I wasn’t looking forward to my back-to-back long runs last weekend. While I wasn’t quite dreading the 25 and 20 mile runs, they weren’t something I was totally stoked to go knock out either. I saw them more as a mow the lawn type chore than final exam type events. And since I’ve probably mixed enough metaphors to thoroughly confuse you, let’s just move along.
The first run started a little blah. I decided to mix up my normal Cheslen run by starting off on a different trail than usual. This had a couple large hills early on rather than the long downhill and flat trails I normally start with. I ended up climbing 300 feet of elevation in the first two miles, which made it a little difficult to get into a rhythm. This was balanced by the fact that I was mentally a little more engaged than prior runs as I was continually calculating mileages and trying to figure out a course to run to meet my planned distance.
After cruising along for 7 or 8 miles, I started getting into a really nice flow. The miles started ticking off and I wasn’t counting down how many I had left. I checked my average pace every now and again and was comfortably under 12 minute pace. While I didn’t have a target for the run, sub-12 would end up being a solid effort for trails with 3k of elevation gain over 25 miles. I slowed down the last couple miles, however still managed to come in under 5 hours with an average pace of 11:30. One done.
For my second long run, I decided to take it easy. This was going to push me into record weekly mileage territory (see below) and I didn’t want to overdo things. So I picked an easier course that was relatively flat at under 70 feet per mile elevation gain and mostly roads. The run started great pretty much right from the beginning and continued that way the entire time. I kept surprising myself by cranking out sub-10 minute miles. I wasn’t exactly sure how my legs were going to hold up so was thinking my pace would be closer to 11 minute miles (score 1 for correctly setting expectations!) . The entire three and a half hours were completely comfortable and chill. I kept waiting for the wheels to fall off, but they never did. Two done.
I think the secret to my performance on Saturday was that I was able to get 11 hours sleep Friday night before the second run. I was fairly inactive after the 25 miler and ate/re-hydrated well, but shuteye was the key. This is when your body does most of its healing and I gave it as much time as I possibly could.
When you talk about “high mileage” it’s always subjective. What’s high for me will be low for someone else and astronomical for another. My twenty mile run took me up to 76 miles for the week. I keep detailed track of all my runs and have a total for each week, however I don’t usually pay it any attention. It’s just a number off to the side that I typically don’t even glance at.
But calendar weeks totals don’t tell the whole story so I decided to take a look at all 7 day periods to see what my highest weekly mileage was. I’ve done a lot of weeks in the 50s so I used 60 miles as the cutoff for my analysis. I was interested in training weeks so I’ve excluded all 7 day periods that included an ultra even if it was mostly used for training purposes. The below table summarized my 60+ mile training weeks.
I was a little surprised at how often I had cracked the 60 day level over the years. I thought I had gone over a handful of times, not 20 plus. And the 69 mile week (18/15/1/5/15/22) really caught me off guard as it was some random week before Christmas with no major race anywhere near. The large number in 2014 was due to a lot of back to back 20 milers in training, which ended up not being sustainable and almost burning me out.
While I’ve been a little sore the past couple days (imagine that), I’m still feeling pretty good. My current plan is to maintain in the 60-70 mile range over the next 2 weeks and then taper down the following 2 weeks heading into MMT100. I’m trying to be real careful though and cutting back the effort over the next couple days. If my legs don’t bounce back, then I’ll cut back 5-10 miles per week as that would still give me a very solid training load.
Wish me luck.