Last night, I went out for a 9.3mi negative split run on roads around the area I live in, which is not flat...It's not the Rockies, but it is quite hilly and hills hurt here like they do anywhere else. My instructions were to run 9 miles Negative Split (high aerobic / then tempo). I made the choice to from my house which the highest point in the area (everything is a descent from there) and took it easy at about a 7:15-7:30 pace until I hit 4.5 miles and took it up a notch to maintain about 7:15 all the way home (all uphill). Look, there are thousands of people out there who can run like this daily with ease, I am by no means an elite runner, never will be...I revel in the success of a training run like this. For me, just a few years ago this workout would not happen. Race day, maybe....but not at 8:30pm in the dark after a full days work, kids to swim practice, a core workout, reading stories to kids, then suiting up and killing it for 1hr 9min on this 9.3mi route. I ran by myself, in the dark, a headlamp, with the occasional pair of reflective eyes looking back at me from the woods, and watching my shadow as I passed under the occasional street light (one of my favorite things).
I've never been coached as a runner. I've followed generic training plans and ultimately made my own over the past couple years based on my own experiences, reading what others have done, websites, modified the Hal Higdon marathon and ultra-marathon schedules, but I've never had a coach actually provide me with a month to month plan that progressively grows to peak for a particular race(s).
I'm very coach-able, I literally love to do the work, love to reach the goals of the team and the coach. Highschool soccer & lacrosse was a lot of "fun work",we just had to show up, bring the effort, the determination, follow a some intuition, and the coaches instruction. We had a lot of success during those years but once I got to college and chose to stay on the bike rather than full time on the soccer team, I did not have the benefit of a coach. It's been this way for 14 years now, mostly solo training and reading as resources. I was with Carmichael Training Systems (CTS) for a little over a year and saw some amazing progression in cycling but soon could not afford the monthly fees. With family & work, it was just an extra expense was that needed to pay bills, put clothes on the kids, food on the table, and home upgrades. Paying for coaching quickly went away.
Fast-forward a few years after starting to learn to run ultra marathons (still learning)...and now as an Ambassador for Runwell I have been incredibly fortunate (and you can, too) to be provided coaching services depending on the event you are signed up for. Coach Bob Seebohar (MS, RD, CSSD, CSCS, US Olympic Dietician in 2008, et cetera.) See his website for all his information, this guy is a beast!. He is preparing me for one event, the Leadville Trail 100, that's it...that's the focus. I will say that after running 65-100+ mile weeks for the last couple months, I was a little concerned when I got my first month's training plan and it was a DRASTIC reduction in mileage; something that was probably harder mentally than physically. I admit, I freaked out a bit, assuming that I was right where I needed to be and really wanted to resist the training plan. I did for about a week. After some reassurance, I accepted it and have been following it almost to a "t" since. Part of the reassurance comes from Linda Quirk who is also coached by Bob and has had amazing success in the endurance world (google her, you'll see). They are quality workouts that are all a part of a progression. I have more added focus than ever. I am very excited to see how it all builds 5 months from now.
Prior to starting the training plan, I began to follow Seebohar's passion: nutrition. If you have read my experience at BR100, you know that I struggled with nutrition...significantly. Over the rest of 2011, I was getting a handle on the calorie consumption using Hammer products and had good success with it at the RWS double marathon in October, but shortly thereafter I began to transition into the Metabolic Efficiency Training (MET) that Bob teaches. I downloaded the two MET books by Bob, read every word and it just made too much sense not to give it a try. It took me about 2 months to transition from being a "carb-addict" to running on very little, if nothing at all for calorie consumption on a run. I will say that for about 4-5 weeks I was experiencing some really good bonks at about 1:45 into a run where my glycogen levels had depleted and my body was looking for more sugar that wasn't there. I knew to expect them, so I plugged along and got through it. My body has now learned, and is continuing to learn, how to metabolize fat as an energy source rather than rely mostly on carbs.
MET is not a diet, it literally is a way of life. For me, it was a smack in the face of how carbohydrate dependent I have been over the years. It's not a complicated concept, and once you have been doing it for a while, it's second nature. I dropped 2.5% body fat in about 8 weeks something I haven't been able to do for a few years. My body composition improvement is visually noticeable and I feel lean and strong. I still reach for the cookie jar probably more than I should, but I allow it on occasion to maintain a healthy balance...can't always behave!
Hydration has been the one thing that I have managed to remain consistent with. I have used nuun tabs for a few years now. I used them before I became an ambassador for them, and I continue to use them in my hydration strategy for every run & ride I go on. I do add S-Caps depending on the weather and the effort.
So, the proof is in the pudding, right? Here are some small but big success examples I have experienced in the last 2months:
50k training run: in the snow, on trails, 5hr 33min including bathroom stops and taking it easy. I ate 3 packets of Generation UCAN = about 360 calories or ~65/hour. I would have normally consumed roughly 1,500cals of Hammer Perpeteum during that time period. That's over 1,100 calories difference that I burned from fat stores. There were no GI issues, no bonking, nothing. For hydration, I had 6 tabs of nuun in my hydration pack (Nathan HPL#020).
50k Green Jewel Race: 4hr 35 min on 2 packets of UCAN. That was a 21 min PR for me and I did not taper a bit (although I should have)! Friend and fellow Runwell Ambassador, Pam Rickard saw even better results with 2 packets of UCAN and an hour PR for her 50k!
Other: I've also had a few negative split training runs over the past 2 months that literally I have set unintentional PR's for 10mi, 13mi, and 25k distances....just in training! Now, I am working hard, but there is something to be said about the other half of your training being proper nutrition. I wish I had known about this years ago when I was racing bicycles, but I know about it now and urge you to check out Bob's website and books.
If you run with me, I'm going to tell you about it. It's just been such a positive life changing thing for me that I am just excited to talk nutrition with others. I will also talk about coyotes, core workouts, and my favorite Altra Zero drop shoes that I picked up from Fleet Feet and my upcoming race, the O24 (Have you signed up yet??). Deal with it, I love this stuff!