Ultra training -- the concept as much as the day-to-day -- has been such a liberating experience thus far. Gone is the pressure to run FAST; rather, the mindset is to "Run like you have to run a hundred miles". Rather than forcing a pace, the focus is relaxation and efficiency.
But the interesting thing: I feel FASTER! From a biomechanical aspect, this makes perfect sense -- before maximal speed/force, there must be technical excellence. There's a reason why golf instructors implore their students to "swing easy" -- because one must learn to perfect the technique while relaxed before you can amplify. To "Grip and Rip" is to risk penalty strokes. The same is true for fast and hard running with less-than ideal mechanics.
It'll be interesting to see, in the coming weeks, if my overall footspeed truly IS faster.
But even better: running is far more enjoyable. With the exception of Friday's "Illness Run", every long run I've done in the past three weeks, I've felt like I could go hours longer. I'm sure this is reflective of the "7-week freshener", but I also think it's in large part due to relaxed, efficient mechanics. Running is FUN!
...I'm almost for-sure in for Chuckanut 50K, thanks to a petition to the RD and a waitlist placing. I look forward to that weekend, for equal parts competition/ability testing and pre-/mid-/post-race ultra running community.
...Ian Sharman just ran 7:38 pace for 100 miles at Rocky Raccoon. Wow. Awesome. This is an example, and a prelude to where ultra running is heading: Mechanics + Nutrition + Toughness = incredible performances like we've never seen before. I look forward to "racing him" at AR50, and WS100 this year.
...I spent probably 4 hours this weekend on this Google search: "Western States Race Report". Read about a lot of bad races, and a lot of mistakes; and I learned a lot. Among the best, informative success stories:
Meghan Arobgast ('10);
Bryon Powell ('05);
and coincidentally, Iam Sharman ('10).
Ian ran the most simple strategy for his 8th place WS/100-mile ultra debut:
- Run really easy early (30th place through the first third),
- Drink nearly exclusively electrolyte drink (including his own Nuun-supplemented water), and
- Eat early, often and a lot.
Thus far, his is the template for my debut.