Ultra Training while on Business Trips

Did I mentioned I signed up for a 6 hour race? Yeah. So October has been dedicated to training for that. I had a pretty solid base built up from over the summer since I did a majority of my running on trails. My week-day milage was good so I’ve been focused on maintaining that and building my long-runs.

However, I knew I would have a bit of a challenge with maintaining that weekly milage through October as I would be away on 2 trips for work, and not just any trips, conferences. Anyone who has ever been to a conference will tell you these are not ideal conditions to be training in. From the early morning to late nights and the food being served to the steady stream of free alcohol, your body is not getting treated well. I was at these conferences for work, not as an attendee. An attendee trying to maintain their training and good diet has a lot more flexibility, they have the ability to skip the evening activities and have plenty of more options to get in their training. As a sponsor working the event, you have obligations to attend all the networking opportunities. This means you’re up early to join breakfast, lunch is always a rushed affair as expo-times are during lunch so you’re shoving food down in a hurry to get back to your booth so one of your co-workers can hurry off and get their food. The same thing occurs again at dinner for evening expo receptions. Which also run late, but your day is not done there as after parties take place. You’re not necessarily obligated to go to these but well they’re generally a lot of fun and a good opportunity to relax a bit with some new friendsĀ and well, free booze!

These translate to late nights which lead right back in to your early morning to head over to breakfast. In a nutshell, working a conference means you are on the clock 24 hours a day.

How did I get my training in? Well, 2 conferences and 2 very different experiences.

The first was in Tampa Florida, I was able to get a 6k run in our first evening there since we did not go to any after parties. And then that was it from there. The next day there was zero free time on our schedule for me to split off and get a run in, and the incredibly late night meant I was exhausted for the rest of the conference. I did have an opportunity on Thursday but with long hours, little sleep, and hot florida temperatures, I had zero motivation to head out on a run at 4pm.

After party in an aquarium though!

To add insult to injury, after returning home from Tampa around midnight Friday night I had to be up very early to work a MEC even Saturday morning. So Saturday’s run was missed as well as I was far too exhausted to get out. Sunday I did get out but my body was still feeling worn down so I only managed 20 of my planned 32k, better than nothing!

I had a week at home to get back on track and then I was off again to Seattle for another conference. Arriving in Seattle Tuesday afternoon I opted for a nap instead of a run, I’d been up since 4:30 am to catch my flight and had an evening of networking to get through. With the early morning and the Eastern time to Western time I was spent and went to bed early. BUT that meant I was up early Wednesday and was able to head out for a 5.5k run through the city before breakfast.

This conference had a lot more flexibility for me as our hotel was beside the conference centre and we had a break in the afternoon between expo hours and being in much cooler and nicer Seattle meant I was more than happy to head out for a run at 4pm so I was able to get in 2 runs that day.

Thursday I was up early again but not as early, and I knew I’d have time in the late afternoon so I didn’t bother dragging myself out for another morning run. But as I said I had time again at 4pm to get in a run.

Fridays are typically my rest days but I did consider going out for a morning run if I was up. I did wake up in time but morning Jessica isn’t a very agreeable person and so I stayed in bed a little longer and didn’t get a run in.

Conferences = so much super healthy food. Grilled donut with ice cream and sugar

It’s definitely a challenge to get in proper training while at a conference, you need to be incredibly flexible and know that you’re not going to be able to hit you usual milage without sacrificing something major. For me at the first conference, I opted to just enjoy my time at the event and not stress about squeezing something in. If my hotel had been closer, the weather cooler, or if I’d felt like running on a treadmill, I probably could have squeeze in another run but I felt getting in a 5k wasn’t going to do much for me at that point and to just try to rest when I could. You’re on your feet all day for these things already. For the second conference things just worked out a lot better for me and I was able to get some more runs in. Essentially the opposite of what held me back in Tampa worked out here with a close hotel, nice temperatures and a time change that worked well for training, less well for conference things.

Canada > Tampa, fall running with the MEC crew!

In any case, I did what I could and don’t have any guilt over the lower milage these weeks made. I’ve had a couple solid long runs and will be doing my last tomorrow before the 6 hour event in 2 weeks. I’m feeling good ready to see what I can pull off in 6 hours!

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Coughing up a storm

I return to Canada after a work trip to San Diego (beautiful! Got a couple runs in there :)) and a few days later, sore throat. I am currently still fighting this nasty cough and cold so that’s put a big damper on my return to training. 2 weekends now I’ve had to cut out a long run. I’m still running, but since it’s so much in my chest breathing is not great and the cold air only makes it worse (could be worse though it’s been above freezing still so far this year!!) . Since the breathing is laboured my pace has gone to shit which then throws any ideas of speedwork out the window as well.

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But happily my milage is getting back to norm, I will be increasing it more once I’m healthy but I’m still getting in a good amount (last 2 weeks were about 35k) without having anything terribly long in there. Probably shouldn’t be running this much at all but I can’t stand missing workouts so I just suffer through.

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One of my #RunChatHunt finds so far, Olaf! For selfie with a snowman

And I’m participating in #RunChatHunt once again so I’ll be putting up a post for that once I have them all. Though I’m not sure if I will be able to get all 12 this time around.

Peak Week Blues

Training was going too well, it was bound to happen. For every super amazing run you will have an equally opposite awful run. Bam, Bam, Bam, I had 3 in a row.

One was my 36km long run.

Guess how well that went?

0% well.

My legs forgot how to run. My mind didn’t want to run. One you can push through, it’s very very difficult to push through both of those. Especially when you’re suppose to do so for 36km. So I made it to 10… Looks like we’re extending training!

I could skip it all together. But a last long run 4 weeks out from my Marathon will definitely fuel my internal doubts come race day. So I’m now super glad I had this 1 week buffer of pre-taper. Attempt number 2 of 36km will happen Sunday. I was going to do 25k anyways so what’s 11 more?

Also apparently I’m running 6 days this week. I don’t even know it just happened. I was going to take a rest day yesterday but with no long run I went for a run anyways. Still going to run today. Tomorrow will be a rest day and then I’m going to throw in a run Friday too because I hate taking 2 days off in a row. Aaand of course I’ll be running all weekend. 4 days in a row of running (hoping tonight’s will break my streak of awful runs…) rest, 3 days. THEN TAPER IS ON!

Considering my total lack of motivation this week and my desire to not run any miles when I should be running all the miles. Probably means next week I’ll be super high energy and wanting to run 16k every day. But it will be taper and I cannot. What shitty timing.

18 days until Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon!! Ahhhhhh

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The day I fell in truly madly deeply in love

One year ago, I participated in my first 10k race and my second race ever. By this point I was in the middle of training for a half marathon and my long runs were up to 13k already. That did not stop how nervous I was for this race, I could have been sick, I considered not even going.

But on a drizzling Saturday morning I showed up at Hamilton Bayfront Park, [kind of] ready to go for MEC Burlington Race 4.

The race started and we’re going fast. I caught up in the crowd full of very speedy racers (seriously the MEC racing crowd is intimidatingly fast) 1km in and I’m gasping for air. I’m slowing down and people are still wizing by me. Check my watch I’m running at a 5 minute pace. Let’s talk about how my self predicted race pace that day was a 7min/km. I’m not that fast now, I was definitely not that fast then.

But something magical was happening that morning. I slowed down to a slightly more reasonable pace (6:20ish I believe) but my mind still felt I would not be able to hold that pace, logically it was right, I’d never run anything close to that before. So I spent the majority of the race telling myself to slow down. But I never really listened much.

I hit the final turn around and with 2k left to go I end up putting everything I had in to this race. I couldn’t breathe but I kept going anyways.

I finished the race in 1:05:56.

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Look. At. That. Face. That right there is pure 100% genuine joy. This was not a smile through the pain there's a camera moment. This is as honest as they come.

When your goal was a 1:10:00 and you finish 4 minutes under. Well, you pretty much end up wanting to cry (seriously, it took a lot of restraint not to cry). I can’t even fully express the emotions that were going on when I finished. Even now a year later it’s overwhelming to think about. The pride in myself was huge and I was just so happy.

I have not since experience a runners high quite like that one. I don’t know how it all came to be, everything align perfectly I guess, I’ve had similar shockingly good performances since but none that left me in that state. From that moment on I was fully hooked and completely in love.

This is why runners do what they do, to chase feelings like that over and over. It’s why they call it an addiction, a drug. Because those highs are like nothing you will ever experience, and no high is ever quite the same, but you’ll keep trying to find your way back to that great one anyways.

Trail Cross

I signed up for Trail Cross a couple months ago and time just got away from me and now we’re less than two weeks out and I still haven’t talked about this really cool event!

If you’re a Winter Olympics fan you will have heard of Ski Cross and Snowboard Cross, or if you know Crashed Ice as well. Trail Cross is like that, but for trail running instead. It’s a short course (only 1-2 km) so runners of all abilities as well as non runners can all compete in this event.

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There’s events across the country but I’ll be participating at the Burlington Ontario event. And as luck has it, the event is being held at City View Park/Kernclif Park, the very location the MEC trail group meets every Thursday.

What to Excpet

The event starts at City View which means the first bit of the course will be on flat wood chip trail. But that’s the last of flat you’ll be meeting. Though the course map will not be revealed until race day, the route will head down into the Kerns (or Bruce side trail and then Kerns) trails. There are a few access points that can be used but all have 1 thing in common, downhill, steep and long. All but 1 access point are nice wide groomed trails. The final is narrow and unevan (has 2 levels) so bit more technical and you’ll need to watch your footing. Once down in to Kerns, no matter were we end up, it was be constant hills (enough to make many MEC runners groan when we do these trails, but you’ll find runners a big group of babies most of the time, these hills are actually nice, some of us cheer about running them), the trails are pretty wide (easier for passing) and groomed but there still the odd tree root to watch out for.

To get back out, well maybe we’ll climb one of the big long steep uphills, these hills out will make you want to curse constant prophabities, no hill you encounter within Kerns will compare to the ones leading out.

Another option I think would be a great route for this course, the rock climb out. These ‘steps’ are big and would definitely appeal to the crossfitters this race also targets. This is not the easy way out, there is no easy way out. Whatever route it chosen, the end is going to suck, suck alot. But then you’ll be out. And the ground will finally be flat again. And you’ll be done… Ready to do it all again! Because this is a heat style event and all racers, even if you come last, get the chance to run it again to see if they can fight their way to the front after knowing the route. Or if they’ll fall to the back after having exhausted themselves in the first heat.

This is a mental, strategic game more than anything. The short course means you can take it a top speed and don’t need to be a distance runner to participate. But the hills and repeats mean you gotta hold back, and find ways to make the most of your recovery between heats. Distance runners have an initial disadvantage over crossfitters or shorter distance runners because we’re not speedy and don’t spend much time training for those short bursts, but remember we’re built for endurance so we may just come up from behind ;).

Learn more and sign up today and use discount code TRAILX20 to get 20% off.

See you there!

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