Friday, April 29, 2016

Pump up the volume

No, I'm not going to start blasting 80's techno, nor will this serve as the intro for a Christian Slater flick.

I am, as usual, prattling on about running. Specifically, running more.

With a thoroughly ridiculous race now on my schedule for July (seriously - why did I ever think this was a reasonable idea?), I've needed to make some adjustments not only to how I run but also to how much I run.

The "where I run" has been an added bonus of adjusting the "how".

The thing is, you can't cram for an ultra. After dealing with a nasty injury last summer that held me to some of my lowest mileage in years, I tried to do a fast build in time for a fall 50k while mediating the ramp up in order not to aggravate the injury.

The result was not pretty. I barely managed to limp in a personal worst, and then 2 weeks later did so again.

Despite having a couple of shorter (25k) trail races between now and July that don't require nearly the same sort of build, I'm actually running some of the highest, most consistent mileage of my life right now. The key here is to realise that endurance adaptation takes the longest out of any sort of fitness to achieve, and the work I do now and next month is really what are going to make or break my durability come July.

When things will be much greener, though they're coming along now.

My highest mileage month ever was March of 2014, during which I ran 257.8km as part of my Waterloo Marathon campaign. I ran well (probably the best race of my life) at the Sulphur Springs 50k last May after my second-highest volume month in March 2015 (252.3km). My third biggest running month - September of 2015, with 250.3km - came too late to get me properly conditioned for the Vulture Bait 50k in mid-October.

Adaptation takes time and consistency, and I did not have it last year.

This year, I haven't actually run less than 200km in a month - as of last night the full tally is 925.6km for 2016, and I've already laid down 254.2km for the month of April alone. While tonight is my night off, I do my long runs on Saturdays, which means I should be able to add another 20+km to that on the last day of this month, heartily smashing my previous best total.

The only problem with all this is that I'm probably the worst runner ever at recovering. I don't sleep enough (ever), and I'm still a solid few pounds over race weight. That leaves me in the precarious position of trying desperately to avoid hurting myself simply by being heavy and pounding on my poor, overworked joints. As much as I would love to run on soft surfaces all the time, my work schedule pretty much means that 4 out of my 6 weekly runs will be on city streets, which will certainly toughen me up for the trails...if I can emerge from all this mileage unscathed.


So I'm attempting to pay a little more attention to recovery, and trying to be reasonable about increasing the time I spend on my feet each week. I actually felt stronger during last Saturday's 2h48m run with 453m of elevation gain than I did during the previous week's 2h30m run with only 259m of climbing, but then I've been pretty wiped out since Sunday. I'm hoping it's just an effect of the cold that I came down with and seem to have finally beaten into submission (knock wood!), because the exhaustion levels have been pretty bad.

I've managed to struggle on through and put in 34.5km from Monday to Thursday - including my first-ever lunch run from the office, just to sneak in 6.5k before going out to dinner on Wednesday to celebrate Tanker the Wonder Sherpa's birthday - but it's been tough to kick my arse out the door when I can hear my bed calling to me.

All stick - no carrot in sight yet.

I can only hope this will all pay off later, in the form of things sucking slightly less when I try to push myself far beyond any challenge I've attempted before.

Only time will tell.


  1. It sounds like you're building a good base for July. If it helps, before I did the 50 miler at Sulphur Springs, 4 weeks out I did a 50k run (Frontenac Perimeter, my GPS said about 47k but apparently it is actually closer to 50k) and then the weekend after did a marathon. Other than that I think my longest run was 35k. But consistency is important and you're doing that.

    1. The problem will be getting the long runs in toward mid-May to the end of June - have Seaton 25k coming (training through), Conquer the Canuck 25k on June 11 (also training through), then we go moto touring through Quebec from the 18th-25th. I'll run a bit but certainly not more than an hour at a time, so it's not ideal timing but everything is already booked.
      My idea is to do more back-to-back longer runs, like go run another 15-20k on Sunday after the 25k races. It just takes me a long damn time to recover from anything 4+hrs, so I'll prob have to get it in between the 2 shorter "races" and rely on lots of time spent running on tired legs.


Go on, have at me!