How To Train For Your Next FKT
By Jennilyn Eaton
This new passion of mine—ultra length mountain running, is
something so new and foreign that it doesn’t yet have a definition, following,
or official genre yet. Instead of racing this summer, my focus will be on
summit FKT’s and ultra-length FKT ridge link-ups. My current training plan comes
from a combination of road running books, like Training Endurance, alpine climbing guides, such as Steve House’s Training for the New Alpinism, and
shameless cyber-stalking of local Wasatch elites.
Here are 5 concepts I’ve integrated
into my training as I transition from fall/spring ultra races to summer FKTs:
Elevation Gain: After training and completing a flatter, faster 100-mile
race this spring, I’ve transitioned out of mileage-based training and into
elevation-based training. Giving up mileage-based training has been a difficult
transition! Instead of counting weekly miles I’m counting total vertical gain;
instead of tempo runs I’m trying to PR my summit times. I’ve been watching my
weekly hours spent out to ensure that the quantity and frequency of training is
not sacrificed. Maintaining my usual amount of time on feet and allowing
elevation change to determine each day of training instead of mileage has been
a pleasant and playful change to my training. Focusing on the elevation gain is
helping me to gain confidence and durability on technical terrain.
Specific Fueling Plans: Nailing my nutrition is a real concern. Tummy
trouble will be substantially more dangerous if it flares on an exposed
12,500ft ridge in the middle of the night. I’ve been experimenting with
different food types and tweaking my energy gel recipes. Mountain running makes
me hungrier for protein and the slower pace allows me to consume larger
portions and eat less frequently than when I trail run. A recent 50-mile
adventure run (Trans-Zion) was a great opportunity for me to test out a variety
of new fueling strategies and theories.
on Applicable Terrain: I am spoiled in the Wasatch: I can be at the
trailhead to summit a peak with over 3,000ft of gain in less than a 15-minute
drive. I’ve let my desire to summit, explore, and link the local dry peaks push
me onto terrain similar to what I’ll be experiencing this summer. I also spent
the winter combining running days with bouldering days, so I could practice rock
climbing with a body exhausted from running.
- Improve Cognitive Function When Sleep Deprived:
Even though sleep deprivation is normal for me, it doesn’t mean I can
perform well when fatigued. I did a 100-mile race in March to practice running
strong through the night, and will be racing 100-miles again in June as another
preparatory run for my mountain running goals. I’ve done 4 long night runs this
Spring, and am planning a few more—the idea of needing to scramble at 2am
frightens me, and I want to be able to engage as much of the “jello-ultra-brain”
as I can!
Route-Finding and Navigation: I’ve spent the spring creating messy
lines on the brushier (and less snowy) Wasatch ridges. These long, schwacking
ridges encourage me to study maps, visualize a line on Google earth, and then
experience it on my feet. I’m starting to get good at identifying potential
pathways along hillsides and navigating through short cliff bands and brush.
While not a perfect simulation of the 3rd-5th class
terrain I will experience this summer, this “practice” has helped me learn to
efficiently navigate between summits.
time will tell the effectiveness of all this training. In the mean time, I’m
enjoying daily summit sunrises and PR’s on my local peaks. The joy of training
has skyrocketed since I’ve allowed myself to pursue what I really love—running
summits—and stopped trying to pursue flatter trail runs that I can take at a
faster pace. I’ve always believed we excel at what we enjoy the most. So—find
what you enjoy, and get out there and get after it!
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