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.