish a fifty in two weeks, but to get my head back on straight. Time to focus on mental strength.
Thank god for Nashville last week because this week back in Colorado couldn’t have been worse when it comes to getting ready for a hot weather race this upcoming Saturday. I did get a wonderful uphill run in as the ski area got the road up to Four Points plowed which gives a roughly four and a half mile uphill with approximately 2,500 feet of vertical (I did not run the entire way to Four Points). What I did notice this week was the importance of good sleep. We have a sick dog which means less sleep than normal and I felt terrible after my two straight days of running back in Colorado. The tail end of the week brought fresh snow so of course that meant skiing so I was able to get a decently long ski effort on Sunday.
Running – 24.7 miles with 2,621 feet of vertical (4:12)
Skiing – 8.9 miles with 4,534 feet of vertical (3:11)
This Saturday is the first race of the year. I feel good going into it even though I thought I would have more running miles under my belt heading into it. I am cautiously optimistic but am scared of the heat. I’ll just have to work on heat management (ice, ice, ice) and stay on top of any issues that pop up.
Last week was a good week. Got around eleven hours of training in. Wanted to run more but the weekend snow storm changed the training from running to skinning up the ski area that closed a week before. The snow got progressively better over the three days as my legs struggled to recover from all the uphill along with the shredding they received during a steep two mile downhill run just outside of Las Vegas.
Running – 14.7 miles with 2,431 feet of vertical (2:35)
Skiing – 23.5 miles with 12,234 feet of vertical (8:45)
The snowstorm was a treat but I am looking forward to some nicer weather to run in before heading to Nashville to visit family. I’ll probably try to mix in some skiing while there’s still snow but I need to start focusing more on running since my first race is less than a month away. I do feel like my uphill running is far better than last summer. Whether that’s the uphill skinning or fixing the hernia I’ll take it.
I have always wanted to be the type of person who enjoys cross country skiing even though my skiing life has been dominated by going downhill. Going into this winter I was hoping to change that.
I had dabbled with xc skiing in year’s past but never really jumped in the deep end. I decided to take part in a Nordic Camp back in mid-December. It was one of the best decisions in skiing I have made in a long time. Two full days on skis with a mix of instructors gave me a huge jump start in figuring out this skate skiing thing. The best part of having multiple teachers is that you hear how to do things in multiple ways which certainly makes it more likely that one will click in your brain.
The best part is that I have continued to get out on the trails and work on what I learned over that weekend. Today I skated just over twelve miles and for much of the ski day it felt much easier than less than a month ago. I still wish the uphills felt a little easier (I doubt I’m the only one) but I seem to have found a smoother gear on the more gradual uphills that doesn’t leave me gasping for air when I reach the top.
It is hard to believe that I have spent more time cross country skiing over the past week than riding the lifts.
Hopefully the aerobic benefits from the nordic skiing and uphill skinning will be noticeable when I restart running sometime in February.
It has been a winter full of skinning right out the door at the ski area. So much that the mind starts getting bored of skiing up Vogue and Heavenly Daze before I even buckle my boots.
Yesterday I decided to head into the hills and check out some places I have only seen on topo maps. With the frigid inversion in place it also was twenty to thirty degrees warmer 3,000 feet above town which was certainly nice.
The pitch I was looking at could use some more snow but it was pretty well spaced trees and as I approached the bottom I could see even more terrain worth checking out in the future, especially if I give myself the time by leaving earlier in the day. The skin back up was tough. Even with all of the vertical I have been logging at the ski area, breaking trail boosts the heart-rate significantly.
Back at the open meadow at the top I wolfed down the sweet potato I packed and skied a nice mellow opening to get back to the trailhead. The cold has kept the snow quality high, although I’m sure today’s warmth will destroy the fluffy snow that still existed on south facing slopes.
It’s been a slow few months in this tiny corner of the blogosphere. I have recovered from hernia surgery and have been doing my best to get after it. Winter has arrived with a vengeance in Steamboat Springs and the skiing has been good.
In 2015 I uphill skied nineteen times post-surgery for a grand total of 49,302 feet of vertical. I’ve been trying to improve my cross country skiing and working on getting back some of the aggressiveness I used to have alpine skiing. I had a very close call with a deep-snow tree well back in 2012 and haven’t been able to lose the tentativeness while skiing ever since, even on wide open trails that have been meticulously groomed.
I hope to average 10-20K a week for the rest of the winter along with quite a bit of skate skiing and some real backcountry skiing.
For running my main goal in 2016 is to finish a Western States qualifier to get started in the lottery process. Secondarily I will race more this summer with a focus on shorter races in an attempt to gain back a little bit of the speed I’ve lost since running a 1:35 half marathon in 2007. The Steamboat Running Series will be a nice way to get in some of these runs without too much travel.
I also resolve to do more blogging of my adventures. It has been hard to figure out what direction I want this blog to go and to translate my passion for endurance activities into words. I had no problem creating content for a fly fishing blog in the past so I think I just need to work at the writing side of things and my voice here will slowly get louder and louder.
Here’s to meeting my 2016 goals.
It has almost been a week since hernia surgery.
Things are progressing well. I have been able to get around since day one and am now able to take the dog for a walk. The pain has subsided considerably and I’m not even done with the pain pills. Hopefully the next week goes well and I’ll get the green light from the doctor to increase my activity.
Just saw this great blog post by Andrew Skurka about his training for the Run Rabbit Run 100. Pretty interesting training regime including loads of backpacking and hiking with a heavy pack to get loads of vertical per week. I might have to try some of his ideas (on a smaller scale of course) after this weekend to get a mental break from just running.
It seems that it works for him with his impressive Strava pre-race training on the course. His Spring Creek to Spring Creek run was one of the most impressive runs I’ve seen on Strava this summer. Over 6,000 feet of vertical with the slowest mile being 11:25.
I’ll be lucky to run that fast on any mile during the Run Rabbit Run 50. Hopefully he’ll be up with the leaders so I get a chance to see him while volunteering Friday at Olympian Hall.
There have been some great articles lately about uphill and downhill running. My favorite was the one on iRunFar. I know I am going to be hiking the majority of the uphills at Run Rabbit Run so I have been trying to improve my skills in that regard.
One of the main routes on my Sunday long-runs this summer has been the actual Run Rabbit Run 50 race course. It is about 3,100 vertical straight up from the house. Most days I have been mixing in some running with the hiking. Yesterday I walked the entire uphill before running back down. What I really wanted to see was how much slower just hiking was compared to mixing in some running. The question was answered after I uploaded the data and started looking back at my previous long runs. Just power-hiking alone was ten minutes slower than mixing in some running.
I’ll keep working on the uphills but I think the strategy on race day will be to walk the entire initial 3,000+ vertical and save the legs for the other forty four miles.