Thursday, September 15, 2011

Training Notes: A Rookie Break through

Atop Old Rag Mountain in Syria, VA

I don't know if you are like me but when I am interested/passionate about something I immerse my self with reading, watching videos, listening to podcasts or just asking the veterans Questions about how it works, how to get better etc. Since starting this ultra running thing I have followed so many techniques and read so much. The most common thing i've read about training for ultra marathons is that no one technique works for everyone. In a nut shell, you have to try a lot of methods to build your stamina, pain tolerance, endurance, strength and anything else it takes to run longer than most people like to drive. In my reading I found a runner who has a philosophy that keeps coming back to my mind, Geoff Roes. Geoff has become one of my running hero's because of his laid back approach, I dont mean laid back as in lazy or "whatever man" he is no doubt a hard worker, the proof is in all the wins he has bagged over the years. Is Geoff my only hero? No, but when it comes to training I have found that the mind set he has or at least the one he talks about (I've never had a conversation about it with him, let alone met him) fits me perfect.

I have been trying all sorts of methods to get better: speed training, hill work, all trail, all road, 50/50, 70/30 you get the point. My biggest obstacle has been consistency, I would go hard and then get tired or worse, hurt, Until recently. I have been following the "Relentless Forward Progress" training program (this is not a mantra it's a book written by Bryon Powell, a great book at that so check out the link) I love this program, it gives me guidance, a set schedule, and motivation.  However good the program and however much I like it ,  I have been getting tired and  having a days worth of cold symptoms, then it goes and then it comes back. Given the stress I was having of making sure I get the run done no matter what and the cranky pants that comes when I don't get or even don't want to get it done, It was time for a tweak. The problem was that I didn't have a tweak in my holster, I haven't been doing this long enough. Behold a tweet from Geoff Roes. He had an article about consistency, but a different type of consistency than I have been having. This is a long term consistency rather than a, you guessed it,  short term. Rather than focussing on your day or week or even month, focus on your year or life. Think long term, if you push your self every day of every week, week after week then you will break down and then if you keep doing it you will break. I would like to say that this is what I took from the article you can read it yourself and take what you may. Think about running consistently for a year in a sense that, if you're not injured or broken you can take a beak when you get tired and unmotivated then pick it back up when your ready. the most important thing I took or interpreted from this is that you never have to run when you dont want to so therefore all your runs are invigorating and fun. Isn't fun the most important part of running? If you're not making money doing it, why be out on the trail miserable? I run for that child like sense of adventure, where it can take you and the things you can experience. From my own experience you cant run into a bear or a rattle snake running intervals around the track. You certainly cant strip down and jump into a cool natural pool after a run in your neighborhood.

The Pool - The Strip = Spared

For the past two weeks I have switched gears and began running when I felt like it and the thing I noticed is that I am not running less but running more and happier.  I do my long runs in the mountains on the weekend and they are getting easier or less hard (if it's easy you're not doing it right), my weekly runs have not been so regimented if I go out and feel like doing 10 or 12 miles mid week I do it, if I only feel like 3 then thats all I do. Another thing I noticed is that my millage in the past two weeks is higher than it has been and I feel better than I have ever felt. The interim weight I gained living back home has vanished. I am back down to my 50k PR weight. The funny thing about that, is that when I was down in weight and ran my PR I was training the same way but didn't realize it. I was just out there with my buddies Jake and Ben (who I hope will be ready for an even better time at Sylamore next year) just having a good time and if I did not feel like running there was always something else to do. I hope that I can hold on to this felling and have this consistency through out life because every time I lace up my shoes I want that grin of excitement to wash over me and I want to let it fly.... Or not!

Here is a link to Geoff's blog and the article he wrote on consistency Fumbling Towards Endurance


  1. Great article! Read Geoff's post last week and hadn't thought a whole lot about it. It does make a ton of sense what he was saying.

  2. Good read John! Glad to hear your having fun. Come see me sometime.

    Don, Ivy & Rex...

  3. Good for you John. If you ain't having fun, what's the sense.

  4. Amen kenny!!

    Don a visit to ya'll is in our hearts and minds its been rough and busy lately

  5. great post john. by the way, registration is open for sylamore, still looking for your name