Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Reverse Taper: Post race recovery and what's next?

I find it hard to believe that it’s been over two weeks since Haliburton. I’ve replayed the race countless times in my head and it still makes me smile. It’s always nice to feel that way following a race and great to know that there probably isn’t much that you would do differently if you had to do it all over again.

Now that I am feeling that my legs have returned to life a bit, it’s time to get back into training a little more and start looking towards what’s next.

The last few weeks have been what I refer to as a reverse taper. You need to taper going into a race to let your legs benefit from all the training and to feel fresh on race day, but you also need to slowly ease back into training following a hard race effort. There have been many times that I have rushed back into hard training too quickly and paid for it with illness and injury. My goal after Haliburton was not to let this happen.

Regardless of whether you have a good race or bad race the motivation to get back out there is always strong. If you run well, you are keen to build on that result, start training hard and take it to the next level. If you have a sub-par race, you are keen to makeup for a bad effort and get back at it as well. So, as you can see, the period following a race is very tricky and needs to be approached with caution. Even when you start to feel a little better, you need to be careful not to run too hard/too long, too soon.

I feel that I am now in a good place to start ramping up a bit again and am quite excited about this. My recovery from Haliburton this year has been considerably quicker than last year. I’ve been trying to do all the things that will aid in recovery like eating a little more protein (and good nutrition in general), getting extra rest and being sure to run on soft surfaces (always a must).

Really, I guess that all of these are things that I’ve focused on over the course of the summer with regards to the high mileage that I’ve done since early June anyhow. It’s really quite amazing that when you focus on all the little things, how they can make a big difference.

Aside from the basics mentioned above, I’ve also found a few things and products that have proved to be quite valuable in my recovery from high mileage in the buildup prior to Haliburton…

First Endurance: I decided to be a little more careful with regards to getting a well balanced diet of the proper vitamins and minerals. I have never been big on taking vitamins/supplements, but have done so this year with a multivitamin, in addition to natural supplements by First Endurance. I did feel that this helped a great deal in my day to day recovery, and also by the fact that I haven’t been sick since starting to take them.

DeFeet Calf Skins: I was a bit of a skeptic with regards to the benefits of compression socks and calf skins. I haven’t used them in training, but did find they were a big help if I slept wearing them on the night after a long run. I noticed that my calves and achilles didn’t feel sore the next day and I was able to run longer and harder than if I hadn’t worn them.

Ice/Injury Prevention: At the first sign of a little twinge, I would immediately back off on the volume and intensity of my training for a few days and pamper the trouble spot. Sure, I would still run, but they would all be shorter and easier runs, followed by plenty of icing and rehab if necessary.

Core: A strong core is key to strong ultra running. I have found that if I go too long without doing some basic core stuff that I start feeling more aches and pains regularly. I try to do a very short and basic core routine 2-3 times per week.

Ice baths: I don’t tend to enjoy taking an ice bath…who does?. However just taking a few minutes of running cold water over your legs can speed up your post run recovery by quite a bit.

Post run food: As mentioned, protein is very important to aid in recovery. After a long run getting some protein into you within the first 15mins will speed up your recovery significantly.

What’s next?

Part of the whole recovery period after a race includes deciding upon what’s next. I’m really excited about next year and being able to use the past year of consistent high mileage and races to work towards bigger goals.

For the near future, I am considering running either a 50mile or possibly even a 100mile race before the end of the year. For 2010 I’m still up in the air about things, but would like to race more than I did in 2009. Some of the races that I have been looking at longingly in the spring and summer of 2010 include Rock and Ice, Western States 100 and Trans Rockies. All of these races are pretty expensive, so we’ll have to wait and see how things play out and also see if there are any potential sponsorship opportunities. Whatever races I finally decide upon are sure to be fun. I can’t wait!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Week of Sept 21-27

Sept 21-27
Total # of hours this week: 8:59
Total # of runs this week: 9
2009 total # of hours: 470:09
2009 total # of days: 276
2009 total # of runs: 350
Streak: 7215 days in a row
Training Log Details: click here

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Week of Sept 14-20

Training Summary:
~ Recovery week from Haliburton 100.
Total # of hours this week: 2:38
Total # of runs this week: 7
2009 total # of hours: 461:10
2009 total # of days: 269
2009 total # of runs: 343
Streak: 7208 days in a row
Training Log Details: click here

Monday, September 14, 2009

Haliburton Forest 100 miles - Race Report

Things seemed a little different going into the Haliburton Forest 100 mile Trail Run this year. Last year was my first 100 mile race and I had a lot of questions. However, getting the first one out of the way in 2008 and having another year of solid training under my belt (buckle) left me in a good place going into this year. You never want to be overconfident before an ultra, as anything can happen, however I felt pretty good that on race day if I ran smart things would go well.

Going into the race, I had a staircase of four goals that I wanted to achieve this year at Haliburton. On the first stair was finishing the race in a faster time than last year of 18:42. After that, the thought of breaking Jeff Simpkins 2006 course record of 18:23. Next, on an ideal day and if everything went well, I wanted to break 18 hours. And finally, on the top step was the goal of winning the race again.

The field of competitors for the 2009 race was proving to be a competitive one. My friend, Keith Iskiw from nearby Kingston has been running really well this year and was going to have a great day. We also heard that an Italian runner named Pasquale Brandi was running. Pasquale is a veteran of many challenging ultras including strong showings in a number of desert races and stage races. During the pre-race dinner, we also discovered that Glen Redpath from New York City was a last minute entry. Originally from Winnipeg, Glen has represented Canada at international ultrarunning competitions; and finished 2nd this year at both the Bull Run Run 50miler and Massanutten 100miler.

Temperatures were mild on race morning, which indicated that it was going to be quite hot on the course in the afternoon. The Haliburton 100 mile course is a double out and back that is a combination of 80% technical trail and 20% forest/logging road, over constantly rolling hills. It was still fairly dark for the 6am start, however the first 6km of the race was on fairly smooth sand and gravel road before heading onto the more rugged Normac Trail where things get technical.

The 50km and 50mile races start at the same time, so there was always quite a few people to run with in the early miles and lots of talk with runners trying to determine who was running what race. I tried not to get caught up in the early race enthusiasm and just eased into the race. I knew that Glen was up ahead, so I settled into a comfortable pace with Pasquelle for the first while. Keith Iskiw went by a short time later and looking very focused. Once again, I just tried to relax, take care of the little things like nutrition/hydration and let the first few hours pass.

In the 14 days prior to the race, I was having some quad issues in my left leg beneath my IT Band. I was concerned about this early in the race on some of the long downhills as I felt it for the first few hours. Fortunately, it gradually improved the more I ran and was not an issue for the rest of the day. A big thank you to Greg Lehman for the ART treatment a few days earlier.

Much like most ultras, the first 25 kilometers were relatively uneventful. Pasquale, Keith and myself changed our positions a few times, but were always within a few minutes of one another. Keith surprised both Pasquale and I by coming up behind us into the 25km aid station. Keith had been running in front of us and we thought he’d pulled ahead further, but had apparently taken a pit stop and was relieving himself/hiding behind a tree for a little more privacy. Too funny.

Pasquale left the aid station first, and took a wrong turn before I called him back. He assured me that he wouldn’t make the same mistake again after dark. We ran together through the rugged corduroy trail that had vertical logs to navigate over. Having a weak ankle from a previously break; this is always my least favourite part of the course. Thankfully, this section is quite short and we arrived at the 30km aid station quickly. Leaving the aid station, I inadvertently took a wrong turn and now it was Pasquale’s turn to return the favour and call me back. We both had a laugh over that.

The final 10km to the turnaround features a little bit of everything including good climbs, technical single track and a few flat sections where you could really open things up and run fast. It was on one of these flat sections that Keith caught Pasquale and then went by me looking very strong. I wasn’t feeling particularly good at that point, so held back and encouraged him to go ahead and see if he could cut into Glen’s lead. I wasn’t sure how far Glen was ahead at the 40km mark, but he must have been between 5-10 minutes. I knew we were all running fairly quickly as I hit the 40km turnaround in 3:48, which was 14 minutes faster than my split last year.

After 40km, things finally started feeling like they were clicking and I was getting into a good place. So many times in training over the past few months, I wouldn’t start to feel better until later on in a long run, and the same thing was happening now. I took that as a very good sign.

Nearing 50km, I caught back up to Keith, who seemed to be going through a bit of a rough patch, but knew he’d get through it and be back in the chase soon. This gave me a little more of a mental lift and I started to press a little harder on some of the more technical sections while feeling like I was waking up a little.

I continued to feel strong coming into the 68km aid station before doing the Normac Trail. I had plenty of gels with me and thought I had some electrolyte tablets, so dropped my second bottle and passed through the aid station. It wasn’t until a few moments later that I realized I was out of electrolytes, so would have to press on for a little further than I wanted to without. The temperature was unseasonably hot now and hydrating/fueling was becoming an issue. I continued to feel good though and saw that I was within four minutes of Glen and a couple of minutes in front of Keith. I hit the 80km (50mile) aid station in 7:57, which was 26 minutes faster than last year. Now it was time to head back out onto the course and do it all over again.

Seeing Glen so close at the halfway point encouraged me to continue to press hard. Heading into the Normac Loop, I knew that my stomach was beginning to go south though. The heat and possibly lack of electrolytes for an extended period had me in a place where I couldn’t keep anything down. For over 90 minutes, I would try to take a gel, then puke it up, take something else, puke it up. I was very worried as I couldn’t even keep the electrolyte caps down for a while. I could feel my legs starting to lose the desire to run at a decent pace and continued to struggle.

Finally, at about the 105km mark, my stomach settled down and I was able to keep some calories down. Once this happened, I could feel my legs come back to life. I had lost quite a bit of time to Glen during this period, but was feeling good with renewed hope and was moving well again.

Getting to the 120km aid station was a huge mental boost as you only have to do one final 40km (25mile) section of trail. It was still daylight out, but I would need my headlamps before the next aid station, so grabbed them and was off. My wife Sara was crewing for me and was quick all day in getting me in and out of the aid stations as fast as possible with whatever I needed. This was such a welcome treat compared to fending for myself for the first half of the race last year. Kimberly and David Bohn also helped to crew, with the plan that David was going to be my pacer after 8pm.

Even though it was getting dark and I was getting tired I did some of my fastest running of the day during this time. I met Keith first on my way back and exchanged words of encouragement. A few minutes later I met Pasquale who was shouting ‘only 42mins ahead, go get him!’. I was told at the next aid station that I had cut 5 minutes off of Glen’s lead, but he was still a long ways ahead. Anything can happen in an ultra though, so I continued to press as hard as I could.

Arriving at the 130km station at a couple of minutes after 8pm, David was ready to go. Last year when I was running after dark, I was in survival mode, but this year was considerably different. I had to walk some of the steep uphills, but still felt surprisingly good on the flats and downhills. David helped to push me when I needed it, especially once we realized that I still had a chance to run a fast time and meet my time goals.

Hitting the 148km mark was another big lift. Now, there was only one more loop on the Normac trail around the lake. The hard day of running and racing was beginning to set in. My stomach was also beginning to rebel once again. Over the final few aid stations I was able to take in some calories, but they never stayed down. I think the worst was halfway on the final loop when I threw up rather violently for four times in one episode. David quietly stood watching me and as soon as I was finished, would get me moving again. That was exactly what I needed.

Once we hit the final 6km sand road section, I was running on fumes, but continued to push hard with David’s help. At least my stomach had settled down again. The hills seemed huge, but I was running them as hard as I could as I knew I still had a shot at breaking 18hrs.

With two km to go, we were left with only one last hill to climb before the final 1km straightaway that seems to go on forever. Cresting the hill, I could see the beautiful sight of flashing headlamps at the finish line. We continued to push the pace in and crossed the finish line in 17:52; good for second place. Congratulations to Glen who crushed the old course record with a great time of 17:18.

While winning the race again this year would have been nice, I could not be happier with how my race turned out. I had some bad patches along the way, but learned a lot and finished strong.

Congratulations to Keith for running an awesome race and finishing third in 19:05, as well as Pasquale in 21:30.

A special congratulations to Aaron Anderson, who I had the privilege of coaching for his first ultra. Aaron had an amazing day, finishing 7th overall in the 50km race in a great time of 5:32. Also, congrats to all the great friends, both old and new, who ran in the Forest.

Thanks so much to Kimberly for crewing, David for crewing/pacing (I wouldn’t have met all my time goals without you!)…and especially my incredible soulmate/wife, Sara for everything you do and are. Love you!

2009 time: 17:52
25 mile splits: 3:48 / 4:09 / 4:58 / 4:56 (7:57 for first 50miles)
My placing: 2nd
Winner: Glen Redpath – 17:18 (*New course record. I also broke Jeff Simpkins old course record from 2006 of 18:23)

2008 time: 18:42
25 mile splits: 4:04:10 / 4:17:18 / 4:43:43 / 5:36:51. (Last 25miles in the dark).
My placing: First
Second Place: Jim Orr (19:32)
2008 Race Report

>>Click here for fuel, gear and footwear list (La Sportiva Crosslites: 100miles = zero foot issues!).

>>Report from my pacer David Bohn

>>Report from Sara's crewing perspective

>>Report on La Sportiva Mountain Running Blog

>>Report on Trail Running Canada

Below are a few race photos. Kimberly also posted some other race photos here.

Coming into 25km Aid Station...
Aid Station #6...
The temperature is getting hot...
Halfway done!. Split first 50miles during the day in 7:57...
A little motivation from my pacer David provided by the Ramones...
Hectic Aid Station...
Running 100 miles never felt so good (David and Sara. Kim behind the camera)...
The day after roadkill (Derrick and Keith)...

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Haliburton 100: Quick Update

The race went well. I ended up in second place, finishing 50 minutes faster than last year. Pleased with the effort.

Early Results:
1) Glen Redpath/New York City - 17:18 (New Course Record - Old record was 18:23)
2) Derrick Spafford/Yarker - 17:52 (also under old course record)
3) Keith Iskiw/Kingston - 19:05 (great race for my friend Keith, who has had a couple of tough 100's the past few years at Haliburton. Congrats Keith!)
4) Pasquelle Brandi/Italy - 21:30

I will write more of a report soon.

Week of Sept 7-13

Sept 7-13
~ Haliburton race week
Total # of hours this week: 21:32
Total # of runs this week: 7
2009 total # of hours: 458:32
2009 total # of days: 262
2009 total # of runs: 336
Streak: 7,201 days in a row
Training Log Details: click here

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Haliburton 100miler: Time to Play!

Well, Haliburton is almost here. I find it very hard to believe it’s been a year since my first 100miler there.

I feel in a great place fitness wise going into this weekend. I am definitely in the best shape of my life. Going into last years race, I had been pretty sick for 3 weeks in July, which cut into my training significantly. This year, since June I have averaged 15.5 hrs of running each week (with a high week of over 24hrs), including 10 long runs of over 4hrs. My higher training has been much more specific towards a 100 mile trail race this year, and the Haliburton course specifically. The overall high mileage has allowed me to run at a comfortable pace for long periods of time and recover very quickly. Long runs have felt better each and every run as well. All this has me looking forward to race day.

The only bit of recent frustration has been that my IT band flared up on me a few weeks ago. It was a strange thing as during my last long run I was stung by a bee in my quad and my quad/ITB swelled up. I was scheduled to take a few light days anyhow, but my ITB seemed to have stiffened up and stayed stiff since the sting. In retrospect, I probably should have taken it even easier for a few days, but I didn’t really think it would be an issue. Anyhow, I’ve been aggressively rehabbing it with lots of stretching, rolling, massage and it seems to be improving. I expect that things will take care of themselves on Saturday, but it’s never fun dealing with stupid issues like this at the last second. (Note: Just back from an ART treatment with Greg Lehman and seems like it is more of a muscle strain deep in the quad under the ITB which function wise is probably better than ITB).

Regardless, I feel great going into the race and am looking to run my race at a comfortable pace from the start. The trails will be beautiful and I just can’t wait to get out playing in the forest, and fully enjoying them.

As far as gear goes, the final week before a race is the time to pick out your final race gear, and pack your drop bags and crew kit. I feel 100% confident with the great gear I’ll be using. A big thank you once again to the La Sportiva Running Team for providing the best gear by La Sportiva, Sugoi, Petzl, Ultimate Direction, DeFeet, Julbo, Headsweats and First Endurance.

The following are some of the items I’ll be using during the race and packing in drop bags.
-La Sportiva Crosslites: my shoe of choice. Lightweight, great fit and amazing traction.
-DeFeet Trail 19 socks: just an awesome wool trail running sock.
-Sugoi 42k Split short: lightweight and allows great range of motion.
-Sugoi/La Sportiva Singlet &/or t-shirt: lightweight tech fabric.
-Sugoi arm sleeves: removable arm sleeves for a cool morning start.
-Headsweats Cap: breathable with sun protection.
-Julbo Trail Sunglasses: lightweight, comfortable and change with the light.
-Ultimate Direction Double Bottle waistbelt: lots of pockets to carry stuff
-Ulimate Direction Handheld bottles: the only handhelds that I like.
-Petzl Headlamps: E+Lite (for start), MYO XP and Tikka XP (with adapt option on waist) for night running.
-Nutrition: gels, bloks, electrolyte caps/drink, protein drinks, reactin (in case of bee sting), Ibuprofen (emergency use only), rice/cheese wraps, in addition to aid station buffet.
-Extra clothing: Sugoi merino wool long sleeve, Sugoi ½ tights, Sugoi full tights, DeFeet calf sleeves, Sugoi toque, Sugoi gloves, extra DeFeet Socks, Wisp jacket.
-Backup shoes: La Sportiva Wildcats and Skylites.
-Other: Sport lube, lip balm, duct tape, bandaids, ITB strap.
-Pacer: Last, but certainly NOT least, a huge thank you to David Bohn who has offered to be my pacer during the final miles of the race. David will be a huge help once my brain starts going south as he knows the trails very well from running Haliburton the past two years, including winning the 50km last year. I'm looking forward to sharing the trail with you David! Thanks as well to Kimberly Bohn who will be out on the course crewing with Sara in the afternoon and cheering along the way.

Whew, I think that’s it! Hope I haven’t forgotten anything.

Look forward to seeing everyone in the forest!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Monday, September 7, 2009

Sydenham Fall Trail Run - Entry Deadline

Just a reminder about the Sydenham Fall Trail Run that will be held on October 18, 2009 in beautiful Sydenham, Ontario. The race shirt deadline is fast approaching on September 18, so don't delay if you haven't registered yet.

Also, a quick update that we are pleased to announce that Dion Running Snowshoes will be sponsoring the race and giving away one free pair of their top-of-the-line running snowshoes as the grand draw prize to one lucky participant. This will also come with a free snowshoe running clinic/lesson provided by Spafford Health and Adventure. We will also be handing out four pairs of La Sportiva Trail Running Shoes and an assortment of other great loot!

Remember...the race is capped at 250 and the entries are coming in fast. Register soon to avoid missing out.

For more information on the Sydenham Fall Trail Run, please visit the race website at www.HealthandAdventure.com or if you have any questions, please feel free to contact me directly or post below in the comments.

For online registration, please click here.

See you on race day,

Derrick Spafford
Race Director
Sydenham Fall Trail Run

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Week of Aug 31 - Sept 6

Training Summary for the week (photo: Coming down to Birch Lake):
~ Pretty light week of running. Amazing all the time you have in your day when you aren't putting it into training. I DON'T LIKE TAPERS! I love the feeling of being out there and putting in lots of time on the trails and being one with nature. Good for the body and soul! That said, I do feel pretty well recovered and rested going into this last week before Haliburton. My ITB continues to be just a bit stiff, but really isn't a concern as I know that if I was running a ton right now that I wouldn't even think about it. I was very happy with my Friday hilly fartlek/tempo run. It felt very smooth and was the type of run that made me think that I could almost run some reasonably fast times over some shorter distances if I chose to focus on them. Sunday was a nice run for my head, just getting back out to the Park for a play in the woods. Little Clear Lake is just such a beautiful loop to run.

Total # of hours this week: 8:27
Total # of runs this week: 7
2009 total # of hours: 437:00
2009 total # of days: 255
2009 total # of runs: 329
Streak: 7,194 days in a row
Training Log Details: click here

Thursday, September 3, 2009

My Imaginary Ipod Playlist

Ok, let me start by saying that I have never, ever worn headphones listening to music while running. I run trails, love being in the woods while experiencing nature so for me, running while listening to music just seems wrong. I want to get away from anything to do with civilization and just experience life in the great outdoors. Many runners and ultra runners can’t seem to get through a run if they are not plugged in, and that’s fine, but it’s just not for me.

Having said that however, there are many times during a run that I will be singing along in my head to some of my favourite songs. During a recent long run, I was thinking about what songs and bands I think about most and came up with the following playlist imaginary playlist:

1. ‘Just look them straight in the eye and tell them Pogue Mahone’ by The Pogues: I have to admit that I don’t have this boxed set yet, but probably have a lot of it on other releases. I’m a huge fan of the Pogues. You could play a number of different songs by the Pogues and please any musical taste. Just brilliantly written songs and played and sung with passion. I still have not seen the full Pogues lineup in concert, which is disappointing. The first time I tried, the concert was cancelled. The second time Shane MacGowan had just been kicked out of the band. I did finally see Shane MacGowan with his other band The Popes, but musically they were just not the same. The one good thing about the Pogues concert I did see was that Joe Strummer from The Clash was the replacement vocalist and the concert was incredible.

2. ‘Never mind the Bollocks, here’s the Sex Pistols’by The Sex Pistols: The Sex Pistols really started the whole punk movement. Incredible energy and passion for the music they were playing and the message they were trying to get across.

3. ‘London Calling’by The Clash: More punk! Labeled as the ‘only band that ever mattered’, The Clash were very political with great lyrics and a mix of punk, ska, reggae and rockabilly. London Calling was awarded the best album of the decade (1980’s) by Rolling Stone Magazine.

4. ‘The Ramones’ by The Ramones. Early American punk. Guaranteed to make you run fast listening to the Ramones……1,2,3,4!!!!.......

5. ‘El Corazon’ by Steve Earle. Folk, Country, Bluegrass, Punk, Celtic…Steve Earle does it all and this album is a great example. We saw Steve Earle last year in Gananoque and he put on an amazing solo show. The only thing better than Steve Earle’s singing/songwriting is his social commentary.

6. ‘The Best of The Mahones’ by The Mahones. The Mahones are from Kingston and started out as a Pogues cover band, but have evolved into a great international band with their own interpretation of Celtic Punk. I used to watch these guys at the Toucan Pub when there were only a handful of people in the audience. Great to see them still at it. Their song ‘Paint the Town Red’ kept going through my head for the duration of my marathon PB.

7. ‘Bob Dylan’s Greatest Hits’ by Bob Dylan: No list is complete without at least one Bob Dylan album. We saw him in Kingston this year which was good, but probably would have preferred a concert from about 25years ago instead.

8. ‘Into the Wild’ (soundtrack) by Eddie Vedder: Probably a little surprising to be on this list and might not be in 10years time, but I find myself listening to this CD in the car a lot and the music sometimes gets into my head when I’m out for a long trail run and seeing beautiful country.