Friday, March 1, 2024

"focus more on strength training" - Words of Wisdom for training for a 200 miler

 Luckily, I have been a part of ultra running long enough - either through participating in races or hosting them - that I have built up a strong circle of ultra runner friends.  Regardless of the race I may be interested in, chances are someone I know has done it and can give me tips.  This is so valuable to me.  I love getting tips and insider information about the course and support at the event, but more than that, if I know someone who has done it and I know they lead a pretty normal life otherwise, it shows me that I can do it as well.  

Cowboy 200 is no exception.  I knew a few people who had completed the race, so after signing up, I reached out to a friend, Troy Eid, who did Cowboy the very first year it was held. The year he did it, it was held in November and the temps rarely got above freezing.  Luckily after that year, they moved the race to September, so some of the temperature related challenges he faced I won't have to worry about, but he has been a great source of information about everything else.  

The one thing Troy said that really resonated with me, was to focus on strength training even more than high mileage.  This makes so much sense to me. He's not saying don't do long run training, I know that, but what he is saying is be sure not to neglect strength training.  The main difference between the 100 and 200 milers (despite the extra 100 miles to cover), is the overall body fatigue late in the race.  Overall strength will make a huge difference in your ability to complete the distance. 

Since starting this training cycle, I have added upper and lower body workouts, I have continued my once a week speed work, and I added a day of speed walking with a weighted vest. I have also taken a much more holistic view on training.  I am working with a physical therapist who has helped me work out a shoulder issue, but I am keeping regular visits with him to address any issues that pop up immediately.  I am also meeting with a Registered Dietician this week to talk through nutrition specifically focused on recovery between workouts and runs, and nutrition during runs and eventually during my race. And, I am really focusing on the right supplements and the timing of those supplements to get the most out of them.  

Currently I am getting a little over 100g of protein daily, working on increasing that a bit as my miles begin to climb in the next couple of months, collagen every day for joints, beetroot powder (vasodilator) before runs and mid day for blood flow, and a sleep aid with extra magnesium for muscle recovery during sleep.

So far so good.  I am feeling pretty solid right now as I prepare to enter the actual training next month. (I've run about 600 miles so far in preparation for "training").  

All in all, if I can continue to be smart and keep smarter people around me for guidance, I am hoping to stronger and more well rounded fitness- wise at the start of this race than I have for any other.  But I am 53 and going through menopause, so that tends to balance things out nicely, lol. 

More later, as I dive into the 20 week training plan in April. 

Happy Running! 


Monday, February 5, 2024

Smack dab in the middle? Feb 5, 2024 (220 days til race day, but who's counting?)


There is nothing better than these early morning runs.  

This has ended up being an interesting training journey.  I began "training" in September - right after I signed up for the race.  By "training", I mean that I made the mental commitment to do this race, and began the process of preparing my body for it.  You would think training for your first 200 would bring with it a high level of stress and worry, but it has actually been the opposite.  

This whole race experience will be an exercise in patience and planning.  It's not going to be like a 100 miler where if you are somewhat trained, you can gut it out and finish. You can even get away with not adding strength training to your routine (I did it regularly).  AND you can finish the entire race knowing that you can sleep after. 

This is so different, and I am approaching the training totally differently.  I am not worrying about pace as much as I used to, although I do have one speed workout a week - it just feels good to change it up and use different muscle groups.  On regular runs, if I feel like I need to walk for a bit, I do - I won't actually be running the whole 200 miles, and one day a week is a speed walk session with a weighted vest.  I know from coaching years ago that walking uses totally different muscles, and those need to be trained as well. 

A big part of this training is going to be the mental aspect.  Some of my longer runs will be purposefully monotonous to train my brain to just shut off and keep moving.  My favorite new mantra being "robot, robot, robot" (thanks Courtney D!).

Anyway, that's the latest.  Slight hamstring niggle right now from squats, but not too concerned about it.  Other than that, I think the consistency I have had over the last few months and the varied training load is working to help keep me healthy. Fingers crossed it continues!  

Happy Running! 


Thursday, December 21, 2023

Pre-Training Phase I complete


View from this morning's run. How could you not be grateful when seeing this?

Since committing to the Cowboy 200 last September, I have been in Phase I of "pre-training".  This has been a base building phase with strength work added in for fun.  Actually, not for fun - I don't love doing it, but I sure do like the way it makes me feel. 

Anyway, 400 miles later, and I am ready to roll into Phase II of pre-training which will be from Jan 1 - April 15th.  There is an estimated 527 miles to run in this phase and countless hours of weights, thousands of squats and lunges.... 

Then I will be ready for actual training - or the final 20 weeks until the Cowboy 200.  (Estimated mileage in this final phase - over 1,200).

So far so good.  I am tracking my recovery and actually paying attention to what the numbers are telling me and adjusting accordingly, and lo and behold, it is working!  Go figure - if you pay attention and try to do things the smart way, you stay healthy. Huh.  Should have paid more attention to that earlier in my running career.

Meeting with my crew and pacers in January to start planning trip logistics. I have made hotel reservations at the start and finish line, and I am starting to loosely sketch out what my race goals. I always have an "A, B and C" goal for each race and this one will be no different.  The main difference here is that it is the first time at this distance, and really all of my race goals are being pulled out of thin air.  Once I get to my 70+ mile weeks, I should have a better idea.

Meanwhile, I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday season, and as always...

Happy Running! 


Wednesday, December 13, 2023

Strength Training - Prep for a 200


My mail lady hates me.  In the last few months, she has had to deliver increasingly heavy boxes, from hand weights to a weighted vest. Actually, the 20# hand weights were marked as "unable to deliver" and I had to pick them up at the post office.  

The main difference that I am incorporating into training for my 200 versus previous 100 milers is the addition of weight training.  I am really enjoying it so far (3+ months into the training cycle).  At my age (53), I understand more now than ever that in order to have longevity in sport, or quality of life in general as I age, weight training is necessary.  

I have my standard weight routine that I have done for years now, but I have decided to switch it up to guarantee I am getting full body workouts, and use Sally McRae's strength app.  So far so good! You can choose the length of your workout - I lose interest after 30 minutes - or you can start a structured program that she has set up.  You don't need to head to the gym to do it either - all can be done at home, with bands and free weights.  I am not a gym person.  I know, if I need to drive to workout, I will likely not workout. It needs to be convenient, and preferably done before my brain completely wakes up for the day.

Check it out if you are interested.  $99 for the year, and you can customize your own plan, led by Sally who I consider to be an expert in strength and conditioning in general, and especially for ultrarunning. Link below.  

As always, happy running! 

Monday, December 11, 2023

Training for the Training - Pre-training?

( Hey there - If you are here for the Loup Garou update, scroll down to the next post. :-) )

Since committing to the Cowboy 200 in September of this year (the race is Sept 2024), I knew that a 200 miler would be a whole different animal.  When I have done 100 milers in the past, I have just run ... a lot, and it worked.  As with anything, the more time you put into being uncomfortable in training, the better your race will go.

One of the reasons I like the idea of the 200 mile distance so much, outside of it being so new and no one really having the distance perfected, is that I don't believe you can just grunt this one out.  With 100's, if you are moderately trained and can endure some discomfort, you should be able to finish.  This is different.

The most I have done in one go before is 130 miles, and boy do I remember those last 20 miles.  They were essentially as fast death march where every step was excruciating.  My feet were so swollen that I finished the last 20 miles in flip flops. 

That memory is exactly why I am approaching Cowboy from a different angle. Yes, I will still need high mileage weeks and long runs. The difference is that I have added in more strength training than I have ever done.  I know that second and third day on the trail will tax ALL of my muscles, so my goal is to try to gain overall strength and fitness to hopefully push that fatigue back as much as possible.  While it is inevitable, I'd like to delay it as long as I can.

So, here is an overview of my training:

Through the end of the year, continue to build a base with 30ish mile weeks and strength training 3 days a week.  At the first of the year, gradually increase my mileage to 50 mile weeks while maintaining strength work. April 13th is when the "official" training cycle begins and the long runs get much longer and 2 a days will kick in.  Just in time for Louisiana summer.

By July, anything resembling a social life will end for a bit while I focus on running, working out and recovering. As an introvert, I don't hate this idea, lol. 

And there we have it. The next 9 months of my life, if spent working hard and staying disciplined, should get me to the finish of my first 200 miler in a decent time. (yes I have a time goal, and no I am not putting it out into the world)

Happy running! 


Tuesday, December 5, 2023

All Good Things ...


This year's Loup Garou race is going down as the Year of the Smiling Runner.  There were so many happy faces and happy tears at the finish line this year, and we love it!  Each of our runners came to challenge themselves and spend some quality time out on the trail, and each one walked away with something they didn't have before the race - and no, I am not talking about chafing or black toenails - I mean insight. And hopefully a sense of pride in what they were able to accomplish whether they crossed the finish line or not.

The last 7 years of hosting Loup Garou has been a tremendous blessing for myself and our race crew.  We have been a part of many life changing moments, and we are honored to have been a part of every one of them.  And we are tired.  Putting on this race is seriously hard work, and the older we get (race director and volunteers), the harder it gets.  We have decided to continue the race until it's 10th year (2026), then call it a day.  

I feel like it is important to end the race on a high note, and leave people with good memories from it.  We have worked very hard to build our Loup Garou community, and we make every effort to make our race special - from the runner swag and merchandise to the gumbo and aid stations... we want all of our runners to know that if they do the work in training, we will take care of them during the race so that they have the best opportunity to reach their goal. 

This race is special to all of us, and I want to preserve the positive vibe and good memories from the event.  

So, if this is a bucket list item for you, you may want to get to training!  2026 will be here before you know it!  

Registration for 2024 is open in Ultrasignup, and we can't wait to see our running family again next December!

Happy Running, 


Monday, November 20, 2023

Seasons...And A Fun Podcast Interview!

 One of the many beautiful things about having a few years behind you is the perspective it gives you. I can look back on my life and see how it is broken into seasons.  Some seasons were all about raising family and trying to make ends meet, while others have been about personal growth and introspection.  The last two years of my life, the season has been mainly focused on work and keeping all of the balls in the air for the nonprofit that I manage on a very short staff. 

Seasons.  What is starting to change, and the season I am slowly evolving into, is intentionality (is that even a word?).  With Covid and its limitations on our fundraising, I was forced, as were many others, into a season of doing more with less at work - less staff, less funding ...

I have spent the last few weeks / couple of months - taking a step back and examining the structure of my life and where it is vs. where I want it to be.  I just turned 53, and I still have a ton of personal goals I want to achieve.  None of these are centered around work.  Yes, I still want to have a fulfilling career, but what that looks like is starting to change.  Now that I am taking the time to really look at it, what I want in my work life is nowhere close to where I am.

Instead of thinking of how to grow my role / income, I am starting to examine how much I really need to live comfortably, and thinking about what I can cut out so that I can reduce my workload and stress.  

How is that for a mind shift?  Lol.  

Anyway - it is a work in progress, but it is active - I am starting to come to some decisions about the next phase of my life. Will I continue to work hard at nonprofit, or will I choose to give that all up and wait tables where I can serve people on a more personal level?  That wouldn't be my only option but it is an option.

I just had a great discussion with Scotty Kummer of Ten Junk Miles fame, and we discussed that and a bunch of other general life stuff with running / race directing talk thrown in.  It was a great visit, and it pretty much covered all of the bases.  Check it out if you have the time or desire:

Click the pic for the link, and as always ...

Happy Running!