My quest to attempt to break the Guinness World Record for longest distance run on a treadmill in 12 hours began in April. That month I didn’t get the result I needed at a race for an automatic qualifier into Western States. Approaching summer and not having any races on the schedule, I decided this was the right time to go for the treadmill record. The current record is 84 miles, with a pending record of 86.49 miles. It was mid-July when I received confirmation from GWR that my application had been accepted. After a tough first half of summer during which I had I really struggled with the Texas heat, I was newly motivated by the notification, and I immediately began planning with my coach, Ian Sharman.
I went off the side of the road to remove my shoe, knowing I was probably done with the run. It looked like my foot was already starting to swell and it also hurt to put weight on it so I had a good feeling I had done some damage. Kyle, a close friend and training buddy, was with me at the time and pacing me on his bike. We were two miles from his house so he rode back to get his vehicle to give me a ride back. I hobbled off the road, out of sight, and laid on the ground with my foot elevated on a picnic table, in disbelief with what just happened. I was in pain and doing my best to hold back the tears as I was extremely upset. At this time, I’m three weeks out from my first race of the season which is a Western States 100 qualifier. Qualifying for WS100 is my main goal for the first half of the year and certainly no easy feat. Up to this point my training was going very well and this was my last week before I began to taper for the race.
More vertical to the final touches
The focus for November is to continue getting stronger by climbing more and also adding more speed work to help with cruising pace. I started the month coming off a solid week of 87 miles (longest to date for this race) so the first week was treated more as a rest week. I had a few active recovery days scheduled into the week which was basically power-hiking at 12% on the treadmill. I was able to get close to 2000’ of vertical in each session and also allow my legs to bounce back from the prior week’s volume.
Adjusting to Structured Workouts
As I’m writing this I’m 9 weeks into training for my first 50 mile trail race, The North Face Endurance Challenge. So far it’s been very rewarding as I’m in great shape and getting stronger each week under the guidance of my coach, Ian Sharman. I have 5 weeks remaining until the big day and I’m determined to make the most of these next few weeks, to be in my best shape to compete with the top ultra-runners in the sport, and hopefully finish somewhere in the mix. This course will be challenging for me as there will be repeated elevation gains and losses of several hundred feet and a total gain of 9,237’. In The Woodlands I’m lucky to get 400’ of elevation gain in a 25 mile run. Therefore, we have to be specific with my training plan to ensure I am focusing on what I will experience on race day. Not having run this course before I am at a disadvantage so everything I have been doing has been preparing me to what could come on race day.
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.
For me to make it through an entire season (almost full year) of Ultras I have to be in-tune with my body. I have to recognize signs of fatigue and listen to what my body tells me. If not I will get sick or end up with an injury that could affect me immediately or later in the season, preventing me to perform at my best or performing at all. I also want to do the most training that I can to be prepared for race day. To avoid injury and to take my performance to the next level, I do a lot of workouts in the water. Have you ever thought about training in the water? Not swimming! I’m talking about the popular sport of Aqua Jogging. It’s almost as boring as swimming, and you will get some weird looks.
Following the Brazos Bend 100, I treated the next week as a typical rest week to allow my body to recover from the stress of running 54 miles or seven plus hours. This was the longest I have run to date so I figured it would be wise to take a few days off. My quads were sore and I wasn’t able to do a whole lot on my feet. I focused on other means of active recovery to hopefully get back on my feet quicker. Monday I spent some time in the pool to keep from having to put too much weight on my legs, and Tuesday I did a few easy strides on the grass to get the blood flowing and assess the legs. I was very gentle and paid attention to my body’s condition as to not overdo it. By the weekend I was able to get in a couple decent runs, which was a good sign that my legs were responding and doing well with the rest and active recovery. Other things that helped with my recovery was spending lots of time in compression boots, constantly stretching and foam rolling, and a couple visits to get acupuncture treatment, Graston, and ART.
Solid Build Up and Then Some Setbacks
The focus for this training block is to get in some longer runs and have a better feel for what it’s like to spend more time on my feet as well as run on tired legs. This block consisted of two phases of three weeks on and one week of rest between them. I managed to get 98 total miles for the first week with my longest run just over 31 miles. This run was okay but I realized I would need to do a few things different on the next long run and also for the race. Running with a hydration vest for this long took a beating on my ribs. It was the constant bounce of the bottles which became very uncomfortable so I’ll scratch that off my race day attire. I also learned that putting body glide on the inner thighs helps to avoid chafing but also results in a heat rash so I’ll have to be conscious of that and stick to Vaseline or something else during the race.