Big Basin 50K Week 13: Bringing It Home

Guess what? I’ve survived the bulk of 50K training and am officially in the taper zone. Even though I didn’t hit last week’s prescribed mileage of 50 miles, I did manage to run just shy of 46, including a hot and hilly 20-miler on Saturday. Well, I should say that it was “hot” by Northern California standards, i.e., 80 degrees with full sun and 60-70% humidity. I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve become a huge weather wimp; the Taiwan-born, East Coast version of myself shakes her head in disgust. 😉

Taper officially kicked off yesterday and I’m very much looking forward to the declining mileage on the schedule. No more 8-10 mile runs on Wednesdays and no more runs over 12 miles on the weekends. Delightful. There’s a fly in the taper ointment, however, and that’s the possibility of running the Santa Rosa Marathon on August 23rd, 4 weeks after Big Basin. Why would I want to do a thing like that when I’m feeling *so ready* to be done with distance running? Well, I already have 50K-worth of endurance base under my belt and it seems a shame to let it go to waste. I’d rather hold out for 4 more weeks of training/taper than have to recover and rebuild for a fall/winter marathon. I’m also pretty confident I can crush my marathon PR of 4:32 from CIM, which was my first and still fastest 26.2-mile outing. Not to mention that Santa Rosa is the kind of marathon that suits my temperament — small-ish field, logistically easy (i.e., local), mostly flat course, and organized by runners, for runners. Plus, Angela is running it, so I’d have a race buddy. The one major downside is cost — it’s $145 before August 1st, and $155 after. (I’m hoping to use Angela’s discount code, which would save me $10.) I was originally going to wait until after Big Basin to sign up for SRM to see how I felt post-race, and also so I could focus on Big Basin as my “A race”. My plan was to test the waters with a 12-16 mile run 2 weeks before SRM, with the last few miles at marathon pace or faster, but it looks like I might not have that luxury as the race is starting fill up. I’ll keep my eye on registration numbers and hope that it won’t sell out before Big Basin.

One thing I’ve been thinking about recently is how lucky I’ve been to not come down with any injuries during this training cycle (*knock on wood*). I guess it helps that I didn’t run all of the miles that I planned to originally, but I also think that there were a bunch of little things I did throughout the training cycle that helped me survive. Here they are in no particular order:

Leg swings before and after every run. I’ve been doing leg swings (front and back, side to side) as part of a dynamic warm-up for a while now, but it’s only been in the last few months that I started doing them during my cool-down as well. I don’t know if I can credit them for keeping my hip problems at bay, but it doesn’t seem to hurt. Plus, they take all of 20 seconds to do. No brainer.

Keeping on top of fueling. Maybe for a road marathon I would consider laying off the pre-, during, and post-run carbs so that I could tap into my fat stores, but for my first ultra (i.e., in unfamiliar territory), I really wanted to keep my glycogen levels steady. Nothing sounds worse than bonking in the woods due to low blood sugar, with no cell phone reception and being miles away from civilization. For my three 20+ mile runs, I diligently practiced race-day fueling strategies and tried different foods. For midweek and weekend long runs, I made sure to have a post-run snack handy so I could replenish my glycogen stores immediately. The couple of times when I didn’t do this, my next run really suffered.

On that same note — I tried my best to stay hydrated. I noticed a few months ago that I didn’t drink nearly as much water as I thought. I used to be one of those people who scoffed at the 64 fluid ounces of water a day recommendation… until I realized that on some days, I was drinking more like 8-16 ounces of water? Yikes. I probably still don’t drink enough water, but I try to get at least one glass per meal and 16-32 ounces the rest of the day. I can’t tell what kind of effect it’s had on my running (if at all), but I’m less prone to headaches and it’s improved my digestion. Yay, water!

Working at a standing desk. I have a Varidesk, which allows me to work at the computer from a standing or seated position. When I’m very tired or sick, I allow myself to sit, but otherwise, I stand for most of the day. I think this has strengthened my core and legs, and improved my balance (I try not to favor one leg by putting all of my weight on it). It also makes me more productive at work. I think this is because standing is more active than sitting, and forces me to focus rather than get distracted or daydream.

Cutting myself some slack, work/life balance, blah blah blah. I’ve written about this several times already during this training cycle, but I think it bears repeating. I’m typically pretty OCD when it comes to training plans. I usually love going to my training spreadsheet immediately after each run, typing in the numbers, and seeing the miles add up. This was the first training cycle where I would go days without doing that. Sometimes it was because I felt bad about not meeting my goal, but most of the time, it was because I had other crap to do. I have a feeling if I had been more obsessed with running EVERY. SINGLE. MILE., I would probably be burned out, injured, or both.

Now, for the things I didn’t do right or could’ve improved upon:

Sleep. I feel like I’ve been playing catch up for the last 3 months, ever since my trip to NY in April. Occasionally, I would purposely sleep in on the weekend and start my run later so that I could incorporate heat training while catching some extra zzz’s, but that did not make up for the rest of the time when I either didn’t sleep enough or slept poorly.

Diet. Despite my best attempts to incorporate more fruits and veggies into my daily life, this was a constant struggle. Some weeks went better than others. I’m still eating out way too much and my soda/sugary drink consumption has increased by a lot – like, I’m constantly craving soda, but I try to limit myself to 2-3 per week. I’ve definitely used “But I’m training for an ultra!” as an excuse to eat whatever I wanted. In the last few weeks, I’ve been reminding myself that food is fuel. Not to mention that lots of runners gain weight during taper. An ultramarathon is tough enough without lugging around extra weight!

Any kind of regular strength training, core strengthening, or cross training. Unfortunately, these are the types of things I focus on only when I’m injured and/or have a lot of time on my hands. Not being able to go to the gym regularly also limits my desire to strength training – even though we have enough equipment and space at home to complete most exercises. But mostly, I’m just lazy.

So those are my thoughts on how 50K training has gone. I probably won’t write any training recaps during taper, because…#boring #snoozealert. Instead, I have a couple of gear and shoe reviews that need posting, as well as my Big Basin race plan and maybe a quick recap of the Brazen Dirty Dozen 10K I’m running on Saturday. Hope y’all had a good holiday weekend!


Howdy! My name is Jen and I live in the San Francisco Bay Area. I like to eat, run, and blog, but not usually at the same time.

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Posted in Big Basin 50K
3 comments on “Big Basin 50K Week 13: Bringing It Home
  1. Jan says:

    Yay for tapering!!! That is the best part of any training cycle I think. Love that you have a standing desk! I’ve never heard of one that can be standing or sitting but now I want one. I seriously am going to look at getting myself one for school.

    • Jen says:

      I love my Varidesk! Especially since my work paid for it – they are not cheap! The model that I have (the original/classic) is better suited for desktop computers than laptops – FYI.

  2. […] written previously about some of the non-running things I felt that I did right and wrong, so I won’t repeat […]

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4/28/19: London Marathon

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