So a few friends have asked me about my training plan for the Cactus Rose 100. While I don't have a detailed plan, I do have a basic outline in mind. I also have some self-imposed restrictions - our new baby is due in July and that definitely takes precedence. Family time is very important to me and I will not compromise that. Spending all day running at the Greenbelt does not appeal to me, so there will be a lot of early morning runs (maybe between overnight feedings), with the emphasis on quality workouts. Plus lots of weights and core workouts at home.
Here are the 10 principals underlying my approach to this training plan and race:
1. Training officially starts at the beginning of May. This gives me a good 6 months to prepare. I'm not sure if I'm going to continue my marathon coaching this year or not, so that may play into things a little.
2. Get a base. My entire ultra training strategy is based on back-to-back training weekends. What I run during the week doesn't really matter that much - this is where the magic happens. Over the first few months I want to maintain a base Saturday run of 20 miles, and at least 10 on Sundays. Come August I will evaluate what needs tweaking.
3. Horses for courses - Cactus Rose is full of hills, lots of them, and all of them rugged. It is the Bandera course with most of the flat bits taken out - I'm talking a lot of this - so plenty of leg strength is needed. Not only do I need to practice running up them (one of my strengths), I need to practice running down them (definitely not a strength). Let me say this right now - I intend to attack the ass off this race. In all my best ultras I have gone out fast, pulled back when I hit a low point, and hit it hard again when I resurface. I have always been able to ride out the lows because I know they are temporary, dig deep and finish strong. I know the conventional wisdom is to start out conservatively, but my strategy has always worked best for me. If I DNF, I want it to be because I threw the kitchen sink at this bad boy and gave it all I could.
4. Practice races. A good 50 miler a month or so before the race would be ideal, but so far I haven't found one. However, Brad's darkside series might just fit the bill - three 60k night races, each two weeks apart, throughout August.
5. Nutrition. This race does not provide anything at aid stations except water - you win or lose by what you stash in your drop bag - so I have to figure out the best way to keep those calories coming. Liquid calories (meal replacement shakes) will only go so far, and I need something that will keep all day (and night), and that I can eat on the run, or consume quickly at the aid station. I'm thinking avocados, turkey sandwiches, cold sausage, curry sauce with rice, that kind of thing. Maybe I can bribe someone to go down to Cowboy pizza (my Bandera eatery of choice) and pick me up an extra large for the night portion, so I can grab a few slices of it each time I come through Equestrian.
6. Cross training - building leg (and ankle) strength, good core and upper body. I'm thinking fusion of balance work and weights, I'm thinking Swedish exercise ball, I'm thinking set combos (combining two exercises in one set, for example lunges combined with bicep curls), I'm thinking plyometrics. Aerobic weights workouts have always worked well for me and I will raid Nancy's collection of workout dvds. That Jillian Michaels has some bloody annoying facial expressions, and I often wish she would shut the hell up, but she's a kick ass trainer with some excellent workouts.
7. Stretching. Definitely something I don't do enough of. And I should do better, especially since I own the famous woolly hat book. I promise to do better and will devise a daily stretching routine. Note this is the one point I'm most likely to fall off of.
8. Backing off. Any training plan is a guide, nothing more. If you're feeling jaded, listen to your body and back off. Sometimes just resting for a week leaves you revitalized and re-energized.
9. Pacers. I don't have any and am not looking for any. I enjoy running with other folks, but I am also comfortable with my own company. I also don't think it's fair to drag Nancy along to watch two kids while I play in the hills, so this will probably be a solo trip. That's ok - I just have to get myself in that mental groove. Luckily this has always been a strength.
10. Practicing endurance and sleep deprivation - new baby will play a key role here :-)
Enough talk - here is my basic week breakdown:
Long run. 20+ miles - road, trail or combo
Long run. 10 miles road hills (Jester, Ladera Norte etc), followed by hilly trail
6-10 miles trail run. Medium hills - concentrate on holding pace on tired legs.
Weights, aerobics, core or rest. Alternating hill repeats with Gavin on my shoulders.
Hill repeats on the Hill of Life, followed by 6 miles trail
Weights, aerobics, core or rest.
Absolutely no running or workout whatsoever - woohoo!!! I love Fridays.