the Mountain Cup
By Jason Bryant
Everyone has a
different training philosophy which is actually as it should be. We are all different in a variety of
ways whether it be running style, durability, occupation, lifestyle, or
personality. You listen to what
someone else does, then use what fits for you and trash the rest. So take what you can from these training
ideas, and forget the rest, especially if it helps you at your next race.
I like to
maintain a good level of fitness and speed year round as I tend to race year
round. I don’t typically have an off-season
where I don’t do some type of race.
I look at the various races that I may want to do and then prioritize
them. You may be able to run
everything and anything in top form, especially if you are Michael Wardian, but
I can’t. Maybe even Wardian can’t
run his best at any distance or style all the time. Prioritizing my races keeps my training focused on my top
races. I gear my training toward
the focus races, then jump into whatever local races fit into my training plans
or life schedule. Does that mean I
run races that I am not ideally trained for? All the time.
But I like racing and the hard effort. I’ve also been known to enjoy the social aspects around
racing. So on with my Mountain Cup
As I said I
like to keep a mixture of endurance, speed, and strength in my training all
year. I’m not a particularly high
mileage guy. My weekly mileage
ranges from 40 to 100, with most weeks being 60 to 70 miles. I like to get in the mountains for runs
regularly. For me that’s not
totally because of the mountain cup or the other mountainous races that I do, I
just like being in mountains. I’d
say I do mountain races because that’s the type of running I like best in
general. As for my workouts, I
have two staples. First, I probably
get some type of tempo run in at least every other week. I like to mix up my tempo workouts with
20 minutes tempo runs, various fartleks, mile repeats, and periodically some
longer 30-40 minutes tempo runs. I
use the Jack Daniels definition of tempo pace, also known as anaerobic
threshold or lactate threshold pace.
Tempo pace is 25-30 seconds slower than current 5K pace. I feel tempo effort runs are the best investment
for my training bucks. I make it a
point to do some of my fartlek runs on trails. I have some friends who feel this is too risky for injury or
too irregular in pace, but I feel this helps prepare me to use whatever speed I
have in my trail races.
My other main
workout is some type of mountain workout.
My mountain workouts vary from steady uphill tempo type runs, to shorter
uphill repeats, to downhill repeats.
My mountain runs vary in grade from 5% to 20+% and in distance from ½
mile to 6 miles. The mountain
workouts are my favorite, sort of.
I like knowing I can charge up or down some steep grade though in
another way, they kind of suck. My
heart rate is screaming going up and I sometimes think I am risking death on
some descents. But then again I
think this leaves me better prepared for race day. One of my most brutal
mountain workouts is a .7 mile 18% trail.
I do 2 sets of up hard, ½ mile recovery, down hard. My downhill pace on this workout is
around 4:20 pace. That is only 2.8
miles of workout and I leave with my quads trashed. I make sure to plan no races for a couple of weeks after
this quad destroying workout. I
like to get this workout in early in the year as I feel it toughens my quads
for the summer. Which brings up
what I feel is critical for good mountain racing, regular downhill
running. I get in regular long
downhill runs of 4-6 miles along with some steep downhill runs. I often just get in the mountains for
an easy or long run and then let myself roll on downs practicing not using the
brakes. Plus that means I’m in the
mountains somewhere, which is always a good thing.
Finally I should mention that I feel it
is important to keep some fast stuff in my training mix. Just doing strides a couple of times
weeks can help maintain decent speed.
I do interval workouts, at about 2 mile pace, about every 4-6 weeks
unless training for something particularly fast in which case I do them more
regularly. I do a true speed
workout, at 800 pace or faster, about 2-4 times a year. I wouldn’t consider that a significant
amount of speed work, but just enough to keep my speed at a reasonable
level. That amount of speed
workouts keeps my muscles flexible for the range of motion that faster running
requires. Plus it keeps me a few
workouts and a few weeks from being capable of doing any faster racing. That’s my not-so-specialize training
philosophy, or training secrets that aren’t really so secret. So don’t tell anyone.