Back in the training cycle!

Posted on in Adventure + Travel, Sports + Training by Joel Meredith

The Gobi MarchI'm super excited to finally be "back" and starting my new training cycle in preparation for The Gobi March 2013, which will commence on June 2. It's been a bit of a tough road back following The Sahara Race, but I'm ready to tackle this 3rd desert with a full head of steam! Let me first catch everyone up on the going's on over the past couple of months and then dive into chronicling this new adventure.

After returning from Egypt, my body was completely wrecked for a good 2 weeks. Nothing much worked! For the first week, my lower legs and feet were so swollen that I had to wear shorts and sandals until I could rid myself of all the salt and fluid that had accumulated over the week long race. It's become my standard to take a minimum of 2 post-race weeks off following these long races, so my condition probably served me well, keeping me relatively inactive and allowing my body to recover and heal. These races take a toll on a body and I've come to realize the importance of embracing these periods of rest in order to set yourself up for even better performances in the training and races that follow.

That said, I had to get back on the horse quickly after this short period in order to compete in the Rock/Creek Lookout 50-miler in mid-December. This was a "must finish" race for me. Along with The Gobi March in 2013, I'm also trying to gain entrance to the Ultra-Trail Du Mont-Blanc, a 104-mile footrace around the Mont-Blanc massif that takes racers through France, Italy and Switzerland. While the final entry is left to a lottery drawing, potential entrants must accumulate points in order to enter the lottery and the Lookout 50 would give me my 7th and final point in order to do so. Well, it was an ugly and Running the ATunprepared race on my part, but I finished...and was able to snag a respectable finishing time and 31st position! I had a great crew for that race and it was run in beautiful conditions, so it made for a great weekend. Wanting to cap the year off with one final longish run, I decided to do an impromptu charity marathon the following Saturday. I don't run roads unless the trails are washed out and I don't run loop races (both WAY too boring!), but it was all for a great cause (benefiting those effected by the Newtown tragedy) and we all ended the year on an up note.

After surviving the holidays and a week long bout with the flu, I'm finally ready to attack the next 138 days with a focus. My overall training regimen won't vary too much from my previous cycles. My overarching theme has always been to maintain a relatively high volume, running 80-100 miles per week. The major changes that I will make for this cycle will be adding and maintaining more variety to my sessions (i.e. tempo, hill repeat work, fartleks/intervals, long sessions at race pace). I've always been plagued with pre-race doubts that settle in about 6 weeks before a big race and I always find my training devolving into long, slow sessions each day (20-30 miles) that leave me utterly depleted and overtrained by race day. Not this time! For this cycle, I'm going to trust my training and try to maintain a focus on my immediate, daily goals, which hopefully all ultimately combine to form a complete and successful training cycle. Fingers crossed!

I'm also increasing the frequency of more non-running activities in my daily regimen (i.e. climbing, yoga, core workouts). These cross-activities are great to augment training and they also serve as a needed mental break which helps in keeping training periods fresh and staving off staleness. With all that said, I'm pumped to see what improvements can be made over this short period and what results can come out of it! I'd like everyone to feel connected in some way to the process, so I'll also be including brief recaps of my training logs each week. It might help give you a more clear picture of the daily training grind and also help connect us as I journey towards a new adventure. Exciting stuff! Here's what my last week looked like:

January 6: 2 loops on the Blue trail (2.5 mile loop) with 5 tempo hill repeats on each turn. 8 miles total. Great climbing conditions. Working on hill recovery while still moving at race pace. Followed with 1 hour focused incline gym work on the EFX (static incline machine).

January 7: 17 miles on the trail at PWP (Percy Warner Park). Starting at a moderate 65% HF pace and building throughout. Everything feeling good!

January 8: Recovery/Work day

January 9: 12 mile hill road loop at tempo. Legs heavy from the day off and some left ankle pain. Pain subsiding after 4-5 miles. 45 minutes of focused incline at the gym, followed by an uninspired core session of 30 minutes. Need to improve on these sessions.

January 10: 30 minutes focused incline work followed by 3, 10 minute cycles on the ladder (Jacob's Ladder) with alternating core. 12 miles on the trail at variable pacing.

January 11: Recover/Work day

January 12: 22 miles on the road at tempo pace. Lots of hill work on this one. Pouring rain but 65F made it bearable.

January 13: 8 miles on the AT up past Laurel Falls. Gorgeous day! Lots of incline and scrambling up rock. Wish I had more of this terrain closer to home.

January 14: Travel day

Please join me on this latest journey and check back often. I hope that everyone has had a great start to 2013 and that you all live your own adventures this year! Remember...

"The will to win means nothing without the will to prepare." -- Juma Ikangaa

Joel Meredith

I grew up in the Appalachian Mountains of western North Carolina, but I've called Nashville home for the past 16 years. I moved here for school, but stayed for the people. While I'm a medical professional by trade, I'm an adventurer at heart. Running is my true passion. My biggest inspiration is seeing people break out of comfort zones and challenge themselves to accomplish the extraordinary.

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