Davy Crockett’s Running Frontier

I like to Run Insanely Long & Crazy Distances                                                                                                             Pony Express Trail 100
                                                                                                                                                                            www.ponyexpress100.org

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old-manI attempted to run my first 100 at the ripe old age of 46. It was a failure full of introspection. I had experienced enough early failures ultrarunning (finishing nearly last or not finishing) that it caused me to conclude that I was probably too old to become an ultrarunner. But in reality, the average finisher age for those who ran my first 100-miler was age 44.

So at age 46 in 2004, I mistakenly considered myself too old to be a serious runner. After all, I knew that for most professional sports you are over-the-hill by your mid- 30s. I was still recovering from a torn meniscus and believed that I would always be a back-of-the-pack runner because of my age, and my knee.

As I started to love the sport of ultrarunning, I wished that I could have found the sport when I was much younger, wondering how well I could have performed without an aged, broken body. I wished I didn’t have a bad knee, believing that it would always limit my speed and distance.

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fuel

Proper fueling while running an ultra is somewhat of a religious topic. There are many things that work and nothing truly is sacred, to be successful. Some ultrarunners are vegans, and most eat meat. Some believe drinking soda is harmful, and most drink it freely during races. Some think you should drink constantly, others when you feel thirsty. Some think beer is heavenly liquid, others consider it to be unhealthy and dangerous. If you get a chance, volunteer at an aid station during a 100-miler and watch what people eat and drink from the aid station or from their drop bags. Fueling strategy can be all over the map. Figure out what works for you.
To be successful in ultrarunning you must keep in careful balance:

1. Calories
2. Fluids
3. Electrolytes

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footWhen I started to run, I had no understanding about shoes or foot care. Somehow I had a strange belief that expensive running shoes was a scam and it really didn’t matter what you ran in as long as they fit well. I would just go to a big box store and choose a pair of cheap shoes off the shelf that seemed to fit well. My struggles were many, as I tried to go longer distances. My feet would get very sore and blisters were frequent. I became very discouraged.

Once I discovered the existence of ultrarunning in 2004, I subscribed to an email listserv named, ultralist (still in existence in 2016). This was the primary gathering place back then on the Internet for ultrarunning discussions. After my first year of ultrarunning, in 2005 I posted a long summary of my running activities and one veteran posted in reply: “After reading your race reports about your first ultra year, I’m amazed that you survived. It seems that you made many poor decisions during the year but still managed to grow and achieve success. You seem to be very determined and quite persistent, but be careful out there. Learning from your mistakes will help you eliminate a lot of the unnecessary pain you’ve been experiencing.” His comments were very true. I was gaining a lot of good experience through failures. I did read carefully the ultralist and learned a ton of knowledge from the experienced runners who shared their experiences and race report.

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long

What is a long run?  Obviously the answer varies for each runner.  As a boy, I remember my first “long” hike in boy scouts, a five-mile walk from close to my home, to Salt Water State Park on the Puget Sound in Washington.  It seemed like it took all day and was so very far. To me back then, a one-mile run was long. As a teen, as I began to do some regular one-mile runs, three miles seemed long. As I again tried to run regularly in college, a very long run became eight miles.

As I discovered ultrarunning, a long run in my mind was ten miles. A 50K run (31 miles) seemed to be a very long event that took careful planning to do. In 2005 I would look at the race calendar and started to think about traveling to participate in 50K runs which to me back then, was still a mega-distance. But as I gained a longer mileage base, and with more experience, that 50K distance seemed to grow shorter and no longer seemed to be a massive run.  50K eventually turned into my definition of “the long run.”

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miles chart

2015 was a good running year for me.  For the past few years I have been slowed from continued consequences of the massive tibia stress fracture that I experienced in 2012. Opening 2015, I still was having some issues but as the year progressed, stability in that leg area returned and I worried less about it.  I still fear running faster than 7-minute pace, which seems to cause tears in the area so I’ve retired from face-pace running at short distances (5K, 10k, half-marathon, marathon, and even 50K).

With consistent training and long races I experienced a record year for me in miles, with 4,564 miles, far more than my previous best of 3,943 in 2011, one of my best years.  With new responsibilities at work in 2015, I found it more difficult to find time and motivation to do a lot of mid-week training and instead concentrated on very long Saturday runs, always taking off Sundays.  I probably averaged running less than three days a week.  I added many power-walks from the train station to work and back several times a week. continue reading…

In 2013, I discovered if I did a very long run each week instead of a series of shorter runs that my body adjusted and I recovered from these long runs much faster than if I only did one about once a month.  My recovery from 100-mile runs was faster and the pain felt during them was decreased.  I never do “back-to-back” long runs (two runs in two days) because I believe it is important to recover between them to avoid injury, but once recovered, another long run seems to be very beneficial.

chart

Again in 2015, I have been doing weekly very long runs.  So far this year I have run at least a 50K run every week except for three.  In addition I have been doing mid-week training and have so far run further than any year before during the first three months of the year (1,120).  This March I ran 453 miles which is my highest mileage month ever. continue reading…

miles chart

 

Somehow I managed to run 3,000 miles again this year.  It has been a frustrating year.  I had a few good months in the spring when my problem leg no longer bothered me and my speed came back, running a 20:34 100-miler and even led Salt Flats 100 at mile 44.  But the summer was challenging as I DNFed two 100-milers, mostly because of mental weakness.  The last two months of the year have been discouraging as my leg becomes sore, like a chronic shin splint in the area near where it fractured a few years ago.  The pain usually isn’t bad, but I know if I push it, it will only get worse. Running slowly works, but with speed, it seems to pull at the membrane on the bone.  We’ll see what 2015 holds.  I’ll try to run 100 miles this week at Across the Years and see how it goes from there.  I haven’t entered any 2015 races yet, other than the Wasatch 100 lottery.

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You would probably expect that trail ultrarunners avoid treadmills like the plague. Yes, I have been known to refer to running on them as wimpy, when I could be running outside.   I called that machine the “dreadmill” or the “hamster machine.” I watch shows like Biggest Loser and yell at the people on the television telling them to go outside, to get out of the stupid fitness rooms.

In my housing development we have a small fitness room and a 25-meter pool that I have access to.  It opens daily at 4:30 a.m.  When the sun is up, out the window as I run I can see beautiful Utah Lake and the snow covered Wasatch Mountains. I have a few friends who have worked out there year-round in the morning for the past ten years.  I usually only see them there during the “winter” months when the trails start turning muddy and the mornings become very cold.  I make my appearance in November and bid good-bye in May. continue reading…