Friday, April 4, 2014

Western States Training Update: Weeks 7 - 12

Three months of base building has me feeling fit and strong. The high water mark is creeping up; my weekly and monthly volumes are higher than ever. Continued consistency and strength training have paid dividends in endurance, strength, confidence and speed. That said, Spring brought more than wildflowers to the table. My team has suffered turnover once again. Unmet expectations forced me to make a change in my coaching staff. But before I get to the drama, here is the log:

Strava log of weeks 7 - 12, consistency pays!
Six days a week never felt so good! The two weeks following Way Too Cool on March 8th brought me to all-time high volumes. I eclipsed 70 miles in a week, and broke 250 for the month (both personal records). What surprised me was how solid I felt. I had always assumed that when I achieved this volume, I would be in bad shape. Instead, I continued to feel stronger and more balanced. I can feel my core and gluts doing more work on technical terrain. My MAF pace is faster than ever. I am now in possession of a well developed base. I'm ready for the "sharpening" phase. Course specific training aimed at improving my weaknesses, building more endurance, and more vertical are in order.

In the middle of March, I got a curve ball. Jorge Maravilla was leaving Mauka Running. Did I want to continue, or request a refund for the balance of my retainer? It was a conundrum. I hired Mauka for Jorge's experience at Western States. After sleeping on it, I decided to reach out to Jorge. I was hoping to continue under his guidance. Jorge balked at the news that he was leaving Mauka, and assured me that everything would work out. Within hours, the story changed: Jorge was staying with Mauka. 
The entire episode had forced me to step back and re-evaluate. A 10,000 foot view revealed that I was not getting what I had bought. While the base-building training plan had put me in great shape despite the aggravated groin pull, Jorge was not visibly involved in the development of my plan. That fact added to the drama and lack of professionalism I saw made it an easy decision to not renew with Mauka.

With a solid base in hand, I vacillated over going it alone or seeking out a new coach. Experience on the Western States course was paramount. I wanted a mentor who could provide me focused workouts. I needed someone who could help me develop a strategy specific to the challenges of this race. I happen to work for Bruce LaBelle, who has been kind and supportive of my endeavors. But Bruce is not interested in one-on-one coaching. As I considered self-coaching these final three months, I realized that despite knowing what needed done, I still needed support from above. Then David and I ran Way Too Cool together, and he dropped a bomb on me.

"I talked to Ann Trason for like, an hour last night. I think I'm going to hire her for TRT100," he said.

I had heard Ann was coaching in her interview with Eric Schranz and Scotty Sandow on The fact that I was perfectly positioned to benefit from her wisdom had escaped me. With 14 wins, I would be hard pressed to find someone with more experience. I reached out to Ann in the last weeks of March, and decided to bring her on board for the final push to Squaw Valley.

March ended with an interruption in training. The last Saturday of the month, I woke to a searing pain in the top of my right foot. I was able to hop on the foot, which meant a stress fracture was unlikely. I went out for some hill repeats and it felt fine. The next morning, however, the pain was significantly worse. I skipped the 30 miles I had planned, and made an appointment with my doctor. I immediately went into damage control. Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation to the rescue!

After four days off, two doctors and three x-rays, the diagnosis was Peroneal Tendinitis. No sign of stress fracture. Running is still comfortable, but any pressure at all on the affected area causes sharp  pain. A manageable condition. If the discomfort grows or effects my stride, I can get a cortisone shot which will ease the condition for a few weeks. I hope to save that strategy for the latter half of June, if at all.
Probably not a coincidence that this condition manifested after setting volume PRs, right?

A few stumbling blocks, but a solid start to my 100 miler training. Adaptation is a key element to ultra-success, and I feel I have negotiated these obstacles well. My reactionary ego has been contrary but amicable. I spent those few mornings lying awake, feeling the pain coursing in my foot, worrying about making it to Squaw Valley healthy and fit. My thoughts consumed by what-ifs and worry. In the end I have to remind myself that the training is most of the journey. My diagnosis allows me to continue training. The fact that it all could have been taken away from me makes me appreciate the opportunity to run States all the more. Having Ann temper my enthusiasm will prevent aggravation or injury. I am excited to execute the next 12 weeks. Saturday morning, the 28th of June, I will stand in Squaw Valley in the best shape I can muster.

Lake Sonoma 50 mile is approaching. I have decided to run it as a training run, practicing a slow starting pace and race fueling. I would like to arrive at the finish line with another 50 miles in my legs! Three weeks later, The Canyons 50k will provide a preview of the infamous canyons along the States course. Four weeks after that, the Memorial Day Weekend Western States Training Runs, where I will log 70-90 miles of the course in just three days. Then, just to take the edge off at the beginning of my taper, I think I have gained entry to this year's Dipsea race. Ann is already concerned that I not injure myself in the infamous cross country race, but from my vantage it is all coming together!

See you on the trails!

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