Photo taken by Randall Levensaler

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Training for WS100: Road trip to the Grand Canyon!

I always say life is an adventure and an attempt to keep things exciting. … So why not give the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run (WS100) a shot? My 4th place finish at the Ice Age Trail 50 rewarded me with an unexpected automatic entry into WS100.

I was quite perplexed with my decision to race even though most people seemed to offer an easy yes or no: “Western States as your first 100? It’s a no brainer!”  or “What has your training been like? You do realize this is 100 miles?”

I’m seven ultras deep into my long-distance career: 5 x 50k and 2 x 50 mile. I would say that I’m finally getting the hang of it, but 100 miles … this is entirely a different beast.

Sure, the 100 has crossed my mind plenty of times. It is the ultimate endurance distance or at least the one that warrants the most bragging rights (so it seems). I’m constantly curious of my abilities and potential limits, but I had been saving this bittersweet pain for 2015 … or 2016 even. Alas, the stars aligned for a reason and, the time is now!

So how does one prepare for Squaw? What about a road trip to New Mexico and Arizona with the Grand Canyon’s rim2rim2rim as a highlight J
The planning process begins!

My best friend, training partner, and #trailsister Ashley Arnold (@AshleyHArnold) and I put together a road trip that will help prepare her for the The North Face Laverado Ultra Trail, and me, WS100. 
Ash and I acting completely normal. Carbondale, CO circa Fall 2012.

The first stop will incorporate camping in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains outside of Santa Fe, NM. I’m looking forward to waking up to an amazing view, a hot cup of coffee, and hearty cup of Quaker’s Summer Berry Oatmeal before spending quality time getting vertical.
The best portable breakfast EVER!

Stop number two is Flagstaff, AZ, home of trail running all-stars such as Rob Krar and Chris Vargo, to name a couple. To me, running is a very social sport, so I’m excited to explore the town and its trails with great friends. (Plus, we’ll finally have access to a shower at this stop!)

Our third way point will be the Grand Canyon (GC). Neither Ash nor I have previously been to the GC, so running the R2R2R will be a definite adventure. (Thanks to Chris Vargo for the heads up on toting extra liquid.) I guess it is the “warm” season J. Add one extra case of Naked Juice Coconut Water to the list! 
Woot woot for hydration!

With tired legs, Ash and I will drive back to the “motherland,” also known as Carbondale, CO. There is no way we could pass by without doing a tribute run on Red Hill or Mount Sporis. This is where ultra running started for us both.

After expending our last bits of energy, we will return to the trail-running Mecca, Boulder, for some much needed R&R.

With quality miles, lots of vert, heat training, and friendship still in tact (haha), I’m pretty sure this road trip will help us both get one step closer to our goals on the trail.

Friday, May 9, 2014

The Pleasure of Plantar...

Well, there is no other way to put it, plantar fasciitis (PF) is the pits. For those runners lucky enough not to have encountered such a delight…it is a dull pain focused in one’s heel, which can also at times extend into the arch of the foot. Most victims will experience a “nail being driven through your heel” pain when stepping out of bed in the morning.  Definitely made me rethink about making that morning cup of coffee that I dream about.  

From all the web research I’ve conducted, it seems the most common cause for PF is: an increased work load (more mileage), quickly increased intensity, and simply from tight calf muscles.

So…how do you make it go away? Unfortunately, there seems to be no exact solution.

There are many remedies you can try, which may or may not work. They will affect each individual differently, in my opinion.

1.     Self massage your heel, achilles, and arch. I use some arnica gel to reduce friction, and for the anti-inflammatory benefits.  I personally believe the massage is good because you are forcing blood flow to the affected area. More blood flow means more red blood cells to help repair.
2.     Roll your heel/arch on golf ball prior to activity, and on a frozen bottle of water after activity.
3.     I use a roller massager, or a foam roller to “mush out” the knots in my calves. This happens to be my trouble spot…so rolling is quite painful.
Pro-Tec Athletics' Roller Massager and Kinesiology Tape

4.     Once your foot feels warmed up, strengthen your lower leg muscles by doing some gentle calf raises, and scrunching up a towel with your toes.
5.     Use kinesiology tape your plantar before engaging in activity.  This will help provide support to the plantar fascia.
6.     Shoes!!! Get your feet into shoes that are well cushioned to soften the pounding feeling when running. AND invest in a firm insole (Footbalance, etc), that can provide you support. I’ve been wearing the HOKA Stinson Trail along with a Footbalance insert…and have been able to train through this stubborn aliment. 
Thanks Dave Mackey and Darcy Piceu for the recommendation!

7.     Wear a splint to lightly stretch your plantar and achilles during rest periods. I prefer Pro-Tec Athletics’ Soft Splint. It is a hybrid version that combines a boot and compression sock. 
Woot woot for the Soft Splint!!!

I’m no doctor, just a pro trail runner passing on some tips for what has been working for me J

I had to sit the side line for the Lake Sonoma 50 mile in April, so I’ve changed my race plans and am headed to the Ice AgeTrail 50 mile in Wisconsin this coming weekend. I’m hoping these recovery techniques, adequate rest, and proper nutrition will aid me in a successful race J