Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Hell's Canyon Run and Training Update

Hell's Canyon Run

Post race beers with our friend Hannah and her bird dogs.  This terrain is typical of the entire canyon- allegedly the deepest in the continuous 48 states.
Brandi and I went down to the Snake River a few hours north of our home for a nice gathering of like-minded runners.  We got on a jet boat and were transported 25 or so miles up Hell's Canyon to fend for ourselves to get back.  This is a low key event that wishes to stay that way, so you will have to track it down through the appropriate channels if you are interested.  Instead of hyping it up- I'll do what what ultra-blogs do best- hype myself up!

I went there to run hard in the sun...and I did.  It felt awesome after a winter of 30 minute miles and -10F.  No joke on that.  The trail is over-grown with bunch grass and cacti, with a rock under almost every step.  I was very pleased to find each smooth section to be pacing 5 low.  But around every hairpin corner was a momentum killing techy section or another short/steep grinder.   Just when you got going, there was something to slow you down.  Nevermind much of the race punishes a simple stumble with a fatal plunge over a cliff into the raging and icy Snake.  The thump of a military Chinook chopper could be heard prowling above the angry waters looking for a body from a rafting trip.  A scary reminder to run smart.  I planned to keep it reasonable until the 8 miles to go point, where the bigger hills start and continue in your face to the finish.  It was great to feel strong as I pushed up the final steep hills with energy to burn, finding my way back to Pittsburg Landing in 3hrs 15 mins.  My watch registered 4200' vertical gain.   A perfect early season workout in such a beautiful setting. We hung out a while and chatted as our friends old and new came along to join us at the finish. Sitting on the tailgate drinking beers and telling tales of pain and joy.
B finished strong in just over 5 hours.  Photo: Yadi Spangenberg
Ultimate Direction Jurek Grip Handheld and Essential Waist Pack
1 VESPA Ultra Concentrate
15oz Water
2 VFUEL Gels
SCOTT MK4 (discontinued road shoe)


On the training front, I have been doing very little running.  I have kept it to no more than 2 runs per week.  That said, I am in far better shape and health than I have ever been at the end of winter.  Perhaps better overall shape period, as some stout PR's on training runs have fallen at low heartrates.  Here is a typical training schedule that I have followed since December 1, after taking November off of exercise completely.

Running: 2 days a week with a few days between each run.  20-30 miles and around 7,000-10,000 vert total.  One short and intense (5-10) miles at tempo pace or broken into intervals of differing lengths and intensities, sometimes on the treadmill, always on a steep grade.  The other run is a 4 hour mountain run usually at Rapid River with no calories or water over 18-22 miles and 5,000-8,000 feet vert.  The long run can include surges on the hills if I felt strong and some off-trail hiking on very steep slopes where the elk live.

Skinning/Skiing: 2-4 times per week  3,000-12,000 per session.  My standard is 2 climbs at Brundage at tempo effort totalling 3,100 vert over 2.1 miles in 25-28 mins each climb. On easy days, instead of a short/easy run, I go up to the hill and keep my heartrate low and do 28-30 min climbs.  A few days this winter, I did big volume climbing- going 4-7 hours at a slower pace and racking huge vert.

Cross Training:  Approximately 2-3x per week, I go to the Aspen Club in McCall for my cross training.  Usually one of these sessions involved a few of the things below, sometimes after the workouts above.  Once a week (minimum) I wear lots of clothes and sweat a ton.  Fun and gross.
  • Deep Water Running (DWR): Early in the winter, I did lots of pool running with an emphasis on maximal effort for short intervals.  I have phased this out, but will come back to it at any time if I need high intensity work with no pounding.
  • Gym Bike: Once per week I do a session of all out 8 x 1 minute work reps at max resistance, out of the saddle, with 2 minute rest intervals.  I also did recovery sessions of 30 minutes.
  • Stepmill.  The mill is money for racking vert.  At a good clip, I get around 4,000 feet of gain in an hour.  I mixed this in for some bonus vert when I didn't get to the ski hill. I usually wear a 6-10 lbs pack for this.  Generally a few plates in my AK race vest.
  • Treadmill.  Besides running hill intervals (10-15% slope),  I frequently walk on the treadmill with a 6-10 lbs pack at a 15% incline at 4-5mph.  Do this for an hour and you will see it is a great workout.
  • Strength/balance/mobility work.  Huge emphasis on balancing things out in my hips and core this winter.  Every day, usually twice.  Early in the winter I did circuit classes 2-3x per week with zillions of squats, lunges, pushups, planks, etc.  However, this quickly builds too much muscle, so I stop this after a month to focus on more functional and subtle moves.  I like to impress the meatwad beastmen with some Jane Fondas, superstizzacked into some sick clamshells.
  • Plyometrics.  Jumping, leaping, bounding.  No more old man ultra jogger.  I used to be fast when I was 10.  I want it back.  Key moves are broad jumps, high box launch jumps, 1 leg high box jumps and the dreaded 1 leg hop up a big stairwell at the gym.
  • Sauna.  15-50 mins before and after training.
So, why not just run?  Anyone who has read any of my whiny ramblings from winter and spring would know that I am not able to stay healthy with the brutal cold and harsh surfaces I have near home.  My pattern since starting running a few years ago has been injured shins all winter allowing no quality training December to July.  My goal is to avoid the huge down time that each season has lost due to these injuries.  With a bigger base of training volume, but no damage, I should be stronger as the local trails come into shape and my running takes off.  This will build to a natural peak in late-August for a romp through the Alps. 


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