Saturday, January 17, 2009

GEER 2009 - Buy 50K Get 50K Free!!!

I have written many times about how much I enjoy the Great Eastern Endurance Run. It was my first trail ultra back in 2006. I talked with Gill, the RD for the event this week and he informed me of a special for early registrants for GEER this year. The first 100 entrants in the 100K will pay only half of the entry fee! That's right - 50% of the cost. Trust me when I tell you that the event is worth every penny of its full fare, so it is an absolute steal at $62.50! I have run the race three times and think it is one of best coordinated events I have participated in. It is not for the meek as it features rugged terrain, lots of climbing and descent and unpredictable weather. This is balanced out by an excellent venue, great aid stations and enthusiastic volunteers. Gill and Francesca do a great job of planning the event complete with several training runs beginning in July. Entry opens on February 2, so there is plenty of time to get this on your 2009 race schedule. You can sign up for the event here. Feel free to post a comment with any questions about the race.

Sign up soon so you can grab one of the half priced spots - they will surely go quickly. Get signed up and then get out there and run!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Umstead Training

So, I have been thinking about my training plan for Umstead a lot the past few days. With the current state of the banking sector, this is at least a positive topic. I am not too worried about the 100 mile distance at Umstead (I know that sounds ridiculous) as I have completed the distance twice and "know" what I need to do to complete it. The terrain is not technical and the weather is usually moderate. I have had few nutrition issues in races and have a good idea of what works best for me. My biggest concern is the repetitive loops that I will run (8 to be exact) to complete the 100 miles. I paced my friend John Straub last year, running his final two loops with him. He suggested breaking the race up into "day" and "night". In his experience, the loops started to really wear on him after about the fifth loop (62.5 miles) and is just before it starts to get dark. It sounds like a good approach and worked great for him last year as he ran sub-21.

I have been base building the last month or so while battling some plantar fascitis pain but am overall pleased with my progress so far. The extra pounds from the holidays are starting to drop off and my endurance is starting to get pretty good. Two key areas for me to work on are speed/intervals and practice running loops. During training I am a big proponent of at least one speed workout per week. Not all out sprints but some 400M, 800M and even 1200M repeats at or above threshold heart rate. This worked great for me during the season last year and I will incorporate it again. Besides helping you run, well, faster it also breaks up the "monotony" of the training cycle. I don't do speed workouts during recovery weeks.

Round and Round
Other than an 1980s metal hit by Ratt, round and round is what I will be doing at Umstead and running all those loops is a big concern for me. One of the reasons I love running in the mountains is all the scenery and generally point-to-point or single loop nature of the courses. I want to get myself "mentally trained" for it so I have started doing this at least once a week. For example, today I ran 5 miles at lunch on the indoor track at the YMCA. You have to run 9 laps to cover a mile so I did 45 laps today in a little over 40 minutes. Not killing it by any stretch but it was a comfortable pace. I figure getting past the "boredom" of loops will only occur through practice. I plan to do at least one run per week that incorporates multiple loops and every other week it will be my long run.

I don't need to run technical trails for Umstead but will need the practice for Massanutten, which is about six weeks later. I am running a very hilly and technical 50K next weekend and the Mount Mitchell Challenge 40 Mile in late February. My final "long" run will be on the weekend of March 14 or March 21 and the plan is to do a loop 40 to 50 mile run. I will likely measure a 10 to 12 mile loop and use that as a final practice for Umstead.

Other aspects of training include the following:

Weight train twice per week
- one workout will coincide with a recovery run day and a more rigorous workout on a "rest" day.

Core (ab crunches, sit-ups, push ups, etc.) every day
- easy to do at night after dinner and will be very important for overall fitness. I slacked here a lot during the late fall.

Run 5 to 6 times per week
- these are the types of runs I will typically do:

1 long run (typically 2 to 3 hours or so) every other week as a loop run,
1 speed workout (standard repeats of 400M, 800M, etc.),
2 - 3 recovery runs (45 minutes to 1h 30m) - one of these will be the "loop" run,
1 tempo/cruise run (1 - 2 hours) - this will include a warm-up, then a segment at marathon pace and then a cool down

The running part is evolving but this is what it will mostly look like. I will follow a 4-week cycle of build, build, peak, rest. All runs will occur every week (except no speed during rest) but will vary in length and intensity. Also, in about a month, I will incorporate some hill repeats into my training schedule. For now, I want to work on getting my speed and leg turnover back up. Also, I will often include some speed intervals inside some long runs to assist with this. Say the long run is 15 miles, 2 miles warm-up, 3 miles at 10K pace, 1 mile recovery pace, 3 miles 10K, 1 mile recovery, 2 miles marathon pace, 3 miles cool down. This has worked very well in the past for me.

I feel good going into the training and am excited to get the blood flowing again. I hope to run really well at Umstead and set a solid 100-mile PR for myself. Plus a hard effort there is a great excuse for a slow run at Massanutten. Just kidding. I will continue to update as things progress. Now, I've gotta go run some more.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Happy New Year!

Well, 2009 is here - amazing how quickly 2008 went by. I am not a big New Year's person so my "celebration" is at best mundane and most likely boring to most. I did manage to see the "ball drop" though. Any way, now that 2009 is here, I am back into training mode big time. I actually have been for the last several weeks but now, with a little holiday trimming around the waistline, my regimen will be more consistent. I got in a nice trail run out at Crowder's Mountain yesterday of about 3 hours. After running mostly on gravel/dirt roads down in Georgia the last week, the trails were nice.

The Umstead 100 looms large the first weekend in April. So, my training will focus largely on getting ready for that. That means a lot of flatter, fast workouts and less of the rocky, rooty terrain with lots of climb. However, Massanutten is on the horizon so I will need to mix in some runs to gear up for that as well. I will put more detail to my training plan in the next few days. Hope everyone enjoyed Christmas and New Year's.