My friend and Leadville 100 pacer Jesse Crandall and I have an inside joke. Every now and again one of us will send the other a text message and state simply and accurately: “I like running.” Jesse is now in graduate school back East. He has been able to get out and run on the roads and through neighborhoods. Needless to say this change of scenery has been a big change in his life. He has kept running. He likes running. I on the other hand have not moved and have not changed scenery one bit. Instead, I have taken advantage of the past month to diligently run my favorite routes in and closely around Gunnison. I, too, like running, very much.
The past few weeks I have been able to get out and put in hundreds of miles on the snowy and muddy trails close to town. I have run Signal Peak approximately 20 times in the past 3 weeks which has provided me with tens of thousands of vertical feet of climbing, leaving the legs strong. My fitness is very high with my weight way down to my normal August race weight. I have changed many things with my diet and day-to-day nutrition which has helped tremendously. So; things have been fantastic as of late and I can only hope (confidently expect) this will continue deep into the spring and throughout the summer.
I have been feeling very ‘natural’ during all of my runs too; as compared to ‘clunky’ for the better part of 2009. I have stated several times in this blog that my ‘freedom of motion’ is high. I just feel like I am moving comfortably on the roads and the trails with nimble descents and strong climbs. I feel good while running, period. I attribute this to many things; mainly losing a little weight and feeling light, lean, and mean. My energy levels are super high after taking the bulk of the autumn and early winter off from any real training. The high energy levels are also attributable to some changes in nutrition; less daily carbohydrate intake (mainly cutting out the ‘crap’ carbs)(leading to more consistent energy throughout the day), a daily regimen with the great products from First Endurance, and more confidence on effectively using another great product: Vespa. I have been having great success with these products and I also have enjoyed communicating with these companies; they have both been a joy to work with. Also, I have been very fortunate to now have the best shoe I have ever had on my feet: The Vasque Transistor. (You can also watch my video clip in the blog post below this one). This shoe is helping me greatly on the trail; I feel nimble and quick; I am now able to run exactly how I should be running; on my mid-foot, and the light-weight nature of this shoe helps as I navigate some steep and technical terrain.
Strength Training has been solid but a little less than normal as I have shied away from the ‘leg lifting’ this spring and instead have concentrated more on running big miles. The cumulative strength from 2 years of diligently lifting my legs on a weekly basis is noticeable. I feel durable and strong; but I now feel less bulky. Instead I have focused the bulk of my strength training and leg strength training on my core, hips, and glutes. The core training has been rigorous, but tolerable. I am feeling strong. Focused strength. As far as speed training or intervals; I have diligently run 1 hard session per week. This is typically taking the form of repeat miles; as I feel this is a good way to rev the heart rate, work on stride efficiency, and ‘dial-in’ the mental toughness. I am lucky enough to live 2.5 miles away from a neighborhood with an exact 1 mile circular road loop. The 2.5 miles makes for a perfect warmup and cool-down and the loop is beautiful with slightly more variation than the track at the college.
As for weekly running volume, I have been over 120 per week for the last 3 weeks and this week I will push 150 miles. The weekly hours of running have varied from 15-19 hours, and this week will be approximately 21 hours. I feel great and right where I need to be in terms of volume. My body responds to volume and it is responding well right now. After hitting this big week; I will have a ‘minor’ reduction in volume next week as I prepare for the Spring Desert Ultra 50 miler in Fruita, CO. I have fond memories from this race as it was the first ‘Ultra’ victory of my career in 2007. Last year, 2009, Andy Skurka swooped in, ran well and stole the course record. There will be a solid group of us gunning for the victory next week: Myself, Ryan Burch, Nick Clark, Benn Dunn, and many others. This will be a battle. Here’s to a great debut race for 2010.
Consistently running with friends and training partners has been a welcome addition this spring. I can’t say enough about the great camaraderie with Ryan Burch, Benn Dunn, and of course, Timmy Parr. These guys more often than not are pushing the pace and helping in my training. I am very fortunate to have these guys. This will be a great summer season for the 4 of us. Here’s to Gunnison Valley; one of the greatest spots on earth. As for Jesse? Jesse has committed to come back and pace me through parts of the Leadville 100 again this summer. He said he wouldn’t miss it for the world. Jesse must like running. I know I do. Thanks for reading.
Live well. Train well. DC