Sunday, February 8, 2015

When you need a Race and when you need an A Race!

Now seems like a good time to talk about this given the amount of shuffling that my race schedule has had in the last couple of weeks…perhaps months.

The original seeds of the 2015 were sown last summer. Coming off of an “interesting” day at Vineman. I decided to hang up my bike and go back to running. I laid out a 44 week plan that would get me to Leona Divide in April this would my A race.

Clearly 44 weeks for one plan is ridiculous, I know for a fact that I usually get burn out from a plan round Week 15/16. So the plan was periodized. It would be broken up into Race specific blocks of training and there would be milestones along the way. There would be races that were broken down into two types;

  • “a” Race; used to dial in things, get a benchmark, have fun. Always followed by a training day the next day.
  • “A” Race; a goal event, looking to do well/place. leave it all out there, all business, Always followed by a rest day.

So in the plan there would be build weeks and there would be rest weeks. One thing there would not be was constant training with no end goal and no definition where everything blurs into a big nothing. In my opinion Training is like cooking, you follow a recipe, if you decide to add a little of this and a little of that you end up with a brown mush that tastes like crap! Do that with a plan and you end up with list of results that look like crap too! So along the way the defined Milestones were;

  • Santa Clarita Marathon in November which I PRd at back 2011 this was “a” Race. A 13 week training block.
  • Sean O’Brien 50k in February, in addition to Leona Divide this was also tagged as an “A” Race. A 12 week Training block.

The rationale here was that the marathon was a distance stepping stone. There is no time correlation (my road marathon PR is 3:28, my trail 50k PR 5:49, 5 extra miles in over 2 hours!).

As 2014 came to a close and Santa Clarita was behind me Becca and I signed up for the Paramount Ranch 30k, a local relatively flat trail race and both had a good day, I placed fifth in my AG. This was a last minute event and was really only a substitute for the long training run that was already on my plan. Like Santa Clarita this was categorized as a race (not an A race). 2015 started and Becca and I signed up for the Calico 50k, again a substitute for a long training run and a good early benchmark for racing a 50k. Try as you might there is always a difference between training runs and racing runs! For me Calico also gave me a good mental checkmark that I was on track to have a good day come SOB which was 3 weeks later. It went well enough and I finished close to my goals, I allowed me to confirm some gear choices and dial in my fuel plan. But again this was “a” race, not an “A” race.

I am a big proponent of train on the terrain that is train where you are going to race. With that in mind I had trained extensively on the SOB50k course, it’s local and I had no excuses not to. I ran multiple 20 milers, a marathon distance run on it and even a self-supported 50k, finishing in the dark by the light of my iPhone! I dragged Becca out in the rain and the sun. It was nobody else’s fault except my own that when I came to sign up it had sold out. The race was actually yesterday, it rained a lot and from what I have seen it was a tough day out. The course is not easy but in my opinion it’s not super hard, of course that’s easy to say from my bed as I write this! There’s one big climb, it lasts about 4 miles, around M3 and of course you have to run down it again around M25 (for the 50k). There are other climbs too of course but this is the worst. The rest of it is a rolling, runnable trail.

With all the said I wasn’t in and so I had to move on. Luckily the Bandit 50k is the following week (next weekend as of this post). It really just means adding an extra week of training into the plan, that’s no biggie. The downside is I haven’t trained on the course at all, I haven’t even been to the park that the race is in, but that would have been the same as if I was travelling to a destination event.

What allows me to switch like this was the Periodized training, I have not been adding random stuff into the plan, things like “I felt like a beach run” or “decided to ride my bike today instead of…” or “my leg hurts but I still did…”. I don’t feel burned out, I am not injured, In fact it’s a rare day that I am sore. So with that I am able to add in another 50 mile week without any real issue.

So the Bandit becomes my “A” Race and therefore it’s time to bring my A game! But you know what, it’s running, that’s all, and let’s be honest I have done a awful lot of that in the last 6 months!

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