The six sturdy pillars that supports a runner through a six day race can best be described as necessities and the absence or crumbling of one will quickly lead to sudden stoppage or at best a slow bleeding of your soul. The six pillars are: Aerobic base, structural tolerance, pace structure, fueling strategy, mental game, and sleep quality. This race report will go over these six pillars and deconstruct what lead to me ultimately writing this report on day six instead of still running the dome.
Aerobic base. Having worked with Personal Peak for now 9 months my fitness was at an all time high going into this race. Travis had me running loads of speed work with two well timed mileage peak weeks of 150 miles a week. To say I was a race horse shaking in my cage is an understatement. My day one mileage was 134 miles and that put me well in the lead. The ease of effort and the speed in which I passed by the other top 10 runners gave me a big confidence bump. The preceding days I got a lot of unsolicited advice that I started too fast to which I tried to politely thank them for their feedback.
Structural tolerance. This was my largest concern going into this race as the reason for not achieving my goal or failure altogether in the past two years has been do to my body not holding up. This was not the issue this go around. My old bod held up like a champ thanks to my Physiotherapist Tyson Plesuk’s good work and the strength and prehab conditioning given by Travis.
Pace structure. My pace goals going in were 130-140 miles on day one then 80-100 miles all days following. Again, due to my structural base I felt like this pace structure was a winner.
Fueling strategy. I think I’m a better eater than I am a runner. I was consistently taking in 500 calories per hour eating anything from protein bars, pies, boost, honey stingers, and all prepared meals both offered at the track and brought in from my crew. Due to the low temperature at the dome I lowered my hydration intake to 500 ml/hour.
Mental game. At the start line I had all the confidence and clarity I needed to have a perfect race. The previous weeks leading into the dome I was busy managing the conversations in my head that I knew would inevitably get louder. The mental pillar is the most shakey and can be chiseled away at by breaks in the other pillars, we will get into this next.
Sleep quality. Well shit. That sucked donkey. After passing the 100 mile mark at 15hrs45min I took my first nap … and didn’t sleep a wink. My second, third and fourth naps … not a damn wink. I would lye there frustrated as hell going over my breathing techniques and calming strategies with absolutely no luck. I can’t begin to tell you the turmoil that was going on in my head knowing that this vital pillar was crumbling and I couldn’t do anything to control it. The camels back finally broke on day three when I took a super long four hour sleep, in desperation to claw back some precious sleep. Again, I lied there for four long hours angerly in tears, in and out of breathing techniques and again, no sleep was had. I had to open my eyes and ask Travis and Sharon if I could stay for another two hours to hopefully get some glorious zzzz’s. When this sleep pillar crumbled so did my mental strength. I’ve always described running as not painful but uncomfortable but running sleep deprived can only be described as intolerable.
From that point forward I decided that my week was shot and my time would best be used cheering others on and recovering for Bigs Backyard in October.
A few take aways from this week:
The International multiday running community is top shelf. Some of the nicest people you will ever meet.
Joe Fejes is bloody tough as nails.
My crew members Travis Schiller-Brown and Sharon Proctor were absolutely second to none.
Nothing good happens from sleep deprivation.
Blasting Mambo #5 and Living la vida loca every 2 hours on a repeaded short playlist makes anyone go batshit crazy quickly. Felt like I was attending a wedding.