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Saturday, August 9, 2014

SQUAMISH 50 Training Report

Well, the Squamish 50k race is only NINE days away. I've been very silent on the training blogs this year. Here's why:

Red Flags . . . Everywhere!!
1. I've been focused on the actual training, both mental and physical and didn't want to distract that with ideas of what was happening versus what was really happening (does that even make sense?!)

2. Summer is mad busy. Work is stacked with events at the restaurant, plus staffing, schedules and lots of other moving parts, plus my kids are off school and they're fun to play with, and then there's the training of course. Time was spent on all those things and I didn't want to impose the blog into that scenario.

Squamish Back Country: Sky Pilot Ridge
Photo Credit: Leona Shaw
So what's been happening to date? Well, I managed to get WAY more elevation training in this year than last year. I focused on climbing, climbing and more climbing. Very little flat running. Breaking up the types of runs (Fartleks, Long Slow Distance, Climb Focus, DownHill Focus etc). No two runs a week were the same. I did whatever I could to break up the style of running or the focus of the run.

We Run Mas Going Up Galactic (aka The Big Climb for #SQ50)
I also went back to the same routes every few weeks, and saw HUGE gains in performance. For example, I did a "recovery" run on Thursday around Buntzen Lake that was easy effort for me. Well, after uploading to Strava, I broke two PR's and was only a few minutes off my PR for the whole circuit. I barely broke a sweat on that run, so HUGE confidence boost there and measurable signs of gains in efficiency and speed.

Making Plans on a 35k Run
Photo Credit: Elaine Fung
This last Monday, Alanna, my wife and I did the Galactic climb and Powersmart descent as our final long run distance, ran into a MASSIVE bear only 12' feet away. There's speed training for ya!
Our We Run Mas group runs have been superb, plus I got to be a pre-sweep for Cypress 5 peaks (running with 100 flags is interesting!) and although I'm not a high mileage runner, I feel really good going into Squamish50 this year with the variety and freshness that the training season brought.

My Wife at the Peak of Galactic (pre-Bear Encounter)
So why so much progress? Several reasons:

1. Experience: Last year I just tried to stack the distances week to week, and inevitably got tired, hurt or lacked consistency. I have way more to look back on and really paid attention to the feedback I was getting from one run to another.
I don't follow training plans. Matt Fitzgerald's book was a huge help in relying on my feeling to get things done. Little golden nuggets, like Erik Bjorklund's trail advice of, "It's training, take care of the little issues as they happen. Forget the pace, forget the finish time. Worry about those on race day. Don't let a sore this or that get away from you in training." That was the essence of what he said, and it stuck with me. I have no problems stopping on a training run, stretching something out, loosening up a shoulder, or changing the route to ensure an ankle or other wiggly bit doesn't get aggravated.

Squamish 50 Course #SQ50
2. Worked on the Weaknesses: I really focused on my weakness - Uphill. In a previous post, I discussed this in detail, and the benefits have been compounding. Hills that were once non-runnable to me have now become runnable, and sections of long ascents also are less of a burden and far more enjoyable. I also tackled some really steep, extended climbs which put once monumental efforts into perspective.

Charles, Colin and I on Sea to Summit Trail
3. Speed: I chose my spots and really went fast on certain training runs. In the past, I used to treat all my runs as fast tempo paces. This limited my upper limit, since the legs and cardio were too taxed to get into the upper limits of my full velocity. By relaxing on the "recovery" sections, and allowing myself to run comfortably for extended periods, my speed portions were screaming fast. I was tapping into the mid to high 3 minute per km paces, even on technical terrain. Granted, not for very long, but ability to go there was a sign that my regular efforts were developing efficiency, strength and synergetic output.

Paris: 1st Race = 1st Place (in age cat.) @ 5Peaks Cypress
4. Discomfort Through Racing: I've become fine with being uncomfortable. The threshold for pain has increased, and this has allowed me to dig deep where it mattered. The single-most beneficial tool I did to achieve this was my race schedule. I raced a lot this season (9 races in total since last year's SQ50 attempt). Racing allows you to push a bit more, even if you're not going for a PR or an A race effort. The rules change just a little, and this in turn brings a more primal energy to the fore. The secondary aspect to this is that I was always training for something. With a race always 3 to 6 weeks away, I had no excuses and always had my eyes on a prize. The specifics of the races also allowed me to focus on the aspects of that one event that I wanted to focus on and conquer.

A text chat between Kevin and Justin sums it up!
5. Nutrition: Last but not least, is fuelling. I was open to anything and everything to rectify the stomach issues of nausea, puking and calorie deficit. That open minded desperation led me to Infinit Nutrition, and it has been one of the biggest impacts on my endurance training. It allowed me to focus on the other aspects of my training without worrying about the ticking time bomb that was my gut to take me down. It's a staple of my run requirements, and the one time I ran out of product, the differences were huge. With it, I feel great, energized and recovered after every run. I'm sure I'll have moments of "regular" gut issues from heat, hard efforts and other such things, but not anything like what would sideline me before.
I also had a chance to run with Darcy from Infinit on his vacation out west, and we kicked up some dirt on the North Shore, which was a blast!

Sky Pilot Ridge, Squamish Back Country
Photo Credit: Leona Shaw
I have one last climb on Sunday (We're doing Diez Vista from Sasamat  Lake up, then down to Buntzen, then up again and then down to Sasamat again). It'll be a low energy output elevation day with super smooth and easy downhill. Then it's beer, junk food and beer for the rest of the taper week. 50k Race day is on Aug 17th.

We Are Puny!
Photo Credit: Leona Shaw
I also have the pleasure and honour to be the Logistics Coordinator for the race this year, so the whole weekend from Friday to Monday will be jam packed with helping manage the guts of putting on such a crazy event. Working with the whole team has been awesome and eye opening. Hats off to Gary, Geoff, Sarah, Dianna and all the volunteers who are involved (including our running group). It's an immense undertaking, but one that has proved fulfilling in rounding out being a part of the trail community. iRunfar, live streaming cameras, Ginger Runner and a few other media majors are gonna be on hand too, so that's gonna be choice!

Post 35k Long Run Picnic
So, next blog report will be a Squamish 50 Race report with behind the scenes action on the planning and execution also! I'm feeling great about my personal race day, and can't wait to run with so many friends on my A race of the season!!

We Run Mas
"Dysfunctional Family"

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