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.

Monday, August 5, 2013

A Quick Glimpse at Training Between the Grand Slam Races

This is going to surprise a lot of people today.

Some people have been asking me how I am training between all of these 100 mile races I've been doing. Am I doing more hill repeats? More long runs? Maybe bumping up the speed on trails a bit?

I tell them I haven't been training much at all.

Well, no, not like in the picture above, although it is enticing...

I did maybe about 17 miles of running last week, and 11 of those miles were done in one day.

I haven't done a formally structured swimming workout since mid-June.

And my bike? Maybe twice a week with an average of about 10-5 miles per day.

That's it.

Um, no. Well, maybe a couple of days it was like the pic above. ;-)

Seriously, though, nothing has been rigidly structured since the Spring.

My hard work in preparing for the Grand Slam happened in the Spring, before the Slam started. That was when I was doing all of those 30-40 mile runs, in upstate NY and in NJ, cycling like a fiend with hundreds of miles under my belt, and swimming as if I was preparing for the crossing of the English Channel.

That was when the build-up mattered, when there were no races to interrupt the training process.

Now? In between the races? There's no effective way to build up now. Now when I need a significant time to recover from several 100 mile races and get myself 100% energized for the next 100 mile race.

At this point, I'm hoping that the fitness that I gained during the Spring will carry me through to Wasatch in September.

That's the way it's supposed to work anyway.

Most competitive triathletes have several "A" races on their calendar. Most of these "A" races are close together on the calendar, since the triathlon season is mostly the summer months. In order for triathletes to be ready for all of these races, the best course of action is to build up before the season starts and then drop the volume (hours or miles per week) dramatically as the first race approaches. The training volume HAS to stay low throughout the season to keep the triathlete ready for the race; any significant training done here will only contribute to tiring the triathlete out, giving him/her a higher chance of underperforming in an important race.

You want to get here in 100% ready shape for several races in the season? Then you had better ease it up on the training between these races.


So what I'm doing with the Grand Slam is nothing new.

But am I losing my fitness in the meantime?

Perhaps. But the fitness loss doesn't happen immediately. As a matter of fact, most coaches, including me, feel that there is an 8-12 week window where an athlete will perform at his/her highest level before the loss of fitness catches up with him/her. And since all of these Grand Slam races happen within 10 weeks, I should be fine fitnesswise.

Once Wasatch and the Grand Slam is done though, I made sure that I will not be racing seriously for 3 to 4 months. Any serious racing beyond that 8-12 week window is inviting injury. I've trained hard since January and added additional stresses to my body doing four 100 mile races. The body needs a rest. And I'll be giving it active rest through the end of the year.

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12 days until Leadville, and I'm about itching to go.

Leadville is a much different race to strategize than the first 2 races. The aid stations at Leadville are few and far between, so I am going to have to carry a lot more water than I did at Western States and Vermont. That means carrying a Camelbak.

I'll be posting my final strategy on this blog before the race on August 17. As I stated, the race is different in many ways, so my strategic approach to this race will be different as well.

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