This Training Tuesday post is all about my ultramarathon training plan… or lack thereof. This is the first in a series of posts to document my journey to the start line of the Ice Age 50 mile race on May 13th. It’s similar to my weekly Marathon Monday posts last year, in which I recapped my trip to my second Boston Marathon. Check them all out here, plus the recap of the race.
Ultramarathon Training Plan Update
January is almost over, can you believe it? That means I have 15 weeks until my ultramarathon. Only 15 weeks left of an ultramarathon training plan… and here I am without a plan. And kind of terrified about that. I also land in Tokyo in one month! Actually, one month from Monday. Holy crap, this trip is coming up way sooner than I expected.
Back up. You’re going to Tokyo, Becca?
Last year, Katie suggested we apply for the lottery for the Tokyo Marathon. I laugh because it was the “semi-elite” overseas category, that hardly anyone knows about. If you’re up for a run-cation adventure, look into it for next year! We applied and were accepted, so now I’m going to Tokyo in a month to run a marathon!
On one hand, I am excited to experience Tokyo. This will be a “C race” like the New York Marathon was, meaning I am going purely for the fun of running and exploring. On the other hand, I am nervous because this is the least amount of training that I have done for a marathon. My goals this year have shifted from running marathons to ultramarathons (if you’re wondering why, read this blog post). But that means I am following an ultramarathon training plan, and not a marathon one.
Training for the ultra has been ok so far, but I am really feeling out of place. First, I chose to work with a coach to learn how to construct an ultramarathon training plan and to get experience being coached. Since I am going to coach athletes, I want to know what the relationship looks and feels like. It did not go well. But what DID go well was learning what NOT to do when I am a coach.
I ended the coaching last week, but that meant I had no training plan to get me from January 16th to my race in May. This caused me terrible anxiety and a feeling of being lost at sea. The thought, “How the hell can I run 50 miles if I don’t have a plan?” has been swirling around in my head for the last week and a half, as I kind of made up a training schedule. I know I can construct a solid marathon training plan in my sleep, but for some reason I felt utterly lost when I tried to sit down to write myself an ultra plan.
What mileage should my doubles be on the weekend?
What should my weekly mileage be?
How do I work speed in?
What paces are best?
Are these runs long enough? Are they too long?
Not knowing the answer to these questions ate away at me. I began to doubt my knowledge as a runner. I began to doubt my ability to get to the starting line. Where do I even start? I looked through some books, but knew that a pre-written plan was not going to work for me, given my trip to Tokyo.
Luckily I reached out to two friends. First, I expressed my concerns to my friend Shawna, someone who has run ultras before and is one of those people I can count on to tell it like it is. She validated my feelings of anxiety. The single most important thing she said to me was, “It’s ok to feel scared about this. A 50 mile race is a big deal. It’s new and different and it’s ok to feel worried.”
Wow. I didn’t even realize that I was scared. Scratch that, I am scared about this. Sure, I am really looking forward to the challenge, but that doesn’t mean I’m not worried about it. Once she verbalized that for me, something settled inside of me. Acceptance, but also determination to face it.
Next, I reached out to Robyn, one of the owners of the EDGE and a seasoned ultramarathoner and coach herself. She gave me some general guidance on what training for an ultra looks like and eased my anxiety tenfold. She even gave me a peek into how she lays out her plans for her athletes; as a visual learner I needed that.
I put myself to work and I came up with an ultramarathon training plan I am excited and feel more confident in. The best part? Instantly, my anxiety from last week vanished. A cloud lifted and I feel settled. Funny how that works.
Anyways, my plan for this Training Tuesday series is to update on this ultramarathon training plan. The highs, the lows, the in-betweens. There will be life updates as well- SO much is going on that I can’t wait to share! I’m seeing progress on my 2017 goals and can’t wait to share!