Nat Couture: Training Update

July 28, 2016

I'm now less than 4 weeks to race day with a plan to train hard for 2 more weeks. The month of August will be a pretty drastic taper, aiming for 80-100k in the first week and probably 30-50k in the week leading up to the race. I've been pretty much right on track with my training and my body has been cooperating for the most part. I feel like I should be peaking at exactly the right time for this race, as long as everything continues to go well. Mentally this is the toughest part of training for an ultra. Each morning I wake up exhausted and sore from the day before and the last thing I want to do is run, hike or walk. I've been going to bed around 11pm each night and waking up at 5:45am. Some mornings I run, but most mornings I've been too stiff, so I just do yoga or lift weights in preparation for my noon run. July 18th I tweeked my back while moving a barbell and had to take the day off from running. I was actually glad to take the day off as it was my first off day in 3 weeks. I took it as a good sign when my legs felt great running today, so that means my taper should do my body some good.
I did a partial race simulation in Fundy National Park on July 9th, running 40k+ with a similar terrain profile to what I'll encounter in Pennsylvania. For this workout I intentionally ran on tired legs, having run 100k cumulative in the 5 days prior to the workout. I also didn't fuel very well, hoping to simulate a mild depletion, which I will surely encounter on race day. I did this by specifically not eating pre-run  and I only took a few gels/shot bloks with me. The workout lasted 5 hours and I consumed 700ml of water and ate 2 shot blok sleeves ~400calories. A typical race fueling strategy would have someone my bodyweight eating about 400 calories an hour so I was definitely depleted. The final 5k of my workout was a large hill leading back up to Chignecto Campground. During this climb I became dizzy and nauseous and felt quite week, all symptoms of a typical bonk, likely caused by low blood sugar, which is pretty much what I expected would happen. After it was all said and done though I was left with the feeling that I should feel stronger than I did but it's hard to tell at this point.  On that particular run it wasn't hot, and I didn't feel any leg cramps coming on but I suspect I'll be encountering this soon as the temperatures and humidity go up, so it's a perfect time to introduce the new electrolyte capsules into my training.  As it so happens, the next two weekends I have short trail races, the 20k Herring Run in Mascarene, and the Brookvale 50k in Brookvale, PEI. Both will serve as my long runs for those weeks. At the Herring Run I'll probably just run a couple warm-up loops to make the run long enough for my workout.  I won't taper for either race, so I'll be running on somewhat tired legs, but since these are not goal races, I'm not be stressing about rankings at these events this year, I'll be mainly looking to test out my in-race nutrition. Next week I'll share how the Herring Run goes and what I'll have in my bottles for Brookvale. I'll also start talking about some of my gear choices for Pennsylvania.