I thought that I'd give a quick update on my Western Canada summer training (i.e., among other things, trying to prepare for one very strenuous race).
I received an inquisitive email from Phil Villeneuve about 3 mths ago to inquire whether I would consider pairing up with him for the Trans Rockies Trail Running Race. I didn't have too much an idea what this entailed when I got this email other than the fact that it was a multi-day stage race that covered large distances through the Rockies on mountain trails. Sounds enticing eh?! I quickly looked up the web site (http://transrockies.com/transrockiesrun/news/) and impulsively fired back a response that highlighted my interest. One thing lead to another and I am now in Beaver Creek, Colorado doing last minute preparations for the longest race of my life.
How does one go about preparing themselves for running an equivalent of a marathon (or arguably, a harder effort than a marathon) for 6 days in a row at an average altitude of 10,000ft. Now this was an interesting concept as I have never even run a marathon! Saying that, I had definitely gone for my share of long runs and skis that compare in difficulty to each stage. The trick would be to prepare yourself for accomplishing these tasks back to back.
After speaking with Phil, the main points for the preparation were:
- Look after your body. Don't do too much too fast, or else injuries will occur.
- Try and mimic the back to back hard efforts in training. We completed 3-4 day blocks (about 9hrs of training including some sort of intensity on day 1 or 3). You will see how the body responds to these multi-day stresses and can react accordingly.
- Recover after blocks. Between each of the hard blocks, take of enough time so you entirely recover before jumping into the next one. If you neglect to do this, you will just dig yourself a hole and make the multi-day event harder rather than easier.
- Prepare your legs for the damage.
- Running distances can be very hard on your lower extremity joints and especially the long descents. Running trails, climbing mountains that are of similar terrain to the stages can help with this.
- Compression stockings/tights may also reduce this muscle breakdown.
- Lastly, test and re-test all the equipment that you're planning on using for the race.
- Shoes; have multiple pairs, so you're not continually compressing the foam without letting it return to its former shape. Maybe consider a light weight pair for the climbing stages.
- Hydration system; Make sure your choice (camel back or water belt) is comfortable, light and can carry enough water/nourishment/extra clothes that is required for the stages.
- Clothing; comfortable, non-chaffing is most important as well as being prepared for anything between 0-25 degree weather. At 3000m anything is possible.
- Mentally prepare. It's all in your head, but preparing (pts 1-5) carefully also helps mentally.
We'll see how well we've prepared in the next few days!