Hamstrings, Hills and Head Games

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

I’m usually pretty good at learning from my mistakes.  At least most of them.  After DNF’ing at the Leatherwood Ultra in 2016, I knew the changes I would have to make to finish this time.

  • Hills
  • Hills
  • Hills
  • Hills

Pretty simple change to my flat-lander style of running.  So I am doing things differently this time.  Of course, in this area there are no hills even remotely similar to what I will face in North Carolina.  So I have had to adapt.  I have added the stair climber and incline treadmill at the gym as well as trying to do some additional leg strength exercises.

Unfortunately, because I am also trying to build up my base miles at the same time (the race is 34 miles long), my long runs have been more flat than hilly.  And then I ran the Thonnica Khills trail run last week.  On a positive note, my climbing legs were greatly improved. But on the negative side, my descending muscles were non-existent.

Time for another change.  Now bear in mind that I only have 11 weeks until this race, so the opportunity for changes are getting thin. But this week I did two things different.  I added in some additional leg strength routines to work on my hamstrings and descending muscles.  And then I sacrificed my body during my 16 mile long run to work on the descents.

It was supposed to rain this morning.  Or at least be overcast.  So when I arrived at my old racing grounds, I was not prepared for bright sunshine, heat, humidity and 4000 high school cross country runners training.  But I stuck with the basic plan anyway: DESTROY YOUR LEGS.

I meandered around the outskirts of the park for a bit before heading across the street to find a clear area and an unoccupied hill.  And then I ran up and down it 20 times.  By now, I am about 6 miles into my run and my legs are feeling it.  My bottle is also empty and the heat is increasing. So I run back to the truck for a refill.

Another pass around the outskirts and I picked another hill to abuse myself on. Another 10-12 repeats, and my legs were angry.  It’s now very toasty and my bottle is yet again empty.  I come across Christine who is doing an 8 mile plus walk and I walk with her back to the truck.

I still have 6 miles to go and my ability to really run is severely diminished.  And then all the excuses and CRAP starting filling my head.  It’s hot.  I shouldn’t have thrashed my legs early in the run. I am probably dehydrated and may die. I can run the other miles later.

That was all bullshit. The first 10 miles or so of this run is exactly what I had planned. Make my legs hurt by running downhill.  The next 6 miles will just be plan B:  work on how hard headed you can be.  So I did. I kept going and going and going and I finished. Hard Headedness accomplished!

According to Strava, I ended up with 744 feet of elevation for the run.  Here is the graph:

Here is the graph for one 8.5 mile loop of the race.  They look just the same don’t they????

Yeah.  I already know it.  I’m gonna die.  But before I do, donate to my fund raiser for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation!

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