Sunday, April 17, 2011

Mad Recovery

Now that I've had a week to let my race at the Mad City 100k to sink in, I wanted to talk a little about my recovery and offer some more thoughts on my training leading up to the race.  But first, a few things I missed in my race report...

I wanted to say a big thanks to Mad City race director Tim "Timo" Yanacheck and all of the volunteers who helped make the race a great success.  It was a VERY well organized event.  It is obvious that Timo is passionate about the sport of competitive ultra running.  He did everything within his power to make sure all the championship contenders had to worry about was running fast.  I also wanted to thank Bill Thom, webmaster and head timer for Mad City, for graciously allowing us to use the pictures he took at the start/finish line.  Credit for most of the action shots in my race report belongs to him.

Recovery this week has been good, but different from what I consider normal.  I started with 6 miles of shuffling on Sunday and Monday and gradually built up to 10 miles today, and hit 55 miles for the week.  A few days completely off probably wouldn't hurt, but this approach has worked the past 4 years, so I think I'll keep doing it.  As long as you aren't injured in some way, I believe a little very easy running helps clean out and loosen up the legs.  Today (Sunday, 8 days after the race), I finally felt relatively normal as I was able to average 6:50 pace for 10 miles with no unusual aches or pains.  Maybe still a little tight, but nothing to worry about.  While the legs weren't completely locked down like they were after my first couple road marathons, I feel like the total recovery process took a bit longer on the whole and was accompanied by some achiness that I've never before experienced.  I don't guess it's too terribly surprising this is the case considering the road 100k is kind of a long race.

But, I expect to be able to run a little speed workout on Tuesday in an effort to get some turnover back in the legs before the Flying Pig Marathon - which is in 2 weeks.  Definitely not ideal timing, but I feel like it's time to make my Cincinnati road racing debut.  I'll write more about that next weekend.

Back to some thoughts on Mad City.  Well, really thoughts on my training and preparation for the 100k and how that worked out for me on race day.  I mentioned in my race report that my legs never really felt all that great and I battled early cramps in my calves.  I think this is a direct result from going on a ski trip a month out from Mad City and the weeks of running that I bookended the trip with.  

First, let me say that I don't regret the ski trip.  With my wife's resident schedule, we had to plan the ski trip almost a year in advance, well before I knew how the JFK 50 mile would turn out.  And that performance is what led me to the US 100k championships and a chance to qualify for the US 100k team.  Plus, skiing is one of the few activities that I love enough to occasionally sacrifice my running.  So I ran a 100 mile week (in singles) before the ski trip, ran 65 miles during the ski trip with 6 of 7 runs above 8000' plus a visit to Magnolia road, then came back and ran another 100 mile week immediately following the ski trip.  That left me with 3 weeks to taper.  The weekend that capped off my final 100 mile week before tapering began I ran 27 mi Saturday followed by 20 mi Sunday.  Those were my longest ever back-to-back training runs.

In hindsight, that probably wasn't the best approach.  The legs were already stressed from the ski trip and then I tried to pack in some last minute training.  My first two weeks of taper felt more like I was recovering from over-doing it rather than taper.  I also started doing some of my track workouts in my racing flats.  This was just another change that my calves didn't need.  The week before the race, the legs finally started to feel recovered, but some tightness in my hammys and knots in my calves lingered.  I feel like this is what ultimately led to my legs not feeling so great and why my quads seemed to carry more of the load than normal. 

I want to be clear that had my legs been 100%, I still would not have been able to beat Henshaw.  His performance was on another level.  And I wouldn't have taken the risks necessary to even attempt to run that fast.  But I do think I have the ability to run faster than I did.  I am very confident in my aerobic fitness right now, but I feel like my legs need to be stronger to be able to maximize my potential over the 100k distance.  That's what the training plan this summer will be about. 

A couple links of media coverage:

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