Our lifestyle have always been an active lifestyle since we first fell in love. We both believe in maintaining health and fitness to the best of our ability. Our goals center around feeling strong the moment we wake up in the morning and we believe that physical fitness is coupled with a healthy mind. As our adventures keep getting bigger and the urge to take on tougher challenges is in our future, consistency in training will help make the process enjoyable. We want to have fun doing what we love outdoors!
Trail running did not ever come into mind ever in my life. I didn’t know trail running existed until after we hiked the Grand Canyon in 2012. A discovery from searching on youtube about Grand Canyon hikes. I dreaded running in the past and gave up on the belief that it’s a sport I probably will never be able to do, however life is full of surprises!
In the late months of 2010, I was looking to improve my base for my second cyclocross race season 2011. I wanted to be competitive in the fast elite masters level field. I had just quit my job and was working on the side to help out doing high tech consulting to make ends meet. The part time and flexible job allowed me to schedule some pretty big bike rides during the week while Doug was at work. It started out slow because riding alone itself was scary to me at that time. I always rode with Doug in the past. So, I started out with a really great club riding with fun people. In a few weeks, I was able to lengthen the duration of my rides covering over 700+ miles per month for about 5 months then eventually was able to ride alone due to work schedule. At that time, I was also re-learning the whole Joe Friel periodization training and I failed miserably because I got carried away during my build period not because of the methodology. The huge amount of base was great but I made major errors in transitioning into the build period by increasing my intensity too fast, too soon that come cyclocross season I was overtrained. It’s when you have all that fitness and see your power files improve dramatically, you keep going and going. I was devastated and felt that all the work I did was a waste for the season.
But, it’s not a waste. It’s a blessing in disguise, as the saying goes. In 2011-2012 race season, I started once again building base fitness for cycling late December 2011 to 2012. I was following the same Joe Friel’s periodization plan once again and adjust from lessons learned from the previous year’s experience.
My passion for cycling fell off a bit in 2012 but I was determined to get back to racing again once I get myself together to train for the next season. I’ve raced amateur road racing for over 5 years along with mountain bike racing then cyclocross. I enjoy racing, the training and everyone in the small tight community are really cool.
In early 2012, my brother in-law wanted to hike the Grand Canyon. We agreed to hike with him. Immediately, we found a new fresh experience besides sitting on a saddle. Coincidently, we got an opportunity to ride in Sedona earlier in April so we decided to run the Grand Canyon. It was about a couple of months into our training and the hiking turned into trail running. Our feet, legs and body was trashed after the first Grand Canyon hike from Kaibab trail to Bright Angel. I really thought I was doomed not to walk ever again but we made it the whole way. That was tough!
Trail running for us started right then. Just the fact that I was able to run down the 7 miles of Kaibab trail even with the post trashed feeling, it was an accomplishment. We were proud and really thought it was fun!
The huge amount of base I gained on the bike and the mediocre build period months to the point of overtraining helped my trail running! It makes sense, aerobically but definitely not skeletal or mechanically. Trail running is like being whipped up by an egg beater constantly, when I first started. I would proudly consider myself a mid-packer in a race. Not last and definitely not first but improving.
We hiked a lot before I was able to tackle a 3-4% grade downhill at 11 min/mile running for 2 miles. Yeah, I was so happy that day…
Now, we are running more and faster than last year.
Every training day is not perfect or let’s say never perfect but close to perfect. It depends. One thing we are very good at is not missing our time in the gym for strength training. Religously 2-3 times a week of an hour each. Most of our workouts at the gym are sports specific so as not to waste that 1 hour. Cycling is now our cross training, yikes! I still love getting on the saddle for a mountain bike ride or feel the love for my cyclocross bike but mostly for recovery.
Last night, I accidently saw all of my ride maps in 2011 and early 2012. Seriously, 40 miles, 60 miles and 80 miles a day during the week is insane but in way I really miss it. I am hoping to incorporate some of those adventure rides I had two years ago as I get stronger – it’s fun! Now, I am even more motivated to do some of these routes on foot! I am not there yet…it is a work in progress.
Trail running races of 25K, 30K or even 50K don’t entice me as much as our big stage race in November but it’s really good training. Trail running is much more predictable than road racing on a bike for example. It’s easy to determine my level in terms of pace average based on effort. That can be done in training runs and it’s pretty fun. Trail running stage race is unpredictable because of that 90% variable of unknowns. Getting to the start line is a challenge. The unknown place, difficulty and uncontrollable factors of high effort on altitude etc. Anything can happen in a multi-day race. I like unknowns in a race because I like navigating around solutions to make it work. I like solving problems and making things happen. Also, I like tough courses. Manaslu is going to be tough and at the same time amazing. This explains why I like doing long adventure rides, multi-day hikes and long runs.
Speed is important of course but I am not there yet. Doug and I run together so I speak for both of us. We are improving. Our mechanics and skeletal foundation is just starting to get stronger, it will take some time. The body has to be able to handle the egg beater effect. Even though the data from all our training logs show our improvements, the real improvement is really how we feel during the training runs. I gauge my success in feeling strong, steady and in an even pace I can hold in the whole run with a good effort. I am happy to run on trails and look forward to running. Even if it’s the same trail route, it’s never the same!
I gauge my success in training by how consistent I am, day in and day out doing what I love to do. There’s still so many mountains to run on!
So far, so good…
I really hope that my journey helps others to keep believing that they can do what they love to do. Remember, I once thought and said that running in general is not for me. I was wrong to have ingrained that belief in myself and even though trail running was somewhat of an accidental event in my case, I gave it a chance and let go of believing I can’t run. Never give up and enjoy the journey.