Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A Year Built Around Western States

Having “grown up” running-wise at Badwater, I know quite a few people running the race and wish them all the best. I may ending up crewing and pacing for a friend, but that is yet to be determined. It was a difficult decision, but in the end I decided not to put my hat into the ring for this year’s edition. Instead, I will apply for the 2011 edition.

While it’s certainly possible to have “A” races two weeks apart making for a unique “double”, the nature of preparing for two unique races makes it difficult to come into both of them and expect to perform at 100%. My racing over the past 7-8 months has clearly benefited from being more discriminating about when and where I choose to race. There are only a finite number of times that we can “go to the well” and pull out an “A”-level race. We often consider going to the well to be simply a matter of willing that level of performance out of us, when in fact there is also a natural physiological fatigue from trying to do it too much. It is the reason why most elite marathoners race only 2-3 marathons a year.

The temptation is there to make a serious run at going under 27 hours at Badwater this year, but it is tempered by the fact that I also have unfinished business to attend to at Western States. There is an emotional weight of having an excellent race in light of my abysmal DNF performance at Western States in 2007. Based on my performances in the last 7-8 months, I am definitely on a major upswing and want to take full advantage of it by taking on challenges that I can give my utmost to achieving. I have an opportunity to have a special race in June that could exceed my current expectations. Considering the current state of the demand to get into Western States, this is something which may not come around again at an age when I should be looking to maximize every ounce of athletic potential I have. To allow myself to split my energies to get ready for both races could ultimately result in cheating myself. Badwater will be there in 2011 and hopefully this upswing will continue so that if accepted, I will be there for another “race of a lifetime”.

That being said, I’ve finally solidified a good portion of my year’s race schedule. While I’m still tinkering with adding more summer and fall races, the bulk of the planning is completed. I am relying on a number of fairly tried and true assumptions when it comes to crafting a training and racing schedule leading up to Western States. Heck, everything seems to revolve around this race, even my fundraising efforts this year, which I will announce on my next post. That said, here's list of some of my basic training assumptions:

1)Go Long: Not all the time, but I’ve made sure to add in a difficult 50 miler in Old Goats as well the Miwok 100k on May 1st. In addition to the just completed Rocky Raccoon 100, this should leave no doubt in my mind that I am prepared for the distance.

2)Prepare For The Course/Race-Specific Challenge: Old Goats will help me refine and work on the climbing aspects that will come into play in the Western States canyons. Miwok will give me another chance to run quick and long over the rolling, non-technical terrain. I should be able to double my time at Miwok to give me a good time goal to fix my eyes upon for Western States. Rocky was also important to me as far as preparing for the uniqueness of night running and battling through the late race fatigue. Oh, how easy it is to forget just how much of physical and mental struggle it can be to keep the legs moving in the late stages of a 100 miler.

3)Hit Triple Digits: There isn’t an exact science as far as miles per week is concerned. However, a general rule of thumb I follow is to hit 100+ miles a week once every 4 weeks. The addition of these races to the schedule should allow me to do this effectively without too much additional effort. Plus, racing can make hitting triple digits somewhat exciting in the midst of the long months of training for one particular race.

4)Rest: I never race on back-to-back weekends. In fact, I only average 1 race per month leading up to the big race. I hope that this will keep me fresh and not mentally tax me too much. I often get sucked into the “competitive mentality” during races, so abstaining from becoming a race junkie is a good decision. This is not to say that I’ll never race back-to-back weekends as a way to simulate race fatigue; it’s just that my back-to-back runs will generally be a combination of racing on Saturday and a more leisurely recovery running on Sunday after church.

Next Post: The introduction of the "2010 Western States Challenge", my new fundraising campaign with some pretty cool prizes for the donors.


TonyP said...

We will certainly miss you at BW this year. I hope you make it out there to pace a bit. Totally understand the decision though.

Anonymous said...

What a great resource!

Anonymous said...

Ola, what's up amigos? :)
I will be glad to get some help at the start.
Thanks in advance and good luck! :)

Billy Burger said...

It'll be weird thinking about "Badwater" w/o "Gundy" but I hear ya on all accounts for choosing WS100 as your go-to race.

Can't wait to hear all about it as you ramp up your efforts and gauge your fitness in races like OG and Miwok. Best of luck man.