|Photo: Joel Wolpert|
The question several friends have asked is, "Can you really train for something like this?" Of course you can. Starting a 2,181 mile trail ('11 updated distance) thru-run on limited training would be foolish. In the same breath, burning yourself out with excessive mileage would be equally irrational. Where is the balance and how does a personal adequately train for something of this magnitude? The answer to that question is something I'm afraid I don't know - I'll have to figure it out the hard way. I know slogging through 150 miles/week on roads in the February snow and cold is NOT the answer for me . . . hopefully spending much time on the trails soaking in the warmth, beauty, and smells of an early spring will be.
I'm planning on averaging around 210 miles/week on the Trail. I have no plan to approach any more than maybe 150 miles/week during training - and only once or twice. I personally have never been one of these ultrarunners that could sustain 100+ mile weeks, week after week. I stay in the 65-90 mile range year round and usually toss in a few bigger weeks here and there; which is hard enough to maintain while balancing all that is life. It's worked out fairly well thus far, but then again, I've never done something like this before. In my opinion, the worst thing I could do at this point is to push too hard and find myself injured.
I have several key points that I think will be critical to my success:
- Doing as many back-to-back long runs as I can handle in the upcoming months
- Keep mileage consistent, but try not to be too anal about exact numbers. More is not always better and I want to make sure I make it to May 5th healthy.
- Becoming more proficient with trekking poles over the coming months. These are the ones I decided on.
- Dial in gear and figure out which pack/s, shoes, etc. will be the "go to" stuff.
- Going as slow as possible in the beginning and using the first two weeks as "training".
- Using trekking poles; probably not all the time, but at least some each day. I've messed with them a few times and they certainly help a lot on the climbs. I think they will help when I'm inevitably nursing some issues on the trail or simply fatigued toward the end of the day.
- Icing - not the cake variety - and lots of it (maybe some of the cake kind too!). I've had issues in the past with instep/tibailis anterior tendinitis with multiday running. I plan on icing on Day 1 and every day after that. Staying on top of injuries will be key.
- Nutrition: Consuming around 5-6,000 calories/day will certainly be a chore. This will be very hard for me as I am usually a very clean eater and probably go many days on 2,500 or less. I just don't feel like I need to eat as much as others on daily basis. Regardless, I'm sure I'll go through tons of peanut butter, ensure, ice cream, and whatever fast food specials Kadra can find.
- Compression: I've got a pair of calf compression sleeves, but don't believe they do squat for me since they slip down half-way through a run. In theory, I think this could help with my tendinitis issues so I may try to find some that fit tighter.
- Meds: I'd like to not rely on meds to keep pain and inflammation at bay, but I know that the reality of the matter is that I will have to at some point. I plan on having some antibiotics (in case of ticks and/or illness), flagyl (giardia), ibuprofen, tylenol, and maybe even something a little stronger (lortab or percocet) for when the going gets really tough or I can't sleep.
- Be flexible. The journey as a whole is worth more than mindlessly sticking to the predetermined itinerary. Listening to my body will be essential to success.