Tag Archives: ultra training

Western States Training: Catch-up on weeks 6 & 7

Oops, time sort of slipped away from me and I missed updating week 6 so I’m adding it in  with week 7.  Again, I’m writing this as a record for myself to look back on, and also as a way to share with you all, so many of the weeks are similar in structure.


Running downhill at South Mountain State Park


The 6th week of training started off pretty great.  The Tuesday workout was pretty typical, overall average pace of 7:50, but the Thursday workout I had a little mental breakthrough.  Running as hard as you can up a hill for 3 minutes hurts. I can get just under a half a mile uphill and on Thursday I was bumping up the number of repeats as well as having a busy week at work and pushing hard and knowing the pain is coming can be almost as much mental as it is physical.  Letting up on the gas is tempting, but at the same time I want each workout to be at least the same overall pace as the previous ones, if not faster.  The workouts are always the same distance in the end, but the speed in the middle gets longer, as the cool down at the end gets shorter. That Thursday I decided that I was just going to be in the moment, not think about the added repeats and how much more they were going to hurt and just run…and I had a much better workout.  My pace dropped to a 7:41 and I ended up with more repeats, and also an extra half mile at the end because I ran my usual cool down loop, forgetting I had added a mile to the hill repeats.  Obviously I should be getting fitter, but that jump was in no way all physical, and probably mostly mental.

That Saturday at the end of the week was also pretty good, it does seem that the pain I experience during the Tuesday and Thursday workouts translates over to my long runs.  Its like once you start to get used the acute fatigue of all out hill repeats, a long run doesn’t feel quite as hard.  I finished the last 5 miles of the long run faster than the previous 15.

Unfortunately I got a 48 hour something and stayed in bed from Saturday night until Monday morning.

Anyway the week looked like this

  • Monday Hour of Trail miles, PM yoga
  • Tuesday 3×3 hill repeats for a total of 8 miles followed by lifting; core and rotational mobility too
  • Wednesday 8 trail miles
  • Thursday 8.5 miles of 3×4 hill repeats, followed by lifting: core and rotational mobility
  • Friday, easy hour with friends
  • Saturday long run with last 5 miles faster
  • Sunday sick all day

Bleeding into

  • Monday sick all day
  • Tuesday, backing off of repeats to 3×3 while I recover from the virus; easy lift, more mobility
  • Wednesday 8 trail miles
  • Thursday 5×3 for 8 miles; lift
  • Friday hour easy run with friends while planning weekend miles
  • Saturday long run in South Mountains State park: 20 miles 4,5000 feet. Run comfortable, unless its a runnable downhill and then run it hard (don’t run the steep and terribly technical sections hard, not worth risking an ankle or leg injury) Finish with a 2 mile hike straight up a waterfall 🙂
  • Sunday, easy road miles with Drew and the dog.

So the take away from this two week block is to be more mindful of being present while running hill repeats.  The benefit of the workout isn’t just the pounding of the legs, or the burning of the lungs…its also training the mind and body to really get close to that edge of suffering, and realizing that its ok. (if you subscribe to the central governor theory, then your brain will cut you off long before you actually do any real damage to yourself by running hard.) I do think when left to my own devices I omit these types of workouts and opt for long slower slogs.  That seems to be the type of pain I enjoy, however, the short, intense training bouts is really what I have been missing.


Waterfalls and laughter with friends


Hope you all had a good few weeks of training!


Western States Training: Week 4 Rest

After 3 weeks of vo2 max workout building, and Refining Ultra strength training, it was time for a recovery week.  Keep the same mileage, take out all the speed and have fun!   Not having scheduled workouts meant that I could do a bunch of random trail running with friends!  After the snow from last week, this week was a muddy and much warmer week and I could get back out onto the trails again.

  • Monday: Easy 5 mile trail run.  The trail was either slick with mud or ice, but it was a relaxed run, and fun never the less.
  • Tuesday: One of my training partners (that I met at Cruel Jewel last May) invited along a friend of hers…who happened to have just signed up for Crew Jewel 100 this coming May.  I thought that this called for a group run with a local trail group, so we met and headed out to the start of Tuesday Hill workout a mile away, which turned into quite an adventure.  After the snow melt from Monday, and a heavy Thunderstorm that ended right before our run the creek had washed away all the bridges so we had to backtrack and cross on the rail road bridge.  None of us are afraid of heights, but if you haven’t crossed a wet, slippery rail road bridge, the thing about it is that its just the wood planks across open air with foot wide gaps in between, and I had to hold onto my skinny whippet dog who kept almost slipping through the gaps.  We met up with the small group and proceeded to run the hill loop, which is mostly just a trail route that doubles back and forth over all the hills in the local forest.  Its not saying much since we live in a rather flat area, I think in 8 miles we got 1,200 vertical feet.  The real adventure was the trek back to the car.  Rather than chance losing the dog through the slats of the rail road bridge, we decided to cross the swollen creek.  The worst part of this is the stream hides many large and small boulder and was freezing and fast moving, so you can easily get your foot caught in the unseen rocks below.  We were in up to our chests, as the dog jumped in, I looked back to see him being swept downstream, and I fell in.  Fortunately he managed to land on a large boulder and jumped out, and Erin grabbed me and we made it to the other side.  The problem now was that we were on the side where we parked, and the dog was on the opposite side refusing to get back into the cold water.  Fortunately Erin’s friend, Sara, had no fear and crossed back over a slippery pipe and carried the dog back over.  Note to self, run from home when it rains like that, and cross the big bridge that never washes away :). Either way, it was fun, and Emmitt and I made a new trail friend.  That afternoon I still did my weight lifting, but backed off on weight and reps as it was recovery week.
  • Wednesday: The three of us headed back out to much drier trails for 5 miles in the woods again.
  • Thursday: The dog was looking a little tired, and possibly sore from his excitement in the creek on Tuesday, so I left him at home and ran 8 miles on the road, focusing on my gait.  Afternoon lifting session at the gym and sauna.
  • Friday: Another easy 5 trail miles with a recovered dog.
  • Saturday:  I am trying to mix up long trail runs with long road runs so I can target both gait focused fast running, and technical endurance trail running.  This week I opted for a long road run.  I met friends who are training for a half marathon, and we did 16 miles at a 7:39 pace.
  • Sunday:  Woke to the sound of rain, but 53 degrees!  It was like an early spring day, and after some procrastination, I got 5 miles done on the road.

Looking to the next three weeks it will be similar, more VO2 workouts, more mobility and lifting as prescribed and put together specifically for Western States and my specific weaknesses by Balanced Movement PT.  Onto the pain!


The Lonely Road of the UltraRunner

I read lots of articles daily about running, as I am a person who has sole focus when I commit to a thing.  Articles about hill training, or long runs, or pacing, strength training, about doping, and all sorts of other things that make up our wonderful sport.  But few on what happens when you really commit yourself to a training plan and a desire to excel in a field.  What happens when your training plan no longer allows you to just show up and run with your local running group because you have an important workout the day that they all meet, and the usual 5-6 mile jaunt through the woods isn’t what’s on your plan for the day?  Want the real world truth?


Solitude is what happens.  If its an LSD it can be hours alone with your thoughts.  Perhaps if its a speed workout you’re brain is too occupied trying to remember how many laps you have done in the mile repeat, and then how many mile repeats you have just completed, oh… and don’t forget keeping an eye on that pace/split you are supposed to hit.  In reality those brain occupying, pain inducing workouts are becoming somewhat of a relief to my over-thinking solitary brain.

Do I miss my social running buddies, yes.  Do I feel guilty when I show up at coffee or a morning run on a rare day that I don’t have an important workout and I am greeted with “where have you been,” “you do still exist”–of course.  Do I wish I could be everywhere and have everything– don’t we all?  Instead I have traded in my early morning social runs (so I am not a night time zombie and can actually have a conversation with my husband) for mid morning runs–or even sometimes sneaking in an after work run.  I have prioritized getting adequate sleep, and recovery (and of course work and family.)   And yes, I miss you all!

Do I regret this?  Not really.  I’m not driven by overstretching myself and trying to squeeze everything in.  I don’t feel compelled to give into the societal pressure that tells me I need to do everything, please everyone.   I realize I cant.   When I’m all in- I’m all in.  I’m a person that when I choose to focus on something important to me I am able to let go of regrets.  I realize that most of my life is a consequence of choices I make, and the rest I can’t control–so what is there to regret?

I thrive on single minded-ness.  When I have a few things on my plate that I put as much of myself into that I can.  And I do.  Spreading myself thin doesn’t make me satisfied.  I don’t want to be a jack of all trades, I want to be a master of few things that are important to me.  So right now running, running fast, and uninjured is my free time desire so my single minded-ness has altered my journey onto a path of solitude — for the moment.

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Time off; a Mental Break

I have never been very good about taking time off from running, aside from injury I have probably gone 15 years with out a real break.  Now that I am trying to be a more serious and focused on running, I have noticed my brain has been craving a break.

I pushed hard through the summer, 30 mile training days at the beach..on vacation, on pavement that I am sure was well over 105 degrees, plus humidity that you could taste, over night running, focused and planned nutrition, yoga, active release, and other body therapies to keep me going…. I’m getting tired just thinking back over the last very active year.

So what’s an active cant-sit-still girl to do on her off season?  We’ll here’s what I have done so far.

Monday after the race it was cold and raining… again.  I slept in, foam rolled and went to work (walked dogs in the rain for 4 hours.)  I was tired and my nerves frayed at this point because I was just so DONE with the rain.  I had just run 25 hours in constant rain and water crossings…DONE! DONE with that rain!

Tuesday I was feeling a bit better and went on a long hike with my dog

Wednesday I was feeling great!  After work I washed all the floors, repainted the kitchen cabinets, reorganized the pantry, and painted the trim.  Then went for a long hike with the dog again.

Thursday I decided it was time for yoga and some easy strength training.  I noticed about mile 20 that my left glute wasn’t firing at all during Pinhoti, so it was time to wake it up!

Friday I was on the elliptical, 40 min and did some more core strength.

Saturday, was an hour on the Elliptical, yoga, and a long walk with the dog.  I meant to go on a bike ride, but it was too cold..its my off month..I can be a weather wimp! 🙂

Sunday, slept in after a really late night out with friends and then went for a two hour hike in the woods.

I have also put my fat adapting diet aside this past week.  I have been eating all the things I have been avoiding.  I seem to have a very pro-inflammatory body, so sugar, gluten and processed foods really make an impact on how I feel overall.  However, since there’s no structured training I made (and ate) pumpkin bread, pecan bars, chocolate truffles, a few bars of chocolate, lots of chips and guacamole, basically whatever sugar is laying around the house that I can get my hands on. Its great, though by Sunday I was starting to crave salad.

Its Tuesday of the second week and I’m kinda itching to run, even just a short jog around the trails, but I promised myself NO RUNNING FOR TWO WEEKS! The strength training already has my left gluten sore!  The elliptical and bike will have to suffice this week as well.  However, I do have my first run planned already.  An hour or so with friends on some pristine virginal trails out in Orange County. YAY!


Training Week of 4/11-4/17 and the Cruel (Jewel) Slap in the Face Realization.

Goofing off with Jordan

As I reflected on the last week to my coach/training partner, Jordan I had the “Cruel Slap in the Face Realization!”  I have stated I am not a mountain runner, and that finding elevation here is tough.  Over the course of a 111 mile week, I ran 15,395 feet of elevation…in one WEEK!  I realize in less than a month I have to run that and more in 56 miles..in one DAY!  Cue the moment of panic!

The previous 5 days I took quite easy, running many of Jordan’s taper runs with him, or joining on some group runs I haven’t joined while training lately.

What follows 5 days of easy slow/recovery miles?  My final two big weeks before taper, of course!

The week began with a Sunday run.   I have several friends who are running Boston tomorrow (GOOD LUCK TO YOU ALL!) So I started with them in the morning running about 9 miles on fire roads, their taper run ended, and I hopped onto single track and decided to aim for 20 miles in 3 hours.  I dropped Emmitt off before I hit the single track, and set off to try to not repeat any trails I had previously run.  This is a little game I play with myself to keep me from getting too bored during long runs.   There are really only 20ish miles of single track in the forest, however, there are some trails that you can hit if you cut through short neighborhoods.  So I did that.  I ended up 3:02 for my 20 miles, and in the middle of the high school XC course, which gave me an idea; eccentric stadium squat jumps.  Their stadium isn’t very big, so I did 3 sets of 15 of these.  Then I decided it was too nice and sunny to quit there, why not run 25 miles.  So I did, by the time I neared my house I was so close to the marathon distance, so I figured..why the heck not?  Marathon Sunday= 26.2 miles of trail

Emmitt the ultra dog cools off after a hot afternoon run.

Monday I joined Jordan for another taper run.  We ran easy and all on fire roads.  Monday= 14 miles

Tuesday I was off to Occoneechee for hill repeats.  Occoneechee is the highest point with in a 20 minute driving distance, and has a nice 1/2 mile gravel road up one side, and a steep, technical single track decent on the back side, with a 2.7 mile loop that circles around the base. I have not done this workout in several months so I was quite happy that it took 3:29, not the 4 hours I thought it would! Occoneechee repeats= 20 miles

Wednesday was an easy day finally.  My dad had been up in Boston the last two weeks and was home, so I called him up and we went out for a nice easy 6 mile shake out run in the rain.  Wednesday=7

Thursday it was off to the treadmill..sigh.  Its always mentally hard for me to get out to the gym for this workout, though it really is a good workout and once I get started since its a repeat workout it goes by quickly.  I hiked 3.5 miles at 15% then ran 1/4 mile repeats at 10% followed by 1/4 mile rest at 3% (all at the same pace) Finally I ended with 2  1/2 mile repeats with a 1/4 mile rest, for a total of 11 miles.  After that I realized the dog needed to go out so I ran him another 7 miles when I got home.  Thursday=18 miles.

Dewy morning run after the thunder storms that rolled through.

Friday I woke to super tight calf muscles from being on a treadmill at an incline for 3 hours, so I opted to stretch and roll. The tightness reminded me of when I had achillies tendonosis, so I decided to play it smart and not run. Friday=off day.

Nate finishing up his 30 mile training run at Occoneechee.

Saturday was the Tarheel 10 mile race.  DK was signed up to run, its one of the few races he runs every year.   As usual I helped out with one of the pacing groups.  I paced the 8:30 group this year, it was my 3rd year pacing.  I ran it 4 years ago in 69 minutes, but I am not a road runner so I have happily paced for my friends at Proaxis ever since.  After the 10 miler I drove back out to Occoneechee and joined Nate and Ben for some loops and hill repeats.  I finished out the week with another marathon there.  Sunday= 26.2

So back to the panic, can you tell I crammed a bit from my week above?  I was a bit like that in school too, let hope that like college, I also do my best work when I cram my training? )  I am not quite sure what I have gotten myself into.  My only solace is that I won’t be out there alone, I will have my other Cruel Jewel buddies suffering along with me. (And I also don’t feel nearly as bad as I thought I would after this week.)

  • Sunday; 26.2 miles in the CNF with eccentric squat jumps and core work after
  • Monday; 14 easy miles with Jordan
  • Tuesday; 20 miles of hill repeats at Occoneechee
  • Wednesday; 7 easy miles with dad and Emmitt on the roads
  • Thursday; 18 miles.  3.5 @ 15%, 5.5 of 1/4 mile repeats at 10%/3% 2 miles of 1/2 mile repeats %10% 7 road miles with Emmitt
  • Friday; off, yoga
  • Saturday; 10 miles of pacing the 8:30 group at the Tarheel 10 mile race. 16.2 miles of Occoneechee repeats and loops with Ben and Nate
  • Total climbed; 15,369
  • Total miles; 111.4

Run on friends!!