Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The Plan for 2016

So, “what’s the plan for 2016?”, I keep being asked.  Well, here it is…

First of all, I’m thrilled to be an ambassador for  Ultra Adventures for a second year.  The race venues are just so incredible.  I’m really looking forward to revisiting some of the locations, though this year I will be running more of the 50 milers.

I am also happy to be an ambassador for Honey Stinger and nuun.  I’ve been continuously refining my fueling and hydration over the years and both of these products play a significant role.  I love Honey Stinger waffles, as they have a nice balance of carbs and fat, early and late in an ultra.  I also like their chews as a quick, carb loaded energy boost.  Hydration wise, I like the fact that nuun gives me an easily portable option with good, mild flavors that deliver crucial electrolytes, without the heaviness of a sugary, calorie laden drink.  I use nuun on my summer lunch time runs, as well as during the midday heat of an ultra.

Back to the running - Due to a number of circumstances, some out of my control, I will be running fewer 100 milers - possibly only 5 or 6, and three of those will be 24 hour races, which I plan to really focus on this year.

What’s the difference between a hundred miler and a 24 hour race, you ask?  My personal opinion is that 24 hour races  are much tougher, both mentally and physically.  It’s pretty obvious to most that running hundreds of repetitive loops would be hard on the old psyche, but it’s not as obvious that it would be more physically demanding, after all, we’re dealing with minimal vertical gain, as opposed to 5,000’ to 20,000’, and there are no ankle-breaking rocks along the way.  Unfortunately, the climbs and variation in the ground actually helps the body to get through it.  On a typical trail race, my pace may range from 7 to 30 minutes/mile.  On a timed, loop course, my pace may only vary between 9 and 11 minutes/mile.  That minimal variation is tough on the body - stride length is always the same, foot placement is always the same, etc.  People don’t get carpal tunnel syndrome because typing is strenuous.  They get it because of the endless repetition that wears the body down.  It’s the same thing with running - lack of variation hurts!

So what am I going to do to better transition from hundred milers to 24 hour races?  First, I need to change my footwear.  My minimal Saucony’s have done great on the trail, but the repetitive pounding (especially on pavement) is just too much.  I also don’t need the “control” of a snug shoe that’s required to maneuver technical downhills.  I’m switching to Altras, as they have both the cushioning to take the pounding, and the wide toe-box to allow my toes to wiggle freely.  I used Altras on most of the Desert Solstice, though I made the mistake of pairing them up with compression socks, which led to some nasty toe blisters.

Training wise, I’m going to focus more on speed.  I know, averaging 9 to 10 minute miles doesn’t sound like “speed”, but it’s considerably faster than 12 to 15 minute/miles on a typical trail hundred.  I need to push myself to do more speed work in my trainings and reduce the number of “junk” miles.  I’m also going to be doing more short/fast races, aka 50 milers.

2015 was an awesome year, and I am hoping to make 2016 even better!  My list of races for 2016 is as follows (Leadville is a notable exclusion from the list, since I did not get into the lottery this year):
Feb 20, Antelope Canyon 50M
Mar 19, Monument Valley 50M
April 2, Behind the Rocks 50M
April 8, Zion 100M
April 30, Cornbelt Running Club 24 Hour Track Run
May 21, Grand Canyon 50M
June 17, Bryce 100M
*July 10, Silver Rush 50M
Aug 6, Tushars 93K
*Sept 17, North Coast 24 Hour
Oct 14-16, Grand Circle Trailfest
*Dec 17, Desert Solstice 24 Hour Track Invitational

* Goal Races
Some may be clever enough to figure out a couple of my hidden goals based on the list of races ;-)

Thank you again to nuun, Honey Stinger, and especially Ultra Adventures!!

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