Diving In.

In 12 weeks, we’ll be running our first 50K.

If you follow this blog or our Twitter account, you’ll know that this wasn’t the original plan but a reset after injury setbacks this summer.

Two weeks ago we ran a trail half followed in short order by a short vacation during a US holiday. We ran about 10 flat miles in Taipei and walked about another 40 over the course of the trip (our usual MO for travel). But I made a point of not worrying much about running mileage. In part, I wanted to allow for a little recovery because we always push a bit harder in races, even when it’s “just” a training run. I also didn’t want us to stress about time and distance while we were traveling—time differences, not sleeping in your own bed, and lots of time on feet are disruptive to the usual running routing.

So this is the week that it feels like we’re truly beginning ultra training. It feels weird, as if we’re training for something in 3 months that we had originally planned to take 6 months for. But really we’ve been building for a while, even after disruptions.

November was a little light on running mileage (89 mi with 8100′ elevation gain). But I think the long days on feet while in Taipei count for something too. Even though our long runs are still planned out in miles, I’m trying to keep the importance of time on feet in my mind’s eye. There are cutoff times for the 50K, but ultimately it’s about preparing to spend 10 hours moving.

Beyond time, I want to feel prepared for the vertical profile we’ll encounter. It’s not just about the cumulative gain and loss but the segments. Last month I pored over the CalTopo map of the course to figure out lengths and steepness of segments. There’s a bit of everything. We’ll ferret out trails that will cover some part of that variety each week.

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Something in my mind is wanting to get more comfortable running more hill, i.e. being able to keep a slow run pace up longer and/or steeper hills. I think Grand Ridge Half showed us that can happen—even though we weren’t fast, we found the ascents more runnable than we’d expected.

Despite these planned preparations, I’m taking a less regimented approach this time. We’ve mapped out the weekend long run distances based on a first 50K training plan. Beyond that, I’ve not written in any specifics. I’ve committed to 1-2 rest days per week, 2 weekdays running, and at least 1 strength training session. But I’ve not set distances or workout types for those weekday runs.

I recently did a couple of runs with the Brooks Trailhead Running Club. They’re a fast crew (go figure), so those have been tempo runs for me, and even that can leave me in the dust. But it’s a fun group and a time I like, so I might keep that up.

My other weekday run will likely aim to include hills, maybe occasionally intervals. I’m going to go with what feels right for the day.

The real key here: Don’t let myself get into my head too much and psych myself out.

Here we go.