Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Month in Review (July)

7/2010: 145.0 miles
7/2011: 235.5 miles (46,134 ft vertical)
7/2012: 198.1 miles (39,064 ft vertical)
7/2013: 257.5 miles (53,809 ft vertical)

Well, another month for the record books. I broke both my monthly mileage and my monthly elevation gain PRs that I just set in June. My July numbers aren't that much bigger than June's, but what's impressive to me is that I managed to pull it off with only 4 weekends in July vs. 5 weekends in June. I was a little worried that maybe my training had peaked too early, and that I wouldn't be able to maintain my momentum in July, but luckily I was able to keep pushing for another month. My monthly totals are relatively modest in the grand scheme of things, but I'm confident that the quality of my runs has been high. All on trails, all at 10,000+ ft; with 1-3 very solid efforts each week. I chuckled when I realized that the easiest-- yes, the easiest!-- long run I've run in the last five weeks (!) was a 21-mile, 7,000 ft vertical double crossing of Hope Pass. When that's your "easy" long run, I think you're doing okay...

July '13. Not too shabby.
I think I'm most insecure about my training in July, when I should be reaching my peak. What should I be doing to improve upon an already solid June? I'm always second guessing myself. I think whatever you do, variety is the key. Your body has already adapted to whatever it was you were doing before, so something has to change. I felt yet another ~20 miler with ~4,000 ft of vertical wasn't going to do much. I've been running those since March. I basically had a few choices: 1) go faster, 2) go longer, or 3) go more vertical (verticaler?). The first option would've been smart, but I'm still a wimp when it comes to speed work. It hurts. I couldn't take the second option very far because I had pretty much already exhausted all my free time. Still, by waking up extremely early on the weekends, I was able to tack on a few extra miles to my long runs and push a couple of them into the mid-20's. And, of course, running the Silver Rush 50 certainly helped on the extra-long long run front. But, I put most of my emphasis on the third option: more vertical. I didn't feel super confident in my power hike, so power hiking was the plan, culminating with an Elbert-Massive double last weekend. Additionally, I made sure to put in a solid uphill effort on the day before my long run (excluding races). Those 7-milers are up and down the Powerlines at PR pace. That meant I started the long run the next day with just a touch of fatigue in my legs to better simulate conditions in the 100. So... not exactly back-to-back 20 milers, but I'm pretty happy with the strategy given my available options. I think it may be one of the key components to my training this year that's led to such a surprising improvement.

To cap off the month of July, today I ran one of those dreaded speed workouts I generally try to avoid. 5.6 miles down the Boulevard and back. According to my training log, this was the 75th time I've run that route. I spend a lot of time on it during the winter and in the early spring when all the other options are snowed in. The last time I ran it was late April. The PR I set in August '11 has stood for a long, long time. I couldn't break it last year. Today I shattered it by 4 minutes. I guess all that vertical is paying off!

I'm thoroughly enjoying my taper-- tapering hard, as I like to joke. The little niggles that come with peak training were beginning to accumulate. I was starting to feel sleepy and somewhat lethargic on some of my runs early last week. Luckily, I was able to rally and was really inspired on my last long run-- I never quite burnt out, but I could feel myself getting close. In other words, I'm definitely glad to be tapering. I'm looking forward to recovering and recharging these next couple of weeks. I'll be chomping at the bit on race day, I'm sure. I wouldn't want it any other way. But for now... it's time to relax, don't worry, and have a beer.


The next time I'm on top of Hope Pass it'll be race day! Yeehaw!

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