January Training Reflections

SHITR

Megan and I at the Shivering Icy Trail Run

January marked my first full month of ultra training. I’m using one of the training plans suggested in Bryon Powell’s Relentless Forward Progress. My first few weeks were fairly average as far as mileage goes, low to mid 30s. The past 2 weeks, and from here on out, I’ll be consistently in the 40s and 50s for weekly mileage. Prior to this I had only broken the 40 mile mark 3 times.

The biggest immediate difference from my usual routine is the higher mileage weekday runs. During marathon training I’d run 4 miles before work a couple mornings a week, and Wednesday was always my midweek longer run of 6 miles, which eventually crept to 8 miles at peak training. With this plan I’m running at least 7 miles twice a week, and my Wednesday run is now reduced to 5 miles. My Tuesday morning run jumps to 10 miles shortly, and Thursdays are to have periods of speedwork as part of the run  The consistently higher weekday mileage has made a huge difference. In a way, I feel like my previous 4 mile runs were me just squeezing something in to keep my legs moving. I was just kind of going through the motions. Regularly running longer than an hour has been a very welcome change.

Running long on the weekends is nothing new, and even running long back to backs was something I dabbled with during my marathon training simply because I couldn’t stay away from the trails on Sundays even after running long on the road Saturday. It drove me nuts having to put my focus on road running, but now my long run focus is thankfully back on the trails. This month had my longest run hitting 18 miles, and February will reintroduce long back to backs.

Last weekend I tackled my longest solo run to date. My plan called for 18 (turned into 20), but since I was out of town I wouldn’t have my usual support group to rely on. Prior to this my longest solo run was 12 miles. I made a bit of an adventure out of the run. I started at my friends doorstep, ran 6 miles to a local state park, did 8 on the park’s singletrack, and then ran 6 back. I don’t know why running that long alone seemed like a big hurdle, but mentally it was. I just always feared I’d get discouraged and cut the run short. This was not the case. I actually really enjoyed the solitude, and to top it all off, 20 miles felt great. I could have tacked on the final 10k and called it a marathon if I needed to. It was exhilarating. It’s safe to say that, both mentally and physically, I’m adapting well to the increased training load.

My only race/event in January was a night trail half marathon, the SHITR (Shivering Icy Trail Run). It’s a local fatass on its 3rd year. Definitely a great and fun event.

February will be an exciting month. I convinced my Dad and my wife to run the Sylamore 25/50k with me on February 21st. We’re all 3 running the 25k together. Neither of them have run this far before : )

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