Ramping up the mileage in the cold

Since I’ve got my first 50 mile race in April I’ve been starting to get my weekly mileage back up to the range it needs to be. I’ve been following a plan from the book Relentless Forward Progress and so far I like it. Unfortunately, it’s a 24 week plan, and I have less than 24 weeks to go, so a couple weeks ago I jumped back into it, partway through.

What that means, practically, is that for right now the plan is a guide more than a rule. Today was supposed to be my first 22 mile run of the plan, but I knew that with the break I took in December, and my ramp-down after my 50K, that just wasn’t realistic. Therefore my goal for today was to put down as many miles as I felt I could reasonably accomplish.

Because we’ve entered into our typical January cold snap here in Minnesota, I’ve kept a close eye on the weather. The news has been talking about how the Vikings/Seahawks game tomorrow could be one of the coldest on record, and today is the lead-up to that cold. Starting last night the temperature began dropping, and I knew that the earlier I got out there, the better. I set my alarm for 4:30am and was on the Elm Creek singletrack by 5:30 with an air temp at 10F and falling.

Running on the singletrack in the dark can be a little bit creepy. You’re constantly going around corners and bouncing up and down hills, so the shadows can play tricks on you. Toss in the random wildlife (like a herd of deer resting in a nearby clearing) and the entire experience can get the imagination moving. However, the trail was packed nicely, and I was feeling good. The first loop passed a bit slower than I had wanted, but I knew I had more to do.

I got back to my car and scarfed some food before heading out for what I assumed would be an attempt at the horse trail loop. There was a mountain bike race starting up soon, and so I didn’t want to risk getting in their way by heading back out on the singletrack, and I figured this would give me an opportunity to scout the horse trail conditions.

Within a quarter mile, I immediately started regretting my decision. Despite some snowmobiles packing the snow in a bit, the horse trails were pretty chewed up. I gave it a good shot, but after 2 miles I decided to turn back. I ended up hiking a lot of the return trip, and arrived at my car after completing just over 15 miles. My legs were just too spent to fight through the slog for the complete loop.

I would have liked a few more miles to come closer to the 22 mile goal, but I’m content with what I did get done. This plan has plenty of 20+ mile runs so I will have many more opportunities to get that done. I feel like I’m building up nicely, and my legs are behaving really well. I’m kinda ready for spring though…

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