Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Preparing for a 24 Hour Running Race

We live in such a strange age. My running career is not chronicled in a sporadic collection of newspaper results and handwritten training log entries as careers were decades ago, it's tracked daily by GPS and RFID checkpoints. Instead of competing in dozens of races before someone asks for my advice, I can offer it up, here on my blog, with no actual experience whatsoever. So here I am telling people how to prepare for a 24 hour race, when I have only done one in my life, that I didn't train for ahead of time.

For starters, my training philosophy:

  1. Stay Motivated
  2. Stay Healthy
  3. Train Hard
Nothing new there. 

Motivation for a 24 hour run? Hum... This time around for me it's easy, IT'S THE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS AND I'M ON TEAM USA!!! Last time it was mostly the curiosity of what would happen. The curiosity, with the insurance that no matter how poorly it went, it would only last 24 hours. You don't get that guarantee in a 100 mile race. That was actually a pretty motivating factor for me. There is a large risk in an ultra race something bad could happen and I would limp home like at the Chicago Marathon in 2013, but for hours instead of 40 minutes. There was also motivation the first time around to qualify for team USA, without the pressure of the guarantee that 1st place in that race would go. In other words, when people are racing for a guaranteed spot, the racing usually is more difficult, and I wanted a less competitive debut ultra race.

Staying healthy has definitely been harder the last two months than I expected. Work has beat down my health. Weld fumes, paint fumes, exhaust, the stress of people expecting me to come up with a solution, because let's face it, I usually do have a good one. Plus, some bad weather has not been the greatest for my health running outside. Finally, skiing a fair amount has done a little work on my ankles and the mountaineering boots didn't help back six weeks ago. I should really get my legs looked at. 

Train hard has two major components, run a lot, with a fair amount at a hard aerobic pace, and get a lot of rest. Resting is a legitimate part of training, and it can be as hard to sleep more and spend time off of your feet as the hard training. So basically, I'm trying to run a lot of miles, and get a lot of rest. Come April 11th, I will run for 24 hours strait without sleeping. I need to be ready to handle that. 

As for actual training, it's all going by feel right now. I have to be healthy before I train hard. However, provided I can get in more miles I plan to do my usual high mileage week (110-140 miles), followed by low mileage week with a day off (80-110 miles). Then I plan to get in a couple long runs, with doubles in the afternoon. Ideally I would like to have a 40 mile day with a 30+ mile long run in the morning and a recovery slower run in the afternoon. Who knows? I mean, I'll do what I can , but not dig myself in a hole. I'm guaranteed to be in a hole after the race. Plus I would like to get in some longer tempos (8-15 miles) at a moderate pace about 5-10% slower than marathon pace (6:00-6:20 pace). Of course, that's all the ideal training plan, rarely does ideal happen to us. 

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