Wednesday, December 19, 2012

How Do We Do This?

As you can tell, it has been a couple of weeks since we have put a blog up.  It isn't necessarily because we haven't been training, but we are already hitting some bumps in the road.  Kevin has been sick and has been trying to get his strength back over the last week.  Me?  Well, I have been training... getting my miles in... but I have been wrestling with the mental aspect of it all.  Let me explain.

Kevin and I are notorious for biting off more than we should be able to chew.  Running ultra marathons is no exception. Kevin has run a couple of 50K's but I haven't run further than 26.2.. and that is on the pavement.  We both set out on this journey because we wanted to try something different.  I love to be in the woods and I love to be on trails so naturally I decided to join Kevin and hit the trails for 2013.  I was pumped when we decided on our races, and even when we began training.  Don't get me wrong, I am still excited and I am enjoying the training but the mental battles have begun.

I have mentioned before that we have really enjoyed listening to the podcasts of the elite runners on The interviews with these runners are excellent.  They share their stories and experiences and even try to give advice about the different aspects of trail running.  The advice is good, but I often feel that most of the content is directed to ultra runners who are elite, or at the very least, able to put in 70-100 miles a week in training.  That is impossible for a husband, a father of 3 children under the age of 10, and as someone who holds a full time job with an 1 hour and 30 min round trip commute every day.  I often feel discouraged after listening to these podcasts.  I don't understand how I am supposed to approach the simple goal of finishing an ultra marathon with all of the higher priorities I have mentioned above.  Just getting in my back to back long runs on the weekend are a huge challenge.  I try my hardest not to infringe on my family time.  They come first.  I have a loving wife who supports me and wants me to reach my goal, however, she works hard all week being a mom and I need to help her on our weekends.  I simply need to be there with my family.  The elite runners make this a job, I can't do that.

Other things I hear the top runners talking about that leave me wondering what I should do?  Well, let's see...
  1. Core workouts to go along with your running - I love the thought of this and have really tried to implement it.  Time is at a premium though and it has been tough.  I get up at 4:30am each day just to get my run in before I commute to work.  It has been tough fitting this in the schedule as well.
  2. Running with someone - Kevin and I try to run together every chance we get, however, he lives 20 min away so it is almost impossible for him to come run with me early in the mornings.  We have made an effort to run together on the weekends but our family schedules can trump that too.
  3. Pit crews/support at races - I often worry about what we are going to do regarding this. Kevin and I are the only people we know that enjoy running, let alone, ultra running like we do.  I can't think of one person that would want to sit out on a trail all day talking us through 50 miles.  Every elite runner I talk to talks about someone to help them with nutrition and just be there to support them.  Is this not the case for someone who has a goal just to finish?  This is a big question I have.
  4. Nutrition - I know nutrition is important but let's face it... when you have 3 kids and are on the go every night, it isn't often you can get a healthy meal at the dinner table together.  It is too easy to grab something to go so you make it where you are supposed to be on time.  On the flip side, I worry about nutrition in the race.  Will I get enough?  How do I know how much I need in a race?  I am experimenting on my long runs but it is something that makes me uneasy.
I have loved training for these races and that won't stop.  I just can't get past these questions on how to approach some of these things as an Average Joe.  I will continue to listen to the elite runners because they inspire me.  Maybe someone out there can relate and can share their experiences and encouragement with us so we can figure it all out.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

An Elite "Average Joe"

As I mentioned in our weekly recap yesterday, Kevin and I have been listening to several of the podcasts at  A majority of the pod casts are from elite, well-known runners from the Ultra Runner community.  I have really enjoyed listening to each runners perspective on ultra running along with the experiences from their training and racing.
On my run this morning, however, I listened to a runner that bridged the gap from being an Average Joe runner like me to being an elite ultra runner like himself.  His name is Ian Torrence and he has acomplished just about everything in the sport of Ultra Running.  In his interview he discusses how he trains experienced marathoners to people running their first ultra marathon and how similar it can be.  The similarities of the goals he tries to set for his newbie ultra runners are so similar to the goals Kevin and I have set for ourselves.  This interview really inspired me and I highly recommend checking it out no matter what your current running goals are.

Monday, December 3, 2012

3 Days of Syllamo 50 Mile Training: Week 1 (Nov 26th – Dec 2nd)

Mon, Nov 26th  Plan: Rest

Tue, Nov 27th  Plan: Tuesday Six

Kevin:  I met Scott for the morning run in Conway.  I had to get up at 4am to get there.  Getting up was the hardest part.  We paced well together and pushed mile five pretty hard.

Scott:  I woke up at 4:30am ready to get this training under way.  Kevin drove to Conway to meet me for this run and it took him a while to get used to the early morning run.  We ended up running a good pace pushing it in the middle which made it a pseudo tempo run.

Wed, Nov 28th  Plan: Wednesday Easy Five

Kevin:  Missed my run in the morning because I turned off the alarm, no doubt due to the long day the day before.  I had to run this at lunch.  It was very hard to run as slow a pace as the plan has detailed.  I had to keep checking my watch because my body just doesn’t know this pace yet.

Scott: Took off around 5:00am for a nice 5 mile jog.  I settled in at about an 11:30 min/mi pace.  It was difficult to fight the urge to go a little faster but I was able to get in a nice rhythm.  This weekly slow run is going to be a key recovery run going forward.

Thur, Nov 29th  Plan: Thursday Six

Kevin:  Got up at 4 again to meet Scott.  Today’s run was a bit harder probably because of the 11 miles the past two days.

Scott: I woke up again around 4:30am and Kevin met me for this run. We ran at pretty much the same pace as we did on Tuesday for this 6 mile run, however, it felt a little bit harder.  This was probably just due to putting in a couple of days in a row with the medium mileage.

Fri, Nov 30th  Plan: Rest

Sat, Dec 1st  Plan: Weekend Road (3hrs)

Kevin:  We had to flip flop back and forth our plans a few times because of family obligations.  I ran a 5K with my family in the morning and then hit the trail for 1.5hrs (which is the plan for tomorrow), because I thought I’d end up running long tomorrow (but that didn’t happen either).  Because I was short on time I pushed the pace hard on the trail run and felt great doing it.

Scott:  Last minute change of plans on Saturday with my family forced Kevin and I to swap the trail run we had scheduled with the long run scheduled for Sunday.  My goal was to run this 3 hour around an 11:30 min/mi.  I actually settled in at about an 11:40 min/mi but was ok with it, especially with how my legs responded so quickly for the trail run coming up Sunday.

Sun, Dec 2nd  Plan: Weekend Trail (1.5hrs)

Kevin:  Scott picked me up at 5:45 and we hit the trail at dark.  We ran the first lap (3.25) in the dark.  Scott had a head lamp; I had the knowledge of the trail.  We ran the first lap right at our training pace and the second lap just a little bit faster.  I felt great on both laps.

Scott:  I drove to Greenbrier to get in our first trail run of the training at Woolly Hollow State park.  Picked up Kevin and we hit the trail at 6:00am.  The first lap was in the dark and I was a little conservative because I didn’t know the terrain very well.  I had a head lamp so I followed Kevin and watched where he was stepping to avoid turning an ankle.  The sun came up in time for the second lap and I was able to relax a little more.  We finished the training right at our goal of 1 hour and 26 minutes.

Week Overview Thoughts

Kevin:  I wish I had managed to get in a long run this week, but I still managed 36 miles, my second most ever in a week and I feel great.  A little fatigue deep in the legs on Monday morning, but no injuries and I’m looking forward to week two.

Scott:  Week 1 of the training was a success for me.  I was able to put in 39 miles and I feel good.  I enjoyed hitting the trail again and I am looking forward to the weeks of training ahead.  Another discovery that Kevin and I stumbled upon this week is  We have listened to many great interviews from elite ultra runners. Each guest to the podcast talks about the races they have entered, the ups and downs of their training, how they got into ultra running, etc.  My favorites have been the runners who seem to have the same life as Kevin and I do… 40hr/week jobs with a family.  Hearing how they adjust their training schedules to this lifestyle but are still able to accomplish their goals makes this 50 mile goal of ours seem more possible than ever.  I highly recommend checking out these podcasts.