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Preparing to go the distance

The question I’ve received most so far is “how are you going to prepare to run that far?!”

Good question and a simple first answer – Running. A lot of running. But there’s obviously a lot more there. More than just covering distance, there’s also the vertical ascent – close to 11,000 feet (almost Mt. Everest from base camp to summit), bugs, a relatively unmarked trail with no aid stations, food and water I have to carry myself, and probably more to get into.

I’ll focus on the miles in this post. Trail runners are accustomed to just putting on miles. Get up early, run super far, shower and get on with your day (at least that’s my most common routine). But as far as actual mileage in a month, I actually rarely top 100 miles in a month. I’m no professional athlete winning races so not pushing myself to extreme limits. I’ve also been plagued with IT-band issues, achilles tendon stresses, stress fractures, and more over the course of time. Trail running, and at my ripe-old age of 38, inherently means you have to listen to your body – determine what is comfortable, how hard you can push yourself but still know you’ve got another 30 miles to go, and most importantly, how to listen to your body enough to avoid injury.

So my routine is roughly: 2 – 3 short runs during the week, usually for a total of between 15-25 miles, then one longer run on the weekend that matches or is close to the weekday mileage. The most I’d ever really run in a full week tops out at 40 miles and that’s a rarity. This week for example, will be a 40 miles week. I’m also getting ready to run the Superior Spring 50K and I’m on tap for a 25 mile run this weekend before tapering the next 4 weeks before the race.

The timing of the Superior Spring 50K is perfectly timed – and may or may not have…ok, it definitely did – factor into my timing for June 29th for the BRT phase of this project. I’ll get a solid 31 miles on trail in northern Minnesota on the amazingly beautiful Superior Hiking Trail with 4,200 ft of elevation gain in the out and back course. Similar terrain and elevation - but of course it has the aid stations, a well defined and utilized and marked trail, and several hundred other runners out there with me. 5 weeks later I’ll be on the BRT by myself with no support. So at minimum this year’s Spring Superior will be me pushing myself as hard as possible, particularly on the ascent parts, and seeing what my body can do. Of course all the while listening, slowing down, taking it easy when needed so I don’t get into a bad fall or over stress something harming my attempt to Run Across the Boundary Waters.

Then leading up to the Kek this fall and eventually running both at the same time next year I’ve also strategically placed some other runs. The schedule is:

- May 18th 2019: Spring Superior 50K

- June 29th 2019: Border Route Trail phase of Run Across the Boundary Waters

- September 6th 2019: Superior Fall 100 miler

- September 21st 2019: Ely Marathon

- Early Oct 2019: Kekekabic Trail phase of Run Across the Boundary Waters

- Winter 2019/2020: 50 miler somewhere awesome – open to suggestions!!

- April 2020: Zion 100 miler

- June 21st: Full Run Across the Boundary Waters! 110 miles of Wilderness fun.

- August 2020: Leadville 100 (throwing this in there – all this prep will have me well conditioned for the Leadville next year (except the whole running at elevation thing…). I got through the lottery this year, but deferred to next year so I could get the Superior Fall 100 in for MN trail training. Still excited for the Leadville next year!!).

So, the long and short of the distance prep is getting in as many miles as I can without hurting myself. Knowing what my body (and mind) can do. And utilizing opportunities to get north and push myself on similar terrain for both the physical and mental exercise.

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