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Miwok 100k Training

There’s a lot that goes into racing an ultra distance race. Training takes time, money, and social sacrifices. If you’re not a paid professional runner married or dating another professional runner, then all those things I mentioned are a strain to the person running and to those close to them.

Preparing for Miwok hasn’t been consistent. I didn’t hit my long mileage goals, but I’m happy with the work I did during all of my runs. In the 11 weeks following Sean O’Brien I averaged 61 miles, 12-20 hours of running, and 12,000+ft. of climbing weekly. There was a period of seven days where I didn’t run, otherwise I kept to a six-day run week with Mondays being a complete rest day.

I’m in awe of people to work full-time and manage quality training weeks. To put into perspective what my typical training day is, I wake up two hours before a run to eat and prep. When possible I take two hours to rest and recuperate after a run. This includes eating, stretching, and napping. What happens more often is I have to rush off to work without proper nutrition and recovery. I hate running at night, so when I’m pressed for time in the morning, I often cut my run short to have time after for a light meal and commute time. I’m constantly rushed to get to work where I try to recover. Never a successful endeavor. So, when I say I run so-and-so hours in a day there’s actually more time beyond “time-on-feet.”

One thing that has been consistent have been the kind of trails I’ve chosen to run. I prefer to keep a consistent running pace so I prefer to run less technical trails. I run Mt. Wilson Toll Rd. at least once a week, running to Idlehour trail or to the top rather than the more Instagram scenic Old Mt. Wilson trail where it’s more crowded and rugged. I feel the 10 mile downhill runs have helped toughened my legs more than the uphill sections. Although I’m still slow on the descents, I can consistently run long downhill sections.

I’ve also lifted a lot more weights. I go to the gym twice a week and I can feel the difference in how I’ve been able to handle fatigue during long runs and the pain-free day afters. Since I started lifting heavy eight weeks ago, I’ve managed to get pretty close to my four-rep. maxs. When I paddled my four-rep maxs were: 70lbs dumble bench, 185lbs barbell bench, 225lbs squat, 275lbs dead lifts. Just last week I lifted 55lbs dumble bench and 185lbs squat. I’m a gallon jug of water and 2 scoops of protein away from becoming a bro.

Well, all that to say I’ll most likely have an average day out on the trails this weekend. My goal was a top ten finish, now I’m aiming for a sub 12-hour finish. My training frustrates me because I know the work that needs to be put in to run a competitive ultra race. I know 70-mile weeks aren’t enough for a 62-mile race. I know the value of a 25+ mile run and the need for recovery, but I can’t put it all together. I know a race is determined long before the start. It’s determined in the preparation. One of these races I’ll have my act together and be able to compete as I know I’m capable of.


Trying out Altra Lone Peak 2.0 for the first time since the Inov8 Ultra Race 290 were too stiff and opposite of cushioned. After two runs in the Altras I’m digging the design and concept of a cushioned zero drop shoe.

If you care to follow my decline (bib #46)…


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Post Run Calorie Consumption


Image from Runner’s World

I wrote a post about caloric debt and it’s effect on better racing times (Caloric Debt, 2011). I should have followed that post with my thoughts about caloric consumption during training since it relates to weight, efficiency, and performance. The belief “I can eat whatever I like because I’m a runner” is not only false, but unhealthy. The average person burns about 100-105 calories per mile ran (based on a slow pace). A lighter person burns about 93-99 calories. Of course, the faster you run the more calories are burned. Also, the more you weigh increases the amount of calories you burn. What does this mean? This means you don’t need to eat that double-double with fries and shake after a long run! While it may taste good and feed your hunger cravings it’s adding to a positive caloric balance. If you’re looking to lose some pounds or maintain a good racing weight that 1,760 calories you just ate just sabotaged your plans. Of course, if you ran 17+ miles then your In-N-Out meal was justified. Keep in mind we also consume gels and other calorie dense snacks on our long runs which lessens post run caloric needs. In short, keep post-run meals and snacks calorie sensible if your mileage is on the lower end. Do the math and don’t go overboard with ingesting too many calories for what your body really needs. It’s about replacement and not storage. Unless you’re going back-to-back long mileage sessions, there’s no need to “load up.” As always, aim for whole food alternatives and remember to drink water to help in energy conversion and to aid in filling you up during meals.

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What About Running?

It seems that I’ve been doing everything else except run recently, but I’m writing this post to reassure all of my fellow run nerds that I’ve been putting in miles. I took last week off because of back spasms caused by parkour and snow shoveling. I’m back at it this week, so far running one hour a day. Thanks to @mk_liveloverun for sharing some of those miles.

This week I’ll most likely hit 50+ miles on 6 days running. Next week I’ll be back to my base building schedule (the last two weeks!). In January I’ll be introducing some speed to my weekly runs before going all out February and March. I’m excited about my racing prospects in 2014. Looking forward to new PRs.

I didn’t race that much in 2013, that was intentional. I wanted to put in the kind of work in training that would carry me to a new level, being able to toe the line and know good things will happen. This current training plan is very aggressive on the miles. I feel that mileage is key to becoming a competitive racer.

I’m looking at my training from Camarillo Marathon to replicate a few behaviors and practices. It was my perfect race! I’m going to need to run with sub 3:00:00 peeps. I was also running about 20-30 miles of trail with 4,000 ft+ of climbing weekly along with Tuesday and Thursday speed work. Man, I miss those Gritty City runners!…and the San Gabriel Mountains!


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June & Six Month Totals

Bowerman and Choy

June Totals:
Miles: 295.89
Time on feet: 44:36:26 h:m:s
Max time: 2:32:26
Long run mileage: 16.60
Number of activities: 41

6 Month Totals:
Miles: 1,223.05
Time on feet: 202:11:12 h:m:s
Max time: 6:24:15
Long run mileage: 37.83
Number of activities: 153

I’m off the trails and on the roads! June was a pretty intense month. The pace started to get faster, the distances (on average) got longer, and consistency prevailed!

I’ve had to be creative with my long runs and hill work living in a flat metropolitan city. Luckily there are a few places that are hilly and routes that are uninterrupted with traffic. I like driving a little bit south to the Martinesville area where the country roads are rolling and are mostly free from traffic. I run all of my “track” workouts on the road to better simulate conditions for the Kaua’i Half Marathon.

I alternate between  strength building runs and speed work from week to week. One week will be about running hills and the next week will be about functional speed. The focus being on fatiguing my body by overloading stress with either speed or strength movements. The better I can hold my speed on tired legs, the better I’ll do in the race. I think this approach is best for Kaua’i because of the challenging course and the weather. I remember when I first ran the race it was hard to get into a rhythm with the rolling terrain.

The Kauai Marathon 2011

The weather in Central Indiana has been helping simulate conditions for Kaua’i. It’s been consistently in the low to mid 80’s with a high degree of humidity with a few windy days a week. Hopefully things don’t get out of hand this summer like it did last year when temps. hit an all time high almost daily.

July will be a heavy month in terms of mileage with longer distances at race pace. The key, as always, is to stay healthy. Luckily, I haven’t been hit with any injuries or illnesses.

What are your training philosophies? What workouts have you tried in the past? Any favorites? How were the results?

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Training Specificity: Developing And Utilizing The Correct Energy System

Success in any race depends on how your body reacts to the stresses of that distance. Using the principles of specificity of training this means short/intense workouts for shorter distances and long/sustained workouts for distances beyond the half-marathon. We must train the energy system we’ll utilize the most during a race.

Talking specifically about the half-marathon and marathon distances, the body need not be stressed too much at the higher end of one’s aerobic capacity (75% – 80% of max heart rate or when you’re having a hard time talking during a long sustained run). Most recreational runners can finish by running 60% of max heart rate (being able to speak multiple sentences without gasping for air during long sustained runs).

Knowing the difference between aerobic running versus anaerobic running is key in the preparation and execution phases of racing. Go out too hard during a race, and your body will delve into the anaerobic energy system – your body operating while lacking oxygen – which produces more waste (lactate acid) and operates less efficiently than the body during aerobic capacity. Too much time training the anaerobic system, usually exercises with short and quick movements high intensity movements (sprints, weight lifting, bounding and jumping), and it will take longer for the body to recover and continue effective aerobic running and the greater chances of injury.


For new or recreational runners look at the “Classic Model” and for veteran to sub-elite runners, look at “Current Model.”

Running Times Magazine mentions the proportion of time a long distance runner needs to commit to either training efforts. For the marathon distance, while running 65 miles a week, a runner need only run 2.5% of the distance at the anaerobic threshold effort or 2.5 miles a week! Why? The long distance runner doesn’t need the kind of leg speed or strength as a sprinter. Running just above our aerobic threshold (when we run and can talk in short sentences comfortably) does more to elevate our running than monotonous 400m repeat. Our bodies grow accustomed to the long distance and give us the kind of feedback regarding hydration, nutrition, and fatigue that running sprint intervals will not. To be honest, how many of us will ever possess the kind of speed that world-class distance runners have to warrant speed intervals shorter than 1200m? When we don’t stray too far from our aerobic efforts we run more controlled and efficiently. Constantly building on our aerobic base is the safest way to build endurance and speed.

The body is great at adapting. As any veteran runner will tell you, constantly running our aerobic pace becomes easier with each run. Incorporating just the right amount of speed during long training seasons will build on your base and create a new level of speed. Being mindful of your speed during training and races will help in your development as a successful runner in the long-term.

Example weekly workout:
I use talking as a gauge of effort. If you use a watch or GPS and have run a race in the previous two months use the link to McMillan’s running calculator on the right to view your pace for a number of distances.

Aerobic component:
– Weekday long run of 1 hour at talking pace. (recite part of a song and if you can go through it without gasping for air every sentence, then this is your aerobic pace)
– 1.5-2 hour weekend long run at talking pace
– 10 minute pick-ups during a long run (run a little faster than talking pace for ten minutes during your long runs)

Anaerobic component:
– 4 x 1000m repeats with 5 minute rest or rest to full recovery.
– 2 minute pick-ups during long runs.
– speed ladders (1600m, 1200m, 800, 400) or any variation of ascending or descending distances no more than 1 mile and not less than 400m. recovery is to jog half of the distance ran.