Monday, June 30, 2008

Debating the 40

Yesterday, while doing a 3 ½ hour trail run, I felt inspired to consider doing the trail 40 instead of the trail marathon I did last year. Sometimes I don’t think clearly when I run (for example—I cannot for the life of me figure out my splits during a race—I’ll see mile marker signs, and I can’t multiply something as simple as 3 x 8), so I decided I should sleep on it and not take my sudden inspiration seriously until I was in a post-run state.
I still want to do it. I guess because I’m just so bloody happy when I’m trail running—if I enjoy the marathon distance, why not stretch it out to 40? I’m intrigued by the training part, because in all honesty, I enjoyed training for the marathon last year much more than the actual marathon. I just love blasting myself on long weekend runs.
And blasting I will. I looked up some Ultra training plans today, and they all recommend doing a lot of back-to-back long runs. So you’d do a 2-hour run on Saturday, followed by a 3-4 hour run on Sunday. And this continues, almost every weekend. During the week, you do 6-10 mile runs, with speedwork.
In contrast, the marathon plan I did last year just had a long run on Sunday, preceded by a short (6-8 miles) run on Saturday, so you didn’t go into your long run already tired. And, there were no 4 hour runs in the plan. Interestingly, for a 40 mile distance, they recommend that your longest run be about 25-26 miles. I would have thought longer.
So as long as my shins and feet hold up, I should be okay. Last year I was struggling with a bad foot, which I had surgery on the week after the marathon, so my training was somewhat limited. I’m hoping I won’t destroy the other foot in the process of training for this race. But, that’s the beauty about trails—much easier on the body than the road. You couldn’t pay me enough to try running 40 miles on the road.
I was looking at the results from last year, and the winning time was over 6 hours (about a 10 min/mile pace.) The 2nd and 3rd places were in the 7-8 hour range. But, when you see a 12-13 min/mile, you have to take into account that for a 40 miler, you’re probably going to make some stops, so the pace doesn’t actually reflect your real running time.
When I was biking, I think the longest ride I did was in the 7-8 hour range, so I know that I can sustain aerobic effort for a long time period. Now, granted—cycling for long periods of time is an entirely different thing than running for long periods, but still. It intrigues me.
I’m excited about having something to really focus on this summer. I’ve been thinking about the marathon, and how I want to improve my time over last year, so that's something to focus on, for sure. But now that I've got the 40 stuck in my head, I'm feeling a whole new sense of inspiration.

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