A warning for those Timothy Leary fans that Googled themselves here: you are in the wrong place. This post is not about lysergic acid diethylamide but long slow distance running. Both forms of LSD can produce euphoria; running is generally safer with far fewer side effects then acid, although my current running plan involves some psychotic episodes too – usually the day after I take a dose of LSD running.
After completing a marathon distance run this fall, my goals turned toward the next challenge. A 50 kilometer run is the next standard distance event after the 26.2 miles race, and the shortest classified as an ultra-marathon. This spring during my 31 mile run with 4000 feet of climbing I anticipate spending about 8 hours pounding my feet and legs into submission while the devil sits on my shoulder telling me to surrender to the fatigue and quit. Hopefully, I’ll have an equally powerful angel sitting on the other shoulder prepared to kick the crap out of the devil. It is my belief that the key to finishing an endurance event is to strengthen the angel into a devil killing ninja. Also, maintaining good running form while fatigued is important. Under my new plan it isn’t the LSD run that produces these results, but during a short and intense run the next day.
What makes the day after LSD unique in my plan? Most people rest the day after running long. My plan has me running again the next day. Not only do I run, but I run fairly intensely. My heart rate goal is zone 2 (132-146 beats per minute in my case). I will do this for an hour.
Recovery is important. It is where most training gains are realized. So, why follow a long run with an intense one instead of a rest day? Because, this run develops mental fortitude that will be most important for an ultra-event. It is toughness that hardest to prepare for without actually racing.
The day after a LSD run, I don’t feel like running. Even after a good night’s sleep I am generally tired. My quads are fatigued and my calves are sore. The siren song of my comfortable home is calling. I whine incessantly. Exactly as I imagine I will feel at mile 26 of my 31 mile race. By powering through I “teach” my mind to suck it up. Additional benefits are cardiovascular fitness and improved speed. These secondary benefits are only realized two days after the LSD run. Once I do my Zone 2 fatigue run the resting phase is especially important to bank all the gains I’ve made over the last two days.
There are a couple potential pitfalls to this plan. It is very import to differentiate soreness from injury. You are going to have some fatigue after a LSD run – that’s the whole point of the training. The difficult assessment is to figure out what is just tired and sore, and what is pain and injury. Creating an overuse injury is counterproductive, but the difference can be subtle.
Another issue is that running intensity and fatigue can produce poor form, again resulting in injury. This is why the Zone 2 run is only 60 minutes. Hopefully, you can maintain the mental acuity to monitor your form for that short period of time. I find that I really need to focus to keep from getting sloppy. This is also exactly what I’ll need to do toward the end of my 50K, so this is another good lesson.
So far, I’ve been impressed with the results of this strategy. I’m faster and my form is good after just a month. I think it will really pay off in May when I attempt my first ultra-marathon. I also believe it will be helpful in July when I have back-to-back trail triathlons.
What do you think of this method? Have you tried other strategies to manage fatigue during a long race?