Making A Commitment To A "New" Process!

“Running a marathon is a good challenge; running an ultramarathon demonstrates something else, something about us.” 
― Bryon PowellRelentless Forward Progress: A Guide to Running Ultramarathons

Training for marathons over the last several years and the changing my training style in a big way for the better (that led to my first BQ) just a few years ago, I have always trained with my eyes on the prize. The goal was to get this time or get that time. Every run, every day had a purpose and every run was with that end goal in mind!

Fartleks, Yasso 800's, Strides and interval work, etc.. it's all about the goal. It's all about the finish time.

For marathon training this is the process that ended up fitting me best. I have been committed to that process for the last 4 marathons! Three of which have been my best marathon times including a 3:19:38 at the Philly Marathon in November 2016, my current PR.

The process of my chosen marathon training regimen, specific and purposeful, gave me a reminder on each run of it's deeper purpose. And each run "looked" different on my Garmin report. Overall pace averages varied depending what I was doing... speed work, running easy or long or just out for my recovery run!

Again... this for me was an engagement into the process that I felt added constant improvement to my abilities as a marathon runner.

I worked the process and I believe the process worked for me.

But as I bring myself into week 11 of a 24 week 100 mile training plan, I'm starting to learn to think differently about my training, and committing myself to a NEW process of training (at least this time around)... one that can come as a shock to a marathon runner now training for an ultra distance of 100 miles.

No lofty time goal (really), only to FINISH!

And while I have to finish in 30 hours or less to get that coveted traditional award of a belt buckle, the process of how to get there is one that is very different from what I am used to, but must still be respected.

There is a lot of aspects of training for an ultra that differ from marathon training...

One of them... walking!

We don't walk in marathon training... EVER!  But this is a crucial aspect of ultra training!

Why? Well... Could I run 4 marathons in a row? Hell no I can't! As well as most people can't, unless they are an elite athlete... which I am not.

Run/Walking is a discipline and one that must be practiced. It will offer rest on the lungs, recovery of the muscles and joints  as well as allowing a faster pace during the run portion than if I was trying to run straight through. Walking is also going to allow time for eating between aid stations.

Which brings me to the other crucial aspect of Ultra training... EATING!!!

200 Calories per hour! Yup! Sounds easy, right? Nope!

The farther I go, the more chance I'll have of GI issues, the bigger chance I'll not want to eat when I know I should. The bigger chance that maybe.. I won't be able to keep food or liquids down.

Now while I cannot predict any of this at all.. I won't know how I'll feel throughout the race until I go through it and this being my first.. I am a complete newbie, a rookie that is sure to make rookie moves!

But I do know this.. I must be practicing eating solid food during my long runs and I must practice "keeping the tank full" as my buddy and 3 time 100 miler, Brian Burk would tell you.

Solid food consumption is not applicable during the marathon. Typically gels and hydration will get a runner to the finish line.

And Finally, while my marathon training can reach up to 50 miles a week and change at it's peak, It ramps up slowly building a base so that I arrive at that mileage safely and hopefully, without injury. The plan I chose for the ultra, a 70 mile week plan at it's peak, taken from the UltraRunning Book, "Relentless Forward Progress" by Byron Powell, (whom I quoted at the top of this blog post) Had us ramped up pretty quickly to big mileage. 38 miles the third week in and 48 on the fourth!

That's big numbers and one that requires the runner to have some sort of good base underneath them before starting to be able to sustain the wear, tear and impact the body is going to endure from moving up in mileage that quickly!

One of the differences about the "Saturday Long Run" in Marathons vs. Ultra's are that in marathon training a long run is followed by a recovery run. In Ultra training, a long run is followed by... another long run!! Just not AS long as the first one. This can seem overwhelming, especially as the the mileage continues to ramp up! I just try not to think about the numbers and just get out the door and knock it out! The real big numbers are just around the corner as I approach the back half of training.

So with all these changes and differences from marathon to Ultra training.. I need to embrace the process and enjoy each run for the distance and the time on my feet. Knowing still that, even though different from what I am used too, this event is not about speed, but the physical and mental capacity to cover a 100 miles within a 30 hour time-frame. I can expect ups and I can expect downs during the training along the way but they are still part of the journey that will most likely duplicate themselves somewhere along the course on race day!

I will be ready! (I hope) :)


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