March & April Ultra Training Update

I realized about halfway through April that I had never posted an ultra training update for March. Well, here it is almost halfway through May, and I’m just now posting an update. Better late than never, right? Right? Just in general, I haven’t been writing here nearly as much as I’d like. I certainly have things that I’d like to write about, especially in terms of how my training has been going for Mayor’s Marathon in June and my 50 miler in July, but life has just been getting in the way lately. Between all the running I’ve been doing lately, and the addition of summer activities with the kids like swimming and t-ball, there just aren’t many hours left in the day for writing. As much as I enjoy writing here, in the big scheme of things, it’s relatively low on my list of priorities these days.

Anyways, my training these past 2 months has gone really well. March saw a slight drop in mileage, which was at least partially due to my trip to Vegas for work. I did manage to get in several good runs while I was there, but my overall mileage that week was relatively low. That being said, I still managed to squeeze in 131 miles for the month, not too shabby.

April was a fantastic month of running for me. I had some really consistent training, and got in several great long runs, including a few 18-20 milers. I surprised myself by ending the month with 169 miles, my highest monthly total yet, blowing out of the water my previous high of 142 miles.

Ultra-specific Training

With my first ultra quickly approaching at the end of July, I’ve been doing my best to incorporate as much ultra-specific training into my routine as I can. Running 50 miles on the trails is going to be much different than running 26.2 on the roads, and I want to be well prepared. The roads and paved trails in town are almost entirely clear of snow and ice at this point, but the trails are unfortunately going to be a few more weeks, so I’m doing what I can with what I’ve got.

One specific thing I’ve done is add in back-to-back long runs, which many ultrarunners swear by, doing 10-15 miles the day after running 18-20 miles. In theory, this gets you used to running on tired legs, and spreading out 35-40 miles of running over 2 days isn’t as taxing on your body, so that you can still get in your other runs during the week. I’ve also been trying to get in as much hill work as I can, but until I can get out on the trails more, that’s going to be somewhat limited. For the most part, Anchorage itself is actually pretty flat.

A Mental Game

Probably one of the hardest parts of training for an ultra has been the mental aspect of it all. The longest I have run to date is 26.2 miles – in 2 1/2 months, I’ll be running almost twice that, all at once. It can be hard to wrap my mind around that. Coming home from some of my recent long runs of 20 and 22 miles, knowing how tired I am at that point, and realizing that I wouldn’t even be halfway done yet. During one particularly difficult 18 miler about a month ago, I was feeling pretty down, and was ready to call it quits and throw in the towel on this crazy ultra business. Luckily, I was able to recognize that these were just feelings “in the moment” during a low spot, and not necessarily how I “really” felt. I gave myself a few days to cool off and reflect more on it, and once I was out of that bad moment, my attitude towards ultra training turned right back around.

Weight Update

While my running has gone great these past 2 months, my weight has basically gone nowhere. After dropping 10 pounds in the first 2 months of the year, the last 2 months have basically been a wash. It’s interesting (and frustrating) to me that even with running all of these miles, my weight hasn’t budged. Yes, I had a few indescretions (especially around Easter), but all in all my eating has been really good lately. The thing I have found is that after running 40+ miles in a week, I eat a lot. Most of the time I’ve managed to keep good food coming in with a bare minimum of snacks, sugar, etc. But regardless of how good the food is for me, I’m still eating a lot of it.

It’s actually deceptively difficult to lose weight while in the middle of a heavy training cycle like this. After a long run, your body needs those extra calories to refuel and repair itself. If I limit my intake too much, I’ll be increasing my risk of injury. Not to use that as an excuse for not having lost any additional weight, but something to be aware of. Food is fuel. When I work my body this hard, it needs fuel, and lots of it. The most important thing I need to focus on for now (at least in terms of eating) is putting quality fuel in my tank, so that I can continue to get out there and train hard.

Are We There Yet?

Whew, I think this blog post is finally done! I’m really going to try hard to write more often so that the next post doesn’t feel like such a brain dump. If you made it this far, thanks for reading 🙂

3 thoughts on “March & April Ultra Training Update

  1. The weight issue is a tough one — gotta eat to be prepared for the long runs, but also gotta keep the weight down to be able to run like you really want to. If you figure it out, let me know. 😉

    All that aside, I’m looking forward to seeing how all this transpires for you. I want to do an ultra one day, but I can’t seem to break myself from running on the road.

  2. Angela Burlile

    Wow Brandon, I didn’t know you had a running blog! Love it! Very inspiring to see your updates on dailymile and read about it here on the blog! Good luck with the ultra 🙂

  3. Thanks Angela! The blog has mostly just been a fun way for me to keep track of my progress while I’ve lost weight, gotten in shape, and started running.

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