Monday, April 7, 2014


I just wrapped up my first week of training for Leadville under the tutelage of my new coach. This is my eleventh year of running, so it’s a little humbling to basically follow a (personalized) plan set by someone else. Fortunately for me, that someone else happens to be a runner I really respect and admire and a coach who’s gotten some impressive results, making it easier to do what I’m asked to do.

I can already see that my coach is going to ask a lot of me in the way of quality, which is a good thing. On Saturday, I joined AJ, Chuck and Jon for a little over 20 miles with 2,000 feet of vertical in the Castle Pines/Castle Rock area. Then the next day I did a 10-mile tempo run with a thousand feet of vertical (12 miles total if you count warm-up and cool-down) that had me working as hard as I’ve worked in a long time. My coach has emphasized the importance of these Sunday tempo runs, also mentioning that I’ll have a break from them every now and then in order to help keep me fresh, healthy and responsive to the work.

The average weeks looks to include hill repeats, tempo running, intervals and long stuff, with easy days in between the “hard” workouts with the exception of Saturdays and Sundays. I’ll have more rest weeks than I ever would have allowed myself—again, I see that as a good thing since rest weeks are when our bodies repair and get stronger. It’s easy to say you’re going to rest more; it’s hard to truly back that up with actual R&R.

One thing I’ve quickly come to see: I love the structure of this training regimen. It’s nice to know what the plan is every day, even if the plan is just 8 miles at super easy pace. And oh yeah: It used to be that my easy pace was around 7:50-8-minute miles. This morning I did 9-minute miles and it felt great! My new guiding principle is to go hard on my hard days and really easy on my easy days. I’m trying not to get too bogged down on numbers, but I will admit that I was eye-balling 72 miles this past week and I got it. When I’m running 70+ a week, it’s because I’m starting to get serious.

The regimen I’m on now is so different from what I did last summer. Last summer, I had a blast running every day in the mountains. The average week would consist of about 90-100 miles and 15,000-17,000 feet of vertical. But almost all of it was at easy pace. It’s no wonder I got so slow. I feel like the cobwebs are starting to get knocked off as I implement more and more quality. I know that this quality will help me run strong especially on the Hope Pass section and in those final 30-40 miles at Leadville. The key is to recover as best as I can between quality workouts, listen to my body, and take advantage of my rest weeks. The good news is that I’m going to be pushed hard enough on my big weeks/training blocks that I’ll actually want to rest on my rest weeks—they’ll be rewards for working hard.

Last night, I was thumbing through some of my old training logs. It hit me that back in 2008 and 2009 I did a lot of quality—intervals, tempos, hill repeats and long stuff every week. On Saturdays, I'd go long (20+) and then on Sundays a bunch of us in the club I ran with at the time would race to the water stop and beyond (if you're in SERC and reading this, you know what I'm talking about!), making for a great tempo effort within a long run. I didn’t rest nearly enough but I did tons of quality, got results and seemed to recover fast. Yeah, the fact that I was 35 or 36 had something to do with it, but I also think all the quality paid off.

It’s good that I spent the first three months of this year doing mostly MAF running. That solid base I laid is now ready to be built on.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

New Coach / MAF Test

I have hired a coach to help me prepare for the Leadville 100 on August 16. This will be my fifth Leadville, and it’s fair to say the race has vexed me every year. Results from my past four Leadvilles:
  • 2010: 24:47 – Overcame hypothermia, vomiting and dehydration at Mayqueen inbound (86.5), as well as a two-mile excursion off-course (missed a turn), to eke out a sub-25.
  • 2011: 22:35 – Fell asleep while running between Mayqueen and the finish, fighting off hypothermia. The final 13.5 miles were an epic slog and, yes, included some chunk blowing (as always).
  • 2012: DNF – Knee injury, blown up legs, whatever.
  • 2013: 22:40 – After a horrible first 65 miles that included a 7-hour Hope Pass double-crossing and puking attack at Hopeless inbound (gotta love barfing 15+ times at 12,000 feet), I came alive and finished super strong. And, yep, Mayqueen inbound once again featured an impressive barfing attack (thank goodness for that aluminum baking dish).
While I’m proud of those results (except 2012), I know I can do better. That is why I’ve hired a coach who really gets this 100-mile racing thing—a runner who has put up impressive results for many years, including a strong finish at Leadville a few years ago. He’s one of those runners who has a knack for showing up for his A race in peak form. He delivers on the big day because of his training, his passion, his great attitude, his good instincts and what’s between his ears. I want to learn from him. Even though I’ve been doing ultras for a few years now, I know I can always learn and improve.
Tuesday of this week was day one of my training under my new coach’s tutelage. We’re starting gradually—this morning I did a few hill repeats and on Thursday I’m at the track for some intervals (though the forecasted 1-3 inches of slush might say otherwise). The weekends will see long runs and tempo efforts, and on a periodic basis I’ll have rest weeks--which I'm really bad at including in my training blocks. I’m really excited to see where this all goes.

One thing I’ve asked him to do is reign me in—I’m one of those runners who tends to chase numbers and put a lot of stock in weekly volume. And while this program will include some good volume, I know that at this stage in my running life, with a big base already laid, what I most need are specific workouts that provide the stimulus to reach my potential at Leadville—whatever it may be. He believes I can run a sub-20. I tend to look more at sub-21. We’ll see where this all goes. I don’t want to load expectations on my back—racing 100 miles at Leadville is hard enough.


As for what’s next, I’m now a little over four weeks from the Colorado Marathon. This will be my fourth consecutive week of 70+ miles. On Sunday, I ran 19 miles, including a MAF test at the local high school track. I just wanted to see where I am with my aerobic fitness. For my MAF test, which came after five easy miles with my dog, I ran 5 miles at 146 beats per minute (even though technically my MAF is 135-145 now) and averaged 6:43/mile. Last August, before Leadville, I averaged 6:38/mile in a MAF test. I like where I am right now—somewhat fit but not too fit four months from Leadville. My goal for the Colorado Marathon is to qualify for Boston.

After the marathon, I’ll take a rest week and then resume my Leadville training, emphasizing longer runs on mountain trails. By then, many of the trails will be ice-free. That’s when the real fun begins.