Back To the Grind

Back To the Grind

Training for TNFEC 50
09/13/2015

Back To the Grind

It feels great to be back on a normal training schedule and having my sights on more ultra-distance trail races the second half of the year.  It’s been a while since my last post about any sort of training and that’s mainly because I’ve been out of it.  We’ll call it an extended off season.  The initial idea I had for a blog was to just share my training experiences leading up to my first 100 mile trail race, Rocky Raccoon.   After that performance I was highly motivated to get back into training and had the intentions to continue on and register for some more well-known races across the country where there would be a larger ultra-runner presence and some tough competition.

Following RR100 I took about five weeks off to recover and then started training for a late spring road marathon.  What I didn’t plan for was getting injured and having to take off five months from any sort of consistent running.  It was a very frustrating time as I was dealing with a lot of pain and couldn’t seem to pin point exactly what was going on.  Initially I felt a lot knee pain (runner’s knee), then my hip flexors became very weak, and eventually the pain was deep in my quad muscle that prevented me from running comfortably.  Looking back I realize I probably over did it too soon by doing some tough workouts (hard speed sessions) that didn’t make a lot of sense and put my body at risk.  The fitness was there but my body was not ready for that kind of abuse.  I’m fortunate for living in a community with a strong athletic presence and having great resources and places to go to for help.  I spent a lot of time at Sterling Ridge Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine to get looked at and do some PT.  I’m also thankful for having friends that are professionals in the medical field who offered great advice on what to do to speed up recovery.  After accepting the fact that I was injured and taking more time off my body eventually healed up.  By mid-June I was back to running again without any issues.

I jumped into a trail race a month later which turned out to be a humbling experience and eye opener with regards to my current fitness level.  I went into that race undertrained but somehow thinking I could push through a half marathon distance and have the strength to pull off a spectacular performance.  I may have been able to hang in there for a top five but I could tell after a few miles that I didn’t have the leg strength or endurance to stay at the front.  I also wasn’t ready mentally to deal with that discomfort or the heat and humidity.  I pulled out at five miles as it wasn’t worth the risk to get injured again.  For me poor performances usually turn out to be a good thing as that is what it sometimes takes to get motivated.  It was enough for me to want to make a change.

I still had plans to run a couple races I had hoped to do earlier in the year so with the clock ticking I decided to take a different approach towards getting prepared for these end of the year races.  If I wanted to be a successful as possible I would be better off hiring a coach.  I reached out to a well-known athlete and coach in the ultra-running community, Ian Sharman.  I’m looking for a new perspective towards training for ultras and specifically how to train for a course like The North Face Endurance 50 in San Francisco.  Ian has a vast knowledge of varying distances and terrains and is no stranger to running most of these races that I hope to do.  Because of his popularity his coaching services weren’t available until the beginning of September as he only accepts a select number of athletes.  I spent the next six weeks focusing on building base so once I began working with him I would be in shape and could get the most out of the training.

I started running the next day after that trail race and ran 21 consecutive days.  I never do this, but figured my focus needed to be on consistency and getting my body used to running.   The first few weeks were easy low mileage and sometimes running up to twice a day.  Summer is a tough time to get in shape especially in Texas but I actually found the training enjoyable and less demanding on the body.  My number one priority was to remain injury free so I took care of my body and did a lot of maintenance (ART, massages, foam rolling, etc).  I also spent a couple days a week running on an Alter-G treadmill or doing an aqua jog session in the pool which was great for working out with low impact.  I averaged about 55 miles per week for those 21 days and then took a few days off to recover/adapt to that load before another three week session.  In August I started introducing some hills into the workouts, adding speed sessions, and also longer runs to the weekly mileage.  I took easy days serious and continued with the Alter-G and/or aqua jog.  For the month of August I averaged about 60-65 miles per week.  I’m optimistic with my fitness and ready to start training specifically towards December’s race.  Good times and cooler weather are ahead!

I think going forward I will update the blog once a month.  I’m also working on changing up the layout of my blog and giving it a whole new look so it will be a more professional looking website.  I’m excited about the future!

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