A Staten Island triathlete and endurance coach ventures into the ultramarathon realm where there are seemingly no limits to human endurance. In 2013, he successfully finished the Grand Slam of Ultrarunning (picture of 2013 Grand Slam finishers above; I'm second from right), becoming only the 282nd person (since its beginnings in 1986) and only the fourth New Yorker to finish four of the oldest and most prestigious 100 mile ultramarathons in the U.S. in only 10 weeks.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Last Phase of Grand Slam Training - THE GAUNTLET!

Seven weeks to go before the Western States 100! My last recovery week is almost over, and it's the final phase of my training before the taper. Yes, it's time to kick some butt!

 I'll be looking at this map more often as the race draws closer.


I love the final phase in training, and apparently my athletes love it too.

It's great prescribing this to athletes, including myself, because this is where the rubber meets the road. This is where the training reaches a crescendo. This is where all the work done in the spring leads to.

This phase is pure intensity, plain and simple. Very little rest and a lot of work. For people doing small races, this phase has a lot of speed in it. Track workouts, bike/run bricks for triathletes, tempo runs, swim sprints, the kitchen sink, etc.

For endurance athletes, the primary staple is lot of long runs, long rides, open water endurance swims, with some speed thrown in for kicks. If the training goes well in the spring, the body should be able to withstand the miles and recover quickly.

Which leads to the training I'm doing. Grand Slam training. The ultimate in endurance training. I am now going into my final phase.

The ultimate phase for the ultimate training schedule? I call it THE GAUNTLET!


THE GAUNTLET. Five weeks of hellish training with little or no rest. Lots of long runs and rides planned during this final phase.

I'm mentally prepared. Yes, I've indicated that fitnesswise, I am definitely ready for the Slam at this time.

But I cannot rest on my laurels. Somehow, just trying to maintain this fitness for the last five weeks will cause me to lose my mental focus and edge. To say that "I have arrived" loses all incentive to keep pushing forward. I just feel that if I approach the last five weeks this way, I will lose all incentive to push and will end up with five mediocre weeks leading to Western States.

The goal here is to keep the mental edge by raising my expectations and goals even more; to try to reach an even higher level of fitness and not be satisfied with the fitness I have now.

All within the bounds of staying injury-free, of course. Everything is tempered by biofeedback. I always stress that as a coach and I use it all the time. Always have to listen to your body and know when to back off when needed. Train to the very edge of overtraining but do not cross that line. If that means missing some miles, then so be it.

So here are the goals for THE GAUNTLET. Remember that I'm using the triathlon approach toward The Grand Slam of Ultrarunning, so there's a lot of swimming and cycling here as well as the running:

Tomorrow (May 11): The Long Island Greenbelt 50k - I'm racing this pretty hard.

Week of May 13-19: 8000 meters of swimming, 80 miles of cycling, 80 miles of running...highlight will be a 2 day Appalachian Trail run/hike.

Week of May 20-26: 10000 meters of swimming, 120 miles of cycling, 50 miles of running...highlight will be about an 80 mile bike that weekend with the Staten Island Triathlon and Ultra Group.

Week of May 27-June 2: 8000 meters of swimming, 80 miles of cycling, and 80 miles of running...highlight will be 34 miles of the Delware and Raritan Canal Towpath at around an 8:30 min/mile pace at the RVRR Train Run.

Week of June 3-9: 10000 meters of swimming, 100 miles of cycling, and 80 miles of running...highlight will be a 34 mile Appalachian Trail Run done with the NY Flyers Trail Group and NY Ultra Meetup Group, the last long run before Western States.

Week of June 10-16: 8000 meters of swimming, 100 miles of cycling, and 50 miles of running...highlight will be a longish 60 mile ride in NJ with the Staten Island Triathlon and Ultra Group to finish THE GAUNTLET.

Will I reach those goals. Not sure, but I will try. Again, if I cross the overtraining line at any time, I will back off. But I'll definitely give it one heck of a shot.

A two week taper will follow after that, and then, hopefully a good result in the Western States 100. But I have my work cut out for me. But I feel up to the challenge. Let's do this!

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