Monday, July 15, 2013

Silver Rush 1 - Training

I'm going to write three or four posts detailing my training leading up to the Silver Rush, reporting on my bike and run races, and perhaps describing my future athletic plans. This first post is about the training I've done the past few months, and the photos are just random shots taken during that time.

Spring riding up Lookout
The main theme in my training has been doing what sounds like fun on any given day. When I felt like riding my road bike, that's what I'd do. If I had time to make it to the foothills for a trail run on a nice weather day, I'd do that. The goal was simply to have fun and enjoy being outside and in the mountains as much as possible. Stacey was training for the Leadville Marathon, so we ran together once or twice a week. We made a Friday evening routine of going for a trail run in Golden and then stopping at one of the city's micro breweries and a food truck for dinner. It's amazing how making it to the mountains for an after work run or ride can make the day feel like vacation.

Atop North Table mesa in Golden on a weekday ride
Throughout the winter I didn't do a ton of training. My typical week was probably 6-10 hours. I simply wasn't motivated to ride the trainer more than a few times, and with daylight in short supply my riding was mostly during the weekends. Fortunately, the weather along the Front Range allows for winter mountain bike riding a few times a month even during January and February. Conor visited for a quick trip to Moab in the spring, and the riding there pushed my technical skills forward a bit (this in spite of two or three over-the-bar crashes, thankfully always into sand). Note: if you visit Moab in March, check the low temperature before deciding to camp; sub-20 degree nights makes for a chilly camping even when sleeping in a jacket, hat, and multiple pairs of wool socks.

Conor following the paint lines on some slick rock in Moab.

Unfortunately, we were guilty of drive-thru tourism in Arches National Park.

Yours truly with the collar up to block the wind not, I promise you, as a fashion statement. It was colder than it appears!

After daylight savings time took effect I had much more time after work to ride. I upped my hours to the 14-16 hour range (combined biking and running, with about 10 of those hours coming from riding each week). I really started to love mountain biking as I became more confident on single track. At some point in the spring, I started preferring mountain biking to road biking. My favorite training session is now a 2 hour MTB followed by an hour hill climb run. In the photo below, after two hours of riding I ran to the signified "peak" and back for a nice hour jog.

Overall, I aimed for 3-4 rides a week and 3-4 runs a week, often alternating riding and running days but occasionally doubling up. I never planned a purpose for any workout, instead gauging how I felt and then deciding how hard to go. Most of my hard biking efforts came on the mountain bike because it's so easy to go hard on a mountain bike. Really, it's often difficult not to go hard when climbing a steep grade. However, many of my longer rides came on the road bike because there are fewer mechanical issues, the effort is more controllable, and the risk of injury is lower for me, especially when I start to tire and lose focus on the trail. My main weekly training focus consisted solely of insuring I got in a long, hilly ride and a long run, preferably also with plenty of climbing.

The biggest training issue I have is I don't think I've yet figured out how to train for an ultra run. My longest runs were 3 hours, and I did somewhere in the range of five to ten runs approaching 3 hours. Yet that's not even half my race time! If I were to go longer, though, consistency would suffer because recovery would be too prolonged, and I think my risk of injury would increase. Perhaps the key -- if I want to have the best ultra I can -- is to continue very gradually building my long runs until I can do 4 or 5 hours without feeling to beat up. Another consideration is the realization that much of a mountainous ultra is going to be hiking, so I could extend my long runs by hiking some uphills. Regardless, this is an area my training could likely improve.

Taken on a recent Twin Lakes to Aspen via Independence Pass ride. I'd have made it to the top in both directions, but for the storm that set in a few miles from the summit the second time up. 

Finally, I should race more, especially on the bike where recovery is pretty quick and where I'm lacking experience. In triathlon, a major goal of the bike is to deliver the racer to the run in a fresh enough condition to run fast. However, in the Silver Rush there is a day recovery and so the bike can be harder than in a triathlon. I think I'm a bit stuck in a triathlon biking mindset and haven't pushed myself as hard in a bike race as I could. More experience testing my bike racing limits would help.

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