An Athlete's Diary
Zumbro 50 Mile - 8 week training
Incorporating exercise into our lives is not always easy. As I sit down to create my Zumbro 50 mile training plan, I’m going to share my process with you.
The event takes place on April 12 and starts at midnight. The race takes place in Southeastern Minnesota, is 50 miles long and the terrain will likely be quite unforgiving. I plan on hills, mud, sand, possibly ice and snow. Training outside will be very important and I’ve got less than 8 weeks to prepare.
My current fitness level is one based off of skiing, not running so it will be important to build strength using running specific exercises. I’ll start by walking hills on the treadmill and incorporating a variety of lunges, shoulder and core exercises. My training will be very specific and I’ll eat to keep up with my training. I’ll need to drink water like it’s my job and eat plenty of protein. At least one day a week I’ll incorporate recovery into my training and sleep is going to be paramount if I’m going to keep up with training and everything else that life throws at me. This is an exciting time as the thaw approaches and warm summer runs are on the horizon. Soon, I’ll be out in search of muddy puddles.
Reverse engineering my training for this event has me starting on the 12th of April. There will be some travel two weeks prior to the event so I’ll need to take that into account and make sure I schedule exercise into that week as well. The good news is, I should be at maintenance phase by then so the mileage won’t need to be too high. 8 weeks is a pretty short program to train for a 50 mile. The cardio is there and the fueling I feel pretty good about, it’s just getting my body ready for that pounding that will prove to be the challenge. I know I’ve got a summer full of events so I need to take that into account as well. This is one of four ultra-events scheduled for this spring/summer season so I’ll treat it as that. My goal is not to win but to finish within the allotted time.
This race allows 18 hours to finish and I’ll need to start my third loop by 12:45 on Saturday. I’m not sure who will come with me to this event but it’ll likely be my race partner and brother Jesse. It’s not the same out there without you bro. That means I’ll need to average a pace of almost 3 miles per hour over the course of the... courseJ
Alright, now it gets fun. The categories I’ll break my training into are hills, sprints, tempo, LSD and recovery. That will equal 5 – 6 days of training with 4 – 5 days of actual running. I won’t run on recovery days. Sprints will be 400 meters or less , 6 – 8 max with near full recovery between sprints(1 lap around the track). This will help keep my body loose, my mind focused and my lungs strong. Tempo will be 30 – 60 minutes of running. This will be interval pace always running. The slow end will be 15 minute miles walking and the faster end will be 6 minute miles. LSD is where the pounding will add up. I’ll start off doing one LSD day per week and work to back to back LSD days three weeks out from the event. That will be where I have my highest volume week. Recovery will consist of foam rolling, strength training, mobility stretching and a <5 minute stretching routine. I’ll also walk on the treadmill on those days.
With the event being at an “odd” time I’ll likely start moving my schedule two weeks prior to the event. There will be no way to truly prepare for that part as life goes on but as the event approaches I’m sure a plan will formulate itself to account for the unusually challenging start time. I will treat this challenge as preparation for Sawtooth later in the fall. Sawtooth will hopefully be my first 100 mile finish.
As I look at the calendar I realize I better get started if I want to prepare fully and avoid injury for this event. My pre-race week will look a lot like my pre-race week for the Vasaloppet this winter. Not a lot of miles, recovery built in mid-week, run specific strength Thursday. I’ll drink a lot of water, deprive my body of carbs a couple days prior to the event and fill up for breakfast and lunch on Friday prior to the midnight start. Running will be daily but brief as my goal is to acclimate to the trail and the conditions.
I won’t create a detailed plan because I’ve found, having done this enough times now to know how my body responds, I know there will be shifts and changes in what my exercise will look like day to day and week to week. I know that I’ll try and incorporate a back to back “big block” of 4 hours followed by 2-4 hours the following day. With the time I’ve got to train that’s going to be asking a lot but I think it will be enough for me to reach my goal.
Incorporating exercise into life is not always easy. I hope this process can help you categorize your exercise and inspire you to either start making exercise a part of your life or create a plan to better organize and target your exercise sessions.
Jon Howard – Husband and Father of 3 | Ultra Endurance Athlete | Owner – Training Edge Sports
Training Edge Sports, LLC