Hitting the Trails

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
AM 17 miles on paved hills
along North Avenue in Wauwatosa, a continuous stretch of rolling hills
PM 9.2 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