Training Done!!! Taper, Here I Come!!! Eric, I need A Race Strategy

First let me say, the that I don't consider the couple taper weeks as training, which is why I named the blog what it is. I realize the taper weeks are just as important, but they are so much easier and when you get to them, the running is so much less and so insignificant to the months that you've been through.

I have just completed Erics 24 week 100 mile training plan. To end the training, I had a 20 miler on Friday, then a 30 miler on Saturday. The next two weeks are my taper and I have no runs longer than 2 hours, so I'm a happy man.

The past 5 weeks have been really tough and I questioned on if I could complete the training as outlined. I was getting physically tired and emotionally drained. It took days worth of talking to myself to get me out to do my long runs and even some of my weekly runs. I'm very happy and proud to report, that with running 6 days a week for the past 24 months of this plan, I only missed maybe 3 or 4 days and they were light days during the week. I hit all long runs and everything else, even though there were a few days where I didn't want to run for 1 minute, let alone for 40, 1 hour, or more. I also know how important it is to stay with the training plan and the success of the race depends on this. Most importantly, I could not have completed this without the great support from my wife and daughter, plus our own little group of runners, www.runners4jesus.org, that is also huge support for me and they keep me accountable with what I'm supposed to do. They are your everday people doing incredible things. They love running, and they run with a purpose. I've watched them set goals, work toward them, then push past them and go beyond what they ever thought they could ever do. When you can witness this type of greatness, it can only be inspirational and motivating.

Eric, I've been waiting to come to the completion of the training before I asked you this question, and now the time is finally here to ask it. Can you give me a race strategy? How should I start and what do you recommend for me to hopefully have a good race? Should I try and stay with the 40 run/20 walk plan? Or should I do more walking during the first 50, then do something else during the last 50? My 50 mile training run was completed at an 11:20 average pace. I will say that after my 50 mile training run, the thought of doing another 50 miles was frightening to think about. You once said mile 80 was the half way point. Should I stay easy on things to mile 80? Any advice and words of wisdom you could provide would be greatly appreciated.

Eric, I can't think you enough for all you have done, and all that you continue to do for us.

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Comment by Eric Orton on September 23, 2009 at 12:07pm
Hey Thomas - being nervous is to be extected and necessary....but doesn't mean you are not ready. all it means is you put a lot of training into this race and you are nervous about all the unknowns that will present themselves during the race. So, do not "try" to not be nervous, embrace it and know it is necessary because the race means something to you.
This feeling will be with you until they say GO...then your mind will calm down and you will be on your way to 100 miles - E
Comment by Thomas Orf on September 22, 2009 at 7:04pm
After reading this, I thought WOW! This is some great advice you've given and like all your past instructions, I will follow what you mentioned.

Thank you for always taking the time with answering my questions and helping me. Above all my local support, I will always have you and your expertise and wisdom to thank, for preparing me body and mind for this journey, or "the dance".

I March 2009, I was looking for someone to help me get ready to complete a 100 miler. I knew you were the right person for the job, and while I'm somewhat nervous, I'm also feel very confident in the abilities you helped me develop.

Thanks Eric!!!
Comment by Eric Orton on September 22, 2009 at 9:32am
Hi Thomas - Congrats on making it to your Peak Weeks. I think I said this before, as I feel the hardest part of a 100 miler is getting to the start line! During this training, you really focused on the process and the day to day journey. Yeah you looked ahead to some of the training, but the structure of the program really forced you to stay in the present. This was part of the purpose. Many times I assign very specific structure to a long workout so you are forced to stay focus and in the moment during the run. This allows you to not think or "look" too far ahead and wish you were further along than you were. This mindset is crucial for a 100 miler. Once you want the run to be over with - you are done! So just like you viewed the training as a journey and a day to day process, look at the race this way. Divide the race into quarters and treat each segment as a workout or journey that is required to reach the end - not unlike how you mentally approached each week or even each long run. Treat the race as just another training day - but now you get to run with a bunch of other like minded people and you get help with aid stations and pacing.
So, you do know more than you think from completing the training program. Trust this internal sense of pacing and trust your fitness. Now it goes down to being smart and just realizing this fitness. After doing your 50 miler, you have an understanding and perspective on pace. So, if you are running near 11:20 pace during the first half, you know that is probably too fast for 100. Back off and if there is ever a time to employ the mindset of "if you feel like you are working, you are working too hard" - now is the time! Back off on the hills so you are able to run down them and focus when you have the ability to go your fastest - on flats and downhills. You will not and should not try to make up time on the uphills. Walk them or power hike them to maintain an appropriate pace.
Also, keep moving, especially in aid stations. As soon as you sit, you will sit longer and longer each time. Get what you need and keep moving ahead, as time has a way of speeding up in aid stations. And with this, just as in training, know that you will have good and bad times and they do not last. So, when you are feeling GOOD, take this time to eat and be focused (focus when you have the ability to go your fastest). When you are in a bad spot, know that it will NOT last. Do not think you will feel this way for the rest of the race - just focus on the present and keep moving ahead. Especially if you feel bad early on, do not think this is how you will feel all day. Know that this feeling will pass - again, you know this and have experienced it. Race day is no different than what I threw at you in training. That was the point - no surprises for the brain come race day.
So this all comes back to what I opened with, you know more than you think and you can do more than you think. Your training plan perpared your brain for this during your last 2 months of workouts. You are ready and now it comes to you just performing what you know - hour to hour, mile to mile. Treat it as a journey, 25 miles at a time.
I also mentioned this to you before and you have mentioned how much support you have received in your training, do not under estimate how important this race is for those who supported you. They feel an attachement to you and this race and let them be a part of it. You could not have done this without them, so let them help you race day and let them feel the satisfaction in your success.
Here are some points to ponder as you approach the race:
•Trust your fitness and stay within your ability early in the race.

•Be consistent with your fueling and hydration EVERY HOUR.

•EAT and FUEL when you are feeling good. Do not wait until you are feeling bad, as it is very hard to eat then.

•If your heart rate drops during the second half of the race – EAT.

•If your stomach becomes bloated, DRINK WATER.

. CLIMB Hills STEADY or walk with short, quick steps and always within your ability. If you feel like you are working on the hills, you are going too hard.

•Ease up on your climbing effort, so you can maintain a FAST PACE descending and on flat sections of the course.

•Run “focused” and steady when you have the opportunity to go YOUR FASTEST – downhill and flats.

Hope this helps. You are ready - just let it happen - E

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