At the end of March I had raced two ultra distance races (an ultramarathon or ultra for short is any race going beyond the 26.2 mile distance of a marathon) only seven days apart. The first was an extended 50k totalling 34 miles and the second was an 8 PM to 8 AM timed race netting me 37 miles. Besides these two races, in the first three months of 2015 I had run over 250 miles in January and ran my fastest, and technically my only, trail marathon ever (I include my 50k marathon times into this mix) earlier in February. Overall I have had a technically challenging beginning to this year…. So I decided I needed a week without running.
The decided rest week also came about because I decided to sign up for another 50k at the end of this month instead of just waiting for the next planned 12 hour race in mid-May. I recover pretty fast these days but the two ultra distance races in seven days had wiped out my recovery. So I took last week off and focused on swimming, Pilates and strength training mixed with numerous walks and stretching sessions. I finished the weekend off with a nice relaxing camping trip which became more difficult as I really started to itch for some running while out in the woods. Instead I stayed vigilant and did not allow myself to do much more than a slow and steady paced walk. I got to recharge my legs and spend some uninterrupted time with the wife.
I am somewhat playing this first half of the year by feeling. I have a training plan but now that my races are longer, adding a race here or there has a greater potential effect on my training schedule and increases my potential for injury or burnout.
For instance, a few weeks ago a buddy of mine asked if I would come and support him on his first 50k race, without a doubt I was there. Of course I ended up running it as well, even though I realized I had my first 12 hour endurance race the following weekend. Never did it cross my mind that I would be running two ultra marathon distance races only seven days apart.
The initial focus was a quick taper and the first 50k followed by a quick rest and recovery week leading into my second ultra race. My focus was never on how awesome or incredible back-to-back races would be, instead it involved just trying to transition from racing one event and then getting ready for the next. On mile 28 of my twelve-hour race, Operation Endurance, when my body’s energy waned, I finally realized how amazing of an accomplishment it was to run these races seven days apart. I get clueless about these things til I am in the thick of them, then a realization hits and I have occasional moments of insight to how amazing some of the things I have accomplished truly are or will be. Never did it cross my mind that I was doing something a rare few even try, running not just marathons seven days apart but ultra marathons at distances of 34 and 37 miles, ten to twelve hours a piece.
Besides the two ultra-distance races seven days apart, the first couple months of the year have been good. January I had my highest monthly mileage total ever. This number dropped a bit leading into February and further into March. Of course a new job and actual running races reduced my overall monthly mileage and hour totals, an outcome I expected as I headed into my first big race surge for the year. I still have an added 50k race this month, a planned night-time 12 hour trail race and a 24 hour race in the middle of June to finish off the first half of the year racing schedule. After June the numbers will go back up as I prepare for the late August and later race portion of the year.
It is only April and I think I have already had a remarkable running year already, completing a marathon and two 34+ mile 50k races, as well as a few smaller races. I have gotten a bit faster over the last couple of long running races and I have diligently worked to increase the quality and quantity of my running miles. I just have to keep pushing and always listen to my body to prevent burn-out and injury before the end of the year. Of course I am excited to share the journey along the way.
Til next time.