Eight weeks to go before the Run Woodstock weekend and my big running event of the year. This means despite the statewide sauna that has been Michigan this summer, I’ve gotta train for it. And what better way to prepare for a Woodstock weekend than by doing a lot of L.S.D.?
Okay, I’ll end the suspense right here. It means Long Slow Distance. And it’s an essential part of training for marathons and beyond. And this year, I’m going beyond.
How far beyond? Last year as part of my “year of being 50” celebration, my signature run was a 50K (31.2 miles) on the trails around Hell Creek Ranch. The ultramarathons at Run Woodstock are based on a loop of about 16 miles, and thus I ran two loops to complete my 50K. And as I walked around recovering afterward, recovering, I couldn’t believe how good I felt. Why, I thought, I almost feel good enough to run a third loop. And this spring I acted on it, signing up for the “Peace, Love, and 50 Miles” event. After all, why run just one marathon in a day when you can run two? (*)
Last year’s training for the Ann Arbor Marathon and the 50K at Run Woodstock involved long slow runs of up to 20 miles. That got old fast. For me, the biggest challenge of a long training run is the mental fatigue. After about 15 miles, my brain starts the equivalent of “Are we there yet?” and I have to promise it ice cream. Fortunately, I do enjoy long bike rides, and with my coach’s blessing, I designed a way to work them into my training as a substitute for some of the running. (I’m keeping the ice cream part, though.)
So far I’ve tried out a couple of different sessions. A “5-25”, which is a five-mile run followed by 25 miles on the bike, is something I can get in after work on a weekday. For longer training on Saturdays, I’ve been doing a “10-50”, working in some stops at small towns like I did last year. Riding keeps my body working at a steady rate for several hours, without over-stressing my legs or causing me to hate half my workout. And I don’t want that. After all, if you’re doing L.S.D., you should at least enjoy the trip. Man.
(*) For those of you shaking your head right now, I wish to point out that you can sign up to run as many as 100 miles, which is six loops. And people do. So I’m not quite as crazy as them. Yet.