My training program for Western States: a recovery period followed by a taper

May 31, 2007

I’ve probably been cramming too many ultramarathons into the first half of this year. One indication of this is the fact that I haven’t done any sustained, serious training since February; almost all my time since then has been devoted to recovering from one race or resting up for the next one. The latest example is my current training program for Western States, which, in a nutshell, is: (1) recover from the Miwok 100K for three weeks; (2) train hard for one week; (3) taper for three weeks.

It’s kind of ridiculous, but it does force me to think very carefully about my priorities. With phase 2 lasting all of a week, I can’t squeeze in more than a couple big workouts, so the two I do had better be good ones!

In descending order of scariness, the aspects of Western States that concern me most are: (1) the 23,000 feet of cumulative descent (which is sure to destroy my quads); (2) the sheer length of the race (38 miles farther than I’ve ever run before); (3) the probable need to consume “real food” (in addition to the sports drinks and energy gels to which I’m accustomed) during a race of this length; (4) the extreme heat of the first 80 or so miles; and (5) the many uphills (totaling 18,000 feet of elevation gain).

Living in Seattle, there’s not a lot I can do about #4 without resorting to drastic measures such as running while wearing excessive clothing or running on a treadmill in a stuffy room. (No, thanks.) But my hard week includes two long (48-mile), very hilly runs during which I’ll practice consuming pretzels/cookies/etc., thus simultaneously addressing concerns #1, #2, #3, and #5. Then in the last three weeks I’ll do some additional uphill running, which in moderate doses shouldn’t prevent my muscles from recovering from the hard week. Aside from that, I’ll just do a lot of easy 6-mile commuting runs.

Completing this lackluster “program” won’t do much for my confidence, but harboring a bit of humility and fear may prove useful on race day.


  1. Hey Greg,Sympathizing (to some small extent given your obvious prowess) with the Western States nerves… I'm comitted to my own first 100mi at Wasatch this September. Really far with lots of up and down! Thus far the runs of progress are going well. Best wishes to you at Western and congrats on the very nice year thus far!Cheers 🙂

  2. How about I throw in one more "thus far" just for kicks… damn the self editing!

  3. Hi Greg,You and I met at the SRC open house. I just wanted to wish you good luck at western. At least the weather in Seattle this week should help your heat acclimation.

  4. There are alot of friends that I've made in the short time of entering this wonderful endurance world of ultrarunning. All of them are doing their first WS just like you. I'll be cheering you and everyone else on as you all try to snag that belt buckle (silver or bronze)!

  5. Wish you all the best – loved your post to the list, will be following hard, although I agree in female field things are pretty much set. For guys, on the other hand…oh, so interesting! Go for it!

  6. Hi Olga,obviously I'm not on this list where some conversation about this year's field at WS 100 took place, but if you know who's going to win the women's race, please let me know so I can place a bet in Vegas and pay off my mortgage. (j.k.!!!)Sure, Nikki's the favorite, but Bev A-A, Annette B, Anne Lundblad and Kami Semik aren't exactly penguins on the trails. Looks like one of the most interesting races at WS on the women's side as well. (according to posted entry list as of 6-2)Greg, yes, I agree that your preparation is/was probably not ideal. I don't think it was bad, though. Let's hope for a cool day – and take a conservative approach. Good luck!

  7. Uli,I agree!Greg,Wishing you the best!

  8. Oh, boy, that's pressure, I need my mortgage to be paid too:) so I'll bite: Kami, Nikki, Bev, Anne L., Annette, Helen, Meghan, Kim, Julie, Ronda – that is if neither one of them drops.

  9. Uli: What you missed on the ultra listserv were my preliminary predictions of the top three WS finishers — Nikki Kimball, Kami Semick, and Anne Lundblad (in that order) for the women and Lon Freeman, Jae-Duk Sim, and me (why not?) for the men. I may post a more comprehensive "Who will win?" entry closer to the race.

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