Training for a 53k

What have I done to train for my upcoming 53k race?

-I ran 70-80km a week.

-I did a 34.5km trail race with quite a bit of elevation gain recently.

-I tapered.

-I will carb load today. There are ample Bosnian bakeries around to accomplish this.

That’s about it. I am relying on years and years of running long distances to get me through.

Thoughts pre-race?

I truly never know how I will do until I am in a race. I have these vague ideas of how it might turn out, but really I don’t know what my pace or finish time will be. I am yet to take a DNF (knock on wood). Luckily for my family, the race is providing a live tracker so they know when to be at the finish line.

So, this is how I will kick off my fall break–spending time in one one of the prettiest places in the world. I will run the Dinaric Alps along the Dalmatian Coast, for hours, finding strength in mountains.

Then, I will spend the rest of my break lounging around on the pebbled beaches with my family.

And doing some recovery runs, of course.

Happy running and stay rad, my friends!

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Weekly Running Log Rundown

Sunday: I absolutely love running out here at Vrelo Bosna. It is beautiful no matter the season. Today it was foggy and damp, making it look like the fall in August. There are always lots of runners making their way on the paths. It is a bit of a drive so we make a morning out of it. The kids run and bike while I get my run in, then we have coffee, pizza, and pasta post run for a family brunch.

Monday: I am back to making Monday my day off. I know most people say if you miss Monday, your running week is shot, but it works for me. With it being the first day of the school work week, I always like to sleep in a little after getting that luxury over the weekend.

Tuesday: Two runs today. My normal morning run and the first practice for the cross country team. They did awesome! 4.5km. We even did hills and they rocked it.

Wednesday: Early at it this morning. I am still getting used to this. It always wakes me up to get my morning run done though.

Thursday: I am sort of failing on the photo front, but it was a beautiful, foggy morning. Fall is starting. Effort wise–I think I need to start doing some speed work to get ready for a few races coming up.

Friday: I was getting a little bored of my usual running spots, so I went around some new streets today. Hopefully this weekend I can get work on my pace. I have five races coming up soon!

Saturday: Croatia consistently impressed me. It is one of the most beautiful countries I have seen. Old ruins, mountains that bump up against the Mediterranean Sea, and trails for days. That last 1.5 km up to our place offered plenty of challenge for my hill work I have been needing.

Happy running and stay rad, my friends!

Weekly Running Log Rundown

I was feeling pretty dead this week. So, I listened to my body and went slower.

Sunday: My legs were hella tired today. Two half marathons in one week, both sub 1:45 half’s, had my legs asking for a recovery run–slow n’ easy.

Monday: Shortie run. Had to get out of town and needed to hit the road early. Running can be time consuming. Good fun nonetheless.

Tuesday: Went for a beautiful trail run. I stopped and talked to quite a few day hikers and backpackers. After talking with them decided to take the family to Alpine Lake later that day. Ended up doing over 24 kilometers (I started my Garmin late on the hike). Wonderful day but certainly earned some beers by the end.

Wednesday: After 24 kilometers yesterday, I decided to take a day off this week.

Thursday: Feeling a bit sluggish but got out there and feel better for it.

Finally got around to listening to Ear Hustle. A very well done podcast that will be making the routine circulation in my audio experiences.

Friday: Felt pretty wiped out this week. Not running at peak performance but also feel okay with that. Sometimes your body just needs to take it easier.

Saturday: I decided to go to the trails today. The Oregon Trail. It was hot and dusty. Still feel like taking it slow, so am listening to my body.

Happy running and stay rad, my friends!

Dirk Petersilie: International Trailrunner

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I met Dirk when we were in the middle of the Bucegi Mountains, running 50k through Transylvania, Romania. We became running buddies after leapfrogging on the trail for a while. As you can imagine, it was a difficult race–it was nice to have someone to chat with and help decide the best place to cross a flowing river. One of the best aspects of doing these travel races is meeting interesting people from around the world. Dirk is from Germany and I quickly realized he was a fellow world travel runner. After talking with him, he has certainly inspired me to get to Germany for some ultras, along with some other races around the world.

Hear a bit about him and his running and traveling life below.

1. How long have you been running? Since 1999 – First marathon was in 2001.

2. What is the longest distance you have run? 100km Biel, in Switzerland

3. Trail or road? Why? I prefer trail! The best combination would be trail AND mountains. I enjoy it because it is not the same pace during the whole distance, better landscape, and better for the mind and body!

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4. What has been your favorite race so far? I have done 53 marathons an 15 ultras, so I have some favorites. A few of them would be the Swiss Alpine Davos and the Virgin Marathon in Interlaken, both of which are mountain runs in Swiss Alps.  The Transylvania 50k in Romania was nice, but very hard, as you know 😉 Desert Marathon in Morocco!

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5. As a fellow traveling runner, what are some travel races you would suggest others to venture out and take on? All runs in the Swiss Alps. Transylvania100 for different tracks. Desert runs in Morocco are nice too! The Netherlands and Belgium have some nice trails, from marathon to ultra. Here in Germany we have the Zugspitz UltraTrail with some different courses. Also, the Helgoland Marathon on the island farthest from the mainland from Germany is very nice!

 

6. What is a race you would like to forget?  Getting Tough – The Race. It is the hardest obstacle race in Europe. After a bad illness in 2015, I did it 2016 for the 3rd time and it was my first DNF– 250 meters in front of the finish line.

7. What race are you training for currently? I train the whole year and “normal” marathons I can run whenever I want. Now I have no special focus. Maybe in the autumn some mountain runs somewhere or ultras in Germany or in the Netherlands.

8. What challenges have you come across with training? Nothing really–maybe sometimes the balancing act between family, running and my other sports.

 

9. The classic running question–why do you run? Running is a sport I can do every where, any time, and by myself. I don’t need a room, a hall, a court, a partner, or any special time to do it. I feel free during running and sometimes I have a lot time to think. I can travel to all over the world, put my shoes on, and I can run for sightseeing. When I participate in a race, I can meet and talk with new people.

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Rachael Anderson: Ultrarunner Taking on Vol State 500km

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I have gotten to meet some really great runners from around the world, all of whom inspire me in different ways. This is Rachael Anderson. She will be taking on Vol State 500km…for a second time.

I met Rachael when we both showed up to run with Bangkok Runners in Khao Mai Keow, Thailand. This awesome group would organize meet ups to run in the jungle occasionally, because we liked to torture ourselves with heat and humidity, in good company of course.

Neither one of us is in Thailand anymore, but I have been following her running and it is most impressive. Check out what she has to say:

1. What is your everyday occupation?

I’m a high school calculus teacher at an international school in Pakistan.

2. How many ultras have you done? What was your favorite or most memorable?

I’ve actually only done three races that qualify as ultras – two 50km races and the 2017 Last Annual Vol State (LAVS) 500km race. I’ve also done the Camino de Santiago – a 500 mile hike across Spain – twice.

My favorite race has to be LAVS just because of the sheer difficultly of the undertaking and the camaraderie I experienced during and after the race. When you’re put in a situation like that with other people, you quickly become a family.

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3. What is your next big race you have been training for?

I’ve spent the past 10 months training for the 2018 LAVS, which will be held from July 12-22. The course starts in Dorena Landing, Missouri and ends in Castle Rock, Georgia, crossing the state of Tennessee.

4. Where do you live and does it impact training?

I live in Pakistan, so I’m limited to my compound when it comes to training. Luckily, I have access to a nice weight room, a 25m pool, a 400m track, and a 1km loop around the school. My training is largely solitary and I have to work hard to keep up my motivation.  I rely on podcasts and audiobooks to keep my mind occupied on long runs.

Another issue with training in Pakistan is the heat. The temperature in Karachi, where I live, is above 80 degrees for the majority of the year and can get up to 120 degrees in the summer. This isn’t a dry heat either. Due to our proximity to the Indian Ocean, it is quite humid throughout the year. This makes training brutal, but I know that it will be worth it when I’m running through Tennessee in the middle of the summer.

5. How do you prepare for a 500 kilometer (314 mile) unaided race?

This is really a difficult question, and I think the answer heavily depends on the person. A lot of my fellow runners do back to back runs on the weekend. So, perhaps 30 miles on Saturday and another 20 miles on Sunday. This is a fairly typical staple of ultra training but, under the direction of my coach, I did something a bit different this year.

My training generally consists of 9-10 workouts spread over six days, with one rest day per week. These include swimming, cycling (I use an indoor trainer and Zwift), weightlifting, and running (15-20 miles a week). My entire training plan has been built around heart rate zones, in order to improve my endurance and aerobic capacity. I also do journey runs/walks when I’m outside of Pakistan. For these, I take a small pack with a bit of food and water, and then just head out on 20 or 30 mile walk to the next town. It gets me comfortable with navigation, walking next to traffic, and dealing with unforeseen issues like a lack of water (because I dropped a bottle without realizing it).

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6. What are your expectations of Vol State?

Last year I finished in 7 days, 18 hours by mainly walking and getting 6-8 hours of sleep each night in a hotel. This year, I hope to finish in under 6 days by sleeping less and running more.

 7. How long do you expect recovery to take?

After last year’s race, I was able to run again within a few days, although it took about 3 weeks for me to feel 100% again. I expect this year to be about the same in terms of recovery.

8. Do you have any pre-race routines or advice to offer runners considering doing an ultra?

The biggest piece of advice I have is to understand that there is no one way to do an ultra and that a linear progression through race distances is largely unnecessary. I get asked often about how many half marathons and marathons I did before I started running ultras. The answer is none. In fact, the first marathon I did was this year, which is a solid 5 years after I ran my first ultramarathon. This goes for training as well. What works for other people may not work for you – it’s a learning process. So, have fun, talk to other ultrarunners, and figure out what does work for you.

9. The big runner question–why do you do ultras of this magnitude?

Running 500km was the first time in my life where I felt like I had been stripped down to my core both emotionally and physically and actually got a glimpse of who I really was. It was both terrifying and exhilarating and, now that I’ve seen it, I have an unquenchable desire to figure out just how far I can push myself.

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Rachael also has a UMDF page that she has been updating. This page is for collecting donations that go directly to the United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation and help to fund much needed research into these illnesses.

Consider donating to United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation

My “Why” Behind Ultrarunning. — thedancingrunner

So I was watching this awesome Billy Yang documentary about THE WHY…why many runners venture off into the amazing sport of ultrarunning. It’s actually a great video and I am posting it here so you should take some time out of your day and watch it if you have not seen it. I thought today […]

via My “Why” Behind Ultrarunning. — thedancingrunner

Running into the 50k Ultra World

“Face your life, it’s pain, it’s pleasure,

Leave no path untaken.”

-Neil Gaiman

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Bran Castle, the starting point


Elevation, oh my!

That was my first observation of Transylvania100. The elevation gain for the 50k is 3,328 meters, which is 10,919 feet. That is not the peak elevation, that is the gain!

I have wanted to do Ultra for years, but haven’t felt brave enough, or been in the right place and time. The stars sort of aligned for this and I didn’t have an excuse not do it. Naturally, I signed up.

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 5135 Gaines Tara United States Senior 18-39 ani / years  

It isn’t feasible to take my family, considering the costs of the flights and all that, so I am going solo. I haven’t traveled that far solo before, much less for the biggest race I have ever tackled. I am a bit concerned about the whole thing logistically. Luckily, I have figured out a coping mechanism–don’t think about it too much. Just run.

Run I have. I run on average 70-80 km a week anyway, and have upped that to about 90 km. That isn’t too much of a change in distance, but what I did do differently to start training is adding some elevation gain to my runs and trying to get that elevation gain on trails. I recently did a 24 km training run and was surprised by how much my legs were not used to that. I had to load up on electrolytes after each training run. Transylvania will be completely trail and in the Carpathian Mountains, so some pretty wild area.

I currently am living in Sarajevo, which is in a valley, surrounded by three large mountains and some other hills. This is fortunate for my training. During winter, I had been a bit lazy and done mostly flat runs. Lazy, and in fear of the ice on all the steep roads. This training has been good for me to kick myself back into action.

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Sarajevo from one of my runs, headed above the city.

For my training runs, I really have only done a couple of these longer, steeper, trail routes. Some of my others shorter runs I still sought out elevation. I am a bit worried that this won’t leave me prepared enough, but I am hoping that between these runs and my base fitness level, it will carry me through.

I am now at the tapering stage. I hate tapering so much that I haven’t actually started it. I will probably wait until a few days before to kick it down to 40 or 50 km a week, but that is also unlikely. Tapering is by far the hardest part of training for me and I often just avoid it all together. However, I do better in a race if I do taper, so this will be a mental struggle that I grapple with in the weeks to come. There are infinite considerations in the tension between what we should do, and what we want to do.

If you check out the website and look at past results, it takes the best runners much longer to finish than your average 50k. It is a little hard for me to tell based on names, as most of them are foreign names, but it appears that the fastest woman came in around 9 hours last year. It also looks like there will be snow, wind, ropes to help climb the trails, and did I mention, elevation? I am trying to plan for all four seasons in one 50k. If everything goes right, I am hoping to come in around 10 or 11 hours. At the end of the day, I just want to finish without getting lost or injured.

I am looking forward to seeing what I am capable of both physically and mentally. In these types of races, you come out a changed, improved person. I think if you can’t figure yourself out in a race like this, it isn’t happening. I hope to find balance in nature and, consequently, in myself. I must travel to an unknown land and an unknown place within myself to achieve this.

Cheers to what can only be described in my book as an adventure.

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Below is a video of the race from 2016. So much snow for May!