Sunday, August 21, 2011

Weekly Training Update: Back to Back Long Runs

This was an awesome week for running.  The more volume I am able to build into my weekly training, the more confident I become with completion of the 50 miler in December. Since I decided to complete an ultra-marathon, I have been obsessed with reading about running; specifically about running ultras. One of the key aspects to training for an ultra in a lot of the literature seems to be the inclusion of back to back (b2b) long runs. Basically, the thought is that if you can run long two days in a row, you will train yourself to run on tired legs and overcome the mental and physical aspects of long runs since your body will be used to running long distances.  Others however seem to think that the risk of injury is too high, especially for novice runners.

So why not just run 40 miles in a day instead of consecutive 20 mile days? Well, there are a couple of reasons. The first is that your risk of injury rises pretty quickly the longer you run. For amateurs like myself, a 40 mile run would take quite some time to complete (upwards of 7 hours at least), and the toll that takes on your body is too much to do regularly. However, two 20 mile runs, while still 3+ hours are much easier to complete and give you ample time to rest and refuel before you do it again the next day. The second reason, at least in a practical sense, is time. Long runs take time. Even 3+ hours for a 20 miler is a lot of time. If you are lucky like me, then your significant other is OK with you sacrificing your sleep-in time on the weekend to knock out a run – assuming of course that you can complete it and still be able to participate in family stuff afterwards! Now imagine running 7 hours! While you may get away with that once, you are not likely to get away with it consistently, and I’m willing to bet that you probably wouldn’t be in great shape to take the kids to the park and chase them around afterwards; or wash the car, or help clean the house, or cut the grass, or…. you get it, I’m sure.

Well, if you follow my DailyMile profile then you know that I did my first b2b long runs this weekend and it was awesome. It was harder than I thought it would be, but I think it was more mental than anything. Unfortunately, my planned route was blocked at the 8 mile mark so I had to do some back tracking, which caused me to pass my pre-planned turn home in order to add an additional 3 miles so that I could do the full 20 miles. Regardless, I am a believer now that this is the sort of training that will allow me to reach my goal of finishing my first ultra and being in great shape at the finish line! In fact, I am seriously considering trying to incorporate two weeks of b2b2b long runs as I peak for the race. Crazy?

Have you tried b2b long runs? What are your thoughts? Is it too risky or is it the key to success?

Mon – Rest
Tue – 7 @ 8:39
Wed – 9 @ 9:09
Thu – 9 @ 9:53
Fri – Rest
Sat – 17 @ 10:18
Sun – 20 @ 9:51

Total miles for the week – 62 – new weekly distance PR!

Next week’s goal: One more week building before a recovery week. Looking to hit mid 60s for mileage and again hit a b2b this weekend! Find some time to get some cross training done!