Tuesday, May 22, 2012

My High Tech Training Plan

Where to start?  Well, how about my training plan.  I use this term loosely, 
because while I do have a training plan, it is not what you might think.  

1.  I don't train with a heart rate monitor.
While I fully understand the value of using this type of feedback, and I know that if I were to follow a rigid plan that uses heart rate to determine my workouts, I would be a better athlete....well, I just don't want to.  And since I am 41 years old and doing this because I enjoy it, I am not going to.  Period.  :)  I know when I am working too hard for the distance I am running that day and I slow down. I don't want to spend extra minutes putting gear on when I just want to hit the road. 

2.  I rarely use a watch, much less a GPS when training.
When I first started distance running, I was very low-tech.  I wore a cheap Timex purely to know how long I ran.  Most of the time I would forget to start or stop it.  Then, after my first full marathon, my gift to myself was a Garmin 101 - it was HUGE!!  I have small wrists, and it felt like I was carrying a serving tray on my arm.  
And so began this inner conversation:
"I am running too slow, speed up!"
"I am running too fast!!  Slow down!" 
"I know I am almost back to my house, but according to my watch, I need to run another .23 miles.  Bye house."
"WHAT DO YOU MEAN "NO SIGNAL"!!!  How am I supposed to know exactly, to the hundredths place how far I have gone??"
And the best quote from a Garmin devotee:  Near the end of my first full marathon in San Francisco, my running buddy, who was wearing a Garmin said, "Well, we just ran a marathon!!"  Only problem - the finish line was but a speck on the horizon.  We still had almost 3/4ths of a mile to run to get to it.  Instant crash.  Damn GPS.

So, I became a GPS addict - never running without it, and nearly suffering whiplash from the amount of times I looked down at my wrist during a run.  I soon upgraded to the next model, which looked something like this, but it was red:

We have moved from serving platter to laptop size now.  And the model in this picture has chunky arms compared to mine.  I am surprised I never suffered any repetitive use injuries from lugging these things around.  

This addiction stayed with me throughout all of my road races.  It wasn't until I started training for my first 50 miler when I was able to break free.  Because much of the training for these races is based on duration of runs and time on your feet, distance is not as much of an issue.  The GPS went in the drawer, and the old running watch came back out.  Temporarily.  Once I ran my first 100 miler, my outlook on the sport changed a bit.  I rarely wear a watch at all now.  I have an idea of the approximate distance of most of the routes around my house, so I just run.  The only time I wear a watch is if the run is going to be a couple of hours or more, and I need to keep track of my nutrition.  Once in a while when I don't have a set route, or I want to map out a new one, I pull out my Soleus GPS watch and take off.  It does give you the freedom to wander a bit, and once in a while that is a good thing.

3.  Even a non-runner can understand my training schedule
Once again, I know that using something like this would probably make me a better runner:

124 m run7 x 8005 m run45 tempoRest6 m pace12
134 m run7 x hill5 m run50 tempoRest10 m pace20
145 m run45 tempo5 m run5 m paceRest6 m run12
155 m run8 x 8005 m run40 tempoRest10 m pace20
But, like I said, I enjoy running and I would like to keep it that way. Here is a glimpse into my training plan:
Pretty complicated.  I'll try to keep it simple.

There it is.  My current month. 
I know.  Fascinating, right?

Here's the month of July showing my peak weeks for Big Butt.
See - there is a little bit of strategy to it.

I follow a pretty simple plan that I have figured out works well for me.  In many ultra training plans, there is heavy emphasis on back to back long runs.  When I was training for my first 50 miler, I followed one of these plans to the letter.  An hour and a half on Saturday and two hours on Sunday?  Sure!!  Before I knew it, I was spending a lot of time in Dr. Keith Terro's office (more on that later - Keith is a miracle worker, I tell ya!).  

Now, I rarely run back to back long runs.  When I do, it is during my peak weeks when I have to get in anywhere between 65 - 100 miles in a week.  As much as possible, I try to run every other day.  I have found over the miles that this is the best way to keep my body healthy.  I usually climb in mileage for two weeks, then drop down a bit for the third week, then repeat.  

In training for 50 - 100 milers, you have to get in some LOOONG runs.  Like all day.  And, while I love to run, I would rather not run 10 hr training runs if I don't have to, so I sign up for lots of races.  They are like training runs, but over beautiful terrain (always trails), and they have aid stations. (No matter how much my friends love me, I have yet to convince them to work an aid station for my long runs.  I call it lazy, but you can call it whatever you like.) :))

Each season I decide what my "A" race is going to be.  Last year was the same as this years - the Rocky Raccoon 100 miler.  I then set my schedule about 9 months out and choose races that fit.  I did this last year, and was happy with the results, so I am doing it again this year, just starting a little earlier with the Big Butt 50k.  So, my year breaks down to: 9 months of training, with over half of that at pretty high mileage, 1 month after the 100 miler where I do very little if any running, and two months after that of leisure running - mainly to spend time with my running buddies. 

 After my goal race, I am usually pretty spent both mentally and physically.  I don't even think about running until I WANT to again.  It is important to get back the desire for the sport.  This usually works out because my body needs this time off to heal.  When I do ease back into running, if ANYTHING hurts, I immediately take off another week.  I am a big fan of being healthy.

Well, if you made it all the way through this post, you deserve your own buckle.  I will add more details as time goes on, but that's enough for today. :)

Make something great happen!



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