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Sunday, April 4, 2010

Another Year. Some training tips.

By now, you should have received your Alaska Mountain Wilderness Classic race application in your email inbox.  If you aren't on the Classic email list and want an application, email me and I'll forward your email address to the race organizer.

The race is the same course as last year and by all accounts, the Gerstle River to McKinley Village route is living up to all the expectations that a good Wilderness Classic must meet.  It's too long, too dangerous and just plain too brutal for most people. 

Here are some random thoughts about training for the race:  

If you plan to do the race this year, you should already be logging some serious mileage.  Hopefully, you won't just be starting your training now - ideally you should have been putting in long days all winter long.  The Classic is the type of race that needs a lifestyle of fitness.  By this I mean that you need to make endurance a part of your life.  Most people who do this race like to go on all day hikes, climbs or bike trips and for them a two or three hour run is considered short. 

Long, slow workouts will train your body to burn fat which is a necessary physical adaptation for endurance.  A workout needs to be at least thirty minutes long before your body starts burning fat and you should go slowly enough so that you can easily carry on a conversation.  If you're training by yourself (which I recommend) you can gauge proper speed by breathing through your nose.  If you can breathe through your nose without getting out of breath for a couple minutes at a time, then you're going slow enough. 

The key is to always keep moving.  Learn to get into your pack without stopping, eat while you're moving and resist the urge to sit down.  The only time you're traveling backwards is when you're stopped. Aim for at least twelve hours of movement and try to do several eighteen hour days.  If you beat your body up now, you'll be much stronger during the race when an eighteen hour day is mandatory.  Even if you train hard now, fifty miles into the race, you will wish you would have trained harder and longer.

Similar to training for an ultramarathon, you should peak in your training about a month before the race to give your body as much chance to recover and strengthen as possible.  Don't be a couch potato the last month but do taper off and don't push your body too much.  Don't injure yourself or destroy your muscles by overdoing it.  When the race arrives, you should feel like a caged tiger - your body should ache to get out on the trail.

Proper sleep and diet are extremely important in the final few weeks before the race.  Eat whole foods and pay attention to what your body wants.  Think about your meals before you eat them and what is appetizing to you.  Think about how bloated and slow you feel after a greasy burger and opt for the steamed vegetables,  rice and skinless chicken instead.  If your body craves fat, add some olive oil, coconut oil or nuts to a salad.  These oils are high in Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids and have myriad other benefits also.  Coconut oil is brimming with antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties.  Olive oil has lots of antioxidants and is an anti-inflammatory also.  Reducing inflammation is key in distance training. 

I'll sign off for now but I'll continue with some more training and nutrition tips in another post soon.  Based on Google Analytics analysis of this blog a lot of people tune in here to read the training and nutrition tips so if you have a specific training or nutrition topic relating to the race you would like me to cover, shoot me an email and let me know.  Happy training!  

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