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