Before diving into my journal for this week, I want to talk about how I selected my race, my training plan, and building my base. The first two topics are pretty easy.
Picking my goal race.
I initially chose the Lake Martin 50 miler as my goal race, which is taking place March 17-18, 2018. At the beginning of August, I decided to commit to a 50 mile race. Chris had just finished another ultra, and I was itching to finally do one of my own. Lake Martin gave me plenty of time to build up my base (more about that in a minute) and then train. Plus, I’d be able to go back to Alabama, visit with friends, and complete the race I had helped out with in 2014. Since then; however, I have had to change my goal race to the Badger Mountain Challenge in southeast Washington on March 30, 2018. We are going to be traveling to the east coast a lot in 2018 and we needed to cut costs somewhere. The Badger Mountain 50 saves us the cost of 3 plane tickets and boarding two dogs for a week. Plus, it is in the same month as my original goal race, so I didn’t have to alter my training plan too much. Done!
Picking my training plan.
Again, this was easy. I chose the same training plan Chris used for his first 50 miler and for his 45 miler this past summer at Mount Saint Helens. He found it on Ultra Ladies, which is a great resource for long distance runners. (The link to the page with free training plans: http://www.ultraladies.com/free-training-plans.html ) Obviously, I chose the plan for the 50 miler, but they also offer a plans for your first marathon, 50 km (31 miles) and your first 100 miler. I will talk more about picking the right training plan for you (road vs trail, to use a coach or not, and distance) in a later post.
Building my base.
So, as the Ultra Ladies site will tell you, it is imperative to have a good base of miles before attempting a marathon or ultra marathon. “Couch to 5k” and even “Couch to Half Marathon” training plans are pretty common these days. You can start from nothing (a base of 0 miles) and be able to finish these races by the end of that training plan. Ultra marathons are more strenuous and harder to train for, given the insane amount of miles you will be expected to run on race day within an allotted time. Therefore, prior to starting one of these plans, you need to have a “base,” or a certain mileage that you can finish (without falling apart or dying). You do not have to be fast, but you should be able to cover the distance comfortably without walking a majority of the time. For example, Ultra Ladies advises to have a base of miles where you could comfortably finish at least a marathon (26.2 miles), or preferably a 50k (31 miles) BEFORE starting the 50 miler training plan. Having a solid base reduces your risk of injury!!
I have been running long enough that I am able to go out and run a 10 miler without much difficulty. This is NOT where I started in 2013! Back then, anything over 3 miles was a struggle. I also took time off from running while I was pregnant and it took a while to ease back into running longer distances after giving birth. When I decided to start training in August, I was running random distances, from 3 miles to 10 miles, whenever I felt like it or had the time. To get into a training mindset again, and to get my muscles used to running regularly again, I loosely followed a beginner marathon training plan. I did a few speed work outs, some hill repeats (not my favorite!), and got back in the habit of running at least 3 times a week, but aiming for 5. I did have one pretty good fall on the trails that sidelined me for a week and a half while my knee recovered.
Even though I was following a training plan designed for the road, I got out on the trail several times, because training on trails is very different (more about that in a later post). My race will primarily be on a trail, so I need to do a lot of my training out in the woods. I have not been lifting weights. Pushing my toddler in the stroller is good enough cross training for me right now. As I get more into my training, I will pepper in some strength and conditioning. I also went on a few strenuous hikes that took the place of some of my runs. Even though I wasn’t running, I was using varuous muscles and a lot of energy, so I still reaped benefits. Again, this is part of building my base to get ready for a strenuous training plan, so I approached this a little differently than I approach most training plans. Also, this is what worked for me – other runners may need more structure to build their base. It all depends on experience level and athleticism. I feel like I am ready to tackle my 50 mile training plan! Considering I am on vacation, these first few weeks will be interesting!