Lean Horse 100 Miler 2013 Race Report: Part 1 Training and Preparation
Since completing my first 100 mile race, Zumbro 100 in 2011 Race Report, I have always had the Lean Horse 100 in the back of my mind. The prospect of having the option to run all 100 miles of a race seemed to tantalize the ultra runner in me. Last year I decided that this would be the year that I’d see how many of the 100 miles I could actually run. After a bit of a disappointing spring racing season I turned my focus towards Lean Horse.
Preparation and Training:
Not really having a specific plan that I was following I knew that there were certain areas that I needed to focus on in order to be prepared to actually run the type of race that I wanted. Not knowing quite what time to shoot for I instead focused on a mile pace. Running a 9 minute mile pace was my goal, which would put me at a 15 hour overall time. I didn’t really expect to run a 15 hour time but if I could keep a 9min moving pace with stops and slowing for some of the “hills” I figured this would be a better approach and would allow me to focus on one mile at a time.
Coming off a high mileage marathon training program I was in very good shape muscularly, cardio wise and did not have any injuries and my legs were quite fresh at this point of the year. The areas I knew I had to work on was time on my feet and running in the heat.
Training and mileage:
Because Lean Horse is a very flat course that is run almost entirely on a crushed limestone path I didn’t have to worry about adjusting to technical trails or major elevation changes. The endless paths around the Minneapolis/St. Paul metro area are perfect for this type of race. I loosely followed a training plan based around high mileage weeks with a couple of long runs each week of 20+ miles. I even attempted a 200 mile week but only managed 130 miles in 6 days and didn’t want to risk injury so stopped. I incorporated tempo runs in about once a week and were just a way to mix up the training and I didn’t really run them too hard. I was more focused on runs of 10-16 miles long during the week at a solid pace(7-8 min), increasing my weekly total mileage and long runs on the weekends of 20+ miles.
In effort to increase my weekly mileage I started running in the morning and at lunch. Usually 3-8 miles at a time really easy. I found that this actually helped me to recover from day to day and made my evening workouts, which was my main workout of the day a bit easier working out some of the soreness earlier in the day. The lunch time runs were also a good way to get some miles in during the hottest part of the day. I would probably average about 70-90 miles a week with few 100 mile weeks.
I also tried to incorporate strength training once or twice a week but as I got into higher mileage weeks I found it tough to fit in strength training as well. Much of my strength training was focused on strengthening some of the muscular imbalances that I have/had. Working specifically on hips, core and back and shoulders, which were some of the areas that I have had issues on in the past.
Running in the heat is actually something that I enjoy and do fairly well at already but knew that running for 100 miles is temps that normally range in the high 80’s to low 100’s would be an challenge and I the better prepared I was to run in these temps the better my Lean Horse performance would be. I decided to prep for the heat at Lean Horse using the technics that runners preparing for the Badwater 135 use. Badwater 135 is a 135 mile race that crosses the Death Valley Basin in mid July with temps of 120+ degrees. If I could prepare my body to run in temps that runners face at Badwater that I would be prepared for anything Lean Horse could throw at me. Here is a Training Post that I referred to often.
First, I wanted to see what my current limit in being able to run in the heat was. I did multiple runs in the hottest part of the day during July with temps in the mid to upper 90’s without any additional ways to cool down. I did make sure to have plenty of fluids but wanted to see at what point I would need to take measures to cool myself down if I wanted to keep running.
I found out that I could maintain roughly a 9 minute pace at temps of up in the low 90s. As soon as it got any hotter than that I would need to stop and cool down. Now that I had a baseline to start from I could work on technics to keep myself cool during the race and work on heat training. For my heat training I would continue to try and incorporate as many of my training runs during the hot parts of the day as I could to simply get used to running in the heat. I would also start a 30 day sauna sessions roughly a month out from the race. This was one of the technics that Badwater runners seemed to use almost universally. The idea is to get your body adapted to the heat, so I would simply sit in the sauna once a day for 30 days straight prior to the race. Some runners try and do push ups or workout in the sauna but the one at my gym was very small and I really just didn’t want to try and workout while in the sauna. The main benefit seemed to be from just spending time in the sauna so I wasn’t too concerned.
I started out going for 15-20 mins and slowly worked my way up to 30-40 minutes at a time in the sauna. While in the sauna I drank a lot of water, sauna sessions also get your body used to processing large amount of fluid. I also found that drinking ice cold water while in the sauna would keep me significantly cooler or I could tolerate the heat much more than jus drinking just cool water. This also gave my a great opportunity to read and study up on the race. I think I read almost every race report I could find while siting in the sauna.