Dec/Jan - 6 to 7 Months Prior to Western States

I was supposed to do the JFK 50 mile run (again) on November 18th and then take off 4 weeks from running as a complete recovery prior to starting the ramp-up training for Western States, but my sister’s death during the week of the JFK race, needless to say, disrupted my life.

Since I was already well into my two week taper by November 18th, I simply took off a few more weeks from running and called that my time off (the “quiet time”). Many of the best ultra-runners recommend taking at least a month off from running every year. This gives all the muscles time to recover and get healthy plus has the additional psychological advantage of making you eager to run again.

I resumed running during the middle of December, increasing my weekly time from 270 minutes during the first week to 510 minutes during the fourth week -- lots of base building runs at an easy Zone 2 or low Zone 3, with a 3-hour long run during the last two weeks.

One week of recovery (390 minutes total for recovery week) and then another 3 weeks of building my base. I sprinkled a few short tempo runs (20 minutes at tempo) and strides (10 strides x 25 seconds each at 95% effort with 2 minute recovery in between) here and there, but most of my running is happening at high Zone 2 /Low Zone 3. My strength training (weights) continues twice per week, uninterrupted (2 sets of 25 reps each for now; later on I’ll decrease to 8-10 reps and increase the weight).

In general, here is my training plan for the last 7 months prior to the Western States:

Month 7: Off from running (some cross training and strength training).
Months 6 & 5: Base Building. Zone 2 and Low Zone 3. Long runs: 3-4 hours.
Months 3 & 4: Race a 50K and a 50 miler. Easy on a 100K.
Month 2: Peaking, 6-7 hour long runs & back to back’s.
Month 1: Taper and heat/altitude acclimatization.

So long as I stay injury-free, it should work out.

A reminder on Training Zones (more in previous posts):

For my 160-165 Lactate-Threshold Heart Rate, my other Heart-Rate Zones are:
Zone 2: 130/145 –- Easy Base
Zone 3A: 145/155 -- Base
Zone 3B: 155/165 -- Tempo at 160/165
Zone 4A: 165/170 -- Strides
Zone 4B: 170/175 -- Long Intervals (880’s)
Zone 5: 175+ -- Short Intervals (400’s)

Figure out your zones & run smart.

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