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Friday, January 30, 2015

Looking Ahead . . .

It's been awhile since my last post, and much has happened in the interim. Training cycle slowed down, work picked up, and now the training cycle starts to ramp up again as 2015 is taking form.

I believe that "resets" are necessary for endurance running and high impact sports.
Maintaining the running volume, intensity and mental focus over an extended period of time can lead to many issues, not limited to adrenal fatigue, mental burnout and over training. To that extent, I personally did very little for most of December, and in turn January has been a reinvigorating experience.

When I reflect back on last year, I realized that some of my final posts had a very dull energy to them, which may have potentially (and wrongly) given the idea that my 2014 was a "bad" year. It can't be further from the truth. I completed my first official Ultra finish line (Diez Vista 50k), absolutely crushed my Iron Knee 24k PR by a whopping 26 minutes, crewed and paced friends at Van100, climbed multiple mountains after learning how to run uphill, and improved my technical downhill technique throughout the year. Our running group grew but maintained its intimacy and remains the biggest motivator for me personally to make progress and mark every moment of this stage of my life.
I logged a lot of miles, a lot of laughs and a ton of irreplaceable memories. Even my Squamish 50 race weekend was filled with support from friends, amazing developments as the Logistics Coordinator, and I dug deeper as a human being than I ever had before.

Chillin On Mount Seymour

So looking back, my 2014 was fantastic! And I may not have realized that fact had I not exhaled in December and granted myself the time to realize just how good it was.

So here we are, looking at 2015, and a few realities have set in. Foremost of which is I and many of my friends are no longer "new" to running. I started in 2012, so am going into what I call my intermediate stage of running. In the the competency grid, it would be the "consciously competent" box. As a group, we're discovering our own personal paths; what works in training for us individually, and what changes are required for the upcoming season. My nutritional consults with Ashley Charlebois at Fortius Sport Center in Burnaby, along with a rack of tests with their Sports Science Doctors, had revealed some physiological reasons as to why my crashes were happening outside of training loads. So by all accounts, the path is being tweaked, fine tuned and modified to set up greater success.

WRM Anniversary Run 2014 - Year Two

My race season this year is very focused. I'll partake in a few tuner races for fun (5 Peaks Golden Ears, CMTS Cap Crusher etc), and have my A races set out also. The sidebar on the blog will be updated with those goal efforts and dates.

Having a laugh with Solana
I'm bringing speed training back into the mix for 2015 for a couple of reasons. One, I like running fast. It's part of the thrill for me, and I enjoy charging down the trail for extended periods of time. Second, if I can grow my top speed, then my 70% effort will be relative to that effort, allowing me to do so for a longer period of time. I'm using pace charts and effort targets based on the Furman Institute method for two runs a week; intervals which will start in February (yay 4:01 pace/km repeats!) and then a mid week Tempo run that sits anywhere from 4:20 pace/km to 4:44 pace/km for 5k to 9k periods, not including the necessary warm up, cool down and strides. I had some of my greatest gains in overall running form, efficiency, lactate thresholds and top end speed with this method, so another push in this area is exciting. Speedwork, when done with a controlled program has the benefit of making you a better overall runner, so when you dial down the pace and intensity into the long distance, factors such as form, posture, and technique don't fall into the "Ultra Shuffle" trap.

Sometimes we need rope!

For long runs, the plan is to get as high as possible . . . elevation and peak bagging. Not only will this generate some great views and opportunities to explore, but as a secondary bonus ensure that hill training both up and down are factored into physical adaptation. Getting to local peaks and enjoying the wonder of our local natural mountain ranges is world class, and to deny that experience would be foolish!

My first A race for the season is going to be the Mountain Madness Iron Knee 24k, which is a course that I love to race (and which will also be modified this year due to rockslides in the Seymour River). A race of that distance is a speed session for me, and I want to push hard for the entire time, which if the profile and route are similar to previous years ought to be about 2h:20m to 2h:25m for goal time. Speed and efficiency will be the key for the gains that I'm looking for.

WRM Group Run to Norvan Falls
Ultra A race will be Squamish 50k again. I'll make sure I don't compromise my race as I did in 2014 by ensuring I get enough sleep and pre-race nutrition. I recently purged my gut of H. Pylori with a two week hit of HP-Pac which was a likely culprit for many of my gut issues. If that was the magic bullet, then I expect to see huge gains in my endurance effort with the ability to actually take in fuel throughout a long day. In the meantime, I'm doing one or two calorie deprivation runs to work my metabolic efficiency, and have been fine up to 4 hours with as little as 8 ounces of water. Pre-run I take a 6oz drink of Vega Energizer, and post run Vitargo S2 for recovery. I keep a peanut butter sandwich with me to alleviate hunger but haven't had the need on anything less that 4 hours, and on 5 to 6 hours a couple of small bites is doing the trick. As the volume increases, small adaptions built on this system with an increase in calories per hour will be the key to my Ultra goals. For Squamish 50k, I'm shooting for 7h:30m. Bring it!

On the Upper Lynn Loop

Adventure A race of the year will be Coast Mountain Trail Series Sky Pilot out in the Squamish back country. It's an epic new endeavor and I have zero time goals for the race, since the full course has yet to be completed. It has steep climbs, ladders, ropes, and other factors that makes it a true single day adventure race. Where else does an 18k mountain race have expected finish times in the 6 to 7 hour range! Exciting. It will be late in the season, so the number of peak ascents that I will have accomplished by that time will be good experience and groundwork for the race day.

Mentally, I'm on point for the challenge ahead. Twenty years of martial arts training has a nice crossover with warrior spirit and perseverance. I'm reading (or perhaps a better term would be "meditating on") Miyamoto Musashi's Book of Five Rings, which plays well to both my running and kickboxing. Breaking down goals to achieve small successes and in turn confidence to achieve larger, more daunting tasks is all part of the process.
I've always enjoyed the challenge and experience of Ultra running and, if anything, have the problem of being too excited for races! Dialing back some of that excitement on race day to prevent the adrenaline dump will be a mental goal for me without losing any of the passion along the way. More like banking the excitement and letting it trickle charge throughout the day versus dropping the emotional hammer in the first 30 minutes!

I'll be doing some gear reviews this year on the blog, largely because now I have actual opinions on stuff. I didn't feel like I could do products justice in the early stages but with a couple of years under the belt, and real world experience, product reviews will be based on that reality. Race reports will continue, as well as a continued sharing of knowledge from podcasts, interviews and reading. There's some smart people out there, and my thoughts on their own personal philosophies will be shared.

Me and My Girl
 Until then . . . go out and crush some trails!!

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