Training update: 2 steps forward, 1.8 steps back

March 11, 2008

Since December I’ve been working on a long, gradual training buildup in preparation for my next big ultramarathon. It’s been a nice change from last year’s crazy sequence of recovering from one race, training hard for a couple of weeks, and then tapering for the next one. And it seems to be working. For example, my times for a standard 3x1600m track workout (with 400m jogs in between) have finally returned to the 4:55 range after being stuck at around 5:00 for months.

But that’s still a far cry from the 4:51s that I did in January 2007, six days after the Bridle Trails 50K.

The rest of my training data tell a similar story. There are many indications of progress, and just as many reminders that my fitness is not what it once was. Another good example is last Saturday’s long run at Seward Park. My rule of thumb is that, if I want to average a certain pace in a 100K, I should be able to run 5 seconds per mile faster than that in a 36-mile solo training run over race-like terrain when somewhat (but not fully) rested. The race pace I had in mind was 6:30, so I tried for 6:25s over the course of alternating flat and hilly loops. I had to settle for 6:33s.

On the other hand, my legs felt less trashed than they usually do after a workout like this.

So what does that mean, exactly? That my Mad City race will be slow but will hurt less than usual? I guess I’ll find out in a few weeks. In the meantime, I’m trying to find satisfaction in my incremental improvements, trying not to get frustrated.

It seems that 100Ks are all about patience. Who knew?


  1. Assuming there is no change in body weight that would correspond to slower mile splits, then it sounds like 2007 may have taken a bigger toll and maybe you started 2008 less fresh than in prior years. I don’t know what your 2006 looked like, but from what you did in 2007, I doubt it was as stressful. I also seriously doubt you will have a slower Mad City this year, but possibly you have less top-end speed after thoroughly going to the well in 2007. However, the upside might be you have a much greater tolerance for efforts longer than 100K. And, even better, a greater likelihood of recovering from them quickly. Just my completely unscientific opinion.

  2. Anon.:I generally agree with your speculations. As you said, 2007 was more stressful running-wise than 2006 and seems to have sapped some of my raw footspeed (temporarily, I hope). Also, I have gained some weight since last year, which doesn't help.When I referred to the possibility of a "slow" time at Mad City, I meant anything over 7 hours. Even if the race goes poorly, I should still beat my disappointing time from last year (7:14).

  3. Greg,Looks like we are going to get to run against each other after all.See you in a few weeks.Cheers,Mike

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