I sought out advice from some of the more experienced, and prolific front runners, in my trail group (The Lapham PeakTrail Runners). Their first response went something like this; “So what! You are racing a 50K before a 50 miler, I did that last weekend!” Helpful right! I kept at it though and eventually received the following advice. “A 50k is not really any longer than a Marathon, and you have an ok base. Do some advanced marathon training for the 50K, recover right, and the speed work from the marathon training will get you through the 50 miler.” Now that made sense. This recovery they spoke of, that was going to be my real issue. I figured my ability to recover would be affected by 3 very distinct but related topics; specific and consistent training, nutrition (pre, during, & post race), and body damage mitigation. In this three part series I will describe the training, nutrition, and recovery techniques I utilized to complete this task.
Specific and consistent training is the backbone of all endurance sports. You may be able to complete an event but not compete during the event if your training is interrupted or not specific to the race course you are attacking. This posed an issue for me as Mad City is a fast, flat, & looped 50K course, whereas Ice Age 50 is a hilly trail race. I knew I would end up sacrificing something as I couldn’t train for all the variables in both races. I learned this would be my ability to quickly ascend the hills at Ice Age. The leg speed I gained from the fast training would help on any flat or downhill sections, but I was going to have to power hike most of the significant climbs at Ice Age. I followed a pretty standard marathon training bloc; the only change I made was in regards to the long runs. I doubled up on Friday and Saturday and they were also sub-race pace or fast finish (Progression) runs. The schedule looked like this.
WHAT I DID
Mon – Tempo (8-10miles),TUE & THUR (Easy 6-10 Miles),
Wed – Workout (Hills, Fartlek, Track)
Fri- Sub Race Pace Mid-Range Run (9-15 Miles)
Sat – Long Progression run, final ¼ of distance was at race pace (13-25 miles)
Sun - OFF
I steadily built my Friday sub-race pace run and Saturday long run distance. As far as the individual training blocks I did break up 12 weeks into three distinct groups. The first group consisted of my Wednesday workouts being hill intervals. The Second group consisted of fartlek runs on Wednesday. Finally the last group I completed before my taper was track intervals. This plan completely prepared me for Mad City. I was able to hold a sub 7 minute pace for 30 of the 31 miles. (Yes I had one bad mile, 29, where a cramped hamstring caused me to walk a bit.)
For this challenge I needed a double taper. Tapering is a very individual aspect of training. I do better with a 10 day taper. This means that I shift my last long run to Wednesday the week before a key race. For Mad City that meant the week before the race I completed a 12 mile tempo run on Wednesday and a 6 mile tempo on Saturday. I did three shorter fartlek sessions during the taper week, to hold the speed in my legs but show up race day completely rested and hungry to race. I finished the Mad City 50K in 3:50 which was good for 7th overall and 1st age group.
Post Mad City, I took 1 week off of running. I just biked and swam. I then repeated my taper for Mad City. The only difference was that all of my runs 2 weeks before Ice Age were completed on hilly trails. My Wednesday (10 Days Before Race) run was a 21 mile hilly trail tempo run. I also replicated the fartlek sessions the week of the race. I raced Ice Age conservatively, starting off slow (11-12 min pace) but finished the race running the last 13 miles of 50 at 7:50 pace. Finishing only 15 minutes slower than my fastest 50 miler.
WHAT WORKED AND WHAT I LEARNED
I peaked with my longest run being 26 miles in 3 hours, and my longest week near 80 miles. I really feel this training got me ready for the 50K which allowed me to race without causing excessive damage to my body. The largest component to mitigating this damage was my nutrition during training, racing, and recovery phases. I will cover my nutrition in next week’s post.
If I had to replicate this training block for these two races again one major change I would make would be to combine the track and hill sessions in the final 8 weeks. I chose to do the hill sessions first for 4 weeks, then the track work for the next 4. The benefit of this was that I had awesome leg turnover for the fast 50K. Unfortunately I had zero ability to climb fast in the hilly 50 miler. Going forward I will be utilizing more of a hybrid workout where I will do fartleks or track work first followed by hill intervals. I believe the benefit from this work will be a refinement of leg speed as well as allowing me to run fast uphill with extremely fatigued legs.
I hope you enjoyed this look at how I trained and tapered for two races so close together. If you have any questions regarding the exact workouts I was doing please do not hesitate to comment on this post or to contact me. Stay tuned for next week’s post regarding how I nutritionally handled this challenge.
As always enjoy finding your own trail in life!