In roughly 50 days I'll be running the Virgil Crest 100. Here's what I've been up to for the last 50 to prepare.
"Intensity is the independent variable most commonly associated with increased work capacity across broad time and modal domains"-CrossFit founder Greg Glassman
A long sentence a la CrossFit to sum up a valid point -intensity gets results. This link provides information on the 3 metabolic pathways that provide energy for all human action and the physiological adaptation associated with each one. library.crossfit.com/free/pdf/CFJ-trial.pdf
I'm currently performing 2-3 met-cons per week in preparation for Virgil Crest. I've chosen or created short duration, high intensity workouts that blend speed, power, and compound body movements. For example:
5 rounds of 400m sprints with a weighted vest followed by 5 power cleans.
3 rounds for time of: 500m row-12 Body Weight Deadlifts-21 Box Jumps
Functional strength carries over into any activity that we perform. This may seem obvious but I remember a period of 2-3 months where I didn't I performed a single pull-up or put anything heavy over my head while training for a race-there just wasn't enough time. Looking back I would have been better off trading the short and easy "recovery runs" that did nothing but fill up my mileage log for some time underneath a squat rack. I would have been better prepared for the race and not as far off from the average strength to weight ratio that many distance runners, myself included, struggle to maintain.
Since last January I've focused on low reps with heavy loads on all of the major lifts (Squat Deadlift Overhead Press Bench Press). This builds pure strength as opposed to size, takes less than 20 minutes 3 times a week, and has me feeling stronger than I have in longer than I can remember.
Through a combination of necessity (life has been incredibly busy) and design (eliminating junk miles in favor of strength development and race specific cross training worked well for me at the Peaks 50 Miler) I've built this training cycle around as many quality miles as I can get in during the week while prioritizing my weekly long runs. Following a stress fracture in mid- June I was able to amp up the mileage pretty quickly and begin my training for Virgil Crest on the first week of July.
Saturday July 7th:
22 Miles: Ran from my house in Brunswick to Bradbury Mountain in Pownal (14 miles). I met my friend Jordan who will be running the Virgil Crest 50k for a speedy 8 miles on the trails.
Sunday July 15th:
20 Miles: In preparation for pacing my friend Jeremy Bonnet at the VT 100 the following week I wanted to continue to tack some speed onto the end of my long runs. Running the 14 miles to the start of the Bradbury Scuffle, a 6 mile trail race at Bradbury Mountain,seemed like a great opportunity to get one last long run in before VT. I was excited to see how this would all pan out...
I ran well all morning until the heat caught up with me at mile 4 of the Scuffle and the wheels came off from there. Not a great race but a perfect training run for VT.
Saturday July 21st:
30 Miles: An unforgettable run along the last 30 mile stretch of the Vermont 100 with Jeremy Bonnet. I knew that running some of the more technical trails at night would be good practice for Virgil Crest but the greatest benefit was witnessing Jeremy run harder than I ever anticipated over some very challenging terrain for the last stage of a 100 miler. He ran amazingly well at this race and crossed the line at just after midnight for a 20:05 finish. I left with lifelong memories of headlamps, moonlight, and the galloping hoofs of horses as we ran through the fields and trails of back country Vermont. I would love to compete in the 25th running of this incredible race next year. I returned to Maine with an even greater respect for a runner and friend who I've always held in the highest regard, an appreciation for my teammates at Trail Monster Running that grows stronger with each experience that we share, and a dose of pure inspiration as race day in Virgil NY fast approaches.
Saturday July 28th:
21 Miles: This was a tough run. I spent the beginning of the week recovering from the Vermont 100 (my nutrition and sleep have been very tight lately and a weekend of wonky wake-ups, late night running, sugary gels, and greasy ultra burgers -sans bun but still really, really bad- took a serious toll on me). The end of the week was spent pounding through some tough workouts at the gym and the combination of the two caught up with me on Saturday morning. I woke up feeling sick, stiff-legged, and not ready to run my planned 21 mile out and back to Wolfs Neck State Park. I sucked it up as good practice for the inevitable low points at Virgil Crest, enjoyed the technical, hilly, and highly scenic trails at the park, and proceeded to enjoy nothing else about this run except for its conclusion. Tough runs happen and tough runners run through them.
Sunday August 5th: Bradbury Breaker-This is my scale back week with the 9 mile, ultra-hilly Bradbury Breaker scheduled to be my longest run. It's all build up from here on in...
Weekend of August 18th: 25 miles of tough trail-A planned 25 miler either at Bradbury Mountain or Ragged Mountain. I'm looking for hills, technical terrain, and generally tough trails.
Weekend of August 25th: 50k+- I'd like to run the 38 mile Grafton Notch Loop as my longest training run for VC. This trail has 11,000 feet of vertical gain and has been described by my friend Chuck Hazzard as the Pemi-Loop on steroids. If this isn't logistically possible I'll be heading down to N.H to hit the 31 mile Pemi.
The three weeks before the race will include an additional 20-25 miler before tapering, some more night miles on the trails, a continued emphasis on strength development and general physical preparedness, and both a 5k and a 12 mile trail race scheduled for the weekend of September 8th. (The 5k is for a program that I'm coaching and the 12 miler is for a Bradbury Bad-Ass shirt that I've been coveting for years...once I get it I can stop all this running.)
Then on September 22nd I head down to Virgil NY for the toughest run of my life. Looking forward to the Virgil Crest 100 and to the many miles that lie between here and.the finish line.