I have said many times that I get bored with training plans after 10-12 weeks. I tend to lose focus and get bored, the taper ends up being me simply stopping until race day. It’s self-sabotaging on the whole and obviously doesn’t lend itself to getting the best results. Not all training cycles have ended that way but is a noticeable theme
Therefore I was very surprised that I managed to go the entire 36 weeks that I outlined last August without having a mental breakdown. Admittedly the last 4 weeks were a bit fudged with the addition of an extra race and some challenges at work but overall the fundamentals were there.
So with that said here are some thoughts on how I broke it down mentally and physically.
The entire Training Cycle weeks was peppered with races. I broke it up into a very specific training cycles for the three key races
Santa Clarita Marathon, 13 weeks. (8/3 – 11/2)
Most of the time was on the road or treadmill as it was a road-race. This time was primarily building my running base transitioning from the bike and triathlon mode that I had been in for the first 7 months of the year. Race day was a solid race and while not a PR I had a goal of 3:43 and finished in 3:42.
- Road 40 runs 335.75 miles
- Treadmill 19 runs 113.94 miles
- Trail 9 runs 95.88 miles
- Elevation Gain 43,194’
- Total 545.57 miles
Sean O’Brien 50K, (which become the Bandit 50k) 15 weeks. (11/3 – 2/15)
After Santa Clarita I raced the Paramount Ranch 30k Trail Race for fun, I actually came 5th. I missed the registration for SOB which turned out a wet and windy day, which would have been perfect really. Instead I registered for the Bandit 50k a week later which was at the other end of the spectrum with unseasonably high temperatures. This was my second 50k this year, the Calico 50K was cool and by comparison flat with Bandit throwing down the challenge of 6200’ of gain. High temps and big hills beat me down. Training was still primarily on the road and treadmill but I was transitioning to the trails and adding elevation.
- Road 20 runs 187.03 miles
- Treadmill 28 runs 172.57 miles
- Trail 17 runs 258.64 miles
- Elevation Gain 58,645’
- Total 618.24 miles
Leona Divide 50m 9 weeks (2/16 – 4/18)
Full on trail mode, at least as much as possible with the inclusion of the Ahmanson 12k, lots of recon on the Santa Barbara Nine Trails course and then the race itself. Miles were down but it was a shorter span of time. Elevation and distance were the focus. 3 less trail runs and only 5 miles less overall distance. I accumulated nearly as much vertical gain as I had for the SOB cycle with 6 weeks less time! At the end of the day it didn’t come together as planned but no doubt had I done anything less it would have hurt a lot more!
- Road 8 runs 69.73 miles
- Treadmill 13 runs 75.49 miles
- Trail 14 runs 253.76 miles
- Elevation Gain 54,245’
- Total 398.79 miles
- 1562.79 miles
- 156,084’ of elevation gain
I’m not a coach nor do I play one on TV, hell I don’t even have one! But I have been around the block a few times so hopefully breaking things down like this is helpful to someone. Here are five key takeaways;
- Have an end goal, but pepper it along the way with milestones, this way you get a sense of achievement and an understanding of your development.
- Focus on the day and the week. The month is too big!
- Train the terrain, get out on the course if you can. This worked really well for me at Nine Trails. I had run the other races or routes before, the only time I hadn’t was Leona Divide and that came back to haunt me.
- Training for a hilly race…run hills! Kinda obvious but often overlooked!
- Find a plan and stick with it. Don’t get 2 weeks in and decide it’s too hard. Understand the ability you have to commit (factor in school, work, kids, your partner) and then commit!
There are a few others lesser ones but I am sure you see the picture here.