April 2015

April was full of excitement in training. After my unsuccessful attempt at the 100 mile world record I decided to change things up a bit.

I have spent a great deal of time in the past year and half optimizing for flatter races on roads and tracks. I've been itching to freshen things up, so I decided to run the Ice Age Trail 50 Mile (IA50) again this year. I have done this race the past three years, mainly because Jeff Mallach puts on a phenomenal event that is simply too good to pass up, especially when it's in your backyard. The hard part about this race is it is speckled with nearly non-stop ups and downs. They are short climbs and decents, but they can really beat you up over the course of 50 miles if your training h

as not been specified towards sawtooth-style hills. May in Wisconsin is unpredictable, so weather can be a limiting factor at this race, but the last two years it was definitely a lack of hill training that gave me the most grief. So... with 4 weeks to go after recovering from Kingsburg 12 Hour, I hit the hills!

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I picked three main venues, as well as a couple one-shot deals, to focus my trianing on during this short block. Pheasant Branch Bluff offers a nearly identical terrain, as well as elevation gain and loss, as IA50. I did a lot of my specific workouts on this bluff. A couple good short climbs near my house were the other two venues. Both are about 1/3 mile in length with one (Edgewood Road Hill) being much steeper than the other (Odana Road Hill). You can check out my Strava data for specifics on the hills.

At first, I wasn't overally concerned with doing any type of intensity training on these hills, because my lack of hill exposure through the winter months was enough to make just running repeats enough of a stimulus to generate improvements. After about a week I began to notice a casual effort was meriting quicker times, so I trickled in more threshold and anaerobic work on some of the workouts.

I didn't entirely neglect speed work for the hills during April. I aimed to keep foot speed relatively sharp as I strongly believe it is a valuable stimulus in training regardless of how humblingly slow a hilly trail can make your pace during the race. The two main workouts I used were a half marathon (flat trail) that I used for a tempo workout and a 400 meter workout. I strictly kept my pace between 5:45 and 5:50/mi average for the trail half as I did not want to spend valuable hill time recovering from this effort. The track workout was a 8 x 400 meter interval session with 400 meter jog between, where I aimed to hit approximately 72 sec/lap. I normally go a bit faster on 400 meter repeats, but on this workout I wanted to have enough left afterwards to do 5 x Edgewood Road Hill Climb.

It has been really fun to get back to a new training stimulus as it is much easier to see gains when you haven't done something in a while. Although it would be nice to have another four-week block of hill and trail work before IA50, I definitely feel much more confident and strong on climbs and decents.

April 1-5

Weekly Total: 87.2 miles

Kingsburg 100 Mile WR Attempt: 57.5 miles

April 6-12

Weekly Total: 55.1 miles

Specific workouts included: 22 mile long run with 8 x Pheasant Branch Loop repeats

April 13-19

Weekly Total: 114.2 miles

Specific workouts: 5 x Pheasant Branch Loop Repeats, 6 x Odana Hill Repeats, and Parkinson's Trail Half Marathon (tempo)

April 20-26

Weekly Total: 127.1

Specific workouts: 8 x 400 w/5 x Edgewood Road Hill Repeats, 5 x Odana Hill Repeats and 5 x Edgewood Hill Repeats, 25 mile LR with 20 x Elver Park Hill Loop repeats

April 27-30

Weekly Total: 38.8 miles

Specific workouts: Just recovery runs from last week.

April Total: 423 miles

Strava Training Data: April 2015

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                  Go-to products for April

                  • Altra Paradigm - I love this shoe for recovery runs and bombing down steep hills on pavement. It maintains Altra's signature zero drop and foot-shaped toe box, but provides a large stack height to absorb the impact of an unnatural surface like pavement.
                  • Orange Mud Hydra Quiver Single Barrel - I love this product! I thought it was going to be more difficult drawing and returning the bottle to the quiver, but it was effortless. Returning the bottle to the quiver is as simple as reaching back and dropping the bottle. The vest sits nice with no bounce. I can't wait to try it out at the Ice Age Trail 50 Mile in May.