Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Miwok Countdown: 81 hours

My favorite running picture ever - courtesy of sarahseads (instagram).  Check my rearview out in Ultrarunning Magazine online!
The training is done.  The taper is almost done.  Less than 4 days out from the Miwok 100 2015 and I'm almost ready.  I have a growing pile of stuff on the floor ready to pack. I've been taking my vitamins, getting extra sleep, drinking extra water.  I've barely run this last week, because I felt that I needed a little more recovery after my last "long" run.

The one thing that I still need to prepare is my mind.  There has been so much going on in our lives this spring that I really have felt unprepared mentally up to this point.  In the past month I finished the bulk of my training, we listed and sold our house, I flew to Winnipeg for job interviews, I hosted 2 kids birthday parties, and participated in the annual Snow to Surf Race last Sunday.  I finally accepted a job offer today that I am very excited about (that allows me to specialize in treating running injuries), which has relieved a HUGE amount of stress and weight from my shoulders.  I realize now that my sense of "not being recovered" was chiefly the stress hanging over my head about our move.  The power of the mind.
Handing off after running a 2k sprint on Sunday in the Snow to Surf Relay. From 2K to 100K in 6 days!
Team ELM and Team ELM Too - a great group of active ladies in the Comox Valley!
So now I can really focus on getting ready to race.  Time to print out the course map and profile, mark out the aid stations, plan the drop bags and race strategy.  After a short run tomorrow the rest of my prep will be all mental which I know is 99% of what I know will get me to the finish line.

Next post: my race report!

Monday, 13 April 2015

Taper Time Again!

Yes this picture is real.  A huge reason I run is that I get to look at things like this.

First of all, I want to thank all of you who are following this blog.  Since I started posting, I have had viewers from Canada, USA, Russia, Australia, France, Germany, the Czech Republic, Mexico, Poland and Peru.  Amazing!  There are people interested in ultra-running all over the world and I am glad that my narrative from this little slice of the world in western Canada seems to interest and hopefully inspire so many.

It has been been a while since my last post, but honestly, I've been busy.  I continued to build and peaked with the highest mileage week last week.  I ran some big weeks with the final back-to-back run being 80 km in 24 hours (30km + 50km) on terrain with elevation that mimicked the race course as closely as possible.  But the end of that final run I was so ready for taper time.  I was tired of always being tired.  I needed a hair cut.  I needed to spend time with my family.  But then life got in the way.

And I hoped on a flight last Thurs to head to the city where we will be moving this summer for job interviews.  I spent 3 days flying, driving to interviews, driving around with our real estate agent, then flying home.  After that, getting up to run only 3.5 hours on Sunday seemed like a gift.  It's all in the perspective.

A week ago, I commented mid run that, "I am in the best shape I've ever been in my life.  No.  Wait a minute.  I'm the most broken down I've ever been in my life."  Which segues nicely into the purpose of taper time.

Many people think that the training makes you stronger.  Those long runs are what make you stronger.  Wrong.  Actually, the training and the long runs break you down.  It's the recovery time, and the time between runs when you actually get stronger.  When you are training, you are asking a lot of your body.  You are microscopically and sometimes macroscopically breaking your muscles and connective tissue down.  You are putting a large demand on your organs and burning fuel stores that are finite.

After all that hard work is done, the real miracle begins.  There is a law in physiology called Wolff's Law.  It relates specifically to bone, but states that bone gets stronger in response to the stress placed upon it.  The rest of the body does the same thing.   Muscle fibers and connective tissue rebuild stronger than they were before in response to the demand that was placed on them.  Energy systems fine tune, organ physiology works to find the balance between demand and ideal function.  Following the SAID principle, the body undergoes Specific Adaptations to the Imposed Demands that the athlete places on it.

The recovery period (and taper time) are where the real magic happens.  I still feel very broken down. I tried to run a tempo run today and my legs felt like lead weights.  But in about 10 days I will start to feel amazing.  Training right up to a race breaks you down and is foolish.  I've learned that entering a race well rested, if even slightly under-trained, is better than entering a race tired.  The longer the race, the longer the taper, and a month of recovery will hopefully allow enough recovery time without deconditioning for my 100km run.

Our human body is an amazingly miraculous piece of machinery that works better the more it is used.  Train it well, feed it well, rest it well, and it will perform.  The human body never ceases to amaze me.  It is so easy to live very narrow lives within very narrow limits.  It is only when we push ourselves to the extremes that we experience an element of divinity, where we witness ourselves accomplish things that defy logic or common sense. That is the essence of ultra-running for me.  Defying common sense to experience something truly amazing.