Sunday, November 4, 2012

A Hilly Long Run

Unlike the Top of Utah Marathon, which features straight downhill running for the entire first half, the California International Marathon is much more of a rolling course despite a net downhill. So I know I need to practice running up after running down and vice versa.

Colleen had told me last July that a good long run for CIM training can be had by starting at a trailhead in North Boulder, running on the level gravel path along the foothills and past Wonderland Lake (see picture above; the trail is along those hills on the far edge), hooking into a ritzy North Boulder neighborhood along 4th Street where the ups and downs are marked, turning west and running up Boulder Canyon....and then running back down the canyon, through the neighborhood and back to the trailhead. You can tack extra miles and time on by continuing on the Boulder Creek Path, too, so this can be as long a long run as your training plan calls for.

Mine called for a 2.5-hour progression run. I didn't think I'd need the extra Creek Path distance, so I ended up having to tack an extra loop on at the end for the last 25 minutes, but that wasn't a problem. Here's what the elevation change looked like:


I think I did OK on the "progression" run part of this also, though the watch went haywire on me again early in the run (see the spiky part below starting about 10 minutes in). Unlike last week, I just ignored it, keeping an eye on total time and pace, and trying to ramp it up at the prescribed intervals. When I looked at them afterwards, the heart rates were a bit high, but I did pretty well on that front too:

Next weekend's long run is a different animal. It's a 3-hour outing with 2x30 minutes at a heart rate of 162-168 (approximately race pace heart rates). So I'm going to get a new strap. This race is too important to me to mess around with the equipment--and fortunately there are good deals online for Garmin straps. Darren also wants me to do these intervals on a flat course this time--so no trip to Boulder next weekend. That's OK. I'm proud to have tackled this tough course once. And I do feel I can handle ups after downs, and downs after ups.

One interesting note: Darren gives me only a week's worth of workouts at a time. I've been surprised at how happy I am with this. Normally I'm a huge planner who likes to know what's coming (even in novels I read ahead!). But seeing only one week ahead helps me concentrate on the task at hand without fretting about whatever tough runs are further out.

The exception, of course, is the race itself. I know exactly what's coming on December 2 at 7 a.m.


  1. that is a tough long run!

    i only send my clients 3 weeks of runs (max) at once. it's easier to adjust based on how they're progressing that way.

  2. What an elevation chart! Awesome job!

    I think I would go crazy with one week at a time. Kudos to you for handling it!

  3. Woah. I hate hills so much, so that chart scares me. I think I might do better with one week at a time training plans. It would keep me from being able to worry about the upcoming runs that are still far away.

  4. next up Betasso. Ran it today...7 miles & 1100 climbing! Glad you are getting the old school hr's not worth the aggravation of inconsistent data...hee...hee...

  5. I ONLY do one-week plans because every week doesn't necessarily go as planned! Good job on the trails today - looks like a blast!

  6. I wish I had some hilly options around here! One week at a time would be challenging for me, but maybe I'd surprise myself and like it, too. I'm also thinking of something closer to three hours this coming week... good luck to us both- let's hope our past injuries stay away!

  7. Picture Rock is also good but more technical, lotsa milage and if you want UP and then DOWN, Knight Hawk at Hall Ranch is fun and has a remote feeling, it's a foot and horse trail only. Good job!

  8. I immediately grew uncomfy thinking about just one week to wrap the noodle around at a time as well. Ha! Gosh CIM is coming fast! So excited for you!

  9. That looks like it is quite a bit harder than the hills as CIM, right?! If I remember during my I-might-run-this research, it seemed like it was much less elevation change than that! Sounds like a great run!! You are getting READY!!

  10. Too bad you couldn't totally sort out your Garmin issues. Hopefully getting a new strap is the answer.

    We don't have much in the way of hills where I live. Which is not to say that there are no hills, but if you're trying to run a hilly course, there's definitely a lot of repetition.

    So glad for you that your workouts are going well!