Technically, this week was a de-load or recovery week, which meant lower mileage and more recovery. Honestly, at this point in training for a 50 miler, there isn’t very much in the way “low mileage” happening, so it doesn’t quite feel like a training break. Even though my overall weekly mileage was about 10 miles less than the last couple of weeks, it was still right around where I was at during my marathon training peak. I’m hitting that point in training where I’m still having fun, but I am looking forward to an actual break at the end. I have a 50k race this coming weekend, and I’m hoping that it will help keep me motivated for the rest of my training. Racing during training can be risky, if not approached intelligently, which made me think it’s a subject worth exploring a little more.
The week started off with Labor Day, and my boys and I met my mom and grandma one more time before they left back home. It was nice having an opportunity to spend so much time with them this week, since my mom is planning a pretty significant move in the next couple of months. And speaking of moving, we finally closed on a house here in San Antonio this week! We’ve definitely been looking forward to having more space, and had planned to move in over the weekend. At the last minute, we decided to take advantage of the last couple of weeks of our lease and have the carpets replaced in our new home without us being there.
Honestly, all of the decision making and planning has been so mentally draining. We went back and forth over this carpet decision, we’ve made what feels like 58374 phone calls, and then we changed our minds at the last minute. It’s not exactly unusual for us, so I probably should have expected that things would work out this way. I’m glad that we have a plan that feels more reasonable, but the process of getting here has been exhausting. And we haven’t even moved yet! I have to say, as excited as I am about having more space, I really like the real estate process much more when it’s investment instead of personal. Though, I do feel really grateful that we have the means and opportunity to improve an already amazing property.
Related Post: How Stress Affects Training
Fortunately, I kept my training pretty simple this week, since I was just not in the mood to figure anything additional out. When the forecast called for rain, I decided that after Mondays’ hill workout I’d just run 10 miles on the roads in the morning before work. Easy, simple, no planning needed. I missed the trails, but the combination of heavy rains and decision fatigue made running in our neighborhood a thousand times more appealing. We had a cool front blow in late Wednesday night, and honestly it was just amazing. I’m really hoping for a cozy fall and winter like last year.
Next weeks miles will probably also be somewhat lower until my 50k race. I don’t plan on doing a full taper, since I’m running this as more of a supported long run, but I won’t be throwing down 8 min miles on a 12 mile run next week. If I were using this race as more of a tune up, I’d definitely approach my week’s training a little differently. There’s more than one way to incorporate some racing into a training schedule, and I feel like throwing a race or two into the mix can keep training from feeling like a never ending death march towards the end. Here’s a few of my favorite ways to incorporate racing in training plans.
Racing During Training
While most runners enjoy running on a regular basis, a lot of us really look forward to races. The starting chutes, the course support, the prerace dinners, and of course the finisher metals. Races are a way of celebrating how we’ve trained, and an opportunity to see what we’re capable of. It doesn’t hurt that there’s usually beer at the end, either. But you don’t have to save racing for the end of a training block; in fact, there’s a few ways you can incorporate racing during training. Each type of race has a specific purpose, and can add to your overall training in different ways.
Tune Up Races
Tune up races are races that are shorter in distance than your goal race, and serve to show how things are progressing. If you’re training for a 4 hour marathon, for example you would probably use a 10k or half-marathon as a tune up race. You want to run these races with a goal range in mind that makes sense and is in line with your overall goal. That 4 hour marathon might mean a 1:40-1:50 half-marathon goal. The purpose is to run a hard, challenging pace; without “leaving it all out there” since you still have to keep training afterwards.
These races have a couple of purposes. First, they can give you and your coach a good idea of where you’re at fitness wise, and can help determine if your overall goal is within reach. If you finish the tune up race way outside your goal range, and didn’t have any significant out of your control issues (like tropical storm rain), you might consider adjusting your overall goal. Alternately, if you finish within your goal range, that can help boost morale and confidence, while helping your coach see if there are any adjustments or tweaks that might help you get to your goal more successfully. They’re also a great opportunity to practice racing strategies, like negative splits, fueling, and gear.
Since tune up races should be challenging, you’ll want to employ a mini-taper and recovery. I typically program a 5 day mileage reduction leading up to the race, with the day before and after carved out as planned rest days. A reverse taper after the race is a good way to make sure your body is able to recover and avoid overuse injury, which sort of defeats the entire purpose of a tune up race.
Supported Long Runs
Where tune up races are a great way to test yourself, supported long runs should be run at a steady and easy pace. No real race efforts here. Supported long run races should be run just like most long runs; with a focus of time on feet and improving endurance rather than speed. If you’re training for an ultramarathon, running 20+ miles solo can be just as draining mentally as it is physically. Planning a route, carrying all your gear, and not getting lost can make 22 miles feel like 40. Finding a 50k or marathon to hop into can help make some of those longer runs feel a little less daunting.
With a supported long run race, you theoretically have the company and support of the race to fall back on (when you’re not racing during a pandemic). Using races as training means you might be able to rely on a little on some aid stations and drop bags so that you don’t have to carry everything all at once. The route is planned and marked for you, and once again you have the opportunity to practice your racing strategy. This is the method I’m employing for my race next week.
For these types of races, you don’t need to employ a full taper and recovery plan. You won’t be pushing the limits with your pacing, as long as you can resist the urge to compete with your fellow runners on the course. I generally recommend decreasing your overall weekly mileage the week before and after, just a bit. Certainly don’t plan anything big or fatiguing the day or two before, and consider using the day after as a planned rest day.
Finally, the just for fun races. Races that happen to fall at a good time in your training calendar, and don’t serve much more reason other than to have a good time with your running buddies. While these races can be considered a somewhat supported long run, I’ve had plenty of clients who have decided to run 5k races during marathon training just to run with their kids or friends. Usually, we plan a few miles after the race ends to bring the long run mileage up to a solid amount, but the point is that races don’t have to be long if they’re just for fun. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with running a “just because” race in the middle of a training program.
In fact, social runs can really help to break up a long marathon or ultramarathon training plan. If you find that you’re losing motivation to run towards the end of your training program, consider finding a 10k, relay race, color run, or even obstacle course race just to keep things interesting. These kinds of races are approached on a case by case basis, since a 5k color run will be very different from a 15 mile obstacle course race.
If you’re working towards a goal, but want to keep training dynamic, look for opportunities to incorporate one or more of these mid-training plan races. Does this sound a little overwhelming to figure out? Well, it might be a great reason to consider reaching out to a coach, who can help you map things out, prevent injury, and help you keep working towards your overall goal. If coaching is something you’ve considered, or you’d like more information about how it can help you reach your goals, head over to my Contact Me page.
This Weeks Workouts
Total Miles: 68
Total Workouts: 4
50 Mile Training, Week 16
How the Runs Felt
Since this was a recovery week, I kept my runs at an easy pace. Sunday and Monday were my only trail runs this week, because we had some pretty instense storms for most of the week. Monday, I got in a hill workout before the storms blew through. I did get to sleep in just a little bit, and was still able to make it out before it got too hot. Tuesday through Friday, I was basically running in between thunderstorms, and kept things easy on the roads.
We had that amazing cool front come in Wednesday night, and my runs for the rest of the week felt marvelous. I even got to break out a long sleeve shirt for the first time! Running in those first couple of cool mornings is something every runner looks forward to, and I hope we have a lot more of them to look forward to. Once again, my legs felt pretty heavy after Thursday’s back squats, and Friday things felt pretty stiff. I made sure to hydrate and use our Hypervolt a little more than normal.
With the trails still closed on Saturday, I really needed a break from pounding the pavement. So I decided to head out to the powerlines and run a “double,” which is essentially a 6 mile out and back twice. With a couple of warm-up miles beforehand, Strava clocked me at just under 2800 feet of gain. My legs felt every single foot of that elevation change on the second out and back. I don’t know how these mountain runners just go up and up for days on end. I actually ran into two other women working on a double around the same time, and was able to chat with them about their training for an upcoming Rim to Rim adventure. So inspiring! I love hearing about women doing big things, and Rim to Rim is definitely no small feat!
How the WODs Felt
I’ve definitely felt a little more motivated to workout this week than I have in the last couple of weeks. Monday, we met up with my mom for brunch after my run. I wasn’t super enthusiastic about heading out to the gym after that, so I decided to just workout at home. I really liked the clean complex portion on my workout on Tuesday. I haven’t been doing too much in the way of multiple strength movements, and it was nice to do something a little different. Friday’s chipper was not easy. All of the movements felt difficult, even with a light barbell. Overall, even though the workouts weren’t easy, I’m happy that I had the drive to keep pushing.
What I’ve Been Listening To
I am still happily tuning into anything supernaturally based for a lot of my runs. I started listening to the second season of Counter Clock, and I think I’m going to like it just as much as the first season. It’s covering another murder that happened in the Outerbanks, but this time the crime has been solved. Though there seems to be a lot of questioning on whether the right man has really been convicted. I also started listening to a more narrative-based series called “In the Red Clay.” It really reminds me of a somewhat narrated version of Hill Billy Elegy, and it focuses on the story of the Dixie Mafia. I’ve only listened to the first episode, but I really love the style.
What Went Well
That cool front brought me all sorts of good energy. This week was not an easy for me anxiety-wise, and I’m glad I listened to my intuition and still prioritized my physical health.
What Went Shitty
I had a really hard time with all of the ambiguity with our moving situation. Moving in general is rough for me. I HATE the process of being unsettled, but what doesn’t kill us, right?
Plans to Improve Next Week
Next week, I’m going to take a few deep breaths and try to just take things as they come.