Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,--Hebrews 12:1

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

A Biblical Approach to My First 50K

Well, I told you the other day I bit the bullet and registered for my first 50K, the Full mOOn 50K, next month. It was kind of a spur-of-the-moment decision, less than a month from race day. Now some might be saying, "Less than a month to train for a 50K?" but it's not really as bad as it sounds. (I don't think it is, anyway.)

If you've been reading here long, you know I'm not one to search for and stick by training plans, that I pretty much develop my own not-too-traditional approach. For the most part, when training for marathons, I run 6 days a week, between 40 - 45 miles each week, with a long run on Saturdays of 10 - 20 miles. While this approach hasn't netted me a Boston qualifying time or put me in competition with the Kenyans to win any races, with the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ, it's gotten me through 7 marathons since October 2011.

So I'm pretty confident a similar approach will have me ready for the 31 miles I'll have to cover in a few weeks. What I had to decide on was a strategy for actually running the race, and today, I think I found it. Actually, I think the Good Lord revealed it to me.
"I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you." ~ Psalm 32:8

I was 3 miles into my 6 mile run today, the turnaround point on the paved trail in Jacksonville, NC where I run when we're here visiting my in-laws. I don't listen to music when I run and I was running solo today, so there wasn't anything to distract me. Although I like running with a group, sometimes it's nice just to have the time to spend with God. And when I'm alone on a run, that's usually what I do.

Today I was praying and when I wasn't praying I was thinking about the upcoming race. And part of the time I was doing both at the same time. But right after I made my turn to head back to the car, the thought popped into my head, "Why not take a Biblical approach to this race?"

Up until then, various ideas had been running through my head for strategies to attack my first 50K. A Galloway run/walk approach, running downhills and flats but walking uphills, running as far as I could and walking the rest, and numerous variations on each of these approaches along with a few others. As I toyed with each, none of them seemed really appealing. But today when this Biblical approach idea took hold, I couldn't shake it.
"By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work." ~ Genesis 2:2

" 10For six years you are to sow your fields and harvest the crops, 11 but during the seventh year let the land lie unplowed and unused..." ~ Exodus 23:10-11

"Six days do your work, but on the seventh day do not work..." ~ Exodus 23:12

" 9 There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; 10 for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. 11 Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience." ~ Hebrews 4:9-11

All these verses refer to the work to rest ratio of 6:1 that God first established when He created the earth. Israel was ordered to extend the practice to the planting of their crops, plant six years and let the land lie fallow one. They were ordered to work six days and rest one. And in His letter to Hebrews, Paul said we're to follow God's example, working six and resting one day.

What came to me today on the trail, was the idea to incorporate this 6:1 ratio into my first official ultra-marathon. To accomplish this, I'm going to run six miles, then walk one. Four of these intervals will put me at mile 28, with 3 to run (or walk or crawl or whatever it takes to finish) to make it to the finish line. So that's my Biblical strategy to take on my first 31 mile race.

This may not make sense to other ultra-runners, and I have no scientific evidence to back it up, but for me it makes perfect sense based on my marathon experience.

You see, when I have trouble in a marathon it's usually late in the race in warmer weather. This past February, I ran the only marathon I've ever done where I felt good the entire race and at the finish, but it was also the only cool-weather marathon I've ever run. In every other full marathon, the temperature has risen above 700 in the last few miles of the race.

The reason that's significant is because I'm a sweater. I mean, I sweat A LOT! During the summer, you can follow my trail on the pavement because the sweat soaks through my shoes and leaves wet footprints when I run. Ever since junior high school, this has been an issue. During two-a-day football practices, working outside in the summer heat, or any other strenuous outdoor activity, makes me tend to sweat everything out. And I just never seemed to be able to replace what that sweat drained out of my body.

But during a marathon, even when they have water stops every mile, the most I get from those tiny cups is probably 4 - 6 ounces of water or sports drink at each aid station, not nearly what I've sweated out. Because at best what they have to eat is a few crackers or a bit of candy, the only other nutrition I take in during the race is an energy gel every miles. But I think this strategy is going to fix a lot of that.

Because I'll be walking every 7th mile, I'll have the time and ability to consume some real food and significantly more electrolytes and water. In other words, this will give me an opportunity to replenish a lot more of what's being depleted during the race. I'll be carrying my hydration pack, so I'll have plenty of water, but this will also enable me to carry more food.

My plan is to get a pizza the night before and a box of cheese and crackers. Throughout the 6 mile run, I'll be sipping water and will take an energy gel halfway through. Then, during the one-mile walk portion of each interval, I'll have the time and ability to consume two pieces of pizza, a pack of cheese and crackers, and at least 16 ounces of water with electrolytes.

The 17 minutes or so it will take me to walk that mile should give me plenty of time to get all that down and still have a few minutes to go before time to pick up the pace again!

Like I said, there's no scientific basis for this approach, but I'll give it a try on a long run next week. (Can't do it this weekend because I'll be traveling.) I'll head to Lake Sylvia and try three of these intervals on the actual race course to see how it works. That will make for a 21 mile training run and should give me a good indication of how well this will work.

Until then, I'll keep training and keep updating on how it's going.

Always before, Jesus carried me through everything He led me to, and I'm convinced He'll do it again at the Full mOOn 50K next month!

If you don't know Jesus as your personal savior, if you're missing the faith, hope, and love written about here, if you want the peace that we as Christians have in our lives, please visit our Got Jesus? page for step-by-step instructions on how to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior.

No comments:

Post a Comment

All comments are subject to moderation. Comments containing hateful speech, profanity, or other inflammatory remarks will be rejected.