When we press register and begin to train for our event, we know that overcoming setbacks is inevitable. How we are able to overcome those obstacles and adapt our training plan will help us be successful on race day. I have been training and racing for 17 years and I know that there will be moments of missed opportunity. This happened in January during my training for the Lake Sonoma 50. January included a double bout of illnesses, including the flu and COVID. However, as I recovered from these illnesses I was able to focus on how I could better this year compared to 2021.
Embracing Forced Recovery: A Silver Lining
I got struck with illnesses, the flu being the first blow. COVID followed that up a week later. I thought I could recover quickly, but it turned into a forced recovery. Despite losing valuable training time, I tried to maintain a positive outlook believing I could overcome these setbacks. I told myself that it’s still early enough, twelve weeks before the Lake Sonoma 50, that a solid training block was still possible. I made a commitment to give himself grace during this time. That mindset would set the tone for the remainder of my training cycle. I had to understand that setbacks are temporary, and the focus should remain on the ultimate goal.
Elevation Gain and Technical Trail Skills: Going Forward Training Blueprint
As I laid on the couch I came up with ways to create a revised training plan for Lake Sonoma’s challenging terrain. With a 10,000 feet of elevation gain over 52 miles, I use treadmill runs incorporate various inclines, mimicking the race course. Balancing intensity and recovery, I include heart rate zone workouts with active recovery, incorporating cycling on a Peloton bike. The addition of spinning sessions will complement my trail runs. Racing an ultra incorporates many different muscles and spinning on the bike will work different muscles than running while also allowing for active recovery.
Prioritizing Recovery: A Month Devoted to Healing
I have always believed in the power of recovery versus the constant grinding. January became a month of 100% recovery for me, as he battled the two illnesses.
Going forward I am spacing out runs with a day of recovery in between. These recovery days help me balance mileage and intensity which will play a big factor on race day. For example, Sundays bring easier runs a day after spending hours on the trails. My training philosophy revolves around time on feet since I plan on being on the course for 11-12 hours, maybe longer if things don’t go my way.
Smart Nutrition and Gear Adjustments: Refining the Strategy
Fine-tuning my nutrition plan was a key focus during January and the first part of February. I am planning on using drop bags during Lake Sonoma 50, learning from my past experience at the event.
I will be adding Salt Electrolytes to the Tailwind in my flask as I focus on better hydration and fueling during the race. Other gear adjustments include a switch to Topo Athletic Ultraventure 3 shoes. I’ve been training in the Nike WildHorse but I find the Topo shoes are better at providing traction on varied terrains.
Beyond the hydration and running shoes, I plan on using a new hydration vest. I will be running in the Adidas Terrex which has an extra pocket in the back insuring accessibility during the race to additional hydration. I prefer to have a flask in the back pocket versus a bladder as flasks are easier to fill up at aid stations.
Mental Resilience: The Unseen Power
During an ultra we will have many opportunities that represent themselves as mental challenges. During the month of January I focused on the importance of giving myself grace. Thinking about the hardships during the month, I was able to understand that these were temporary setbacks. Thinking about the11% grade climb during Lake Sonoma 50 I thought about the similarity to to overcoming my illness. The climb is going to be hard but it will be temporary and I’ll be able to overcome that setback. Being sick was also temporary, so long as I allowed myself to heal versus the idea of grinding. It became apparent that the nature of challenges, illness or a steep climb, are short lived. Knowing and understanding this is going be crucial for both training and racing.
Injury Prevention: Strengthening the Foundation
Toward the end of January, I was able to get out and run. I thought about what could set me back again and the answer was injury. Ignoring injury prevention and how important it is to being consistent with training can be a big mistake. January gave me the opportunity to focus more on dynamic warm-ups, balance work, and ample rest during this time. Incorporating stretching, leg swings, and using a mini theragun, now that I am back into a regular training routine will help me in preventing injuries. That being said, giving myself grace when something is off will help me abandon the grind mentality and prioritize rest for long-term success.
Standout Moments and February’s Forward Momentum
Thinking about the challenges I faced during January the standout moment was getting healthy. By not pushing myself during the month, my approach should position me for a strong comeback. In February I plan on adding mileage wisely, while incorporating cycling, and getting back to strength training.
In the upcoming months, my journey toward the Lake Sonoma 50 promises to include smart decisions, overcoming setbacks and a passion for the process. This middle section of his training will be stepping stones along the path to buy finish line.