Sunday, January 17, 2016

2016: The Speed Returns!

Those of you who have been running for more than 6 days know that ramping up is tough.  Some aspects of a running ramp are easier than others, but they all involve some form of discomfort.  Normally, increasing weekly mileage is tough, but not as discomforting as increasing your long run.  This is true in part because increasing weekly mileage can be done in several ways and the "pain" can be spread across 7 days.  For example, running 5 days per week instead of 4 is relatively easy.  There are still 2 rest days and adding a 3K run on what was previously a rest day; not overly demanding.  Don't get me wrong, some weekly increments must be epic struggles.  I cannot fathom how elite athletes add an 8th training session to their weekly regime.  The LMRC's (Leg Muscle Recovery Centres) must be truly pissed.  They no longer have 20ish hours in which to perform recovery, but must be ready for another bout in 8 hours!

However, the first time you increase your long run from 28K to circa 32K, your entire body lets you know it is not happy.  At all.  Even after years of ramping up in the Spring, the long run ramp is the one I dread.  Forget sore leg muscles, everything is sore.  Oh, you forgot to apply lube to certain areas of your body?  What a wonderful conversation piece!  I hate experiencing, but love watching runners who are out on a long run and have forgotten to bring electrolyte.  They are shuffling along at the speed of a brisk walk, but the expression on their face indicates a struggle of magnitude to maintain the pathetic pace.

Speed work is a different animal altogether.  In my twenties, I used to look forward to speed work, in preparation for the rugby season.  I was young, relatively uninjured and running had very little resistance.  As you age and accumulate chronic injuries, something horrific happens to your pace.  Instead of 1 or 2 aches and pains, every muscle in your legs and torso hurt.  The resistance is alarming.  Maintaining what I used to consider a recovery pace, takes real effort!  Speed work is no longer uncomfortable, it is downright painful.  In my mid-forties, I experienced a plethora of injuries.  In retrospect, I believe this happened because I was training for 50K's instead of 10K's.  This required aggravating old injuries at the same time that I was incurring new running injuries.  When you are struggling to train with a bad back, bad knees and a broken neck, developing Plantar Fasciitis can greatly affect the speed and distance of your training runs,  Running a 50K (or DNF'ing) with insufficient training is tricky.  Speed work went out the window.  Forget quality sessions, I was striving simply to get in some mileage.

My hope for 2016 is that the base I have built since retirement in 2014 will allow me to try some speed work.  I fervently hope that at the end of 2016, I am not posting about the difficulties of increasing speed in your late 50's!

Plans for 2016

No, I have not seriously pondered my goals for 2016.  That only happens when I write this post!

As mentioned above, I will incorporate speed sessions.  I envision the sessions will be weekly, starting on the treadmill during the winter.  This will provide the option of stopping at any moment, without having to walk home in the deep freeze.  I will use the concept developed in France a few years back, which is to run for 4 minutes at about your 5K race pace, then one minute recovery pace.  I like this concept because my current 5K "race pace" is around 6 minute kilometres.  It should be easy at the start!


This is not set in stone, but more of a wish list.  Again for 2016, I plan to focus on the local ultra races, but am eyeing a few in exotic locals, such as Quebec...

Spring Warm-up   April 16

Not a race, but I have to be there, so why not run?  Hope to run 39K (3 loops).

Pick Your Poison 50K   April 30

Why not?  Yes, it is a rude and unpleasant wake up call, but I enjoy the course and I need a long run in late April.

Sulphur Springs 50M   May 28

If everything goes according to plan, I will attempt my second 50 mile race.  Sulphur is an easy trail course and 4 loops of 20K will provide some familiarity during the later stage of the race.  My hope is to get a more respectable finishing time, but realistically, I will probably be struggling to finish.

Niagara Ultra 50K   June 18

I expect Lee Anne will be signing up for the 100K, so I might as well run a short little 50K.  Seriously, I have doubts about finishing 50K four weeks after a 50 miler, so there is a chance I am volunteering instead of racing.

Canadian Skyrunning Festival  22K Skyrace   June 25  Mont Albert, QC

Fitting this into "the schedule" will not be easy, unless we take a 2 week road trip to include this race (500K NE of Quebec city), Ottawa and Limberlost.  I would like to state for the record that recovery is utterly overrated!  Since Creemore is now part of the Canadian Skyrunning series, I would like to visit a brother race.  Don't let the short distance fool you.  The 22K has almost as much vertical as the CVC 50K.

Ottawa Ultra  50K    July 2

This race hinges on what I do at Niagara.  Lee Anne might not run 100K at Niagara, but run 24 hours here, depending on her goals.  I would prefer to race Limberlost, which would mean that I don't run in Ottawa.  Decisions, decisions, decisions...

Limberlost  56K   July 9

Obviously running 56K at TLC will only happen if I don't run in Ottawa.  I would like to try the "grown-up" race distance.  For those of you who have not been to TLC, 56K is a LONG race.  in 2015, only 6 people ran it in under 7 hours!

Dirty Girls  12 hour Day  July 23

I have unfinished business at DG.  In 2015, my race was a textbook example of ignoring all the warning signs.  I need to revisit this race to put the demons to bed.  Expect disaster here again, in 2016.

Creemore Vertical Challenge  0K  August 6

I hope to get in 0K.  Last year, due to bear activity on the trail, I ran up and down a section of trail that I cut DURING the race, in order to divert runners away from some angry wasps.  Their nest had been ripped out of the ground and strewn along the course.  Ask the 75K runners regarding fond memories of their first loop.

Haliburton  50K   September 10

If Lee Anne goes back to help Sharon volunteer at the 40K aid station (#7), I will run the 50K, then help them.  Last year, I somehow thought I could run 50 miles, then volunteer.  I did not factor in being close to death after the 50 mile race...

Horror Trail  6 hour   October 29

I DNS'd this race in 2015, so again, some unfinished business.  I would also like to be present for the OUTRace awards.

2016:  Good Luck!

That's it.  Probably more than I can embrace in a single calendar year, but plans are adjustable and I expect to make alterations.  So, good luck with whatever you are planning for 2016.  Don't limit yourself to what is plausible or practical.  Reach for the sky and once in a while you will see the stars.

8% No Limit

Just a heads up on a documentary that will be circulating soon.  Rhonda-Marie Avery, a runner with 8% vision, ran the Bruce Trail in August 2014.  Yes, the whole 885K, in 20 days.  I cannot conceive of the struggle she endured, running along cliffs, over such technical terrain, while exhausted and with little vision.  For details on the film, please check out the website:


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