So as I read through a few recent blog entries from Sherpa John from Human Potential and gIANt from Trail Monster Running, concerning their recent winter ultra running adventures, I was left with the question, "How exactly do these guys do it?".
Obvious there is a lot of toughness and mental fortitude involved in making an attempt at a long jaunt through snow, slush, and ice, as in any ultra in any season, but I continue to wrestle with the thought or question of "when is one ready?".
I recently re-read a chapter from Breakaway Books "Running Through The Wall", specifically the chapter where an ultra runner recalls her first experience training for and running the infamous Holiday Lake 50k++ in Virginia. Part of her story recalls the fact that she had been training and did her final long training run, a three to four hour run, a week prior to the race. Obviously this strategy goes against the traditional training plan philosophy of build and taper. I also look at athletes like gIANt and Sherpa John that seemingly don't have formal training plans, and when it comes to ultras they will give it a whirl.
So last weekend, as I was on a two-hour training run through the woods and over the ice and the snow, I was thinking about how crappy my winter training has been with the IT Band issues. Conventional wisdom would suggest I am not fit enough for a two hour training run, but I had an itch to get out and go long, and resolved to simply get out on the trail. My thinking was to run easily for as long as I could, walk the tougher sections, and basically run for time instead of distance. In the end, it went really well and I got about 125 minutes.
This brought me back to thinking about the Pineland Farms Trail Challenge 50k, and how, if I am able to build off of this long run, I could probably show up on Memorial Day weekend and give it a go. Yes, it wouldn't be the 'right' approach to training for a 50k, but I think with the right motivation it could be possible. People have said, why not just sign up for the 25k, but I have my eyes fixed on completing the 50k. I think I'd be a little more cautious about my lack of training if I were thinking of the 50 miler.
Obviously one does not prepare to run 100 miles in 24 hours by completing the run, but there is a great amount of preparation that goes into it, just as some marathon training programs cap long run training at a 20 mile run - leaving the rest of the race to guts and heart.
So here is the question:
What are your thoughts about running a marathon, ultra event, etc, without the 'proper' amount of training? Obviously the answers will be varied, but I am just curious what you might think?
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