Thursday, January 9, 2014

50K Training + CrossFit.

400 West water tower. SLC, December 2013.

My 50K ultra marathon is just over 14 weeks away. And as I sat at my in-law's kitchen table Tuesday afternoon, watching the snow fall on icy roads making running outside virtually impossible, I had a moment of panic as I realized that I had no training plan, we're here for another two weeks and my long run is currently only at 6.8 miles.

You see, I come from a background of distance running. When I turned 18, I made a New Years resolution to run at least one marathon a year, every year for as long as I could. And I managed to do ten marathons over nine years before that distance became uninteresting and I started focusing on ultra-marathons. Much like when I trained for 26.2, when I began running longer distances, I trained the exact same way.

Run. Run. Run. And then run some more.

I would say at some point in most of my marathon and ultra marathon training, I've dealt with an injury. Knee twinges. Shin splints. IT band tenderness. And my worst injury to date: Sciatica and hip pain. Despite these injuries, though, my love for running long hasn't faltered.

But I do want to train differently this time around.

If you Google 'ultra marathon training plan' you're likely to find a 16-week plan filled with 5 days-a-week of running various distances at various tempos and elevations. Some encourage easy cross-training (like biking or swimming) or no exercise at all on those two off days but most do not include any sort of weight-lifting or strength-training program. Because of my history with getting injured when focusing only on running, I decided to google '50K training + CrossFit.'

And, ladies and gentlemen, I've found myself a training plan.

Not surprisingly there is a CrossFitter out there who was once an elite Ironman who now trains athletes in a way that flies in the face of traditional endurance training. He doesn't believe you need to run 60 + miles a week, spending hours and hours pounding the pavement (or trail) in order to successfully complete a long distance race. In fact, he's done a 50K and has trained others to run long on his non-traditional training plan (since I don't want to rewrite his articles you can read more about his beliefs and how he trains endurance athletes here and here).

I haven't written out a day-by-day approach to my training as the day I do my long run will vary based on SLC winter weather, the remaining loft remodel, and our toddler but my plan so far is this:
  • 1 x week long run with hills (not to exceed 15-17 miles)
  • 1 x week medium effort tempo run (45-60 minutes) or hill repeats (number TBD)
  • 3 x week CrossFit
  • 1 x week easy run (3-5 miles) AFTER a CrossFit day
I'm not certain that last easy run will always be possible each week as it's already difficult enough for both Lee and me to get daily workouts in while the other watches Alice.  I will also need to be honest with myself and carefully listen to my body, taking a rest day when needed to avoid over-training and injury.

And hopefully adding those few days of CrossFit each week to my 50K training plan will help (not hinder!) come race day.  

 Water tower from Pioneer Park. // And then these two got in my shot.


  1. I can't wait to see how your race goes. I'm very interested to see how you feel and your time compare to a previous 50k you have done in the past. I read both articles and they were very interesting. It's still hard to decide what's best to do as far as endurance training bc of all the arguments on aerobic v anaerobic benefits and what's better. I wish his articles had included more scientific data and citations. This training reminds me of how I trained for my half marathon. I wanted to have good overall fitness so I mixed Crossfit and running (I did long, slow runs with my heart rate under 154).

  2. Good luck with your training! I'll be rooting for you!

  3. You are amazing (says the woman pluggin' along training for her 5k..)

  4. You are so ambitious. Keep up the good work. I'll be at the finish line to cheer you on. xo

  5. Hmmm, interesting! Definitely a different approach. I will read his article and keep an open mind :)

  6. Hmm, interesting. Definitely a different approach! I am going to read his article and keep an open mind :)


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