I made an unintelligent decision. I don’t like the word “stupid,” so we’ll just call this week unwise timing. We moved from a third floor apartment to a two story home the same week as the peak in my 50 mile training plan. I know, I know. My forethought and skillful planning is just astounding. We weren’t initially supposed to move this week, but then after we bought our house we just knew there were a few things that would be easier to accomplish without furniture. Like painting. And replacing the carpet.
So we pushed our moving date back a couple of weeks, thinking it would be less stressful to get all of that done without being in the middle of it. And we were probably correct. However, after we got our final dates settled for when all of these projects would be done, and after we called and scheduled movers, I had the realization. Moving day fell exactly ONE DAY before my longest unsupported long run. And in the same week as my highest mileage (not counting my 100 mile training week adventure). Well, surely it wouldn’t kill me to do all the things all at the same time. Yes, here is where you may laugh at my hubris.
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No, it did not kill me to move and run at the same time. However, I would strongly advise against trying to pack up your entire life and get moved and unpacked on the same weekend that you intend to run somewhere between 45-50 miles in just two days. Generally, I would say this would fall in the “bad idea” category. But, oh well! I decided that we’d all survive, and somehow we all did, and there were only a few meltdowns and no real casualties. So I guess it could have been worse. Sunday through Wednesday of this week, my training was fairly typical. And in the evenings, I methodically packed up the things I didn’t think we’d need the following day, realizing almost every day that I actually use all of my things. That was a fun time.
On Thursday, I decided that it would be better for my team at work if I didn’t keep trying to do all the things. I was sort of becoming a nightmare of a human being trying to train, work, and move simultaneously. I had planned to take Friday off in advance, and decided that maybe I’d give everyone a break from dealing with me on Thursday afternoon as well. This gave me four extra hours to agonize over packing, and meant that I was only a nightmare of a human being to my family, who is used to my nonsense and loves me anyways. Bless them. My long suffering grandparents came and stayed with us Thursday evening until Saturday to help occupy our 7 year old, and prevent me from finding a child labor camp to sell him off to while we moved.
My husband spent most of the week overseeing different contractors and cleaning the new house and doing all of the other moving things I just couldn’t work into my schedule. Bless him. On Friday morning, I got in one more run on the roads in our neighborhood, and came back with just enough time to have a second cup of coffee and greet the movers. The rest of the day was a blur of up and down stairs, taking apart and putting furniture back together, and trying to figure out where all of the furniture would need to live. I’m so grateful that my dad was able to come and help with some moving stuff. I really do have a very supportive family, and this whole week would have been a complete horror story without their support. I’m happy to report that we are settled into the new house, the coffee maker has found it’s new home, and we are in the process of getting everything else unpacked.
In terms of training, here’s what a 50 mile training plan peak week looks like, minus a ridiculously planned move.
50 Mile Training Plan Peak Week
The last big week of a 50 mile training plan is the final opportunity to get your body and mind ready to run. For a very long time. It will likely be your highest mileage week, unless you are throwing some 50k’s into your training plan here and there (which I recommend). It can be challenging and lead you to question your ability to run for the better part of a day, or it can be exciting and give you the final boost of confidence to show up for race day. Hell, over the course of the week, you might experience both of those cycles. Here’s what you can expect from any 50 mile training plan.
At this point in your training plan, it’s fairly likely that your weekday mileage is pretty set. For most runners who are not professional athletes, there is just a limit to how many miles you can squeeze in around work, family, or school obligations. So for peak week, your weekday mileage will probably be around the highest point of what’s possible for you, time-wise. The weekend, though, will likely be a different story. You’ll have your two final back to back long runs. And don’t be surprised if both days boast higher mileage than any of the weeks previous.
My training plan gave me a range of 23-27 miles for the first long run, followed by 10-15 miles for the second. A pretty solid amount of miles to cover in one weekend, no matter what side of the range you choose. I ended up running a marathon on Saturday, followed by a half-marathon on Sunday. The road runner in me was proud. Be prepared for those last two long runs to feel tough. You’ve spent months logging mile after mile on the same two legs, and at this point, they should be good and ready for a bit of break. Same rules apply to your feet, knees, ankles, and pretty much every other body part you can think of. It’s not likely that your weekly mileage will sky rocket from the weeks prior, but at this point you will feel every little uptick in mileage.
So even if you’ve run within 2-5 miles of your overall mileage, don’t be surprised if those extra steps feel like they are straight up the side of Mt. Everest.
Lots of Food
While the miles may be painful or fatiguing, one part of race peak week that does not suck is all the extra eating that is required to run those extra miles. Under absolutely no circumstances should you use this week as an attempt to restrict calories or diet. I mean, I generally don’t recommend either of those things on any week, but during peak week, these things are ABSOLUTELY PROHIBITED. You need to fuel your body to run all those miles and recover from them.
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This doesn’t mean you need to eat half a cake every night after a pasta dinner. I mean, I’m not gonna tell you not to do that, but it’s not required. I would recommend the conventional wisdom of trying to make sure about 80% of your caloric intake is made up of natural, whole foods that will help your body make use of your training. Be an adult and try to get in a good amount of vegetables, fruit, whole grains, and meats, along with those Reese’s pumpkins that no one should every turn down. And don’t forget about rehydrating and electrolytes. Even if you’re training during colder months, you’re still sweating. So salt the food, drink the water, and you’ll feel just a little less depleted.
Focus on Recovery
Unless you are a uniquely blessed individual, running anywhere from 60-100 miles in one week will take a tole on your body. And running two back to back long runs is not a good time for someone who hasn’t focused on recovery. During this final push, you’ll need to be very intentional about stretching after your runs, warming up and cooing down appropriately, and working out any area’s of lactic acid buildup. As tempting as it may be to sit down on the couch and do nothing more than peruse the Netflix catalog after your first long run, you need to move around a little bit throughout the day to keep from getting too stiff.
Break out all the recovery tools that you’ve stocked away in your running arsenal. Things like compression socks, ice wraps, massage guns, and foam rollers. Use all of these things like your life depends on it. Because really, by your second long run, it kind of does. And don’t forget about the importance of getting good sleep in these final training days. This is not the week to balance big birthday parties, family reunions, or things like, I don’t know, a major move. Try to dedicate this final week to training and recovery as much as possible. After all, you’re almost done, and life can go back to being what you consider “balanced” very soon.
Race Day Dress Rehearsal
This week you’ll have two final opportunities to practice your race day strategy. This means you should practice everything you’d do on race weekend to make sure everything flows the way you need it to. So, set out all your running gear the night before, eat your pre-race breakfast, and take the same kinds of fuel you plan on using during race day. This serves a couple of functions. It allows you to make sure everything you plan to use on race day will work for you. Things like running clothes, your hydration pack, and fueling options. It also will give you some peace of mind that you’ll have some sort of muscle memory and plan for race day.
Since your second long run of the week will probably be significantly shorter than your longest long runs, you might be tempted to take a more relaxed approach. But the whole point of that second long run is to replicate the second half of the race. The part where you’re running on tired legs and swollen feet. So stay intentional, and work on things like using caffeine for the final push and your mental strategies to keep moving when what you really want to do is lie down on the side of the trail until an alarmed hiker calls for help.
One of the unique factors of ultra-marathon training is the problem-solving that is involved in surviving the race. It’s hard to practice and replicate that kind of thing beforehand, but practicing all of the variables that you can control will help free up your brain to problem-solve when something unforeseen comes along.
And most importantly, throughout this week, look for evidence that you are strong enough to take on an ultramarathon. You might think this is silly. You might be a lot more skilled at seeing all of the red flags that might mean running all day is going to be really hard. But you find what you’re looking for, and this is the BEST time to recognize all of the things you’ve done to help you be a stronger racer. So pat yourself on the back when you’re able to refill your reservoir without taking it out of your vest, or you can balance on one leg to get rocks out of your shoe, or you can still stomach a pb&j that has been smashed beyond recognition in the depths of your pack. All of the little things that help you recognize your internal grit and strength. Those things are important and worth recognizing. So use this week to do that!
This Weeks Workouts
Total Miles: 78.2
Total Workouts: 3
50 Mile Training, Week 19
How the Runs Felt
There was a whole lot of running this week. Half-marathon Sunday’s resumed, and I was back on the Leon Creek greenway for miles that were easy on my legs after last weeks 24 mile trail mile long run. Tuesday was my speed workout for the week, and this week I shortened the recovery period back to one minute. My cousin met up with me again this week, which helped the repeats go by faster. The workout honestly didn’t feel too rough, and I felt really good afterwards. Some weeks these speed workouts nearly kill me, so I appreciated the brief reprieve from death experiences. Wednesday was my typical 8 mile loop out on the trails near our home.
I decided to do my hill workout Thursday, since I knew that we would be moving on Friday. I honestly felt really good during the run, which surprised me a little since I was expecting to feel a little more run down by this point in my high mileage week. I did an 10 miler on Friday before the moving fun began. My legs were pretty close to lifeless from the deadlifts on Thursday. We made it through, but I had a hard time getting them to turn over, even though we were on the roads. The rest of Friday was spent moving, and I was expecting my long run to be a complete shit show after everything Friday.
I decided that meeting up with some other runners was my best shot at not bailing, so I met up with some ladies from a local FB running group. I’m not usually someone who reaches out or tries to meet up with others, but I’m really glad I did this week. Having some company for 12 miles really helped me focus on things other than being on my feet for 4+ hours. I also decided that running on some flatter trails might help this week, so I drove out to McAlister Park, which has a 7 mile loop that doesn’t involve too much up and down. Those two decisions are probably the only things that kept my run on the tracks this weekend. Once I was running solo at mile 13, I decided to just go for broke and run a marathon.
My feet were swollen and tired for the last 5k, despite the soft trail. But the rest of me felt pretty good. Was I a little tired and stiff? Definitely. Would I have felt a little better if I hadn’t been walking up and down flights of stairs the day before? Almost certainly. Was I still really impressed that my legs and hips held up for a full trail marathon after taking 29,079 steps the day before (according to my Garmin)? HELL YES. I know that I’ll be running double that distance in a couple of weeks, and it’s intimidating, but being able to run a marathon outside of any sort of race has me feeling really confident in my ability to make it happen. I’m sure I’ll be questioning myself in a couple of days, but for now I’m going to just enjoy it.
How the WODs Felt
This week, I only worked out three times, which is less than a usual week. I figured getting in to the gym would be more difficult, with moving being a pretty big time commitment and all. And wouldn’t you know, I wasn’t wrong! All of my workouts this week felt good, and I liked the variety of movements in the different WODs. I counted moving as my fourth workout of the week, and I have zero bad feelings about it.
What I’ve Been Listening To
I finally finished the Billionaire Boys Club, which was very interesting, but ended a little uneventfully, in my opinion. I started a new true crime series called True Crime Reporter. It’s about a serial killer who was let out of prison in Texas, and he not surprisingly continued killing. It always feels a little more relevant when you’re listening to something that happened in a place close to home. I’m also still loving Paper Ghosts and going through old episodes of True Crime Junkie.
What Went Well
I got through peak week and moving without dying or killing anyone else, and that all by itself is a full win.
What Went Shitty
I didn’t do a great job of stretching/rolling out my calves this week. They were ridiculously tight for the last part of the week, and it was not easy to start walking around after sitting for any decent period of time.
Plans to Improve Next Week
Next week, I’m going to keep my mileage and intensity pretty steady. After my shorter long run on Saturday, I will officially be in full taper mode.