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Tough Races Require Tough Training

Posted Dec 30 2012 7:46pm
Imagine you're toeing the line at your first half or full marathon. You have your new tech shirt on, a great pair of wicking running socks, a pair of Asics Gel-Whatevers you bought from RunnersWorld (hopefully) and you really look the part BUT, you have not done proper training. Your longest run thus far is only five miles, and several weeks prior to the race, you skipped several mid-week runs because work got in the way, and heck--some of those days were just way too hot! Well, somewhere about 2/3 of the way through your race, the wheels are gonna fall off. I'm not telling you anything new here. You might have already said "DOH!" giving it your best Homer Simpson imitation for added effect. But beyond the obvious mileage conditioning, you should structure your training to prepare you for the particular course you are running.

Trail running is my thing, I'm not the fastest, not even in the upper half of the finishers. In fact, there's nothing really nasty about being the last place finisher. Been there, done that, got the medal, drank the beer. So, if I am racing, it is usually gonna be on dirt, enhanced by rocks, roots, hills, and mud (if it ever rains again.) Running all of my training miles on the pancake flat asphalt trailz along Riverside might not get me the conditioning I need. (Pssst--I hate pavement)

I have some friends who have not only drank the proverbial Koolade, they've gone from sipping to snorting the concentrated powder, signing up for races that make my knees tremble at the thought of them. I'm not talking 50Ks along nice nature trails in a park, but 100 milers over mountains above treeline with ginormous rocks, or multi-day events that feature an ultra distance every day back to back to back to back through jungles, rain forests, atop cliffs, through the desert in 105° temps or 85° with 90% humidity. Not your traditional flat & fast Boston qualifier races.

The Coastal Challenge Team of Derk and Barbara Pinkerton, Kathy Hoover, Roman Broyles, and Dee Deatherage are doing a multi-day event in Costa Rica this February. So instead of whipping out an easy 15 at Riverparks, they find insane hills like this one. This is at the far north side of Turkey Mountain, and it does not have a name--YET. I have several suggestions--Buttslide Hill, MFSOB, Derk's Bright Idea, and there are "names" that I cannot repeat. The Coastal Challenge team does repeats from the lower parking lot at 68th and Elwood, up Lipbuster, down the Powerline trail, and then down this hill, back up, back down, back up, and then head back south to the parking lot on;y to regroup and do it all again.

This yet-to-be-named hill is steeper than climbing stairs, but has no handrails. Other features: 1.loose dirt 2.stumps that stick up out of the ground that might trip you, impale you, but also serve as brakes going down and footholds going up 3.a climb of 150 feet in 120 feet of distance. (There is no extra charge for repeats.)

And for giggles, or maybe for the variation, they headed west along the high banks of Mooser Creek over a trail that follows a deathly ravine scrambles over a wash, and then ascends right up a slalom covered in 2 feet of loose leaves covering a healthy menu or rocks and roots (and hibernating snakes?)

I was late joining the group of masochistic runners, and still got close to 8 miles in. But the Coastal Challenge team stayed at it and did not stop until they had 30 miles for the day. And I heard reports on Facebook that they were tired, beat, had nothing left. Wah wah wah!

So what is the point of this post? I think you should pick out a hard race--one that you would be super proud to finish, but you are secretly unsure you can do. Then, train your butt off and get it done. Come on--it's fun.
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