Don’t Let the Bad Days Hold You Back-Training for my First 50 Mile Ultra

Over the past few months I have been training for my first 50 mile Ultra race, The North Face Endurance Challenge 50 Miler in Eagle, Wisconsin.  I was also simultaneously training for my first Half Ironman for the beginning of the training plan.  This proved to be a difficult feat, but I knew going into this that it wouldn’t be a cake walk.

The Half Ironman was very emotionally draining.  It was a little out of my typical training plan since I’ve been particularly focused on my long distance running.  But I’ve done several triathlons in the past, so I figured-Why not? As I mentioned in a previous post, the race ended up getting delayed, and partially cancelled.  This really set me back mentally.  I had trained for months and months, taken time away from my Ultra training, only to do half of a Half Ironman.  I tried to push forward as best I could, but it took its toll.

After giving my body about 2 weeks to adjust into full Ultra training, I finally felt my stride again.  I felt happy, pushing through the heavy miles.  But something still felt a little off.  I didn’t know what it was, so I consoled a Physical Therapist friend of mine to suggest some workouts to strengthen my hips for trail running.  I put in 2 solid weeks of this routine, but I still felt uncomfortable and not myself doing the heavy mileage.

I had a week where I was supposed to do two 20 milers back-to-back.  I accomplished the first 20 miler on the road with friends.  My stomach was having some major issues but i still got the miles done.  The second day, I planned to do my 20 miles on the trails. So I set out for the Nordic Trail in La Grange, Wisconsin.  These are some amazing trails, on which I got to do my last 50k. Things were going slow but ok.  The trails were very over-grown, but I still love running the trails no matter what.  At about mile 13 on the trails, I took a IMG_0213major spill.  I’ve fallen on the trails before, so I’m used to the typical rolling technique.  But somehow my left hand still managed to slam down awkwardly on a rock.  It hit the rock so hard, I was bleeding pretty bad from my wrist and it started to swell.

I ran back to my car, with my hand wrapped up in my Buff®.  This injury set me back a bit.  I felt unsettled, so I gave myself an extra rest day.  This hand injury also caused some worries since I had the Iron Girl Sprint Triathlon planned for the following Sunday.  Luckily, the swelling went down a bit and by the end of the week, I was feeling strong again.  That is until I got a cramp in my leg in the middle of the night, which then turned into a hamstring pull the next day.  This has IMG_0383never happened to me in my life.  My friend who is a physical therapist took a look at my leg, and definitely thought I pulled it.  I was so frustrated with yet another injury.  I decided to do the Iron Girl Triathlon anyway.

 

The Triathlon went well up until the run.  I knew going in that my hamstring would not cooperate, so I went slow until around mile 2.  I could barely straighten my leg, which made running very difficult.  But in the end I still ran around 8 minute miles which is only 30 seconds per mile slower then I would have liked.  My finishing time was 1:17:09 for the sprint, putting me 1st out of 99 women in my age group and 20th out of 739 women overall.

After the triathlon, I had to take several days off from running.  I couldn’t shake all my injuries, and the fact that my stomach had been upset, off and on the past few weeks.  So I IMG_0418finally set up an appointment with my nutritionist.  The following weekend I had a 50k race at High Cliff State Park.  I was extremely nervous going into a trail 50k with a banged up hamstring.  So I took a lot of extra rest time the week of the event, and focused on heating, rolling, and cooling my muscles to rehab it a bit.  The day of the 50k, I felt decent enough to run, but I gave myself an out. If I needed to quit half way, that I would not be mad at myself.  The day of the race, it was down-pouring on and off all morning so I started out extremely slow and just kept trucking along.  Taking the race slow did the trick and I managed to finish the race in 6:03, putting me at 5th female overall.   This ended up being  a great way to test my race pace for my 50 miler too.  IMG_0417

The following Tuesday I went into my nutritionist. And good thing I did! During training, I was only consuming around 2400 calories a day, which used to be my goal when I was marathon training.  But since training for the Half Ironman and 50 miler, my workouts have been taking more out of me.  My nutritionist put me on a diet of 3300 calories a day, plus I have to up my carbs a ton! She told me it was good I made an appointment, and that my lack of calories and carb intake could very well be the culprit to my injuries and general uneasiness. I was also lacking potassium and magnesium in my diet, so the leg cramp is a little more understandable now.

Now, I’m feeling more on track, watching what I eat, and feeling a stronger every day.  I’m hoping this does the trick and pushes me to the finish line in less then 3 weeks at my first 50 mile race!

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