Week 5 kicked off my second month of intensive training in preparation for Xterra and the Virgil Crest Ultra. As ever, here are the stats:
Training Days: 3 (To Date: 22)
Rest Days: 4 (To Date: 13)
Body Weight: 155 (Net Gain/Loss: -5)
Running Days: 2 (To Date: 15)
Running Miles Logged: 27.9 (To Date: 110.9)
Average Run: 13.9 (Short = 13.6, Long = 14.3)
Cross-Training: Mountain biking
This past week marked a big shift in my training. I definitively crossed over into double digit mile runs, logging 13 and 14 mile trail runs with pretty heft amounts of elevation gain. It’s really satisfying to have crossed that threshold, and to feel myself making real progress. Though 14-plus miles and 4,000-plus vertical feet of elevation gain is still a long way from 50 miles and 9,000 feet, for the first time I could really look ahead to the Virgil Crest Ultra race and feel confident that I’ll be able to finish. As long as I stay on track and continue making the kind of progress that I have, tackling the distance and elevation gain will be very doable. Then, it will become a matter of pushing harder and faster, and seeing what kind of pace I’ll be able to maintain over that distance.
Here’s how the pacing would break down in the race:
Maintaining a 10-minute-per-mile pace (6 mph) would have me finish in 8 hours and 20 minutes. Based on last year’s times, I would win the race and set a new course record. (Ha!)
Maintaining an 12-minute-per-mile pace (5 mph) would have me finish in 10 hours, my professed target and a time which would have me contend for a top 5 finish.
Maintaining a 15-minute-per-mile pace (4 mph) would have me finish in about 12.5 hours, the time of last year’s slowest finisher. (The cutoff time for the race is 13 hours.)
With my shift to this significantly higher mileage, I’m also giving my body additional rest days each week. Whereas before I was training 5-6 days per week, and resting 1-2 days per week, now I’m training 3-4 days per week, and giving my body an equal 3-4 days per week to recover from the grueling workouts. As I get stronger at this longer distance, I’ll be able to work in additional training days, but for now I want to remain injury free, save my knees, and allow my muscles ample time to recover.
The other thing I’m now doing as part of my workouts is focusing on eating almost immediately before and during my runs. The Virgil Crest Ultra is a long enough race that I’ll have to eat over the course of the race, keeping calories going in to fuel my body. I’ll start out by eating a carb-heavy meal within 30 minutes of my planned run, and then head out with a relatively full stomach and either a bottle belt or a Camelbak bladder for hydration, plus some GU and other snacks I consume periodically while on the run. In this way, my GI system can get used to digesting food while my body is under stress. For example, on Saturday I started my day with some GF Belgian waffles from scratch with pure maple syrup; then headed out for my long run with about 2 liters of water and 2 GU.
Today is a rest day, but tomorrow you’ll find me out on the trails once again.