I've taken it pretty easy this fall, running only 2-4 times a week on average since Leadville. Maybe 20 miles/week total. Sometimes a little more; sometimes a little less. Getting out when I can, but not stressing about it if I can't. I feel good. I've gained maybe 3-4 pounds since the 100, and certainly lost some aerobic capacity, but my legs still feel pretty strong. Most importantly, I still feel motivated. I often find myself reminiscing about my amazing year of racing and thinking about what goals I'd like to set for myself in 2014. It will be very difficult to top 2013.
Ironically, I don't know exactly why I'm training right now.
My 2014 race schedule depends on the outcomes of multiple lotteries. I threw my hat into Hardrock and Western States. The odds of me getting into either race are pretty low, so I'm trying not to get my hopes up. (1,279 people signed up for Hardrock this year and 2,704 for Western States.) Despite the exasperating Hardrock vs. Leadville melodrama this fall, racing Hardrock is still my number one long term goal. The unconstructive and self-righteous actions of its board of directors certainly diminished the race's aura for me personally, but the course still holds an undeniable allure. (Don't get me started.)
The one thing I have decided is that-- after four consecutive successful finishes-- the Leadville 100 will not be my focus race for 2014. Sure, I may run it for fun if the timing works out, but I'd rather focus on something new and different. Leadville has been my only 100 mile race and, while I've enjoyed every one of them, I feel it's time for me to branch out a bit.
|1,245 miles of racing in 4 years. Most of it in Leadville.|
|A breakdown of all the races I've run. Heavily skewed towards ultras. I love the ave miles/race.|
My current thinking is that if I fail to gain entry into Hardrock or Western States, Bighorn will be my focus race for next year. I've heard good things about it, it's relatively nearby, and it's a Hardrock qualifier. Furthermore, training for Bighorn will give me good experience in getting into shape by late June-- about a month earlier than I normally do for Leadville. Peaking just before the beginning of July will also be required if I ever run Hardrock. Hence, I'm beginning my training this week as opposed to the first week of January. So, we'll see...
I'm excited. I'm ready to get back at it.
My goals for this December are very modest. Just try to get in 5-6 short workouts/week. Maybe 25 miles/week total. I'm sure a fair amount of it will be on the bike trainer. I'd like to get in one quality workout per week as well: a hard snowshoe up Elk Run, or a strong effort on the bike, a long run, or perhaps a skin up Ski Cooper. With all the craziness that the holidays bring, we'll see! Honestly, probably the biggest effect of my training this December will be the reduction in loss of fitness rather than actually gaining any significant new fitness (since I usually atrophy for an extra month before beginning training in January).
No matter what my focus race for the year ends up being, preparing for the Salida Marathon in March will be my immediate goal. It's a great local race which has quickly become a key component of my early season training. It's also probably the main reason I'm able to motivate to get out the door and actually train during Leadville's long winter.
There's also rumor of a new snowshoe marathon in Leadville in early February! I haven't had the chance to talk with Smokey about it yet, but I'm definitely game for that race as well. I have found no harder winter workout than snowshoeing. It is utterly exhausting!