Last week I ended the second week of my 50k training program with my first proper LSD run. In running, LSD stands for Long Slow Distance run. They are embraced and used in both marathon and ultramarathon plans, but the ultramarathon. From what i can tell the difference is that ultra plans have the LSD run as the cornerstone of the workout and often these runs hover in the range of 18 to 26 miles and have a follow up run on the next day. In my first week I had to modify my plans and I ended up doing two tenish mile trail run days. I realized though that if I wanted to be ready for November I had to do the miles on my schedule and that there was a reason for the distances. This weekend I really focused on making this workout count and I managed to get an 18 mile trail run on Saturday and a 5 mile road run on Sunday. After completing this weekend workout I understand now why I need to run these long runs, to get used to running for long periods of time, and to build and grow my running base.
Saturday: Iron Hill Trail Red Top Mountain
The heat and humidity has been rough for me this year and this usually finalizes my training course. At Red Top Mountain State Park there is a non-technical 3.5 mile loop that I found works well for long runs on hot days. Each loop I can stop at my car, refill water and eat some snacks. I chose the same variety of snacks offered at most ultra aid stations just to get my body used to real food on a run. Additionally I tried to continue to replenish myself with gels as well, as these carbohydrates are supposed to be fast acting. Basically the back of my car had Chocolate Muffins, Cheetos, Tortillas and honey, Cheese Crackers, Gells, Energy Wafers and Ho Hos as well as almonds and protein bars. Long runs are not healthy eating times for me and I experimented with a variety of foods.
The first couple of loops were not too bad. Each lap I grabbed some crackers, maybe had something sweet and grabbed a gel for two miles later. After a couple of laps I found myself stuffing my pockets with extra food. I then started to eat and run simultaneously as the hunger grew with each lap, often running while wolfing down crackers or an energy wafer and eventually a gel. By the time I got to mile 15 I was beginning to feel famished.
One big change for me on this run was that I decided to try and extend my walk run ratio. In the past I relied on 1:30: 00:30 run to walk ratio and on longer runs I used a straight 1:1. I had started to play with a 2:1 ratio earlier in the week and found it felt like I was able to get to a pace and just hold it. I decided to try to use a 3:1 ratio on this run. This ratio worked well and I only started to tire by mile 17 and 18 using this ratio. Next long run I might try a 4:1 ratio.
Sunday 5 Road Miles
My running plan called for a five mile follow up on Sunday. This run is expected to be an easy run on dead legs that is supposed to prepare the legs for hours of running when they are tired and sore and when every other plan calls for rest after a long run. This run was hard! I stuck to a 3:1 ratio and every step i could feel the muscle in motion. Honestly this might have been one of the hardest runs I have ever done. In the end I ran the 5 miles and it difficult every step of the way.
- 3: 1 run to walk ratio worked really well and I actually bested many of my times on this trail.
- I was able to run the entire 18 miles even though it got more of a force funeral march after 15 miles. I understand now why running such high miles is important in this training… in a Marathon you just need to get to 20 miles and then push through the last six, in an Ultra your base needs to be well over twenty miles.
- Still slow, but I am feeling stronger with each run.
- I was wearing my new Salomon Fell Raisers. I absolutely love these shoes, they are a beast.
The Bad or Things that Need Figuring
- Biggest thing was food. For 18 and maybe 20 miles I will be ok, but I ended up running too big of a deficit. I was probably replenishing 500 calories an hour leaving an 500 calorie deficit. Over five hours this meant i was deprived by 2500 on estimate. Also, my body was craving a meal by the end.
- I had some issues with running out of water early as the day got hotter. In November this will not be as big of an issue.
- Cramps – after I finished my run I got home and suddenly my adductor (groin muscle) started to fiercely cramp up. I have been told to drink some pickle juice or a mustard packet. Also need to immediately stretch more before moving on.
- Still slow (more on this later)
Overall this was a great weekend of training that will only get harder as the weeks fade into November and my race. I think its positive that I was able to run 18 trail miles without the heavy desperation and desire to quit I previously experienced when pushing this distance on the road. As will be the case from now to November I have some issues that I need to work on and in the upcoming weeks I will have greater training distances so there will be time to practice. Only three months to go and all I can do now is follow the program. Til next time.