December 31, 2014

Team Z Ultra Running and Swimming – Are you crazy enough?

Hi Folks ”“ as mentioned previously, this year we are taking our first steps towards offering assistance with preparing for Ultra Running and Ultra Swimming Events as a Team.     We are going to start pretty slow, and we’ll go one day at a time until find our sweet spot.     Here is how things will roll.



If you are interested in running an ultra-marathon ”“ 50k, 50 mile, 100k, 100 mile, the idiots run ”“ oh wait, they are all idiots runs! (I’m teasing ”“ you are all nuts)”¦..


Please vote on this poll AND THEN ALSO EMAIL     That is Sally Kidd ”“ Sally is going to collect your names/contact info.   Then ”“ we will host an ultra-running information session.     The team of coaches to guide you through this include”¦


  • Iwan Balcet ”“ our first Team Z trainer, Ironman, and has run several 100 mile trail races and 50’s blah blah blah.   He did not look pretty when he was done.   But he’s still a badass.
  • Sally Kidd and Nicolas Nouvel ”“ both experienced Ironmen and ultra-runners and they will serve as your “race captains”, cheer leaders ”“ and shepherds through the season (social, training, etc).
  • Tony Stocker ”“ Team Z Track Coach at TC Williams, Master’s Degree in Applied Physiology, Ironman Finisher, Ultra Running experience as well (I don’t remember which and I’m in too much of a hurry to ask).   J
  • Jordan Applebaum if he wants to play can as well ”“ I’ve not even spoken with him yet (again, it’s all about the time remaining!).   Jordan has also run 5 or more 50 milers.


And then of course me, Alexis, and Kim.   But ”“ those guys (above) are running point for us on this effort and I’m excited to see where this lands in the long run (hahah, pun intended).       So please respond to Sally and the poll if you have interest ”“ all this is showing interest in is the information session!   The commitment to training for a 50 mile run is a little bit more intense.   We’ll coordinate a date and Kim and Alexis can communicate it if it happens while I’m gone.


In the meantime ”“ Iwan shared some thoughts with me about Ultra Running and I wanted to pass them along.     Guys ”“ everything we do is hard.   Ironman is not easy.   Marathons are not easy.   Running a second marathon immediately after the first one ”“ I don’t think it is “only twice as hard”.     Take a look at Iwan’s general comments AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS EMAIL see if it helps you decide to embark on something silly like this.




IF you are interested in Ultra Swimming Events –  2, 3, 4, 5, up to 20+ mile swimming events”¦


Please vote on this poll AND THEN ALSO EMAIL     That is Mark Edmunds ”“ Mark is going to collect your names/contact info.   Then ”“ we will host an ultra-swimming information session.     Mark has done crazier things then you will believe ”“ including 2nd place (I think?) finish at the 26/7 mile race around Manhattan Island.     Doh.   That’s pretty not smart too.   But still impressive.   Mark is a super awesome, humble, knowledgeable guy and he has years of ultra open water experience.



General Comment ”“ under no circumstance should any of you allow someone to pressure you into running any race, of any distance.   But with Ultra-distance racing of any type ”“ you are no longer playing with the possibility of looking silly, you are playing with your health, safety ”“ even your life.   This stuff is very hard, and needs to be taken   very, very seriously, cool?   There is no shame in spending a few years gaining knowledge, experience, and history.   These races are only going to get harder in some weird way, they won’t just “disappear”.   J   There will only be a handful of you in this boat I’m sure”¦so don’t feel “left out”.   NOT everyone is doing it!



Iwan’s Comments


Ultra running (on trails rather than pavement) is a whole other animal. We use about 30-35% more muscles in trail running. Hip flexors, ankles and core take a beating. Maintaining a pace is nearly impossible and playing with heart rate can be “roller coaster”. I know of fast runners (3:00- 3:15 marathoners) that are completely hopeless once on the trail. It will be important for most folks to incorporate trail running into their training especially as they build up to these distances. Additionally, strength training should be altered a bit for better ankle strength, mobility and a few more.


A lot of people do not realize how much much slower they get on the trail and especially over the long distance. This will be a big mental adjustment for most triathletes :). Some people may also think they can power walk most of a race, but that is not always the case. You have to train to power-walk too if that’s part of your race strategy! Gear and footwear and nutrition are all important too of course- all of this stuff would probably make a good clinic.


Some things to consider about the North Face course itself (there is no 100k and 100m option btw) is that the cutoff times are strictly enforced – you don’t find that all all of these races, but definitely at TNF – and it’s not a “fast” course. For BOPers that might be a big drawback and consideration if they are looking to complete one of the ultra distances For example, you can almost multiply your marathon PR by about 1.5-2 times for the 50k (31 miles) and 2.5-3 times for the 50 miler to guesstimate a likely finish-time, especially for a first attempt.


One thing many people do not realize is that there is a HUGE difference between the 50k and 50m distances. 31 miles vs. 50 miles. Mentally and physically it is a big leap – the distances logically follow each other, but 30% more mileage is significant. For those going for the 50k or 50m, will this be their A race? If not, peaking for the March marathon for example may get in the way of successfully preparing for a 50k 1 month later. Peaking for a March marathon won’t even allow folks to reach proper training levels for 50m (safely) – they’ll have to be building mileage sooner. Risk for injury is so much greater with the increased distances without an already established base. Most of the team (I assume) will be new to this so they will be building their mileage for the first time over these distances. The body will take a beating!!


Again, hitting the trail on the weekend team runs will be important to help Zers build confidence on the terrain and get their body adapted – you have to learn how to attack the trail, take advantage of downhills, engage you core muscles, etc…


For tracks 1 & 2, long runs should be based on time (rather than mileage) and tracks 3 & 4 could be done with mileage, peaking at max 30-32 miles.


So, it might be obvious by now, but generally speaking, there are some pretty fundamental differences in the way any coach can prepare you for any event of any distance.   We are going to take a conservative and safe approach ”“ which is what I always try to do.