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When a long race goes south... (Read 195 times)

    So I'm 3.5 hours into a trail 50k, feeling solid, cruising...then within a 15 minute span, I was reduced to walk-jog and eventually walk-shuffle.  My energy felt fine, my legs were just done.  Quads and calves were suddenly shot.  I managed to get through the last 6 miles and was happy with the effort, but the experience left me wondering:  What's happening when a long race goes suddenly south like this?  What warning did I miss or ignore?

     

    I figure the issue is either pacing or lack of strength (or both).  Admittedly, I'm inexperienced but I feel good about my pacing strategy.  When in the race do you re-evaluate your pacing?  But if it's strength, then where should I focus first...more overall miles or more trail-specific miles or longer long runs...?

     

    Background:  This was my first off-road foray and on the heels of a really solid first marathon earlier this year.  Ran 300+ miles/month for several months leading up to the January marathon.  I hadn't done much on the trails before this race...just 2 long runs on this course within the prior few weeks.  The course isn't real technical, but the winding, rooty, rocky trails are certainly tougher than the roads.

     

    For the record:  So, my race collapsed.  I walk like I'm 80. Stairs are impossible. My feet are hideous. Trail running is awesome.  Can I have another?

    2014 goals:   •  1st Marathon  •  1:32 Half (didn't happen this year)  •  2,500 miles


    Latent Runner

      My guess is that your strength and your monthly training mileage are both more than enough to properly prepare you for a 50K race.  Is it possible you simply ran at too quick of a pace and bonked?  Yes.  That said, I believe it is your lack of trail experience that set you up for the collapse.  I do between sixty and ninety percent of my training on trails (depends upon the time of the year and the condition of the trails) and can say with a fair amount of authority that trail running, even if the dirt is relatively smooth and flat and firm, takes a bit more energy and requires some different use of your muscles than when you're running on uniform paved surfaces.

       

      Going forward (assuming you plan on 50K trail races in the future) I would strongly recommend you up your trail work to at least 50% of your monthly mileage.

      Fat old man PRs:

      • 1-mile (point to point, gravity assist): 5:50
      • 2-mile: 13:49
      • 5K (gravity assist last mile): 21:31
      • 5-Mile: 37:24
      • 10K (first 10K of my Half Marathon): 48:16
      • 10-Mile (first 10 miles of my Half Marathon): 1:17:40
      • Half Marathon: 1:42:13

        You have not mentioned anything about your nutrition for the 50K.  There very easily could be something to that.  You can have all the base mileage and strength in the world and you will still run out of energy if your fueling is off.

         

        Just from your log information I would suspect your legs had not yet forgiven you for the very hard effort 10K race one week out either.

        Belmead Trail Fest 50 mile Sep 27-

        Tuna 200 Relay Oct 10-11 -


        HobbyJogger & HobbyRacer

          For the record:  So, my race collapsed.  I walk like I'm 80. Stairs are impossible. My feet are hideous. Trail running is awesome.  Can I have another?

           

          Woohoo! Congratulations Smile

           

          You should be set up for a strong PR next time.

          It's a 5k. It hurt like hell...then I tried to pick it up. The end.

             

            You should be set up for a strong PR next time.

            Exactly!

             

             

            You have not mentioned anything about your nutrition for the 50K.  There very easily could be something to that.  

            Could be. I'll have to experiment some more in the future.  I took 5 Gu starting at 45 minutes into the race and some Pop Tart.  I didn't carry fluids as the aid stations were pretty evenly spaced, alternating between Gatorade and water.

             

             

            That said, I believe it is your lack of trail experience that set you up for the collapse. . .Going forward (assuming you plan on 50K trail races in the future) I would strongly recommend you up your trail work to at least 50% of your monthly mileage.

            This seems like sound advice.  I'd like to work towards getting in regular weekly trail miles.  Getting to 50% may not be practical yet, but getting in a trail run or two each week should certainly help.  Plus, the variety is refreshing.

            2014 goals:   •  1st Marathon  •  1:32 Half (didn't happen this year)  •  2,500 miles

            SillyC


              Agree with Shipo on upping your trail miles.  Because the terrain varies, you'll end up using your legs across a wider range of motion than you would road running, and you'll use and develop a lot of the smaller muscles than you would from road running.  If you're just road running for your long runs, you'll get out on trails and whammo, those little muscles got nothing!

               

              I don't have trails near my house, so I can only get out on trails on weekends, but that's good enough.  I try to do most of my long runs on trails.


              Latent Runner

                 

                I don't have trails near my house, so I can only get out on trails on weekends, but that's good enough.  I try to do most of my long runs on trails.

                 

                That's where I count my blessings; a network of well over 100 miles of trails starts less than 20 meters from my door.  Smile

                Fat old man PRs:

                • 1-mile (point to point, gravity assist): 5:50
                • 2-mile: 13:49
                • 5K (gravity assist last mile): 21:31
                • 5-Mile: 37:24
                • 10K (first 10K of my Half Marathon): 48:16
                • 10-Mile (first 10 miles of my Half Marathon): 1:17:40
                • Half Marathon: 1:42:13
                SillyC


                   

                  That's where I count my blessings; a network of well over 100 miles of trails starts less than 20 meters from my door.  Smile

                   

                  I have access to a sort of hidden network of about 60 miles of trails that are 2.5 miles from my house, so it's not that bad.  But if I'm going to run there, it's like, tack 5 miles on.  And I keep getting bit by dogs back there because it's urban and then it's like the only place people THINK they can let their ill behaved dogs off his leash.

                     

                    I have access to a sort of hidden network of about 60 miles of trails that are 2.5 miles from my house, so it's not that bad.  But if I'm going to run there, it's like, tack 5 miles on.  And I keep getting bit by dogs back there because it's urban and then it's like the only place people THINK they can let their ill behaved dogs off his leash.

                     

                    And then they look at you like its your fault for invading their animal's personal playground or something.  I've got a little bit of a drive to any meaningful trails, so weekends are where its at for me too.

                    2014 goals:   •  1st Marathon  •  1:32 Half (didn't happen this year)  •  2,500 miles

                    SillyC


                       

                      And then they look at you like its your fault for invading their animal's personal playground or something.  I've got a little bit of a drive to any meaningful trails, so weekends are where its at for me too.

                       

                      HE'S FRIENDLY HE'S FRIENDLY!  (Please stop yelling).

                       

                      Yeah, I was pinned to the ground by a Newfoundland once who was SHREDDING my windbreaker.  And the people were yelling at me to "get my hands off their dog".

                       

                      My absolute most horrifying incident with dogs?  I got "treed" by two english bulldogs.  As in,  I climbed up a tree to get out of harms way, and I got up there before they even touched me.   But the owner jumped on them to try to get them under control, and there was just blood everywhere.  I think one of the dogs bit the owner's ear off.  There was a lot of screaming from the people.