Sunday, March 21, 2010

Big Saturdays Return

Due to the ambitious and multi-faceted race schedule I have planned for 2010, I've decided to pull most of the tools out of the trusty training shed. Considering my age (46) and my limited gifts, I feel that there is only one way to tackle the goals: pain 'n sufferin'. And one of my favorite applications of pain comes in the form of something I call "Big Saturday."
With the most anticipated events of the summer being the 3-mi run,56-mi bike, and 13.1-mi run Muncie Endurathon Duathlon (new this year)and the Leadville Silver Rush 50 mile run, I've got to acquire some serious endurance this year. I should mention that those two events are on consecutive weekends in July. Enter the Big Saturday - affectionately called BS in my mind and log book.
BS's have been implemented throughout the last twenty years. That is how long I have been pursuing (relatively) fast-paced and (certainly) low-mileage training methods. It was in the early 1990's, after a multi-year bout with plantar fasciitis, that I started running limited miles while continuing to cycle regularly. Since then the log books have consistently been filled with 13-17 mile run weeks and 750-800 mile run years. Likewise, my cycling has consistently ranged between 2500-3000 miles per year - except for 1996-8 when I did not own a bike. Unless the rest of my life gets in the way, I train only on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays - with an occasional Sunday ride.
So, what is BS and how do I work it in? It has evolved over time. During the tough years when I was fighting through the arch problems and later while I dealt with herniated discs, BS consisted of a 6-7 mile run followed by a 20-mile bike. Normally, though, BS is a 9-mile run which, from March and October, is followed by a 25-mile bike. The bike ride disappears and the run is lengthened to as much as 18 miles when I prepare for marathons. Preparation for ultramarathons during the past few years has caused the BS to turn into a 20-35 mile run with no bike follow-up. Note that considering the low mileage, those normal 9 mile runs make up 60% of the weekly mileage (15) and 18 milers during marathon training account for 70-75% of weekly mileage (20-24). Hence, Big Saturday.
As far as big cycling goes, I did compete in the Buckeye Challenge in 2000. That "half-iron" consisted of a 5.3 R, 55.2 B, and 13 R on a sweltering midwest day in August. BS's leading up to that race consisted of three 12 mile runs followed by 40-50 mile rides. I normally average 75-80 bike miles per week with the long ride maxing out around 30 miles, so those extra-long rides caused a reduction in the length of the other two weekly rides.
That was the year of my first digital log book, and it is gone. I know I finished the Buckeye in 4th and that my approximate splits were 30:30, 2:23, 1:21. It was a good day despite the dehydration that caused me to fade after taking the lead 9 miles into the second run. I remember being super PO when, contracted into a dried-up saltless ball in the grass somewhere just beyond the finish chute, I learned that the "Gatorade" they handed out during the bike leg was really flavored, calorie free electrolyte free, WATER. Many saline bags were emptied that day. Though my recovery was slow and agonizing, it was likely due as much to the heat as it was to the minimal training. That cannot happen this year.
Thus, Big Saturday ultra style. I will apply what I have learned from my own experiences and what I have learned from reading about and talking to some of the great ultra guys during the past three years. That started yesterday with a 2-hr/17-mi run followed by a 1:45/35-mi ride on a hilly course. I intend to continue logging, and lengthening, BS's every other Saturday until July. How big will BS be? I'd love to experience a 25-30 mi. run and a 60 mi. ride on the same day. We'll see. My ultra experience tells me that I can do it, I just have to keep the pace realistic.
And, of course, I have to make certain to recover in time to complete the mid-week speed sessions required for me to be successful at the 5K distance at Du Nats. Though the groin has already put me behind, I am looking forward to this experiment.
I am three weeks into (and 4 weeks late for) an intense program that will allow me to go hard and fast each mid-week and long and hard each weekend. The physical and mental abilities as well as the finances and time to carry out these self-rewarding "plans" combine to form an awesome set of gifts that I do not take for granted.

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