Training to run 50 miles… the back to back long runs…hills….up tempo runs….strength and LOTS of water

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Running a long run and then running another the next day is not something I’d ever even thought of trying before I signed up for the VT 50.  Being a runner of the 70’s, the hard day/easy day mantra is well engrained in my planning.  Two hard days in a row?  How much sense does that make?

Well, apparently, the idea of running on tired legs makes a lot of sense.  When training for a distance almost twice as long as a marathon, it’s not feasible to double your training volume.  Using additional stressors such as altitude, humidity, heat, or even hills  to train the body to run through fatigue becomes the goal.

I don’t follow an absolute program, but I did outline my training goals to be sure I include the hills, strength, tempo, and endurance between now and September 27. VT50 has 8900 feet of climibing, and the descending can be as tiring as the ascending.  This week, Monday,  my buddies Nichole and Cindy met me at my house for 11.5  miles of ups and downs.  After a warmup mile, we ran a 2.6 mile loop that included hammering down the road for a mile, recovering slightly through a flat field and then power walking/jogging up an abandoned, rocky, steep, jeep path.  A quick drink of water at my driveway after each loop and off we’d go again.  The downhill is steep enough that I felt like a rockstar, dipping under 6 minute pace ocassionally, and the uphill reminded me that I’m no longer 30 years old and walking fast is challenging in itself!  By the 4th loop, our legs were rubbery and I knew that I would be thankful for the hand railing on our stairs the next day.    I wanted Tuesday to be a total rest day, so I added a 40 minute body weight strength circuit Monday focusing on balance, proprioception, and core.

Recovery is the key to adaptation and improvement.  Tuesday and Thursday were relative rest days.  Wednesday night was the last week of the wildly popular Bolton XC series, I decided that sandwiching a 2.4 mile, near race pace effort. into my 6 mile run would add the tempo component I needed.  Once I caught my breath and my heart rate recovered from it’s absolute maximum effort, I was glad that I had joined in the fun and taken the challenge of this local favorite.

Thursday was another near rest day,although I did take Maui for a 4 mile, hilly walk which helped both my legs and brain relax enough that I could get a good night sleep.  Sleep is my biggest obstacle- despite regular exercise and healthy nutrition, I often find it difficult to sleep.  Everything I read tells me how important it is TO sleep, but nothing has adequately told me HOW.  (and yes, I’ve tried melatonin, no computer/tv at night, cool sleeping room, meditation before bed, valerian, etc., etc)

SOOO– now I am finally to our big piggyback long run(s) of the week, maybe of this entire 4 week training cycle.  Friday morning I drove to West Hartford where I met, Christine,  the crazy woman who dared me to sign up for this race.  Another friend met at her house also and drove us 30 miles north to the MA line. On our way we dropped water and snacks at what would be about 14 miles and 21 miles.  Now all we had to do was find the trail head.

Metacomet Trail- MA/CT state line

Metacomet Trail- MA/CT state line

At least that’s what we thought, but within 200M the trail disappeared.  We went back and forth 4 times before finally finding a tiny break in the overgrown foliage.  We bushwacked through and came to the blue blazed Metacomet trail which traverses CT, and goes on up to Mount Monadnock in New Hampshire.  We jogged along at an easy, and always conversational pace.  6 miles into the run, I caught my toe on a root and found myself flat on my face.  Literally… blood and sweat dripping from one eyebrow, mud and bruises on both knees.  “OK… it happens, I have been really good about not falling but sometimes it happens”.  2 miles later, BOOM, down I went again.  What was going on?  I didn’t feel bad, we weren’t running too fast (although later analysis of my heart rate showed that maybe we did start a little fast).  After the 3rd face plant in less than 10 miles, Christine made me walk, relax, eat and try to refocus.  I wasn’t hurt, but my pride was damaged and I was frustrated with the idea that maybe I couldn’t do this race we’d been planning on.  We trudged ahead, and soon came to what appeared to be the end of the trail.  The Farmington River at Tarrifville Gorge was directly ahead of us, with no clear way across.  “Siri” came to our rescue and directed us on a 2.6 mile road jog to our first “rest stop” in the village of Tarrifville.  Quick texts home to let our husbands know we were “o.k.” and still planning on “date night” , refilling our hydration bladders, a couple more snacks and off we went in search of the trail south. Christine's tree

The next few miles were some of the toughest terrain.  Lots of rocks and roots, but I managed to stay on my feet.  There was a nice section of old road for a mile or two before we got to our next rest stop in Penwood Park.  The rangers at Penwood were kind enough to take our trash for us, and we were glad that they would also be able to enjoy the rest of our water and snacks.  We definitely over prepared, but better over than under!  Christine shared her de-fizzed coke with me.  I normally hate coke, but it tasted delicious and the caffeine gave us both such a boost that we talked each other into adding a couple of miles if it was “only” 30.   I think Christine spent the entire next several miles figuring out all the alternative routes we could take to end up in her front yard.  We cut through Reservoir 2, crossed 44 without getting hit by a car, then limped, ran, walked, and sprinted our way through the last few miles to her home.



A shower never felt so good!  Once we were clean and refreshed, we looked forward to date night with our guys.  One glass of wine and I was a bumbling mess, but of course once it was bed time, I couldn’t sleep.  Argh!

andover 10kNow for the “piggyback” part of this super training session.  Knowing that running 8 miles would be mentally very challenging, on Saturday Ken and I went to the Andover 10K, almost entirely run on the Hop River Trail.  He took off at the gun, but I was happy to be churning out consistent 8:20 miles!    Despite wearing my hydration vest, I was hot, thirsty, and shaky at the end- one more reminder of how important cool water is, and how fortunate we are to have access whenever we need it.

Notes: I drank over 200 ounces of water during the run on Friday.  I rehydrated with several glasses of water at dinner, and I was still thirsty!   It’s hard to imagine not having clean water.  If possible, please help in my campaign to raise money for “Clean water for HELO- Haiti”

I fueled almost entirely with UCAN.  A shake before my run, two home made UCAN gels and a snack bar during. No stomach issues.

I need new shoes.  I think part of my tripping problem was worn out shoes, and I will be headed to Fleet Feet West Hartford on Monday

Donate to HELO- Haiti:

#GenerationUCan, #HELO-Haiti, #runJanji, #thisiswhyIrun, #VT50, #FleetfeetWestHartford


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