Evolution of Training

How long have you been running? well since I learned how. No, for real. I think it all really started full force for me back in 2006 or 2007. That’s when I first started running on a consistent basis and it hasn’t stopped since then. It has only grown into the monstrosity it is now (aka 20 ish hours a week). I didn’t run my first race until 2008 and it was a half marathon.

Over the years my training has evolved not only because of the increase in distance but also the increase in knowledge, my goals, and my life circumstances. Your training has to change with you or you will not be running for long. You have to change things up to make your body adapt to new stimulus and thereby get stronger, but that’s not the evolution I’m talking about, that one is more like training blocks.

My love for running has never changed and has never decreased. My motivation has at times been questionable but never to the point where I couldn’t get my butt out the door. I’m blessed (or cursed) in that way. Research is an ongoing influence on my training and on my advice to other runners. I am always trying to learn new training strategies and techniques. I listen to other coaches and to the researchers themselves about what has been discovered and it’s applicability to training and to the average runner.

It’s important to change things up and evolve as new information becomes available. It is also important for your training to evolve as your life changes and as your goals change. You may need to add strength training as you get older and/or as your distance increases. You may need to add cross training as you get older or because you are a more injury prone runner. Knowing your strengths and weaknesses as a runner lets you modify your training and evolve as a runner. You become better, whatever that means to you.

Don’t be afraid to try new training ideas. The worst that can happen is you go back to what you were doing before. Okay you could get injured, but as long as you are introducing a new stimulus slowly and you are getting enough rest this shouldn’t happen.

Be brave go outside your comfort zone. Evolve your running become more.

What have you recently changed about your running?

Base Miles

As the race season really gets swinging, runners begin to ramp up their miles from their base winter miles. Not all runners only maintain a base through winter months. Some continue to build and others continue to race throughout the winter. It depends on the weather and the particular runner. Through the winter or off season, it is good to maintain a base so when race season starts you are ready to begin ramping up to race training without injury and without a lot of work to do.

How many miles should you maintain throughout the winter or off season? it really depends on how much early season work you want to do, how your prior race season went, and what the conditions you will be running in are.

The goal of an off season is to recover and maintain enough that you don’t have to start over. The lower your miles through the off season the more work you will have to do to get ready for race season. The less intensity work you do the more you will have to put in in the preseason. The first priority of the off season is to recover of course.

You don’t want to cause additional injuries during your off season so lowering the intensity and just maintaining a comfortable amount of miles is a good strategy. It can be a time where you switch your focus to strength and balance training as well as you remove the running stress and the amount of time dedicated to putting in miles.

Your base miles should still include some intensity because you don’t want to regress too much but a few bursts of speed for 30 to 60 seconds during a run once a week is enough during this time. If you end your season with an injury, you may want to significantly reduce your miles or cross train for a week or two before implementing your base mile maintenance plan. This is also a great time to take preventative measures to reduce the risk of injury during race season by increasing your strength in your core and lower legs/ankles. If you have a persistent niggle, figure out ways to resolve it or reduce it and strategies you can use during race season.

The weather may be severe enough to reduce your miles as well. Very cold temperatures, closure of trials, and deep snow can make longer runs more challenging if not dangerous. You may have to turn to running on a treadmill or the roads through the winter. The harder surface may lead to a reduction in miles to reduce injury or at a minimum purchasing different shoes.

Where I am located, more mountain lions come down to the lower trails in the winter to find food. This in combination with me running in the early morning alone, pushes me to the roads for a few months. When mountain lion meals are found within a half mile of your house and sightings are all along the trials you run, it’s best to change your behavior because the lions are not changing theirs.

The amount of miles should be something you are comfortable with and doesn’t wear you down. This may be 60% of what you do during race season or it may be 70%. It can and should bounce up and down a bit but never to the high of race training. Doing one week with low miles and the next week with a bit higher miles can add variety and gives you a bit more time to spend with family and friends who get neglected during race season.

My base miles typically consist of two eight mile runs during the week and then 10 to 15 miles both Saturday and Sunday. During race season, my midweek runs go up to 10-12 miles, I add a speed session on Wednesdays and my weekends increase to 15-25 miles both days.

What do you do for base miles and what impacts your decision on how much to do?

Happy and Healthy Running!

This Year’s Races

I am hopeful that we will be able to return to a more normal race calendar by this fall. Not only because I have races then but because getting at least one part of my life back to pre-covid-19 days would be nice. I’m only registered for two events this year because of the pandemic. I really wanted to run a couple of others earlier in the year but being one of the last on the list for vaccines, it just wasn’t going to happen.

First Bear 100 finisher’s metal September 2015.

The new CDC guidelines are encouraging for racing especially for those who are fully vaccinated. Being able to run a race without a mask would get me on the vaccine train if I wasn’t already fully onboard. The longer the vaccines are out and research is continued, I hope more people will get vaccinated. The more who are vaccinated, the closer we get to the critical 80% needed for “herd immunity” and once that is reached, everyone can get back to life more normally, including our youngsters who can’t get vaccinated yet.

I’m registered to run two races. Squamish 50/50 in August and Bear 100 in September. I was registered for both races in 2020 but Squamish was cancelled and I wasn’t comfortable running Bear with the Covid numbers for Utah and Idaho.

Squamish 50/50, for those who are not familiar with this event, is a fifty mile run on Saturday followed by a 50k run on Sunday. So just your run of the mill back to back right? I don’t think so. The terrain makes these back to backs very challenging. Plus there are not many who are doing such high volume for back to backs. I will admit that I have done 40/30s as back to backs in the past, before my daughter was born, but I haven’t been able to get those numbers in since then. I regularly run back to back 20/15 and some times 20/18s but that’s about my max at this point. Even with the lower mileage, I will be ready for Squamish.

Bear 100. I love Bear 100. It is my all time favorite race. You never know what you are going to get, well I guess you know you are in for a day-night-day to remember for the rest of your life. It can range between late summer heat to a full on winter storm. Weather in the Utah mountains (Spring and Fall in Utah in general really) is unpredictable and swings wildly every few days.

I have registered for Bear 100 for the past two years and haven’t been able to run it. The first year was because my daughter just wasn’t ready for me to be gone all day, all night, and possibly into the next day. Then Covid. My fingers are crossed that Utah will step up its game in vaccines and continue with social distancing so it is safe for all to come and run the race without having to worry about themselves or their crew/cheering squad being exposed to the virus or one of its variants.

Happy Healthy Running