Monday, December 16, 2013

Week 5, Dec. 9 to 16

Monday: Run, 1:18, 4.6 miles, 768 feet climbing. I was in the city for a meeting so I grabbed a quick run at Marshall Beach. I had no prior experience with the area and didn't know where I was going, so I also spent time scrambling on rocks and clawing up a sand ladder, but there was some beach running thrown in during my short but hard workout. Running on sand is great for ankle and calf strengthening, and I wish I had better beach access. If anyone has suggestions for exercises that mimic the conditioning of sand running, I'd love to hear them.

Tuesday: Run, 0:53, 5.7 miles, 607 feet climbing. Monta Vista loop.

Wednesday: Zero. Had lots to do, and I do need more rest days in the mix.

Thursday: Mountain bike, 4:36, 41.1 miles, 4,081 feet climbing. For the most part, this was just under four hours of mellow riding with about 45 minutes of being maxed out while mashing pedals up the Limekiln Trail in Sierra Azul. I was genuinely tapped out after this ride, which is usually what happens after redline efforts, and this is exactly why I don't like to peg it very often. One can go many happy hours at 75 percent, but turn the dial up to 90 and suddenly you're overcooked after 45 minutes. I know, I know. It's good for me.

Friday: Road bike, 1:33, 17.5 miles, 2,719 feet climbing. Heart rate felt high and legs felt dull after Thursday's effort. I should get my heart rate monitor up and running again so I can track the patterns versus how I feel. By this point I already knew I had a big weekend planned, so I should have just rested ... but I already used up my zero day, on Wednesday. Ha. I'm so terrible at self-coaching. Luckily, the goals I focus on depend much more on mental endurance than physical fine-tuning. Although, as I told Beat on Sunday, I think this quasi-focused training is good for me. I genuinely feel stronger now than I did over the summer.

Saturday: Trail run, 7:30, 35 miles, 6,448 feet climbing. I felt great all day. There were no problems keeping up with the group until they started pushing the pace toward the end, and I opted to hang back rather than risk an effort that would leave me with nagging pains on Sunday. I'm starting to gain a better sense of how "hard" I can run without blowing up.

Sunday: Trail run, 6:40, 31 miles, 6,432 feet climbing. Can't lie, I was tired. I'm apt to blame glycogen depletion and sleep deprivation as much as the long run on Saturday, because overall there were few pains and a decent enough spark to my climbing legs as soon as I got enough Shot Bloks in my system. There was some minor sharp pain in the right knee cap, and some cramping in my glutes on and off, especially in the first six miles of the race (I find this interesting, because usually the only times I experience muscle cramps are a result of prolonged steep climbing, mostly while hiking, and always in my calves. Butt cramping is a new one, probably more related to repetitive motions in my running stride.) Walking with an exaggerated marching motion seemed to help a lot in this regard; the cramps would go away and wouldn't return for miles after stretching. I'll have to remember techniques like that for the ITI. Repetitive motion is the worst, and there's lots of it in sled dragging.

Total: 22:30, 58.6 miles ride, 76.3 miles run, 21,055 feet climbing

I know these weekly training logs are the most boring of all, but it is helping me to keep a record of the numbers and physical responses. I'm pleased that I was able to run a 76-mile week with no lingering issues. This coming week will be fairly quiet, a recovery week of sorts, as Beat and I get ready to travel to Fairbanks for the holidays. Lots of quality training will happen the following week.

And I know I can Google such things, but if anyone out there has recommendations for their own favorite ankle-strengthening exercises, I'd love to hear them. I'm determined not to place so much dependency on snowshoes as I have in the past; the ITI will be difficult enough without anchors on my feet, but I'll need strong ankles to cope with the variable surfaces of the trail.

I need to work on my hips as well. Hip flexor pain was one of my larger issues last year during the relatively easy Chena River 25-mile / Homer Epic 100K combo that I ran last spring.

Really, trail running is sort of a lousy excuse for training for an effort like the Iditarod, but it's what I have. My friend Anne in Anchorage, who will be aiming for Nome this year, often puts in 8-plus hours of sled dragging every day that she doesn't work, and gets up at 4 a.m. on work days to hit the gym and the pool and tow her sled through the morning darkness on the trails behind her house. Anne is dedicated. I am just making up excuses to have adventures. I loved running 14 hours this weekend; I should do double runs and/or long rides more often. 


  1. When I was training for Field Hockey many, many years ago, I used to run backwards on the track because I read that it strengthens the muscles around the knees and ankles and helps prevent shin splints. Don't know if it's true though and besides it would be kind of hard to run trails backwards :-).

  2. Hi Jill

    I'm a hill runner from Scotland UK & we race on some pretty rough terrain. I used frequently go over on my ankle & stretch the ligaments but managed to strengthen them using a wobble board. 100 rotations clockwise & 100 anticlockwise every weekday morning does the trick. Also helpful is balancing on one foot with your eyes closed (improves proprioception) Good luck

  3. for my hips, i do a lot of the MYRTL routine. well, by "a lot" i mean once through roughly 3x per week. has helped me loads.
    for hip-flexor specific, try lying flat on your back, and then raising one leg at a time (keeping knee straight and abs engaged) as far as it can go. then lower, switch, repeat. aim for 60 reps each leg.

  4. Excited for your upcoming trip to the Last Frontier!

    I've added single leg squats and deadlifts to combat the hip bursitis I've been dealing which strengthens the stabilizer muscles from the hips to the ankles.

    Try this one that Sally McRae demonstrates:
    I was only able to do 10 per set initially, my ankles were working so hard to keep me balanced.

  5. Have you tried yoga to improve your ankle strength? There are a lot of standing poses that help. Maybe search for a few of those.

  6. I had some hip flexor and IT band trouble a couple years ago, and my PT involved strengthening my glutes and lower abs to balance things out. I would recommend adding some exercises and stretches for those areas along with the quad work that you probably already get from hills. To this day, the runner's pose with the back knee on the ground is my friend for stretching my hip flexor when it gets tight! :)


Feedback is always appreciated!