My name is Nick, I am a Wisconsin dad who loves all things fitness, diving, and food! Persistent Resilience is a log of the fun and craziness that is my life. I am passionate about running, I love to see how far I can push myself, and my favorite runs are off-road. Currently I am trying to add to my ultra-marathon experience. If you have any questions about how/why I run or eat the way that I do please do not hesitate to contact me by leaving a comment, via facebook, or by email at nmwied@hotmail.com. Thanks for Visiting







30 June 2015

7 Minute Decision guide to choosing and preparing for your 1st 100 mile trail ultra

My 7 Minute Decision guide to choosing and preparing for your 1st 100 mile trail ultra - How I chose to run the Bighorn Trail 100 Mile!

Deciding to complete or compete in a race of any distance can be a very taxing process, and much like life the more outlandish the race the more complicated the decision process becomes.  I am writing this as a mini-guide to how I chose my 1st 100 mile trail race (Bighorn Trail 100 Mile) in hopes that it simplifies things for you.  I figure you need about 1 minute per step, there are 7 of them. As always this is my warped thought process so utilize the steps that make sense and disregard the rest.

Step 1: Decide to run 100 miles.
For me this process was easy, I wanted to run 100 miles.  Why you ask, why not!  Word of advice disregard all commentary that ends in (xxxx’nt), such as “I wouldn’t do that, you shouldn’t do that, and you can’t do that.”  The preceding statements are all crap and designed to deter you from achieving something meaningful!

Step 2: Choose a race.
For this I say choose something that scares you, A LOT, so it motivates you to train and finish the race. One example of how a race could scare you would be, “I chose this race in Europe and it cost a ton of money to get here, if I come home with a DNF (Did Not Finish) my significant other will kill me in my sleep” ie… you will finish the race. Or in my case choose a race that is at altitude and has an elevation gain profile so big, I couldn’t specifically prepare for it, that’s scary! (ie.. Bighorn Trail 100 Mile)
This is the elevation profile of the Bighorn 100 from JoeyLuther

Step 3: Start running.
This means you need to be healthy enough to consistently train (run).  No weird aches or pains or anything broken.  I don’t care what Karl says, a hundred miles is that far!  To ensure I not only started running but kept running injury free I decided to get some assistance from a coach, which leads to #4.

My Coach Ian Torrence
Step 4: Get a coach!!!
If this is your first hundred or the first one you want to race, I would highly suggest getting a coach.  My advice in choosing a coach is, “Get one who is not afraid to argue with you!”  What I mean by this is your coach first needs to be able to understand what your goals are and if they are realistic.  Second, they need to be able to argue with you when you are acting crazy.  You know you have found “your coach”, when you can have a heated argument/discussion 1 second, then be laughing with them the next.  Really, it’s no different than a significant other.  Also if your coach scares you a bit that is good as well.  Here is an example of the 14 days prior to my 9 day taper for Bighorn.  I was more frightened for these than the race!

 



Step 5: Figure out your stomach.
This boils down to practice your race day nutrition/hydration during your long hard runs.  Rule number one, if it makes you soil your shorts or vomit uncontrollably DO NOT utilize this strategy or product during your race.  Rule number two if you feel like a rock star and are killing your training run, determine how to replicate this nutrition/hydration strategy during your race.

Step 6: Choose appropriate gear. (But not too much!)
This step can be as complicated or simple as you choose.  My vote is to keep it as simple as possible.  Look at the weather forecast, aid station distances, race time splits if available, course map, and elevation profile.  All of these will help you determine what you may need for the race.  Much like your nutrition, whatever you plan on using should be practiced beforehand.  A good example is, if it makes you bleed or pass out, probably not the best choice.  If you barely notice it’s there, use it again.
My Basic 100 Mile Gear

Step 7: Determine if you need an entourage. (ie.. Crew & Pacer)
This is a personal choice.  For me I feel a pacer would be a distraction, I would be more worried about them and not focusing on me.  As far as a crew, although I’ve never had one, I feel it would be awesome! (Any future volunteers.)

Step 8: Show up and race smart!

Congrats you’ve made it now have fun!

All in the above steps took me about 5 minutes to work though mentally and looked something like this:
1.       I am going to run 100 miles,
2.       Bighorn Trail 100 Mile scares me and I can drive there for free!
3.       I feel good to start running, even if it is -50 degrees out! (Wisconsin winter)
4.       Ian Torrence, with McMillan Coaching only made me cry a little ;)
5.       Try and Try again, eventually I will have something convenient and stomach friendly!
6.       Keep it simple! (Not quite Anton simple though)
7.       I am driving to the race for free and dirtbagging it, not really sure who would like to do that as well ;)
8.       I am at the start line for the Bighorn 100 and I feel both scared and ready!
 
Actually getting them done took a bit longer and was all part of the wonderful journey to The Bighorn 100!

Stay tuned for the Race Report!! 

06 May 2015

2015 ICE AGE TRAIL 50 MILE PREVIEW


2015 Ice Age Preview

The 2014 edition of the Ice Age Trail 50 mile was a race that some said would never happen. Combine moderate temperatures, extremely fast like-minded competitors, and a dry course and you get the fastest single day in Ice Age history! The relatively cool air temperatures at the start which rose along with the humidity through the day challenged the hundreds who took part in the Ice Age 50 Mile. One word described the men’s race, speed, and Max King ended up being the fastest resetting the course record (5:41:07) in the process! The women’s race was a little more spread out with Kaci Lickteig taking the win and the course record (6:41:39)!

The 2015 edition of the Ice Age Trail 50 miler has undergone some changes.  First, the sponsor changed from Montrail to Salomon.  Second, the race will no longer be offering automatic Western States 100 entries.  What has not changed is the fact that this is a storied race, on a deceivingly difficult course, with a very fast field.  The Ice Age Trail 50 has always drawn those newer to ultras, those with incredible road speed, and the wily veterans.  This year will be no different.  Following is a short breakdown of those who may contend for the top spots on Saturday!

MEN’S PREVIEW

Joshua Brimhall (AdiUltra/Nathan Sport)
Josh definitely fits into the veteran category.  With more than 60 ultra finishes you will rarely see a finish lower than 5th; in fact most of Josh’s finishes are 1st or 2nd.  Most recently Josh took fourth at the Zane Grey 50 miler, a race most would describe as the hardest 50 miler in the States.  Josh has also won a 50k in 3:34.  The last time he raced Ice Age (2013) he fell a little shy of his goal of a win with a 6:25.  Expect Josh to come ready to race, and looking for some payback from this course.

Zachary Ornelas (Skechers)
There seems to be one thing in common with all “Skechers” sponsored athletes (Meb Keflezighi, Kara Goucher…) they are all ridiculously fast.  Well Zach is no different.  Zach just obliterated the competition at the US 50k Road Championships at the Coumsett 50k with an otherworldly time of 2:52:17!!  That’s right; only 6 North American’s have run a faster 50k.  Zach, a teacher from Michigan, is new to ultras.  He gave ultras a go in 2014, while also running his first Marathon, a 2:20! (Yes he still plans to go for an Olympic Trials Qualifier) Expect Zach to come ready to chase down Max King’s CR and anyone else who gets in front of him!

Zach Bitter (Altra)
Another Zach, one who is not new to Ultras or Ice Age is Zach Bitter.  This will be Zach’s 4th Ice Age 50.  He has a 1st, 3rd, and 6th.  As impressive as Zach’s Ice Age stats are, it is the rest of his resume that sets him apart from most other runners.  The 100 Mile American Record (11:47), the 12 Hour world record (101.66 miles), the 200k American Track Record (16:23:33), and the 6th fastest 50 mile time ever (5:12:36) to name a few.  To top those off he also represented the USA at the 2014 world 100k Championships in Qatar finishing in 6th (6:48). Recently Zach attempted to better his own 100 mile American record and go after world record, only to succumb to some severe quad issues.  In the past when a race has not gone according to plan for Zach he has shown the ability to channel all of the frustration into his next event.  With Zach’s intimate course knowledge expect him to come ready to hammer this course!

Chris Rubesch
Chris has finished 27 ultras, garnering 26 top 10’s, 7 wins, and a few course records.  He has raced Ice Age twice now with an 11th and 10th place finish.  Chris has a 100 mile PR of 16:40, and really knows how to push through the suffering.  Look for him to push hard with the front.

Stuart Kolb
Stuart is a Wisconsin native with 14 Ice Age 50 Mile finishes.  13 of those have been top 10’s!  Stuart has a 50 mile PR of 6:10 and an Ice Age 50 mile PR of 6:32.  With his experience and course knowledge look for him to run right behind the front pack waiting to pick off any who struggle!

WOMEN’S PREVIEW

Jessica Garcia
Jessica is a Wisconsin native who races to win.  Jessica has finished 9 ultras in her career with 7 of those being top 3 finishes.  She ran Ice Age in 2014 placing 6th in 8:14.  She recently took 3rd at the Chicago Lakefront 50K.  Expect Jessica to bring her speed and toughness to this race.

Annie Weiss
Annie, a registered dietician, burst onto the trail ultra scene in 2011.  Crossing over from a road racing background she quickly won her first two ultras (50k’s) and took second in her first 50 miler.  Then injury struck.  Annie started her comeback in 2014 and is now being coached by Tommy “Rivers” Puzey and comeback she has!  So far in 2015 Annie has taken 5th at the uber competitive Black Canyon 100K, and a 3rd at the Chippewa 50k.  Look for Annie to continue that comeback.  OH as an aside the last time Annie raced an Ice Age Trail event it was the 50k and she won.

Serena Wilcox
Serena ran her first ultra in 2008, so she knows a thing or two about racing.  She also happens to know something about winning while suffering.  She won the 2011 Vermont 100, and last year took 12th at the Western States 100.  She has a 50 mile PR of 7:35 so she also knows how to run really fast.  Serena is slated to run Western States again this year.  She has already run a 50k and 50 mile as tune ups.  Watch for Serena to run her own race, and if she’s in position take it out for the win.

Also for your reading pleasure, here is the link to the www.iRunFar.com "This Week In Running: May 4th 2015" article including the Ice Age Trail preview information.  Please check back in to the www.iRunFar.com site on Monday May 11th for a recap of the action for the race!

07 September 2014

2014 Ultra Race Of Champions (UROC) 100k – Not just a check in the box…….

www.ultraroc.com
Here I am, standing as far back as possible from the starting arch at the 2014 UROC 100K.  Even though it is pitch black out I have not turned on my headlamp, there is enough light from those around me.  Even though there are almost 200 people around me, all I hear is silence.  Even though it is 35 degrees (F) out I don’t feel cold.  In fact I don’t seem to feel, hear, or see anything!  It is as if I am in a dream, a dream which began as a nightmare on a hospital bed in February.

2 days post op, I think that's my knee
I had knee surgery in late February to repair several genetic issues in my right knee.  As the anesthesiologist finished and I began to drift off, my last thought was of me quickly descending a mountain, and then my legs seemed to no longer work properly.  I fell, or more precisely crashed, then nothing!  I realized before surgery that I may not be able to qualify for the Western States 100 Lottery this year.  Later after some research I learned that UROC, 6 months away, was a qualifier and it seemed that I might be able to recover from surgery in time to race.  Thus began my time running up and down Copper Mountain in Colorado.

[First let me take a second to do something most race reports do at the end and thank a few people.  The reason I am doing this first, is even though running by itself is an individual sport, without the love and support of others a runner would never succeed.  First I want to thank my family.  To my wife, you are not a runner and may not understand ultras, but your support is awesome.  To my two girls, thank you for inspiring me with your ability to find joy in everything.  For Trae and Jessica at Performance Running Outfitters, though I am the “weirdo” ultra guy on the team, your enthusiasm and support for my racing dreams never ceases to amaze me.  To Peter Defty of VESPA thank you for the sage nutritional advice, I truly value your counsel and support.  To Liza Howard of Team Red White and Blue, thank you from the bottom of my heart for first allowing me to represent Team RWB and second for all that you do to aid my fellow brothers and sisters in the military, they are the true heroes!  Finally to Adam McRoberts, Logan Polfuss, Ashley Erba, & Heather Moore my hosts in CO, your generosity and friendship will never be forgotten! ]

Copper Mountain Colorado a beautiful mountain, a skier’s mountain, as it is very steep and very technical.  Well it is no less steep or technical if you plan to run up and down it six times.  UROC is an exceptionally beautiful course put on by Bad to the Bone racing.  B2B did an amazing job and I would highly recommend this or any other race they direct.  Francesca, Gill, Shannon, Mike, and all the others were nothing but amazing both before and during the event.  The 100k course had us running the same roughly 50k’ish loop twice.  Knowing what’s coming the second time around doesn’t make it any easier ;).  This course had over 11,000ft of vertical gain, according to my watch, and the same amount of descent totaling over 22k of vertical change in 100k (62 miles).  The race starts at an elevation of 9800ft and goes up to the summit at 12,441ft, we then spent the rest of the day going up and down between 10,000 and 12,000ft.  Trust me there was not much oxygen.


Elevation Profile of 100k
As Francesca counted down from 10 to start the race, I suddenly could hear again, I could feel, I could see, and I was scared, really scared.  I had been telling everyone the only reason I was doing UROC was to “check the box” for the Western States 100 lottery (A sub 15 hour finish would allow me to enter the 2015 lottery).  This was a lie, well sort of.  I did want to be able to enter the lottery, but more importantly I wanted to, desperately needed to, feel like a trail runner again.  I had a lot of questions and no answers at the start of this race.  Would I even be able to run, as I had only run for 5 weeks 3 times a week prior to the race?  Would my knee hold up to the long assents and descents, as I had only been running flat trails in my runs?  Would I be able to finish, as my longest single run had been 2.5 hours?  Would I be able to breathe and how would I handle being at altitude all day, since I was coming from sea level?  Most importantly would I be able to let go of racing, expectations, and my fears to be able to enjoy my time in the mountains?

The race started pretty easy, with us running first along a golf course path, then a trail along the base of the mountain.  These early miles seemed to flow by pretty quickly and I noticed that my knee/legs seemed to be holding up.  I was able to focus on the beauty of the course, and the amazing sunrise.  Normally I would be talking to anyone and everyone nearby during these easy first miles, but today I went into my own head pretty early.  I was really nervous and decided I needed to focus.  About mile 7ish I met Matthew Young (See his awesome race video here), a West Virginia runner.  We jogged together sharing where we were from (sea level), and what our current fitness level was (mine = surgery and no running, his=severe head cold).  We both made unspoken promises to each other that, as Matt put it, the brotherhood of flatlanders would prevail in the mountains of Colorado.

Soon enough the “flat” running was done and it was time (1 of 6) to head up.  I hit the aid station and got into a great hiking rhythm.  I rolled through the mile 9 aid in about 100th place.  As the course wound up to the summit of Copper Mountain at 12,441ft I began to feel great and I started to pass people, quite a few actually.  As I was passing people I was talking to them and most of them were from places at altitude, this gave me a huge boost of confidence.  This carried over all the way up the summit.  About 900ft and 1.5 miles from the summit was the “Fat Marmot” aid station, manned by non-other than Geoff Roes.  The final approach to the summit was a lot of icy scree.

Skyline from Copper Mountain Summit 12,441ft
Coming down the scree, for my first sustained decent of the day, I decided I felt good enough to really push it (test the knee).  I came to CO wanting to feel like a runner and sometime during that decent off the scree, I began to feel the run, feel the trail, become one with the mountain, and I started to fly down the hill.  Descending has always been a strength, and I guess not even knee surgery could change that.  Up and down we went, first the summit, then Union Saddle, then up the back side of Copper Mountain, and back to the start.  Time to do it all again!

The miles started to pile up and I entered the mile 38 aid station ready to refuel and push back up to the summit for round 2.  Unfortunately I entered the aid station at the exact wrong time.  They were fresh out of everything, even water.  The truck that had all of their resupply had to take someone off the mountain (Altitude issues) and there would be a delay.  All they had was some energy drink.  I do not, and have never done well with any energy drink.  I decided the stack of saltines and Nutella I grabbed with both hands plus the 12oz of water I had in the bottle stuck in my shorts would have to get me back up to Geoff at the summit.  Well I almost made it; with about a half mile to go I went completely dry.  What ensued was a pretty massive dehydrated bonking mess.  I stumbled into Geoff’s aid station, massively dehydrated, low on calories and energy, and having small back pains (in the kidney area).  I was concerned as I was really dehydrated and had not relieved myself in a long time. 
 
Geoff Roes, dispensing advice and food
(Photo: Matt Young)
I leaned against, first Geoff, then the table.  Geoff worked on getting me hydrated and fueled (lots of water and broth), while I surveyed this pristine mountain environment.  It was here that I came to realize why I truly run these races, what drives me to find my limits.  Here, standing next to Geoff, I began to ramble on about why I was running this race, TRUELY running this race, and what I wanted to do in the future.  Geoff listened and then uttered one small sentence that would carry me through the rest of the day and night.  What I told Geoff I will detail later, but what he said was simply this; “That was the most coherent thought process I have heard all day at this altitude, there is no way you are not going to finish this race.”  Well when Geoff Roes tells you that you are going to finish a race, you have no other option!
Well Round two of UROC went well.  I hiked a lot and managed to stay strong the rest of the day and night.  My pace never really slowed much, which was encouraging.  Also the altitude, although I had dizzy feelings and a slightly elevated heart rate, never really adversely affected me.  My stomach was strong all day and night.  I was able to run whenever I wanted which was a huge confidence boost.  One major benefits of maintaining a solid pace, hiking, and running downhill strong was that I was not passed all day.  I managed to move from about 100th at mile 8 to 40th by the end of the race.  That’s right I went to Colorado, to altitude, to a 100K race up and down a mountain, from WI, with zero specific training, more questions than answers, and I found myself and my answers.

Here was my answer, what Geoff and I talked about near that summit.  I realized that this race, which I thought was a box checker, was so much more.  For the past three years I have focused on Western States 100 as my ultimate goal for a 100 race.  Not that there is anything wrong with this, Western is awesome, the race and environment are incredible and someday I will run that course whether it’s as a pacer or for myself.  What I realized climbing up to that summit for the second time was that I had wanted “in” to States because everyone else did too, not because I did.  What truly motivates me is to push my limits, in the mountains, in places I haven’t been.  I BELONG in the mountains.  I told Geoff that I wanted to take my family to races like UROC, to immerse them in the remote beauty of these courses.  I listed off some of the races that truly inspired me.  Right there with Geoff offering me a hug, (Yes I’m sure I smelled awesome ;) I decided I didn’t care about the States qualifier; I was going to enjoy the hell out of the rest of UROC. 

Just for fun I made it to mile 57 in 15 hours, that’s right had I wanted to run harder, which my body could have handled, I would have made it.  I didn’t care.  Speaking with Geoff my plan going forward is this.  Number one, I need to rebuild all of my lost aerobic capacity from so much time off.  My aerobic pace last year was comfortably 6:45.  I want to lower that to 6:15-6:30.  I plan on taking a long time to do this.  Then I plan to add in a lot of hills both ups and downs in separate weeks.  At the last minute I will add in speed in the form of fartlek and progressive long runs.  Then I plan on taking this training, picking a 100 mile course that motivates me, and exploding all over it.  I am not going to hold back, I AM going to find my limits, and if I don’t finish, it still will be a success!  It will still be a success because I will be able to look my daughters in the eye and know that I have shown them there are no limits to your dreams and achievements if you want it.  Others may say, in my case, you should focus on a race that fits your strengths or those that you can replicate in your training area.  I say screw that, I am going to train for and race what I want, when I want, if I fail it will be video worthy, and if I succeed hopefully it motivates my girls!  This was where Geoff told me to keep moving.

Here is my race placement, as well as all of the gear and nutrition info, and some awesome photos from CO.  As always this gear came from Performance Running Outfitters.  I can never tell people enough just how much PRO means to the local Milwaukee area running community.  The work they do is incredible and without them the running scene would not be the same.  If you have the opportunity please support your local running store rather than buying online!

MB – PRO Race Singlet
North Face No Hands Arm Warmers
Craft head band
Under Armour ColdGear® Infrared Storm Extreme Run Glove
Pearl Izumi Ultra 3/4 Tights
Dry Max Trail Running Socks
Altra Paradigm shoes
Amphipod 12oz Hand Held x2
Petzel Headlamp
Garmin Fenix2 GPS watch

Nutrition
VESPA – 1 Ultra concentrate 3 hours before race
1 JR 45 min before start
1 JR every 2-2.5 hours
Coke mixed with water during the race
Crackers with Nutella
Snack size snickers

Placement

40 Nicholas Wied 16:37:45 M  35 Wauwatosa WI
Out of 140 starters
 
As always find your own inspiration!

Copper Mountain, CO



Skyline from Union Saddle


Skyline from Union Saddle


Skyline From Copper Summit

Skyline From Copper Summit
 
Guess they thought I lost weight,
I got this to hold up my pants

10 April 2014

RACE… RECEOVER… RACE… an experiment in ultra-stacking! Step 3 - Recovery


My idea of recovery!
Previously I covered how I approached my training (here) and nutrition (here) for two ultras I planned to race close together; (Mad City 50k & Ice Age 50 mile) there was three weeks between the races.  To be able to consistently train for the first race and fully recover for the second, I was going to need to dial in my daily training, nutrition, and recovery.

This article is going to focus on what I utilized to consistently recover between workouts and, most important, between the two races.  Obviously training and nutrition directly affect recovery hence the reason those articles were written first.  The more consistent your training is the stronger and more durable you become, thereby shortening the recovery needed between hard efforts.  Eating a clean diet daily and strategically fueling during and post activities also speeds recovery.  The following areas are where I focused my recovery energy: rest, active recovery, muscle manipulation, supplements, and listening to your body.

**(As a disclaimer, I am not sponsored by any of the products I discuss in this article, they are just the ones I use, or have found work best for me.)

Rest

First I am going to define what I mean by rest.  For me this is defined as one of two activities; sleep and non-training days. 

Sleep, in my opinion, is the most underrated recovery tool available.  There is a reason you see the best runners in the world (East Africans) appearing to be the laziest.  They run their workouts and then spend all non-training time horizontal or eating, PERIOD.  Now I am not a professional athlete, I have a 60+ hour a week job, two kids, house, and other responsibilities.  So the Kenyan method doesn’t quite apply.  What I did do however was to prioritize sleep. I went to bed early, as I had to get up early (3:30-4:30am some days).  That’s it!  I tried to sleep at least 8-10 hours a night.  It didn’t always happen and I didn’t let that stress me out.  But when it did, consistently, I felt much better in training especially on back to back long or hard days. 

Non-training days are days with nothing I would consider training.  Examples would be; bike riding with my family, hanging out with my family, laying on the beach with my family, or generally doing whatever my family wants to do.  There’s a theme right?!  For me I take every Sunday as a non-training day, yes EVERY SUNDAY!  Training hard is not only physically wearing but mentally as well.  For me being able to spend the entire day just focusing on my family is incredible recharging.  Some would argue that by not training 7 days a week I might miss out on some fitness gains.  I believe however that any minimal gains I miss out on are fully made up for by the huge mental recharge I gain.  This allows me to regroup both physically and mentally for the next week of focused training.

Active Recovery

Sticking with the rest theme I will cover active recovery.  For me active recovery means any activity that enhances my ability deliver quality in my hard workouts, without further fatiguing me mentally or physically for those efforts.  My favorite form of active recovery is swimming.  I love swimming.  First, when you swim (if you don’t have a waterproof MP3) it’s silent.  Talk about great mental recovery, 30-50 minutes in the pool is my equivalent of meditation.  Second, the water is cold, not as cold as an ice bath, but the anti-inflammatory benefits are similar.  Third, you are horizontal in the water and that combined with the kicking motion is great for clearing your legs of damage.  Some other active recovery tools I use are the elliptical, bike, and walking/hiking.  Yes I said walking!  Much like sleeping, walking is truly underrated as a recovery tool.

Muscle Manipulation

I chose this title to represent the following methods I utilized to aid my muscles in recovering more efficiently; massage, foam/stick rolling, the dry sauna, active stretching, ice bath, and compression socks.  These are pretty self-explanatory, so I will just briefly describe how, when, and why I utilize each of these.

Massage is pretty easy to explain but hard to acquire.  The most complicated part of massage is; first finding a great massage therapist and second being able to afford that individual.  I happened to luck out on finding not only a great therapist but also got a great 3 session package deal (Same price as 1.5)!  The tricky part of a deep sports massage is that it causes just as much damage as hard work out, so you have to be cautious when you schedule them.  I had my first one in the middle of my hardest training block; the reason for this was I wanted to see how my body reacted to the massage without jeopardizing my race.  The second was timed 7-8 days prior to my first race.  The reason for this is that I run my last hard work out 10 days prior to a race, so therefore my muscles need the work and it gives me enough time to recover from the damage of the massage.  The third massage was timed similar (7-8 days) prior to my second race.  I believe if you can afford to get the work done it will really help with both mental and physical recovery.

Foam/stick rolling is basically a self-inflicted torture session.  For most of us weekly massage sessions are not an option, enter the foam roller.  I use my foam roller every night before bed.  I roll out every muscle from my hips to ankles.  First this helps speed the recovery process.  Second it quickly pinpoints tight or damaged muscles, I value this because it allows me to avoid an overuse injury.  I most often utilize my stick roller prior to hard workouts and races as a warm up tool.  I find this is a good way to loosen up tighter muscles and increase blood flow prior to intense activity.
Trigger Point Grid Roller
Sprinter Stick











 

The dry sauna may not be the easiest for people as they usually need a gym membership to gain access to one.  I love the dry sauna for several reasons.  First it is relaxing; by easing the tension in muscles you can get a deeper stretch which leads to greater flexibility.  Second it increases blood flow, this speeds the removal of waste products from damaged muscles.  Third, it is a body stressor which helps with both heat, and in my experience altitude, acclimation.  By no means is it similar to living or training at altitude but it does help.  As an athlete who is inspired by mountains but lives at sea-level this is something I plan to research further, and write about later.  I spend 50% of my time in the dry sauna on my back with my legs elevated against the wall.  This is so relaxing I have actually fallen asleep, much to the dismay of the gym staff, who thought I had collapsed!  The other 50% I stretch.  I try to utilize the dry sauna at least 3-4 times a week.


Stretch Out Strap
Active stretching is something I do both prior to and after workouts.  I also stretch every evening after I am done rolling my muscles.  Prior to my workouts I do a series of dynamic stretches involving hip, glute, quad, hamstring, and calf activation.  I believe that this aids in warming my muscles up and allowing them to fire properly.  This makes getting into a workout feel easier and more fluid.  Here are several resources I have pulled from for different dynamic activities. (Dathan Ritzenhein Dynamic Warmup, Coach Jay Johnson lunge Matrix & Coach Jay Johnson 8 week strength progression) 
Post workout I stretch most of my major muscle groups with the aid of a “stretch out strap”.  You can also roll up a medium size towel or t-shirt to facilitate the stretching.  By utilizing the strap I am able to get a more controlled and deeper stretch.  Again I do this type of stretching post workout and in the evening after I have rolled out my muscles.  This stretching routine allows me to maintain greater flexibility and correct imbalances in my body.
 
Compression socks are a tool I utilize on evenings when I have back to back long or hard efforts coming.  For example; when I have back to back long runs scheduled I will sleep with my legs elevated and wear compression socks.  I believe this aids in recover and helps with a reduction in soreness.  This has a two-fold benefit.  First since my muscles have recovered a little bit I am able to do a more quality second hard/long workout.  Second because I am a little less sore when I begin the second workout I am able to maintain better form which reduces my chance of injury.  I do not utilize these socks during runs because they annoy me, and that just becomes a training hindrance.  I also do not wear them every night.  I am a big believer that your muscles need to actually adapt to the stress you are placing on them.  There are times for me when a little extra soreness is a good thing; it means my workouts are doing their job.

Ice baths are a tool I only utilize post-race.  Ice baths are an amazing recovery tool.  That being said some of the inflammatory reaction that ice baths inhibit or reduce I want to happen.  The reason for this is that some of your great training gains are made when working already fatigued muscles.  Similar to compression socks there are times I want sore muscles, and I want my body and mind to adapt to those situations.  As I said before swimming in the pool will provide a similar benefit as the water is usually cooler.

Supplements

I am not a huge proponent of taking supplements in place of real nutrition. I prefer to get everything my body needs from clean whole sources of food.  That being said the extremes I to which I push take a heavy toll.  Even though I do not race a ton, focus on rest, and take ample off-time in between races and at the end of the season, I still smash my body and immune system pretty hard.  Here is a list of the supplements I take, as well as the why, and how often/much.

Fish Oil – I take a fish oil supplement that is 1 gram of pure EPA harvested from deep water Pacific fish.  There are two main components to fish oil EPA and DHA.  EPA has been shown to have the greatest anti-inflammatory affect, as well as greater health benefits.  This is the reason my choice is a pure EPA source.  I take 2 capsules (2 grams) on a daily basis during normal base training or activity.  When I start to reach peak training volume or pre and post-race I will up that to 3 grams a day.  I have found that this amount aids in recovery and helps with the inflammation process.  Not only do my muscles feel better quicker but my blood tests show a reduced amount inflammation.  As a side note I also eat fish at least 2-3 times a week.


Capra Flex
CAPRAFLEX – Sticking with the anti-inflamatory theme, I will also take CapraFlex during hard training cycles, pre, and post-race.  CapraFlex is a blend of natural ingredients (Collagen, Goats Milk, Ginger, Bromelain, Amylase, protease, turmeric, and others) which aids in reducing inflammation, protecting and enhancing joints, and speeds muscle recovery.  The standard serving is 9 caplets (3x3 times a day) which is the dosage I will stick to during a heavy training cycle.  Pre and post-race I vary that a bit and load dose the supplement.  I will start at least 7 days out, from a race, taking 12 capsules a day (4x3 times).  The morning of a race I will take 6 capsules, then immediately after the race I will take 6 more, and I follow this with 6 before bed.  I will then do another week of 4x3 times a day.  Again this is only a supplement I take during heavy training, racing, or if I were to sprain or pull something to aid in recovery.
 
Multi-Vitamin – I know the jury is out on whether this is a needed supplement if you eat a balanced and clean diet, but I would rather error on the side of caution.  There are times I really put my body through hell and this just gives me piece of mind that my bases are covered.  Worse case is that I expel the unneeded vitamins and minerals and end up with expensive urine.

Magnesium – When I began to run longer it wasn’t long before I started to get cramps in very weird parts of my body.  These areas were not at all involved in running such as; my cheek, eyelid, or forearm.  After speaking with several of my friends who are endurance athletes themselves as well as registered dietitians I was told to try supplement with Magnesium.  This is something that most endurance athletes are deficient in and can be a cause of muscle issues.  I tried and low and behold the systemic cramping ceased.  I take 2 Magnesium Chloride pills a day, every day, regardless of training or racing.

Vitamin D3 – I live in Wisconsin (maybe 100 days of sun a year), not Colorado (300+ days of sun a year).  Because the sun disappears for long portions of time my body’s ability to naturally produce Vitamin D is hampered.  Also nutritional sources will not adequately supply my daily needs.  A vitamin D deficiency is a serious health risk, for both your heart and your muscles.  (Imagine that, your heart is a muscle) I take 2 x 1000mg Vit D3 pills a day.  My multi-vitamin also contains some Vit D so I am close to 3000mg.  I do this anytime I am void of sun exposure.  During the summer months where I am running shirtless for long periods I will drop that to 1 pill a day.

LISTENING TO YOUR BODY

I know I should have placed this first, as it is the #1 way you can recover effectively to maintain consistent training and productive races.  But just as most runners/endurance athletes will admit, (or fail to admit) this is a very difficult task to master.  It is made even more difficult if the race you are running or training for is a new distance or terrain.  Take me for instance; I went from racing 5 miles on the road to 50 miles on the trail. (Hey they both have a 5 in them right!)  I had zero idea how to train for a 50 mile race and it was really hard for me to listen to my body and not train when it needed a rest.  I had silly thoughts of not finishing the race, being last, or it just hurting really bad.  Well guess what they are ultras they all hurt, A LOT, at some point.  The sign of a confident, mature runner is one who can show up to a group run and a few minutes in completely bag it, return to the car, and have the food and beer ready for their friends.  This is an ideal I strive towards.  I have gotten better at listening to my body, I am no longer afraid to miss or change workouts depending on how I am feeling.  I still struggle with bailing on friends as I get very few opportunities to train with people, but everyone has to have something to works towards right?

I hope you found this article, as well as the previous two, informative.  I by no means have all, or even a few, of the answers to the questions related to optimal raining, nutrition, and recovery.  But as I learn more I found that my greatest asset was my lack of fear of change, and my willingness to experiment.  Hey, you never know what will work unless you try!  I have failed, a lot, and will continue to do so.  But I believe my greatest insights and training gains have come from some of my biggest failures.  Please feel free to comment below on any methods you have used to bolster your training, nutrition, or enhance you recovery. 

Like always go find your trail and enjoy it!

25 November 2013

RACE… RECEOVER… RACE… an experiment in ultra-stacking! Step 2 - Nutrition

Last week I covered how I approached my training for two ultras (here) I planned to race rather close together; (Mad City 50k & Ice Age 50 mile) there was three weeks between the races.  To be able to consistently train for the first race and fully recover for the second, I was going to need to dial in my daily, training, and race nutrition. 

I am not a nutrition expert, though I do have a science and medical background.  I have experimented enough with myself to know what works for me.  I sought extra advice from Peter Defty (VESPA) and Ben Greenfield (Ben GreenfieldFitness).  Both Peter and Ben advocate a high fat ketogenic or OFM (Optimized Fat Metabolism) diet.  I guess I’m a little more moderate, I like fruits, Vodka, hard cider, and dark chocolate too much to be in ketosis as deep as they are.   That said, I did refine my diet, which was already grain free/gluten free, to lower my carb count a little more and add in more variety when it came to protein sources.  I changed the timing of the intake of carbohydrates to coincide with post session insulin sensitivity.   I also started to do all of my training either completely fasted from the night before or with just some green tea and coconut oil. 

DAILY NUTRITION
I often get asked what my diet is.  I hate this question as I do not have a “DIET”, unless you consider eating real, whole, and unprocessed foods a diet.  The descriptive term which most matches my eating habits is probably no sugar/no grains.  Now as I said earlier I am not a monk and will eat things like dark chocolate or drink alcohol, yes these are sugars.  I also will eat quinoa on a rare occasion.  That being said my diet is pretty clean due to the fact that I mostly eat meat, veggies, fruits, cheese, and the occasional starch (rice/sweet potatoes).  I do not eat processed foods or grains therefore my diet is absent of fake sugars, chemicals, gluten, and GMO products.  A sample of how I eat during the day is listed below.  There are days that will differ from this but this is usually how I eat 6 days a week.

BREAKFAST (Post Exercise – usually running)
3 eggs – scrambled in olive oil
½ serving meat (usually leftover from previous night)
½ - 1 Cup shredded cheese
½ banana
1 Cup of blueberries or strawberries
Green Tea

LUNCH (post exercise – usually weights or stretch)
Smoothie (12oz Coconut Milk, ½ Cup of beets, 2 TBSP of Flax, 1 TSBP Cinnamon, & 1 scoop whey protein)
½ Avocado

SNACK
Beef Jerky or Cheese
Carrots

DINNER
1 Serving Meat (fish, lamb, game meat, chicken)
Salad (veggies, greens)
Cheese (sliced or shredded)
Olive Oil

BENEFITS
I feel this diet gives me the optimal balance of fats, protein, and carbohydrates.  Eating simply, as I call it, allows me to maintain a lean body mass, as well as enjoy the foods that I really like.  I choose to eat for long term health not just short term performance.  A major change that I made was when I consume simple carbohydrates (fruits).  After soliciting advice from Peter I switched to eating fruit only post exercise.  First, I did this because my muscles insulin receptors would be sensitized thereby allowing for quick absorption of the carbs into my muscles, versus their being stored as fat.  Second it would aid in muscle recovery.

RACING / TRAINING
I separate these two where most people treat them as the same.  The reason most treat them the same is the old adage of “Never try anything new on race day”, therefore they practice how they plan to race.  Thankfully genetics has blessed me with an iron stomach during extreme efforts.  What this means for me is that I can more specifically train my body and mind during training and not be overly concerned during the race.  During the race I usually keep nutrition as simple as possible.  Below I will describe how I plan and execute my nutrition strategy for training and racing.  I will also give the why behind it.

TRAINING NUTRITION
The way I fuel training sessions is listed below, after the description I will delve into the why behind each.

#1 (Easy & Tempo Runs)
Coconut Water

#2 (Long or Workout Runs)
Coconut Water
VESPA JR (long run only)
Green Tea w Coconut oil (bulletproof tea)
Electrolytes (Salt)

BENEFITS
First, by completing my sessions fasted (no additional carbs to spike insulin) I train my body to utilize fats during all levels of exercise intensity.  Second, because I would not be spiking my insulin levels during the session I will not cause as much oxidative stress and therefore, I will recover quicker allowing me to go harder sooner.  This is where VESPA really comes into play.  VESPA is an amino acid supplement which acts as a key.  This key unlocks fat metabolism earlier allowing you to burn fat more efficiently as your fuel source.  (For more information regarding the exact science behind VESPA please view these articles (1) (2).)  Third, I was training my mind to handle hard efforts with little external glycogen.  The benefit of this strategy was apparent during Mad City when I had to take in fewer calories to sustain a higher intensity. I only took in about 400 calories total, about 100g of carbs for 3.5 hours.  When you compare this to the 50K I did 6 months earlier where I consumed 1400 calories total, about 300g Carbs for 4.5 hours and you can see the benefit of the training nutrition plan.

RACING NUTRITION
As I stated my race and training nutrition strategies differ.  I do not restrict glycogen (carbs) during races.  Rather I fully embrace their use in moderation.  I follow what some would call a “sugar drip” strategy during racing.  The human digestive system can absorb about 20oz of liquid per hour.  This doesn’t mean that you can’t consume more than that, just that your body won’t absorb it.  (You spend a lot of time in the woods.)  Keeping this in mind any calories you consume need to be accompanied by liquid to be absorbed.  This is the reason I keep my nutrition plan simple.  First it allows my body to get exactly what it needs to perform, and second I can adjust it if things change.  Here is a look at my nutrition before and during races.

PRE-RACE 
(2-3 hours pre-race)
2-4 Packets of nut butter (Depends on Race Distance)
Coconut Water
VESPA Concentrate
Green Tea with coconut oil

(40 min pre-race)
VESPA JR
Coconut water / water w electrolytes

RACE
(roughly each hour)
1 20oz Bottle water
Flask w honey, maple syrup, gels, or glucose powder diluted w coconut water
(I sometimes skip the flask and place the mix in the bottle) - EASY
1 salt tab (I use Succeed tabs, or Salt Stick)

(every 1:40-2:00 ish)
VESPA JR

(Last 1/3 of the race)
I will switch over to coke in my 20oz bottle and just drink as needed.  I feel the caffeine helps me focus and maintain my effort towards the end of the race.

I will grab the odd potato chip or orange slice at an aid station just for a change of texture or flavor.

BENEFITS
As you can see I keep my race nutrition simple.  The main benefit of this is that I do not have to think about it during the race.  A perfect example was Ice Age this year.  I planned on running on gels and plain water in my bottle.  The aid stations however were light on gels.  This really threw a wrench into some nutrition plans.  I simply switched over to filling my bottle with ginger ale, till the final 13 miles when I switched to coke.  I stuck with my timely utilization of VESPA and salt and had zero energy or GI issues the entire race.  Going forward I plan to continue this strategy, and possibly simplify it further by switching to a glucose powder.  I can easily carry the powder and empty it into my bottles at aid stations, thereby relying only on myself during the race.

I hope you enjoyed this look at how I tailor my nutrition for optimal health, racing, recovery, and eating pleasure!  If you have any questions regarding my diet, specific meals, VESPA and my use of it, or meal planning please do hesitate to comment on this post or to contact me.  Stay tuned for next week’s post regarding the supplements and methods I utilized for recovery to handle this challenge.
 
As always enjoy finding your own trail!