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.