Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Training: +Progression due to Coaching

I'm not the best runner or writer, but I want to try to get my thoughts out there about the success I have had with nutrition & training related to the coaching from Bob Seebohar who is guiding me to the Leadville Trail 100 that I am running for Runwell. It's just too good, this is something that we all need to look into.

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!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Race Report: Green Jewel 50k

Below is my race report for the 2012 Green Jewel 50k.

We ran that far.

I'm not sure how I got talked into NOT following my training plan from Coach Bob for this weekend. My schedule called for a 16 mile negative split run on Sunday. I think it's that I PR'd at the GJ50k in 2009 and I wanted to see if I could run this as a fun training run and beat my time of 4:56. In 2009, it was a 50k PR of 1hr 24mins as I was very new to ultra running. I was fortunate enough to be offered some "rock star" crew treatment from Mike Nicholson (2011 3rd place) whose brother Greg, was running his first 50k. After waiting for the salamander migration to clear at CVNP, we pulled in the lot and I ran into a number of familiar faces (Kathie Teuschner, Pam Rickard, Brian Morris, and others) before taking off and heading to the start.

I love the atmosphere before an ultra. No one was complaining that the race was not going to start on time, everyone was smiling, excited for what we were about to do, taking photos, sharing stories, adjusting bib numbers, and well-wishing other runners. I finally got to meet Lee Shane in person (rather than facebook), accepted an Elmo (gluten & vegan) cupcake from the Basich's, shed a layer, took a quick wizz and off we went!

Pam Crushing PR
I ran a few miles with Pam who stands 9 feet tall in her Hokas and floats through puddles, whereas I was skimming the ground in Altra zero drop shoes :). Pam & I are fellow Runwell Ambassadors and have been under the same coaching & nutrition expertise from Bob Seebohar ( were both very excited to see how the metabolic efficiency training was going to play out for us. 

Keith Finishing Strong
A few miles in, Pam dropped back (but only by a few seconds) and I met up with Keith Lascelles; we began chatting about running, nutrition, the day's goal, and whatever other stories that came to mind. Our goals were similar, to run about a 4:30-4:45 depending on how the day went. This is one of the best parts of the running community I think. There are races that you end up running solo for hours and races where you play leap-frog with people, and ones like this where I was fortunate enough to run with Keith for pretty much the entire race. We kept saying "we need to slow it down, if we take the pace back, it will pay dividends later, etc..." neither of us would do it, we just kind of went with it. Mile 16 flew by and I thought  maybe I can negative split this thing, so I started a slight pace increase. 

Can you guess where the cramps started!

Lesson learned. 

On Friday, I posed a comment in the Outrun group "taper schmaper" after a hard week of speed workouts and a brutal 9 mile race pace run on trails on Thursday, 90mins of intense core (TRX, Insanity, and other core work) on Friday. Seemed a good idea at the time, besides it was just a fun run, right??. At mile 19 something under my right rib cage had such a sharp pain that it made me walk. my pace went from ~8min/mile to 9:30 to an 11:00 pace, not cool. I first thought was that it was my food....nope, dummy, it was my overzealous workout the day before. I met and passed Debbie Scheil, who shortly thereafter patted me on the shoulder to get going so she could chase....she continued on strong (to PR!) and not long after I see Keith. We played leap-frog for a while before the abdominal muscle cramp was manageable to run constant. We hit the marathon mark at 3:45 and the rest was just a solid easy effort to the finish. Everytime I picked up the pace, I was reminded to back off by my ab muscle. Lesson learned. With about 2 miles to go, Keith picked it up and ran a really strong finish...gaining about 4 mins on me by the end (4:31). I came in shortly after with a 4:35.

Green Jewel 50k Finish

Happy enough with the effort, but disappointed in myself for not taking heed to taper even a little. That's all a wash though since the experience was such a great one. I ran into Lee Shane, Crystal Basich, & Keith super exited to hear how they did (so impressed). They asked how Pam was and I guessed about 30mins back. I went to change into warm clothes and as I walked back, I saw Pam finishing an astonishing 4:44!

Pam's first question to me: "what did you eat?".....", "2 packets of Chocolate UCAN. that's it."...nod of agreement, this works. Proof is in the pudding (as long as it's a 1:1 carb/protein ratio!).

Final Thoughts

It's been 4 days since the race and I have still not taken a day off. Got in 8 miles Sunday, 8 Monday, and a really hard 6 miles Tuesday. I finally cross trained Wednesday and am back on track for my Leadville 100 training. Next on tap is more training, the O24 and then Mohican 50mi.

Big Thanks

Please remember that none of these races are possible without a LOT of hard work from the Race Directors (Joe Jurczyk & Vince Rucci) Courtney Russell for taking all the finisher photos and all the volunteers who give time and effort to support runners in these events. There is nothing better than seeing familiar faces at aid stations and getting help from people who have such great ultra & running experience and really do know how to help. Again, how can you not be impressed with the ultra running community? We rock.