Training Tip #1
Run twice a day during the week. Unless you really think you can get up at 3-4 a.m. to run for a couple hours during the week, I suggest getting in “two-a-day” workouts when you can. Try this out, as I think it not only allows training time to meet a busy day schedule, but it also trains your body to go when you’re tired. Run first thing in the morning for 45-minutes to an hour. Then, do the same on your lunch break, or right after work.
Training Tip #2
Avoid big meals, and instead snack often during the day. A great way to get lean before a race, to avoid energy “bonks” during the day, and to keep your engine fueled for the evening workout, is to eat more frequently, but less food. Try eating immediately after your morning run, even if you don’t want to. This gets your metabolism running early. Then, be prepared to snack 3-4 times during the day. Choose healthy choices like whole grains (the classic PBJ sandwich is perfect), nuts, fruit, or yogurt. Avoid simple sugars and soda! This will help keep your energy levels steady, and have enough fuel on board for the evening run. It will also help you avoid the huge dinner right before bed!
Training Tip #3
Back-to-back long weekend runs. Simulate race conditions when you can: go on your long runs on Saturday and Sunday, even if it means getting up early. Push yourself when you are tired. Run for 2-4 hours on Saturday, with lots of hills. Then, run 2-4 hours on Sunday, with less elevation, but work hard to make the legs turnover a little faster. Run in the dark, with a headlamp, to prep for this during the race. Bring along the hydration and nutrition that you plan on actually consuming during the race, to make sure it is agreeable with your stomach.
Training Tip #4
Motivation! Get inspired. Run with friends, or training partners that are doing the race also. Put an inspirational quote or photo on your alarm clock to get you out of bed at “0’ dark thirty” in the morning! Make sacrifices. Don’t go out for drinks on Friday night, hit the pillow early and stay focused on the early Saturday morning.
The 99% of us training for an Endurance Challenge 50-mile race work all day, probably at least 5-days a week. So, when do you train, especially if you have a family, or other life commitments outside of, and in addition to, work?
First off, whatever your goals are for an ECS 50-mile race, you will likely need to re- prioritize your time commitments at life, at least to some degree. This does not have to be permanent, and most training can be accomplished more by changing around your schedule, rather than having to make too many sacrifices.
Practice your race pace. If you think you can handle eight-minute miles for 100K, then run at least 30 miles at that pace over similar terrain. Use tempo runs to increase your lactate threshold. For tempo runs, start at 20 minutes and build up to 45 minutes. If you can get on the track and stay out of the injury zone, then work on repeats spanning 800 – 1600 meters. Start with a total of around 3,000 meters (i.e., 4 x 800 = 3,200 meters) and work your way up to 10,000-meter total track workouts. For recovery between intervals on the track, I wait until my heart rate has dropped down to around 100. Sometimes that’s 20 seconds, sometimes it’s two minutes. I know I’m done when my times start to significantly slow down.
Road vs Trail, Where Do I Begin?
Herewith some tips/tricks for moving from Road Running to Trail Racing: 1) Be prepared to be about 1 minute per a mile slower than you are on the roads and plan your hydration, food and finish time accordingly. 2) Try to be familiar with the course and make sure you have a rough idea of any major turns, the color of ribbons/markings that you are to follow for your event (so races use the same course but have you turn at various points along the trail depending on the distance being run) as the chance for getting off course is increased during a trail race as opposed to a road race. 3) Try and plan out before the race if you are going to use “drop bags”, which can be taking to various points along the course for you or if you will have a “crew” who will give you food/water during the race. 4) Clearly label your “drop bags” with you race number and the “Aid station” & “Mile Marker” that you would like your “drop bag” given to you. 5) Think about what type of shoes you might need based on the course description and then plan accordingly. 6) Remember to take some type of hydration system (bottles, hydration pack, belt, etc…) as aid stations on trail courses can be spaced further apart due to challenges with access points. 7) Try to remember to keep all your trash with you and only dispose of trash at trashcans/aid stations. 8) If possible, try to announce to the person that you are passing that you are coming around them and yield to runners ahead of you if they are coming back from a point further up the trail and sharing the trail with you. 9) I would suggest bringing a little “zip lock” with some “toilet paper”, just in case. 10) Be cautious about wearing sunglasses on the trails as the light and shadows and make it hard to see roots, rocks and other obstacles.
Wearing a Heart rate monitor
Heart rate monitors can be helpful, particularly for those runners who aren’t otherwise able to control the intensity of their workouts. I used one throughout my training in high school and into college. During those years I trained with groups of athletes and found that, if not wearing a monitor, I often went too hard to achieve the goal of the workout. I believe some people use monitors to ensure they are training intensely enough in interval or speed sessions. But most people are more likely to have the problem of training too hard on their easy days. This common error leads to runners feeling flat at races and during their speed work, when high intensity is needed. It also increases the risk of injury. Slow days are meant to be slow. We need to recover before the next intensity session. If you find yourself feeling flat or tired on race day, or running too fast on recovery days, a heart rate monitor is a great tool for you. Once one has used a monitor for a while, s/he becomes more in tune to her body and recognizing how it feels to move at differing intensities. Once this occurs, the monitor may no longer be needed.
Running in the Dark
The key to running in the dark—whether before sunrise or after sunset—is using the correct lighting system to keep from injuring yourself. When I train at night, I use a headlamp with three or more LEDs plus a lamp that is strapped around my waist. This way I have more shadows on the trail and I’m able to measure the height of obstacles better. A reliable lighting system also results in less fatigue on the eyes. When running on the roads, you must wear reflective clothing. Make sure that not only you can see clearly but also they can see you!
Training for the mountain course
Training for a mountain course it is best to train in the mountains itself. Then again, some runners don’t have this access to run in such terrain. Don’t worry – you can still find trails that mimic the hills and the course that will be run. Some runners use a treadmill with a steep incline to give them the feel of running uphill. It’s important to condition yourself for the uphills AND downhills. Practice how your footing is affected by running rocky terrain. In general, running a mountain course takes more energy and requires closer attention to the trail for footing. To me, running the mountain trails is always entertaining and being able to use all your senses when running captures the beauty of the sport.