Results tagged “Training Recap”

March 2015

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The main focus of training this month was two-fold. In preparation for an attempt at the 100 Mile World Record and 12 Hour World Record in April, I began the month with some high mileage and intensity. The second half of the month began a gradual taper period. The weather was much improved compared to the frigid temperatures we received in February. In fact, we even received a week of bliss where the temps drifted up towards 70.

January 2015

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I spent the entirety of December and part of January getting back to a pure aerobic training regimine. After a season of racing and speed sessions, I thought it would be wise to give my body a break from running anything outside of an aerobic effort. My main focus on these weeks in December and early January was base and long run efforts. For the exception of one recovery week, my January training had me above 100mi/wk. I structured my miles a bit differently than I have in the past. Rather than carrying on a fairly consistant level of mileage throughout a week, I focused more heavily on high mileage days followed by one or two lower mileage recovery days, where I kept my paces very conservative. My mindset here was that this would stimulate the body and mind to be very comfortable with long, ultra-style efforts when race season picks back up.

Apart from running, I spent a good deal of time amping up my strength training. I focused lower body work primarily on Romanian Deadlifts (straight and hex bar), weighted lunges, weighted squats, and resistance band work with side-to-side movements. I did a variety of upper body and core work as well, but focused more on bodyweight moves. As I begin to shift towards speedwork and specificity training I will scale back on the weights for lower body and focus more heavily on functional movements and plyometric-style resistance training.

Training Recap: Final Block for Six Days in the Dome

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I typically hate tapering, but see it as a necessary evil when trying for peak performance during a race. I've had the most luck with a two-week taper that is not overly aggressive in terms of cutting back, but more so a relative scale-back based on current training volume and intensity.

Six Days in the Dome (SDD), in which I am doing a 12-hour timed event, is about two weeks out, which means it's time to start focusing primarily on recovery and realize that the hard work has already been done. I will continue to do some sharpening workouts in the coming weeks, but the overall intensity and volume will be reduced. With that said, here is the last block of training that I will be leaning on for SDD:

June 16th through July 20th

Early Summer Training Block

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After recovering from the Ice Age 50 Mile, I started a training schedule that I hope will get me optimally ready for my next couple big races. The two races on the calendar that I am really hoping to be primed for are Six Days in the Dome (SDD) and the World 100k Championships (WR100k) in Qatar. This first block of training is going to focus heavily on strength and volume with a bit of speed. As SDD gets closer, and during the time between SSD and WR100, I will focus more heavily on speed. Below are a few of the key workouts that I have done the past three weeks:

Progression Run

  • 11.5 mile warmup
  • Strides (4x100)
  • 4 mile progression run
    • 5:51
    • 5:46
    • 5:23
    • 5:08
  • 2.5 mile cool-down

Notes: Legs were definitely sore and tired from the day before. Mainly from the walking lunges (400m forward and 2 x 100m sideways) and the Romanian deadlifts). I was a bit worried this one would fall off the tracks. Felt harder than normal, but was expecting that to be the case.

Progression Run

  • 5 mile warmup
  • 4 x 1600m progression
    • 5:46
    • 5:34
    • 5:23
    • 5:04
  • 5 mile cool-down

Notes: Felt better than on the last progression run, but could definitely feel the 83 miles in the four days prior.

1000m Intervals

  • 6.5 mile warmup
  • Strides
  • 5 x 1 kilometer (3:05, 3:05, 3:04, 2:59, 2:58) with 3 minute jog rest between.
  • 7 mile cool-down

Notes: I felt pretty good on these. It was warm, so I was definitely feeling it a bit near the end. Happy with how sub 3 minutes felt on those last two.

Bluff Repeats

  • 20 mile trail and bluff repeats at Pheasant Branch Conservancy Bluff
  • 7 x bluff loop (approx. 9 min. per loop)

Notes: I felt really smooth on these bluff repeats. I was only planning on five, but decided to tack on two more after feeling strong on the first five.

Back-to-Back Long Runs

  • Day 1: 5 hours on Omaha trails (36.5 miles)
  • Day 2: 3 hours, 9 minutes, on Omaha bike path (24.33 miles)

Notes: On my way out to California, I stopped in Omaha, NE to help Kaci Lickteig with her last big Western States 100 training weekend. This worked out perfect for me, as I was looking to do a high volume week and back-to-back long runs. Legs felt really good on both days. Very warm and humid.

Weekly Mileage Summaries

5/26/2014 to 6/1/2014128.50 Mi
 Monday5/26/201423 Mi  
 MorningNormal Run15 Mi1:47:00
 AfternoonNormal Run8 Mi57:00
 Tuesday5/27/20140 Mi  
 Wednesday5/28/201421 Mi  
 AfternoonNormal Run21 Mi2:22:40
 Thursday5/29/201418 Mi  
 AfternoonProgressio...18 Mi1:58:00
 Friday5/30/201422 Mi  
 MorningNormal Run12 Mi1:24:00
 AfternoonNormal Run10 Mi1:10:00
 Saturday5/31/201423 Mi  
 MorningNormal Run17 Mi1:57:43
 AfternoonNormal Run6 Mi43:00
 Sunday6/1/201421.5 Mi  
 MorningProgression 14 Mi1:30:00
 AfternoonNormal Run7.5 Mi53:00

6/2/2014 to 6/8/201499.50 Mi
 Monday6/2/20147 Mi  
 AfternoonNormal Run7 Mi50:00
 Tuesday6/3/201412 Mi  
 AfternoonNormal Run12 Mi1:25:00
 Wednesday6/4/201417 Mi  
 AfternoonInterval W...17 Mi1:52:00
 Thursday6/5/20148 Mi  
 MorningNormal Run8 Mi57:00
 Friday6/6/20149.5 Mi  
 MorningNormal Run9.5 Mi1:08:37
 Saturday6/7/201421.5 Mi  
 MorningHill Training13.5 Mi1:39:00
 AfternoonHill Training8 Mi57:00
 Sunday6/8/201424.5 Mi  
 MorningNormal Run18.5 Mi2:03:35
 EveningNormal Run6 Mi41:00

6/9/2014 to 6/15/2014155.08 Mi
 Monday6/9/201416 Mi  
 AfternoonNormal Run16 Mi1:51:00
 Tuesday6/10/201420 Mi  
 AfternoonNormal Run20 Mi2:18:00
 Wednesday6/11/201420 Mi  
 AfternoonHill Training20 Mi2:21:00
 Thursday6/12/201420 Mi  
 AfternoonNormal Run20 Mi2:25:00
 Friday6/13/201418.25 Mi  
 MorningNormal Run8 Mi55:39
 AfternoonNormal Run10.25 Mi1:14:45
 Saturday6/14/201436.5 Mi  
 MorningLong Run36.5 Mi5:00:00
 Sunday6/15/201424.33 Mi  
 MorningLong Run24.33 Mi3:09:00

Hitting the Trails

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Prepping for the Ice Age 50 Mile this year has been interesting. It has been quite some time since I put any extensive trail or hill work into my training schedule. With nothing but road and track races since last Fall, my training has been very specific to flatter, more stable terrain. However, I am fortunate that living in Madison, Wisconsin, naturally exposes me to more rolling terrain on a daily basis than my previous two cities.

I was really fortunate to recover fast from Mad City 100k. In fact, it might have been my quickest "bounce back" to date. I was able to get back to running with only two days off, and after only one week I was able to log a pretty big hill session. This first shift in training is detailed below.

Sunday, April 20
AM17 miles on paved hills
along North Avenue in Wauwatosa, a continuous stretch of rolling hills
PM9.2 miles on trail
at Lapham Peak, a continual series of short and steep hills (similar to IA 50 course)

I was pretty surprised after this particular workout that I wasn't sore the following days. My legs were a bit heavy on Tuesday, but I expected the eccentric contractions to hit me harder. Perhaps the rolling terrain throughout Madison really has done me some good.

A second preparatory training shift I made is switching up my normal morning routes a bit. I typically head east on the bike path, which is relatively flat, minus the initial climb to get to the path. I now make a habit of heading west on the path, which is still paved, but offers some incline (the terrain was likely a series of small bluffs at one point). With this shift, I am able to subject my legs to more hill work without having to make a special trip. Close to my house there are also a couple of urban hills with good descents that make for good repeat sessions. Here's an example of a typical workout:

Hill Workout

  • Warmup
  • 6 x (Midvale hill, about 3 minutes up)
  • 15 minute jog
  • 10 x (School Hill on Midvale, short and really steep, about 45 seconds up)
  • Cooldown

A third measure I have been taking is frequenting the Pheasant Branch Conservancy, where there is a single, but steep, bluff. It winds a bit going up and down and offers up some roots and rocks to navigate, which does a nice job of mimicking the IA50 course. It's not a long trip up and down (roughly 9 minutes roundtrip), so it requires some repetition to get any extensive climbing and descending work accomplished. Nevertheless, I have incorporated this into a few of my workouts, and I've added a few repeats in the middle of some longer runs.

I have kept to a few of my go-to speed workouts over the past couple weeks, one of which I have detailed below. I keep up my speedwork because the leg turnover they train will help me change gears and move fast on some of the quicker portions of the Ice Age Trail.

Speed Workout

  • 2 mile warmup
  • 5 x (3 minute repeats of 1 min at tempo pace, another minute 30 sec/mi faster, and the final minute another 30 sec/mi faster, with 3-minute recovery jog between repeats)
  • 2 mile jog
  • 4 x 100 meter strides
  • 2 mile cooldown

The Long Haul

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With 2014 well underway, I have had the chance to work out some pretty good training blocks. I plan to race a last-chance 24-hour event in Florence, SC, in hopes of qualifying for Team USA's 24 Hour Team, which will be competing in the Czech Republic in late June. I believe, currently, the qualifying mark is 153 miles. I have yet to decide on a specific race strategy, but have been contemplating an even pace vs. going out fast (relatively speaking) so as to not feel like I am going artificially slow in the early stages. In running, I think the even split is usually a good plan, but in some of these longer races; it seems like the mindset is more responsible for slowing you down than the pace.

Regardless, the preparation for this event has had me doing a combination of speedwork and ultra-specific long haul sessions. Here are my workouts from a few recent days to illustrate the type of training I've been doing:

Saturday21 mile hybrid workout
- 5 mile warm up
- 40 x 20/40s (20-second sprint intervals)
- 2 miles easy
- 2 x 1 mile (5:39/mi, 5:35/mi) with 1 mi recovery between
- 2 miles easy
- 4 x (4 minutes easy, 2 minutes stair repeats, 1 minute burpees)
Sunday10 mile recovery run
Monday7 mile recovery run
TuesdayAM: 15 miles
PM: 13 miles
WednesdayAM: 16 miles
PM: 12 miles
ThursdayAM: 14 miles
PM: 11.5 miles

2013 Year Review

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Had 2013 ended two months ago, this would have been an incredibly different review. I guess you could say, from a competitive standpoint, I “back-loaded” 2013. There were plenty of peaks and valleys throughout all of which I can say I learned a lot from.

In January, I competed in the Icebreaker Indoor Marathon at the Pettit Center in Milwaukee. It was the starting point for the speedwork training block I had planned, which was intended to prepare me optimally for the Mad City 100k. Given that it was the entry point to speed—meaning I hadn't done any speedwork leading up to it—I was very pleased with my 2:31:30 time.

Despite the season, I felt like I got a lot of quality speedwork in throughout the winter months. My workouts were tailored for Mad City, which is a relatively flat, paved course. But when I made the mistake of not registering early enough, I felt as if my training direction was off. I was able to register for the Ice Age 50 Mile, but I hadn't done any Ice Age Trail–specific workouts, so I felt unprepared. I hoped the road speedwork would transfer, but on race day it became obvious that I didn't have the skills I needed to race optimally at IA50. I finished third with a time of 6:08:45, approximately three minutes slower than last year.

My recovery was promising, and with a new goal of racing the Burning River 100 Mile in late July, I immediately jumped at the chance to compete in the Kettle 100k (three weeks after IA50). I had a nagging case of tendonitis behind my knee, which sidelined me the days leading up to and after the race. However, I managed to win and come away with the 100k course record. Definitely a motivating event leading into Burning River.

When Burning River finally arrived, I was excited. I truly felt like it was the first race of the season I was legitimately prepared for. But things went downhill fast; I was not prepared for the weather (it rained for over 50 miles), and I was ultimately DQ’d at mile 93 for missing an aid station back at mile 70.

It was now past mid-year, and I hadn't really nailed a race yet. At this point the previous year, I had three ultra wins and had completed my first 100-miler. I was already signed up for the Tussey Mountainback 50 Mile, but beyond that I was unsure if I was going to compete in any more ultras in 2013.

In mid-August I moved to Madison to begin my new teaching job at Clark Street Community School. Met with a much better training environment, I was really getting excited about Tussey. The thought even crossed my mind about trying to get into Desert Solstice if Tussey went well. I was completely uncommitted at this point, and I was equally as prepared to shut it down after Tussey if I felt tired or in the need of an early off season.

Tussey came, and I competed well. I was happy with my time and second place finish, but something didn't quite feel right. Almost as if I hadn't quite nailed the course. I felt like I had raced as well as I could have on that day, but it didn't feel like one of those races where everything just went right.

My recovery was by far the quickest to date. By mid-week I felt like I hadn't even raced. I had toyed with the idea of racing back-to-back-to-back weekends at the 50-mile distance, just to see how fast I could recover. And when I started feeling really good only a few days after Tussey, I decided to wait a week and then try to break 5:20 at the Chicago Lakefront 50 Mile.

The Chicago Lakefront went better than I could have imagined. Not only did I break 5:20, but I wound up running a 5:12:36, which turned out to be the sixth fastest American 50-mile time—and the fastest one run in North America in nearly 33 years! I was stoked! The next weekend, while I was on my way to the Team RWB running camp, Nick Curry of Aravaipa Running contacted me with an invitation to race at Desert Solstice. As I had not yet reached out the Desert Solstice crew, I took this as a sign that I should go.

I had little time to prepare (about 5 weeks), so I squeezed in a 17-mile track workout and a few other speed sessions before a shortened taper. I went into Desert Solstice with the mindset that if I had just run a 5:12 fifty miler, I should be able to comfortably get through the first half of the 100-mile in 5:50. With such a start, I thought I would have a good look at the American Record for 100 miles, which was 11:59:28 at the time.

Saturday, December 14, could not have gone any better. I was able to break the American 100-mile record by finishing in 11:47:21, and also pick up the World Record for longest distance run in 12 hours by covering 101.66 miles. Given the relatively short notice for even competing at Desert Solstice, I was thrilled!

By the end of the year I was completely humbled to be named the sixth Ultra Runner of the Year, and have my Desert Solstice performance be voted Ultra Performance of the Year. I have dreamed of running a UPOY caliber race, but never imagined it would happen in 2013.

I guess the biggest thing I learned this year was to learn from individual races, but not overthink them. In October, based on my earlier performance, I had little to no reason to believe I would end the year the way I did. My biggest takeaway for 2014 will be to reflect, make adjustments, and move on.

Training Recap: Sept. 8-15

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I had a pretty detailed outlook on what I wanted to accomplish during this eight-day stretch. I log my miles on a weekly basis (7 days, Sun-Sat.), but don’t necessarily follow a seven-day rotation when scheduling key sessions and down days. I try not to hold myself too tight in terms of exactly when and where I will do a key session, but rather decide it needs to be done and let my body recover appropriately before taking on the next key session. So, if I have three key sessions in mind, I might complete them in seven days, or it might take ten days. In this particular time frame I had three goals and completed them in eight days. The three goals included: progression run, speed intervals, and ultra-stimulus.

The progression run was pretty cut and dry. It started with a two-mile warm-up, followed by six miles of progression (6:11, 5:51, 5:45, 5:35, 5:30, 5:27), and a two-mile cool-down. I was happy with how I felt. I can definitely feel gains in speed from when I did my first speed workout post–Burning River 100. All the miles felt smooth and relatively unforced.

The speed interval session was definitely not as long as some I have done, but I feel good about the benefits of the workout. It started with a two-mile warm-up, then 10x (35-40 seconds all-out) with 30-60 second recovery jog, seven miles normal pace, and one mile with 6x100 meter strides. I have done quite a few interval workouts that have ranged from 20-second up to 75-second intervals. I am really beginning to notice the improved leg turnover, as well as my normal pace decreasing (presumably from improved running economy).

The ultra-stimulus was actually a three-day session. I toyed with doing one really long run, but instead decided to spread out the fatigue, so I would be able to interject different elements into each day. Day One was a 23-and-a-half-mile day (14mi AM, 9.5mi PM) at paces of 6:30-45. The goal was to load my legs up with miles for the subsequent days. Day Two was 21 and a half miles of hilly terrain (16.5mi AM, 5mi PM). Again, more miles, but with a different type of stimulus (hills). The third day was a flat 20 miles with progression. The first 17 miles were done at 6:40 pace on gravel trail (mimicking the gravel fire roads that make up about 75% of Tussey Mountainback). The last three miles were a progression (5:40, 5:38, 5:22). I was really excited about this run. I thought my legs would feel much more tired going into the third day. I ended up feeling extremely energetic on the last three-mile progression. So much so that in retrospect I may have done five miles.

I followed a general rule of thumb for most of my runs in this eight day period. I took in no fuel during the runs, and very little before the runs. I took Vespa Ultra-concentrate before each of the key or goal sessions.

You can see my day-by-day breakdown below. If you're interested, please check out my full running log.

Mad Running Bliss

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Today while I was running, I thought it felt like it had been a while since I posted here. Then I realized it had been! This past month has been crazy busy with moving to Madison, getting reading for the start of the new year—at a new school—and training. Now that I am settled in, I hope to get back to posting on a regular basis.

So far, Madison has been great for my training. I have been able to get in much more hillwork and it has been a huge motivating factor while moving into more speedwork. At the end of this post you'll find a brief snippet of what my training has looked like over the past few weeks, but I wanted to highlight one workout in particular.

The workout I want highlight was a hill workout and trail run combo. It was a true ultra workout in the sense that it was 25 miles in length and covered trail, hills, and scenery. My workout goal was to get my legs accustomed to longer descents and climbs than usual. I went to the best place I know for this within easy driving distance for a day trip: Devil's Lake State Park. This is definitely my favorite place in Wisconsin to knock out some trail miles.

I started out the day with a five-mile warm-up, which consisted of a conservative climb up and down the East Bluff. I didn't take the really technical hiking trail, opting instead for the East Bluff Trail around the back, which is much more runnable. After the warm-up, I did 3x up and down the first big climb up the East Bluff (1.15 miles each way). It culminates with a brief, but extremely steep, slope that is both exciting and a bit intimidating to bomb down, which I guess is why it's so appealing. I tried to progressively increase how aggressively I attacked the ascent and descent each trip up and down. I managed to squeak under five minutes on the final mile down. It was great to that much uninterrupted leg turnover.

After the hill repeats I hopped in my car and went over to Steinke Basin to run some miles on that section of trail behind Devil's Lake. I would describe this section as like the Kettle Moraine Trail area on the Ice Age and Kettle courses. Nothing super long, but constant ups and downs with roots and rocks sprinkled all around.

I finished the day with a more leisurely loop around the lake, going up and down both the East and West Bluffs. I was able to snap some phone pics on this loop, which you'll find below. It ended up being about a perfect day weather-wise, and I got plenty of the sought-after eccentric muscle contraction. Today marked the end of a seven-day period in which I logged 142 miles, including three workouts (tempo, interval, and hills).

Recent Training Log

Photos from Devil's Lake

Training Recap: Volume to Speed Transition

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As the days leading up to Burning River 100 Mile (BR100) wind down, my training has changed quite a bit. After completing three consecutive weeks of high mileage (130+ each), I spent a couple days letting the body absorb all that training. Then I shifted from a focus on high mileage and some hill work to a focus on fewer miles with more speedwork. In particular, I focused on 400m repeats, tempo runs, progression runs, and a hilly time trial.

With these workouts in the bank, it is now time to taper a bit. My philosophy with tapering for a 100-mile race—which may or may not be valuable information as I have only run one 100 miler before—is that volume reduction does not have to be quite as stark as if I were running a fast 50-mile race. My reasoning is simply that I want to keep my body familiar with moving for long periods of time. This does not mean I will run 100+ miles in the six days leading into the race, but rather that I'll spend about 10 days tapering rather than 2 or 3 weeks.

With all this said, this is what my last block of speed looked like going into BR100:

  Normal Run
  15 mi-1:44:00
  Normal Run
  13 mi-1:31:00
  Normal Run
  8 mi-1:00:00
  Interval Workout
  17 mi-1:59:00
  Normal Run
  17 mi-2:03:30
  Normal Run
  6 mi-45:00
  Normal Run
  15.67 mi
  Normal Run
  14 mi-1:39:00
  Normal Run
  6 mi-40:00
6 135.9
  Long Run
  24.25 mi-3:00:00
  Hill Training
  10 mi-1:15:00
  Normal Run
  8 mi-56:00
  Normal Run
  12.15 mi-1:20:50
  Normal Run
  10 mi-1:10:00
  Normal Run
  3.5 mi-29:00
  Normal Run
  15 mi-1:50:00
  15 mi-1:38:00
  Progression Run
  14 mi-1:31:00
13 100.0
  Normal Run
  12.3 mi-1:30:00
  Hill Training
  15.5 mi-1:47:00
  Long Run
  21 mi-2:30:00
  Normal Run
  6 mi-42:00

Workout Details

Tuesday 07/02: Intervals, 6-mile warm-up, 10x 400 with 400m recovery jog, 6-mile cool-down. The goal was to achieve negative splits with each successive rep. I hadn't done 400s in quite some time, so I gave myself a fairly gentle goal. Pacing proved more difficult than I thought (probably because of the lack of 400m speedwork). Decent wind, hot, and sunny.

Sunday 07/07: Hills. Nothing special, just some rolling hills on the road.

Thursday 07/11: Tempo, 3-mile warm-up, 9-mile tempo at just under 6 min/mi, 3-mile cool-down. This was a much bigger struggle than I had anticipated. For whatever reason, I wasn't feeling good. It was really hot, but I don't think that was the cause.

Friday 07/12: Progression, 8 miles between 6:30-7 min/mi, 6:20, 5:57, 5:56, 5:52, 5:45, 5:30. This workout was more of an impromptu deal. I was still baffled by how tough my tempo run felt the day before, and I wanted to test to see if it was a fluke. I felt really good all the way down to the 5:30/mi pace, which I was very pleased with. My guess is that I may have went a bit too low on carbs the days leading up to Thursday... Or maybe I just had an off day.

Sunday 07/14: Time trial on a hill. 10.5-mile warm-up, 2 miles at 85-90 percent effort, 3-mile cool-down. The 2 miles went really well. I went to a sledding hill that was about a quarter-mile in length from the base to the top and back again. I felt like I hit my effort goal of 85-90 percent pretty accurately, finishing the two miles in 10:51 (5:28, 5:23) on the sledding hill.

Training Recap: June 16-29

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Over the last few weeks I have begun to stack up the miles and the hills. I am officially registered for the Burning River 100 Mile (BR100) in Ohio on July 27. BR 100 hosts the USATF 100 Mile National Trail Championships. I am very excited to go after the 100 mile distance again this summer.

I have been training a bit differently the last few weeks in preparation for BR100. The biggest difference is the amount of hill work. My hill training was sorely lacking this past winter and spring. Now that school is out, I have a bit more freedom to roam around and find some good hills. I have focused on a lot of my hill work at Lapham Peak on the Southern Unit of Kettle Moraine as well as the bluffs of Devil’s Lake State Park. I have done little in terms of speed work, but will squeeze in a few fast workouts in the coming weeks before I begin to taper for BR100. Below is an outline of how I structured my last couple weeks of training.

Hill Training Workout Locations

  • Tuesday (06/18): Lapham Peak (2 black loops, and one tower road climb)
  • Wednesday (06/19): Lapham Peak (2 black loops)
  • Sunday (06/23): In Manitowoc, Schuette Park base to top of Broadway Hill x 5
  • Tuesday (06/25): In Milwaukee, on North Avenue
  • Wednesday (06/26): Lapham Peak (2 black loops)
  • Friday (06/28): Devil's Lake East Bluff
  • Saturday (06/29): Devil's Lake East and West Bluffs

Running Roller Coaster

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The last 10 days of running have brought both ups and downs. More specifically, a series of blissful days full of miles followed by days of no miles and tightness in the back of my right leg. What makes the title of this post even more fitting was the 100 kilometers of trail at the Kettle 100 this past weekend, which presented numerous changes in conditions throughout the morning and early afternoon.

After I finished the Ice Age Trail 50 Mile, I began to bounce back pretty quickly. In fact, a little over a week after IA50 I started toying with the idea of jumping into the Kettle 100k. I’m hoping to do a 100-miler at some point this summer, and thought a nice 100-kilometer morning/afternoon on the trails would be excellent prep. With this in mind, I set out one morning for a 24-mile long run.

Unfortunately, the tendon behind my right knee began to tighten up after I finished. By the next morning it was difficult to even put weight on my right leg. This being one week out from the Kettle 100k, I pretty much chalked the race weekend up to a loss. However, after two days of rest, my leg felt great! I was skeptical, but I managed to head out for an easy 9-miler with no ill effects. I was pumped! So naturally, I jumped onto the Kettle 100 website and signed up for the 100k. In the back of mind I probably should have better, but in the moment I thought I had dodged a bullet. The next day I scheduled a two-a-day (13mi a.m., 7.5mi p.m.). The running did not aggravate my tendon at all, which was very satisfying.

However, as I often do a couple times a week, I visited the weight room to do some stretching and strength training. It was in the weight room where I was likely a bit too aggressive. I did two sets of Russian deadlifts, and my tendon immediately re-tightened. When I woke up the next morning, the tightness was still there. With three days before Kettle 100k, I thought if I had any chance of competing in the event, I would need to shut it down until Saturday morning.

Throughout the three days of rest, my tendon progressed quickly. As I had done the first time, I pounded NOW yucca root. I love the stuff for tendonitis because it helps with the nasty inflammation without killing the pain like ibuprofen does. This is important because inflammation often sticks around after an injury is healed (when the pain goes away). Getting rid of lingering inflammation is fine, but if you mask the pain with ibuprofen you won't know if the injury is actually healed, and you'll risk further injury. I have had a lot of luck with this protocol with previous tendonitis symptoms.

After about a day I felt no pain walking around. This time I knew better than to test my luck, so I refrained from any exercising that used my legs. On Saturday morning I toed the line at Kettle 100k, fully prepared to drop out if my tendon tightened up too much. It was an interesting day. I could feel my tendon there from the get go, but it was barely noticeable. To be honest there was a general feeling of stiffness from general lack of running the past three days. After about a mile all the stiffness dissipated, and the tendon didn’t worsen.

Before I continue with how the day progressed a bit about the event. The Kettle 100k is an out and back. The course is much like IA50 in topography. However, because of the timing of the event, weather is usually quite different. It was a muggy 78 degrees with scattered clouds by early morning. The prairie sections were quite warm from the sun and humidity, but there was a fairly strong wind, which felt nice at the hottest points of the day. Along with this mixture of conditions were some very sloppy puddles throughout the prairie sections. My feet got soaked in the muck and water, and as soon as they dried enough to feel normal again I'd come across another muddy session. Overall, I'd describe the conditions as tough and varied.

As the race progressed beyond the first mile, I had a chance to run with some great guys: Jason Borst and Jake Hegge, from La Crosse, WI, for the first 35 kilometers or so. I felt pretty relaxed and casual heading into the 50k turnaround at approximately 4 hours, 4 minutes. I knew that despite feeling relaxed for the first 50k, it probably wasn’t in my best interest to continue at that pace. My goal was to get a solid effort in without creating the need for an extended recovery period. I backed off a bit on the return to Emma Carlin (midway point of the return).

Despite backing off, I hit a bit of a rough patch with about 22-23 miles left. I am pretty certain it was due to neglecting proper fueling. I didn’t really focus too much on this on the way out. I grabbed stuff from a few aid stations and tried to stay hydrated on the way out, but that was basically the extent of my fueling plan other than taking a Vespa Ultra Concentrate every couple hours.

It was during this rough patch that my tendon started to tighten up a bit. Possibly some cramping from the poor fueling caused the tendon to act up too? Either way; on the return to Emma Carlin (16mi to go) I was about ready to drop out. I didn’t want my tendon to get worse, and with 47 miles completed I would have been happy with the day as a quality training session for a summer 100-miler.

Before officially deciding whether to drop out or not, I took in a lot of calories at Emma Carlin. I immediately felt great, and thought I would test out my legs for at least a couple more miles. Miraculously, the tendon pain went away completely. In fact, it felt the best it had all day. Even better than at the start (this is why I hypothesized it may have cramped up due to poor fueling). At this point I decided to hit all the aid stations hard for the rest of the way back and, if my tendon felt good, finish out the race. It was an enjoyable final 16 miles for the most part. I stopped a couple times when a good view allowed me to admire some of the prairie sections from a higher vantage point (only a couple times). The Ice Age Trail really does have a lot to offer in terms of beauty. The last three miles included some pretty nasty rolling hills, and mentally I was ready to be done with them, so despite feeling good I was quite happy to be done with a first-place finishing time of 8:39, a course record.

Photo courtesy of Kristen Westlake Photography
I was happy with the quality workout, which will hopefully benefit me later on this summer. As I anticipated, my tendon was pretty sore the following morning. A couple days of rest and another aggressive cycle of yucca root will hopefully get me back on the run.

A huge thanks to all the volunteers, as well as race directors Tim (Timo) Yanacheck and Jason Dorgan. It never ceases to amaze me how much work goes into the planning of an ultra event. It truly is awesome how we can sign up and run these distances without worrying about all the things the volunteers and directors take care of for us.

Products Used

Mad City 100k Pre-taper Training Cycle

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It has been a crazy few weeks of training. With the weather not being able to decide if it should allow for spring or hang onto winter, the running environment has been a bit unpredictable. Couple that with a trip out to Nebraska over spring break and a calf strain, and I can say I’ve had an interesting cycle of workouts.

The trip out to Nebraska was met with a progressive warming, culminating with a 70-degree day that was quickly followed by a 30-degree day with 30+ mph winds just to make things interesting. I found a nice route that had continuous rolling hills much steeper than the ones I normally find in Marinette. It was nice to give my legs that shock. I was also able to log a few bluff workouts in Iowa on my way out and back from Nebraska.

Not the actual bluff I ran on in Iowa, but very
similar.  Gorgeous view over the Mississippi River.
Most of my speedwork has now switched to race day–specific training. I have backed off the really short, intense workouts and phased into tempo or slightly-slower-than-tempo runs. These workouts typically have been one of three paces: 5:40 per mile, 6:00 per mile, or 6:20 per mile. My goal for Mad City 100k is to average under a 6:30 per mile pace, and I feel these workouts are the sharpening tools I will need to be able to string together a bunch of sub-6:30 miles. With Mad City three weeks away, it will be fun to find out how effectively they worked.

The only road bump I have had was a two-day break from running that I needed to recover from a strained calf muscle in my left leg. It crept up on me and finally sidelined me while I was trying to do a tempo run. Luckily, it only kept me off the roads for two days, and in the end it may have given me a bit of extra rest.

The end of this training cycle was met with some good old ultra-style back-to-back long runs. I blocked off a four-day period over Easter break in which I am planning to log 75-80 miles (as of this post, I'm two days into this cycle). After this four-day period, it will be time to start tapering. It will be fun to back off a bit and feel the strength and speed that a good taper brings back.

Training Recap: Feb. 17-23

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Now that training for Mad City 100k is in full swing, I wanted to share some of the intensity workouts that I have done this week. Although Mother Nature did throw some curveballs, I was able to get pretty reasonable weather on the days I needed some traction (wish I could say I planned it that way). My mileage this week crept up to 130 miles, including two intensity sessions. I was really happy with my recovery from the two intensity sessions, and I feel my body is beginning to re-acclimate to higher training loads.

The two intensity workouts I did were hybrids. I did not necessarily pick a specific type of workout, instead borrowing elements from specific workouts, splicing them together. I like doing these hybrid workouts in training for ultramarathons because I believe they do a good job of tapping a wider range of systems. In an ultra race, it is likely that by the time you reach the finish line, multiple systems will have been tapped. I liken it to gears on a bike: Hybrid workouts engage multiple gears, rather than just focusing on one.

The first intensity session I did, on Sunday, was a 20.5-mile run that included: a long warm-up, a five-mile tempo run, a bout of sprints, and a short cool-down. I structured the workout this way so the sprints near the end of the run would feel like they required extra effort, similar to what putting in a surge at the end of an ultra race would feel like. The workout specifics were as follows:
  • 10 mile warm-up (7 min./mi.)
  • 5 mile tempo (5:45, 5:42, 5:40, 5:42, 5:45)
  • 1 mile recovery jog
  • 15 x (20 sec all out, 40 sec jog)
  • 2 mile cool-down

The second intensity session I did, on Wednesday, was a 16.25-mile run, again with multiple components. The goal here was to start fast and end with a pace similar to my goal 100k pace for Mad City. My hopes are that the 3 miles at 6:20/mile will emulate how it will feel to go that pace during the latter stages of Mad City. The workout specifics were as follows:
  • 3 mile warm up
  • 6 x 400 meters with mile recovery jog (75 sec. on reps 1,2,3,5 (into wind), 70 sec. rep 4)
  • 1 mile recovery jog
  • 2 x 1 mile with 1 mile recovery jog (5:27 mile, 5:25 mile)
  • 1 mile recovery jog
  • 3 miles (6:18, 6:17, 6:19)
  • 2.25 mile cool-down

The following is a day-by-day breakdown of my training this week.

Sunday20.5 miles (Intensity Session 1)
MondayAM: 9.5 miles
PM: 8.75 miles
Tuesday10 miles
WednesdayAM: 16.25 mi (Intensity Session 2)
PM: 5.5 miles
ThursdayAM: 8.17 miles
PM: 6 miles
FridayAM: 10 miles
PM: 10.5 miles
SaturdayAM: 18 miles
PM: 7 miles
Total130.17 miles

Ultra Speed

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I took a pretty good chunk of time away from blogging at the end of summer in order to get myself ready for the upcoming school year.

However, the break from blogging certainly did not mean a break from running. I changed a few things in training post-Western States (WS100) to prepare for the faster 50-milers I will be doing this Fall. I plan to race Tussey Mountain Back 50 Mile U.S. Road Championships and JFK 50 Mile. Both courses are relatively fast in comparison to other well-known 50 mile races.

Once I picked up training at full capacity after WS100, something ironic happened. After running in California for two weeks on the most technical terrain I ever experienced, I managed to return to Wisconsin unscathed. Then, within days of being back on the flat dirt trails of Wisconsin, I tripped and managed to roll my ankle.

Post-icing the morning after I rolled my ankle

I thought it was much worse than it actually ended up being. Fortunately, the folks at Aurora Bay Care Sports Medicine set me up with some good advice that resulted in only 7 days off running, and I before I knew it I was back in business.

Once my ankle felt good I spent about a month building up my base with very minimal amounts of intense sessions. I wanted to ease into intensity training, while gradually backing away from higher miles. As Tussey and JFK come closer I will need a bit more speed in my legs. In August and September I have scaled down to 100-150 miles (averaging around 120-130) and started adding more intensity. My hope is to raise my threshold, making the faster average paces at Tussey and JFK seem easier. Here are a few of the workouts I have enjoyed doing.

The 20 40

Peter Defty, of Vespa Power Products turned me on to this workout, and I have incorporated variations of it into my training. After a nice, long warm-up (40-60 minutes), I break each minute into an interval/recovery block. That's a 20-second sprint followed by a 40 second jog, on repeat. Some days I do this 10 times, other days up to 40. I plan to get to 60 minutes before race day. I also use it as a warm-up for a tempo run (typically I’ll only do 10 in this case).

Road Repeats

I love this one because it mimics repeats on the track, but you don’t have to go to the track to do it. Here's how it works: I get a nice long warm-up in before I start, typically lasting 30-60 minutes. I then break my workout into 3-minute blocks. The first minute is run at a high intensity—5k pace or a bit faster. The next two minutes are recovery jogging. Currently I do about 10 repeats of this during my workouts, but hope to be closer to 20 before JFK.

5K Repeats

This workout is really intriguing to me. I learned about it from Phil Richert, a former UW-Stevens Point teammate of mine. Basically, it is just what it sounds like. You get on a track or a marked section of road and do 5-kilometer repeats. Right now I have only done this workout with two repeats, but I will do a set of 3 before Tussey. The idea, like in any other interval workout, is to pick a goal pace and try to hit it on however many 5k repeats you decide to do. Recovery between intervals should be active; I aim for a 600-meter jog.


Tempo runs are very broad in nature. The race you are training for will dictate the pace and distance of your tempo run. Since I’m training for a 50-mile race, my tempo miles usually climb up into the double digits. I aim for a pace between 5:30 and 6:00 minutes per mile. Currently I have reached 10 miles at 5:45/mile for this training block. I hope to get up to at least 15 miles at this pace before JFK.

I am really excited about this Fall's race offerings because I haven’t done this much intensity work leading up to an ultra since my first 50-miler back in 2010. I hope to see some positive effects from an improved running economy as a result of this training.

If you have any interesting intensity workouts, please post! I’d love to hear how you get your fast pace fix.


Of course I am more than happy to answer any general questions that you might have. But if you or someone you know is interested in a really in-depth analysis of your training and nutrition, please visit my coaching website or just ask me about individual and group coaching rates.

Training Recap: April 15-21

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I really back-loaded this week in terms of mileage. With Saturday marking three weeks out from Ice Age 50 Mile I wanted to get one more big back-to-back long run session in before I have to start slowly backing off and letting my body reach 100 percent.

I included two intense sessions at the beginning of the week, then went with sheer bulk miles for the final two days. Friday's total of 27 miles (20 and 7) followed by Saturday's solo run of 26 miles left me feeling very optimistic about where I am in my training. The solo 26 felt extremely smooth the entire way. In fact, it has been a while since I have truly bonked on a run—or even felt a big high followed by a big low. These are all very optimistic things heading into what should be a highly competitive 50 miler.

I was a little curious how my legs would feel this week after last week's five intense sessions and total of 134 miles. I am pleased to say that Extreme Endurance and the increase in healthy fats appear to have really cut down on the amount of recovery I require. Following my typical cycle of two weeks high, one week low, would have put me at a down week this week. My legs felt really good though, so I took it easier on a few days in the middle of the week and ended with the aforementioned back-to-back long days. I sincerely doubt I would have been able to do this (much less feeling good) on my old diet. It seems the healthy fats, coupled with Vespa and Extreme Endurance have been working for me.

I will be approaching this next week overly cautious. Normally, there are a couple runs a week I will purposefully push through on tired legs in order to acclimate my body to the ultramarathon experience. This week I will do a fair amount of running, but any time my body doesn't want to spring out the door, I will rest instead. My guess is this will put me at around the 100-mile mark for the week, but we shall see. The following two weeks I will begin "forcing" myself to rest. I will purposefully reduce or eliminate runs even when I feel great. I follow a general rule of thumb that nothing can be gained in the final two weeks, but everything can be lost. I am very happy with my base, so I am not worried about losing any fitness by tapering for Ice Age 50.

Thanks for checking in on my training and please see below for a more detailed look at my day-to-day workouts this week!

Sunday20 mile long run
Monday10 mile easy run
TuesdayAM: 10 mile hill workout
- 5 min warm up
- 3x City Park Loop (rolling)
- 25x Sled Hill
- 3x City Park Loop (rolling)
- 25x Sled Hill
- 3x City Park Loop (rolling)
- 15 min cooldown
PM: 7 mile easy run
WednesdayAM: 10 mile easy run
PM: 7 mile easy run
Thursday10 mile hybrid workout (hills/pickups)
- 7 min warm up
- 3x City Park Loop (rolling)
- 25x City Park Sled Hill
- 3x City Park Loop (rolling)
- 10x 30 sec pickups (90 sec recovery)
- 7 min cooldown
FridayAM: 20 mile long run
PM: 7 mile easy run
Saturday26 mile long run
Total127 miles

April 2012 Training

Training Recap: April 8-14

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Four more to go! This week of training ended on the four week mark from Ice Age 50 Mile. I have to say it was one of my most intense weeks of training. It was far from my highest mileage, but it included some really good workouts on the hills, which ratcheted up the intensity. I wanted to prepare myself for the rolling hills speckled throughout the Ice Age Trail, so I did more workouts than I normally would have—and felt really good doing them.

I have noticed speedier recovery times since I started taking Extreme Endurance in the morning and evening. I thought this product would help simply based on the science behind it, but I am quickly becoming a believer based on personal experience as well. I have also increased my ratio of fats to carbs, which certainly also contributed to speedier recovery times. When running, I always listen to my body first, and this is how I determine how many intense days to include. Typically this has meant two to three intense runs per week on a hard week. This week, though, after being supported with Extreme Endurance and a higher-fat diet, I followed the same steps I normally do when listening to my body but managed five intense runs! I did four bouts of hill repeats and one nine-mile tempo run at 5:45 per mile.

Normally I would have followed this up with a down week because after two higher weeks (in this case 129mi and 134mi, respectively) my body tells me to let it bounce back a bit. However, I feel much better then I normally do after two training weeks like I just had, so will probably go a little harder next week. Fortunately this will fit nicely with my taper schedule for Ice Age. So... as long as my body says go. I'm going to let it!

Please check out a more detailed outline of all my runs below.

Sunday20 mile hill repeats/long run
- 15x Sled Hill Silver Creek
- Various rolling hills at Silver Creek
MondayAM: 10 mile easy run
PM: 10 mile easy run
TuesdayAM: 17 mile hill repeats
- 25x City Park Sled Hill
- 3x City Park Loop
- 25x City Park Sled Hill
- 3x City Park Loop
PM: 6 mile shake out run
Wednesday10 mile easy run
ThursdayAM: 10 mile tempo
- 9 miles at 5:45/mi
PM: 11 mile easy run
FridayAM: 10 mile hill repeats
- 3x City Park Loop (rolling)
- 25x City Park Sled Hill
- 3x City Park Loop (rolling)
- 10x City Park Sled Hill
PM: 10 mile easy run
Saturday20 mile hill repeats/long run
- 3x City Park Loop (rolling)
- 25x City Park Sled Hill
- 3x City Park Loop (rolling)
- Hour flat
- 30 min progression run
Total134 miles

April 2012 Training

Training Recap: April 1-7 and Healthy Fats

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This week was full of recovery-pace runs after the Mad City 50k capped off last week with a great workout. I wanted to make sure my muscles bounced back while also taking advantage of the waning time I have to do quality work before Ice Age 50 Mile. Since I did not taper for Mad City, I was able to get a nice 20-mile long run in on the day after the race. My legs were a little sore, but I was not hurting to the extent that I needed a day off. Plus, chasing a 50k workout with a 20-mile long run is great ultramarathon training. It gave me another opportunity to develop the mental focus and physical toughness to run for a few hours on fatigued legs. With only five weeks to Ice Age, I won't have too many more opportunities for these types of workouts. I made sure to follow the intensity of this weekend with a couple of easier days to draw in the benefits from the work. I also have an intense week coming up, which will focus on hills.

Another aspect of my training I have been focusing on more closely has been nutrition. I have been utilizing Vespa for a while now, but I recently began a diet that will amplify its effects. I have been gradually trying to replace some of my carbohydrate intake with healthy fats. The reason for this is simply to improve my body's usage of fat as fuel and to keep my insulin receptors sharp. It's amazing how much bigger a boost you get from a gel or simple sugar when your body is not dulled by copious amounts of refined sugar all the time. The reason I have gone this route is basically because it is where the science points. Personally, I love listening to Ben Greenfield's podcasts and reading his blogs. He gives great tips on using fat for fuel for speedier recovery, and benefiting from the great nutrients available in healthy fats. Last year when I ran three 50-milers in a nine-week timeframe, I was not completely recovered for my final 50 miler at JFK—but I did not realize that until during and after the race. It was a big load for me to do on a high-carb diet, and very little ultra-racing experience. This year as Fall approaches I plan to bring a bit more experience, and a better recovery plan through nutrition, to a similar schedule of three ultras in autumn (God willing, I'll stay healthy and injury-free).

Sunday20 mile long run
Monday10 mile easy run
TuesdayAM: 10 mile easy run
PM: 10 mile easy run
WednesdayAM: 10 mile easy run
PM: 10 mile easy run
ThursdayAM: 10 mile easy run
PM: 10 mile easy run
FridayAM: 10 mile easy run
PM: 9 mile easy run
Saturday20 mile long run
Total128 miles

April 2012 Training

Mad City 50k and Training Recap: March 25-31

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This was a very interesting week of training. I actually ended up running fewer miles than I originally anticipated when starting the week. At the beginning of the week I had a blister between two of my toes, which turned into a nasty scab on the bottom of my foot. It kind of felt like running with a small pebble in my shoe. It forced me to alter my stride slightly, and I did not want to overdo the miles and risk causing a long-term injury. With Saturday's 33.5 miles I still ended up accumulating 114 miles this the week on top of ridding myself of that nasty scab. Most of my runs this week were base miles, but I did manage two solid efforts. The first was a workout of 12x 30-second sprints inside a 10-mile run. The second was the Mad City 50k.

When planning out my race and training schedule for the spring I put the Mad City 50k on the schedule as a measuring stick/workout in preparation for the Ice Age 50-mile race on May 12. This is why I did not really break training too much in preparation for the Mad City 50k. Granted, the foot blister/scab gave me a few more unplanned easy days, but I was only 13 days removed from a week that totaled 189.5 miles.  

My goal going into Mad City was to be consistent and feel smooth the whole way. The course is five loops (10k per loop) with paved, rolling hills speckled throughout. My splits went as follows:
Lap One36:52
Lap Two36:45
Lap Three36:36
Lap Four36:06
Lap Five36:48

I felt really smooth the entire way, and I was able to get good fueling practice. My fuel consisted of two Vespa CV-25, three gels and three 20oz bottles. It was roughly 600 total calories, which averaged about 200 calories an hour. The five-loop setup was really nice for getting fuel, and I could not have asked for a better support crew. My girlfriend Krista was kind enough to put up with the chilly, windy conditions to hand me my fuel along the way. This was nice, because I never once had to break stride.  When all was said and done, I was able to walk away with a great workout, a positive outlook on my training so far and a course record.

Please see below for a more detailed look at my day to day training.

Sunday20 mile long run
MondayAM: 10 mile easy run
PM: 10 mile easy run
Tuesday10 mile run
- w/ 12x30-second sprints
Wednesday10 mile easy run
Thursday10 mile easy run
Friday10.5 mile easy run
SaturdayMad City 50k (3:03:07)
Total114 miles

March 2012 Training

Training Recap: March 18-24

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Well, this was a laid back week for running. It was interesting to see how my body reacted to running 189.5 miles last week. After Promise To Keep 135, my leg muscles were not all that sore, but I did sleep 13 hours the night after, which I'm sure my body needed. The biggest ailment I suffered was likely from the gravel slope I ran on for the majority of PTK 135. When I woke up Monday morning my right ankle was swollen like a balloon. I knew I had to get rid of the inflammation out of my foot before I could attempt any type of running, so I gave my body time to work out the inflammation. I took Yucca Root from NOW Foods to help with the inflammation. The stuff is cheap and has higher anti-inflammatory properties than ibuprofen without masking the pain. This allows me to feel the pain of an injury so I can avoid pounding out miles on an injury that just is going to get worse.

By mid-week my ankle and body were feeling really fresh, so I got back to running. I ended the week with 52 miles in three days. With Mad City 50k coming up on Saturday (March 31) I am interested to see how the short layoff will affect me. Personally, I think it might help. I have a pretty big training base, and when I cycle my miles I typically feel best the week after a down week. I am hoping this will be the case for Mad City. I am approaching this 50k as a training run, so I don't plan to taper much more then a couple of days leading into the race. It will be interesting to see how I feel from the extra rest last week.

My final run of the week was a 22-miler on the Ice Age Trail, Point Beach segment. I really love when I get the chance to let loose on the winding single track the Ice Age Trail System offers. Ice Age Trail stretches all over Wisconsin, from Door County, down to Milwaukee, up the center of the state, and eventually across to the northwest portion of Wisconsin. I love running on different spots along Ice Age because it shows off the different landscapes that Wisconsin has to offer.

Please see below for a detailed look at my week of running.

Thursday10.5 mile easy run
FridayAM: 10 mile easy run
PM: 10 mile easy run
Saturday22 mile long run
Total52.5 miles

March 2012 Running