This video is presented in Taglish (combination of English & Tagalog/Filipino Dialect) which I posted in my You Tube Channel. I just revived this YT Channel which I created in 2014 (6 years ago) where I posted my first two videos using my newly-bought GoPro then. Due to the Covid-19 Lockdown, I revived it and I am now trying to post more videos about my running experiences.
It may not be as good as the other Videos you see on You Tube but I have tried my best to share with you the things that led me to be a Boston Qualifier with my Qualified Finish Time based on my Age. I hope you will be inspired with my story and apply those workouts and tips that I have mentioned in this video.
Thank you for watching. Please subscribe to my You Tube Channel for more informative tips on running.
By the time this newsletter hits your inbox, runners in the 2020 edition should havebeen testing themselves along the course of the Badwater 135, which many consider to be ‘the world’s toughest footrace’. Alas, in a very last-minute decision, organizers of the Badwater 135 cancelled this year’s edition, leaving this year’s field wondering what they could have accomplished with their fully formed fitness and heat acclimation strategies.
I have been fortunate enough to run and crew for the Badwater 135 a total of eight times, as well as prepare numerous runners for the event. All of these experiences have had an impression on me, and I am a better coach because of them. No other group of runners prepare quite as meticulously as the Badwater athletes do. The combination of the searing heat, mind numbing monotony of the road, the complexity of the application process and the exclusivity of getting an entry, the sheer expense of participating, and a relentless culture of improvement that has evolved over the years all combine to create what I observe to be the most prepared ultramarathon field on the planet. And the statistics bear this out. Badwater, despite the notoriously difficult conditions, has a finish rate of 85-90%. As a comparison, the Leadville Trail 100 hovers around a 50% finish rate for any given year, and the coveted Western States 100 has finish rates routinely between 70 and 80%. Make no mistake, the Badwater runners and their crews come fully prepared and bring it on race day.
Badwater is also one of the greatest hot environment sports performance proving grounds imageable. The searing heat will put your heat acclimation strategy to the test. Frequent access to your crew (your crew can leapfrog the runner in a support van) allows the runner to put cooling strategies and nutrition interventions in place without many logistical limitations. Being a crafty lot, Badwater runners have implemented an array of bizarre, sometimes effective and ultimately outlawed strategies in order to gain an advantage. Over the years I have seen everything from the use of refrigerated trucks to pacers on rollerblades with umbrellas (both of these strategies are now prohibited, by the way) to battle the heat. Still, the Badwater runners don’t always use the most efficacious strategies when it comes to heat acclimation and nutritional interventions. They tend to try to combat the challenges the course and environment will throw at them with contrived and combined strategies that at times are ineffective or even counterproductive. You might not ever have the urge to do the Badwater 135, but there are still some lessons we can all learn from the strategies this hearty group of ultrarunners use to battle the course and the heat, what actually works and how things go awry.
Heat Acclimation Strategies
Out of all the unique aspects in preparing for the Badwater 135, acclimating to the heat naturally gets the most attention. With temperatures that can be in excess of 120 degrees, runners rightfully approach this element of preparation with upmost importance. I first attended the Badwater 135 in 2006. When I arrived in Death Valley, I curiously took a straw poll of the participants to understand the heat acclimation strategies they used in training.
Over the years, either at the race of from afar, I have done the same straw polling and observed what the athletes were doing to prepare. I recently pulled my notes from these experiences and below is a short list of various protocols I’ve found, in no particular order:
Running on a treadmill with a dryer vent blowing on your face. As a bonus, some runners would put portable heating elements round the treadmill for an added effect
Running in the heat with a down jacket, pants and rain jacket
Running on a treadmill in a greenhouse
Running on a treadmill in the sauna. This normally involves cajoling the gym owner into some, shall we say, creative electrical engineering that may or may not pass a fire inspection
If your gym owner was concerned about said electrical engineering, doing jumping jacks and core work in the sauna
Driving around town with the heater turned up, perhaps with a down jacket
Passive sauna exposure
Camping in Death Valley in the weeks leading up to the event
Turning up the heat in the house to > 90 degrees
Some combination of some or all of the above with time frames that range from days to months
Although the complexity and duration of these protocols vary, they all can be catalogued into two broad categories: 1) passive acclimation/acclimatization strategies and 2) active acclimation/acclimatization strategies. Each have basic advantages and tradeoffs.
Passive strategies (strategies where you just sit there and let the environment do its job) allow for heat acclimation to occur with minimal interruption to training. They do not, however, allow you to ‘feel the heat’ while running, and many athletes feel the need to experience training in a hot environment before competing in one, simply to understand the sensation.
Active strategies (strategies that use a combination of exercises and environment) allow for heat acclimation to occur and for the athlete to feel the sensation of running in a hot environment. However, compared to Badwater, where the humidity is low and solar radiation is high, some of the contrived active strategies will be mismatched, particularly the overdressed ones that create a high humidity environment with little solar radiation. Additionally, active acclimation strategies involve some training compromise either by reducing the duration or intensity of the training session to accommodate for the increase in core temperature.
How Heat Acclimation Strategies Actually Work
Fundamentally, heat acclimation strategies work by inducing systemic and cellular responses to help your body cope with the heat. Systemically, your body responds (primarily) by increasing plasma volume and sweat rate in an effort to dissipate heat. Cellularly, your body upregulates heat shock proteins which act as cellular chaperones and managers for proteins that have been damaged by heat stress and other forms of degradation. Both systemic and cellular responses help athletes manage the heat in various ways, ultimately resulting in increased exercise capacity in the heat (and sometimes in temperate environments).
What has started to emerge in the research is that the extent of core temperature increase is critical to the success of the strategy. Heat up your body to a certain temperature and then hold that temperature for a certain amount of time and you get great results. Miss the mark on the temperature or duration and the physiological results are not as good. This critical core temperature, which appears to be in a very narrow range of 38-38.5 °C or 100.4-101.3 °F, is difficult to achieve and athletes will describe it as somewhere between ‘feeling hot’ to ‘too hot, dizzy and lightheaded’.
Through this lens, we can look at the aforementioned strategies from our (perhaps ill-fated) Badwater runners. Strategies that are capable of producing a core temperature of 38-38.5 °C will be markedly more effective than those that do not. Additionally, active acclimation strategies (strategies that involve running/cycling in the heat or overdressed) will most likely be hampered by compromising exercise intensity, as a high core temperature will limit the duration or intensity of running (how long can you run while being ‘dizzy and lightheaded’?).
The Best of Both Worlds
Many athletes now choose to use an ‘active-passive’ protocol, where they go out and do a normal run and then immediately jump into a sauna or hot water immersion bath. The initial run begins the process of increasing core temperate and the heat exposure from the bath or sauna finishes it off to achieve the critical temperature of 38-38.5 °C. In this way, training is not compromised and the sauna/hot water immersion bath session duration is reduced. If you really feel like you need to ‘feel the heat’ to experience the sensation of running in a particular environment, contrive the environment to try to match the temperature, solar intensity and humidity of your event as much as possible, and do so for the minimum number of sessions to do the trick. For the Badwater runners, a treadmill with a dryer vent blasting in your face a few times is a better option than running around in a down jacket for a month.
THE VIEW OF RACERS RUNNING INTO THE EVENING, FROM WHITNEY PORTAL.
Ultrarunning has been known to produce good hallucinations. Sleep deprivation combined with physical exhaustion, bonking, and blurred vision is a ripe recipe for the mind to conjure up memories of distant past and teleport them into a fuzzy present. And Badwater hallucinations are the best, by far. While your trail ultrarunning compatriots will brag about stories of a stick that turned into a snake, a tree stump that looked like a bear or a rock that talked, the Badwater hallucinations take this altered reality to a whole other dimension. The runners at Badwater encounter a cast of characters ranging from the Michelin Man to old 49er miners. Even the infamous white line painted on the road gets in on the action by transforming into various beings of and out of this world. Hallucinations come complete with incomprehensible background stories (the Michelin Man is there to run for President), unintelligible plot lines (I was helping the 49er change a tire), and bizarre interactions that border between a Star Wars movie and a DMT trip.
There is zero training for this. So, I have no help for you here other than to say if you really want an out of this world experience, just go run Badwater.
Too Much Aid Can Be a Bad Thing
One of the differentiating features of the Badwater 135 compared to other ultramarathons is that you have copious access to your crew and supplies. Food, water, pacers, your medical kit and the all-important performance enhancing ice, are never more than several minutes away. And, this level of assistance can be intensive. I once paced an athlete from Furnace Creek to Stovepipe wells, just a 24.6-mile section of the race, and blew through over 60 liters (15.8 gallons) of ice water in the process of drinking and dousing. And while it might seem like a luxury to have your every ultrarunning need fulfilled at a moment’s notice, at times it can be a bad thing. Runners can take on too much fluid and too many calories, particularly in the beginning of the race, simply because they are there. And later they lean on their crews to bail them out of a situation when they could simply just put their head down and run.
Remember that when you are training, you are doing the vast majority of it by yourself. Almost any racing situation involves many times more support than you would receive during any training session. And Badwater is an extreme example of this. While ultrarunners should learn to leverage their crews, pacers and other support personnel, they should not rely on them to get the job done. You don’t need pacers or crew to get the job done (in most ultras). Do they help, yes. But, running is ultimately the responsibility of the runner.
Badwater will be back
Like many of the races that couldn’t happen this year, Badwater will ultimately be back. I look forward to returning in some capacity, as an athlete, coach or crew. I simultaneously learn and get a chuckle out of many of the strategies athletes use to prepare for the event. I love hearing stories of how many layers of clothing athletes put on for a simple training run and how Kermit the Frog ran alongside athletes in the middle of the night during the race. Soon enough, we will get to experience or hear about all of these again. Until then, we can learn for the next time.
Gibson, Oliver R et al. “Heat alleviation strategies for athletic performance: A review and practitioner guidelines.” Temperature (Austin, Tex.) vol. 7,1 3-36. 12 Oct. 2019, doi:10.1080/23328940.2019.1666624
My first two days’ training schedule with CTS were devoted to One Hour Recovery Runs with emphasis on my RPE (Rating of Perceived Exertion) where in a scale of 1-10, my RPE should be 5 which were done on a flat or rolling terrain and I must be able to easily talk when running. On the third day, I was made to do an Endurance Run for 1:30 hours on the trail where the run has an RPE of 6 out of 10. It is described as a conversational run performed at my “all-day pace” and this run will make up the majority of my training volume and its is the most specific running workout to my ultrarunning pace. I did this workout in my Playground Alpha where I was able to attain an elevation gain of 1,200+ feet. It was suggested that I should hike the steep uphills and start practicing or developing my downhill running skills with fast, quick and short strides. I think I was able to cover a distance of 6.4 miles in 90 minutes. On the 4th day, my Coach asked me to do a 2-hour Endurance Run on the trail with strong elevation gain and loss, hike the steeper portions and run the descents and flat areas and I decided to do the workout to reach the peak of Mt Roosevelt and go down immediately where I have started. The 2-hour workout resulted to a 5-hour workout. I had to explain to my Coach where and why I extended my workout and he was kind to accept my explanation. On these first 4 days, my Coach was able to assess my present running situation based from the data that he could read on Training Peaks.
Then came these two weeks of training schedule.
Every time I upload my GPS Watch after my daily workout, the color of my daily block data will come up as Green which means that I am within the bounds of the time duration given to me but when it is yellow, it means that I went over the time duration I was supposed to do the workout. When the color of the training block becomes Red, that means that I did not do the training workout for the day. My Coach would know immediately at a glance if I did my daily workout or not by the color of each training block. If you click each training block (daily training workout), a separate page will appear and the details/workout data will be there as regards to your Pace, Speed, Heart Rate, Elevation Gain & Loss, and other Technical stuffs where the Coach would determine the intensity of the workout and your effort.
On these first two weeks of my training with CTS, I was introduced to strides and tempo runs. It was on the next or succeeding weeks that I was introduced to Hill Repeats. These 3 specific workouts gave me the much-needed “kick-ass” to my running career as a Trail Runner. All of my training workouts with CTS were done on the trails in my Playground and depending on the specified workout for the day, I had a lot of choices/options on where I would go. There came to a point that my Training Playgrounds were named from Alpha to Delta. Within the first month with CTS, it was an interplay of strides, tempo runs, hill repeats, recovery runs and endurance runs.
Having posted the details of my two-week training schedule, you can use them as your guide where it indicates where you can schedule your speed runs, recovery runs and long runs within the week. If you are reading this blog, I would assume that you are an average competitive runner and would like to be a faster and stronger runner so that you can qualify for the Boston Marathon. Bottomline. Try to do these workouts on the trail with strong elevation gain or loss and try to assess your improvement in a 20-minute field test run once a month.
On my next blog, I will explain to you the principle involved why CTS starts their athletes first with Speed/Tempo Runs instead of the usual Easy Long Runs based from the traditional Arthur Lydiard’s Approach in Training Long Distance Runners.
Before we continue with my series on How To Qualify For The Boston Marathon, I would like to mention my first Coach in Ultramarathon before I applied at the CTS Coaching Service. When I started running ultra trail events, Karl Meltzer had been one of my Idols as he would win as Champion, at least, one 100-mile trail ultra race per year. Now, he is considered as the Winningest 100-Mile Ultra Runner In The World. You can check it out in his website here.
From 2014-2016, I have been coached by Karl Meltzer and I subscribed to his Training Plan Only which cost me $ 300.00 every 3 months. It was a very simple arrangement, he asked me for my personal data and then sent me a separate e-mail message for the list and illustrations of strength exercises that I can do as part of my training. Later, he would send me my 3-month training schedule in miles with one day of the week as Rest Day. No specific description of running workout was stated in the number of miles that I have to run daily. However, my weekly mileage would be ranging from 50-55 miles per week as my Average Mileage. When a race is about one month away, he would increase my weekly mileage to 60-65 miles per week. I can still remember that most of my runs were then progressive runs on the trails. All my communications with him were through e-mails. No nutrition advise and no feedback system in my daily workout was discussed. It was purely running on trails with no elevation requirements. He was not very technical and specific in my training program. However, I am not sure if his more advanced and more expensive training program would include nutrition and other feedback system. In fairness to the Coaching/Training I got from him, I became a stronger and faster trail runner.
In my interview with the Senior Coach of CTS before I started being their athlete, I told him that I was a former “client” of Karl Meltzer’s Coaching for two years and maybe, such information gave him the assurance that I had already the experience of being coached by an elite ultrarunner and he would gauged me on my present condition as an ultrarunner. By the way, a runner being coached by Karl Meltzer is called a “client” while CTS call their subscribed runners as “CTS Athlete”. I think there is a big difference there in terms of impression/opinion on how to describe the “coach to student relationship” in each Coaching Service. Personally, I would prefer being called a CTS Athlete as it impresses other people that you are a member and integral part of their Coaching Service.
When Hoka One One Shoes came up with their Shoe Model with the monicker name “Speedgoat” of Karl Meltzer, I wrote a Shoe Review of the said shoes as I was one of the few who introduced it in the local trail running circuit. That is how I idolize and respect this guy. Actually, if not for the Covid-19 situation, I would have the new Speedgoat right now in my possession and ready for another Shoe Review.
I will continue with my series, How To Qualify For Boston Marathon, tomorrow. Thanks for reading.
I am not trying to force-feed you with the training that I did with CTS as I want to share my story from the time that they accepted my application as one of their CTS athletes. I was just lucky that I was able to contact Jason Koop when he was advertising the publication of his book on Ultrarunning in May 2017 and asked him if CTS accepts a 65-year old runner.
After I applied on line on their Website, I was asked to answer (on line) a questionnaire, asking my personal data, experience and number of years of training, and if I had a recurring running injury. After a few days, one of their Senior Coaches contacted me through e-mail and gave me instructions on how to set up my Premium Training Peaks Platform by giving me my Signing-In data. I think it costs me $70.00 as full time payment for my subscription with Premium Training Peaks. Two of my GPS Watches (SUUNTO Ambit 3 Peak and Garmin Forerunner) were linked to the said Training Site Platform. Everything (data) that my Coach need to knowabout my daily workout are uploaded to the Training Peaks and you can not fake your effort on those data. The Senior Coach had briefed me about the terms being used on the description of each workout and the specific data that are incorporated in the workout. Above all, my workouts were given to me in the number of hours and minutes and not by the number of miles or kilometers that I have to run in each day. My Coach asked me what is my preferred REST Day for the week and I said, I would like it on Mondays.
My Coach would send me my training workout for two weeks and each day I should give my feedback how my body felt in terms of effort from EASY to Very HARD, the rank measurement is from 1 to 10 with Rank 1 as Very Easy and 10 as Very Hard. It is a also a “must” that you send a short message as how you felt during and after the workout. Your feedback description will be gauged in terms of your fitness condition, fatigue, and motivation.However, your feedback will be matched with numerical data captured from your GPS Watch and as seen on Training Peaks. At the end of the week, you can easily see your totals in terms of the total number of hours and the total of miles/kilometers you covered from those hours.On those first days as CTS athlete, I would review the Book on Ultrarunning by Jason Koop making sure to know the description and details of each workout I was given to do.
It is worth mentioning that the Coach would prescribe in each daily workout the following description: (1) the number of hours and minutes of your total workout; (2) each workout is described from its warm-up period (in minutes), main workout (in hours and minutes, depending how long is the period), cool-down period (in Hours/minutes); and (3) the type of terrain where the Coach would suggest you to run, whether it is flat road, trail, or in a course with hilly or steep elevation. The Coach would suggest also your “Total Score Stress” (TSS) where Training Peak would refer it as Running Total Training Stress (rTSS). Depending on what type of workout, the Coach will designate an rTSS score for a specific workout (Easy Run, Endurance Run, Tempo Run, Hill Repeats or Interval). The higher the score, the more the stressful the run. Thus, your workout will be quantified in terms of training stress for a specific running workout. Once I upload my workout from my GPS watch, my rTSS for the workout will be immediately compared with the suggested rTSS from my Coach. Most of the time, my workout rTSS would not surpass or equal my Coach rTSS. But in my feedback, I felt that I am wasted as a result of the workout. Anyway, whether I can equal or not on the required rTTS, my personal observation was that I was running stronger every week.
For the first two weeks of training workout, I was given a mix of Endurance Runs, Tempo Runs, and Recovery Runs from the duration of One Hour & Thirty Minutes to Two Hours. In the succeeding weeks, I was introduced with Hill Repeats. After three weeks, I was asked to conduct a “20-minute field test”. It is done by having a 15-minute warm-up run first and then I did my fastest 20-minute run along a flat paved road, and then had a cool-down for 30 minutes. The result of my “20-minute field test” determined my Average Pace for the Tempo Run. The Average Pace would be my target time whenever I do my Tempo Runs. Most of the succeeding weeks will be devoted to Tempo Runs and Hill Repeats! I was surprised that my Tempo Run’s Average Pace would be faster than my usual Tempo Pace. Before, I could not breach less than 9:00 minutes per mile pace with too much fatigue and pain to my legs and body after each workout. But after3 weeks of CTS training, I was able to breach the 9:00-minute barrier and with more regular “test runs”, I was able to record a 8:09 minute per mile paceand then lowered it to 7:30-minute pace. With my age and not-so-perfect running form and short legs, I could not believe how fast I could make those leg turn-overs whenever I do my tempo runs on a flat paved road. Since I was preparing for ultra trail runs in the future, I did not have a chance to run on the oval track. I guess, I could run faster if those “20-minute field test” runs were done on an oval track.
One month before the Javelina Jundred 100-Mile Endurance Race, I was given more time for my Endurance Runs on trails in my Playground and they would last from 4 hours to 6 hours. CTS would not allow their athletes to run more than 6 hours in their Endurance Runs for the basic reason that the runner could not recover in a span of one to two days. CTS wants their athletes to be fresh and feeling stronger after a day of recovery. The training concept on those four months was clear to me as it followed the training concept and principles written in the book of Jason Koop—-assessment of my body on the 1st two weeks, followed by fast runs through tempo runs and hill repeats, and then Endurance Runs on the last weeks leading to the target race.
Bottomline, with those 4 months leading to JJ100, I was not injured, my body was always fresh and recovered on Tuesdays, and felt becoming stronger during my Tuesday runs.
In the next succeeding posts, we will go to the details of my daily workouts.
After six months of blogging on this site, I retired from the active military service and created a team of elite runners which was then called “Team Bald Runner (Elite)”. I had then the best running team in Local Races in the country consisting of active soldiers from the Philippine Army and Candidate Soldiers for Enlistment to the Philippine Army. The team was coached and supervised by three (3) local coaches who were active soldiers (also) and about to retire from the active military service. One was an officer with a Rank of Captain and the two other coaches were senior Non-Commissioned Officers or Enlisted Men. The Officer and one of the Enlisted Men were IAAF sanctioned Level 3/4 Coaches while the other Senior Enlisted Man was a former Local Marathon Champion of so many Corporate-supported Marathon Races and winner also in International Marathon Races (Southeast Asia) in the 70s and early 80s.
During those days, my team won almost all the weekly fun runs and local marathon races, to include the early editions of Ultra Trail Running Events sponsored by one of the Outdoor brands. Their prizes were their personal incentives and I never had any share from their earnings. It was my way of helping them and motivate them to improve in their way of living. Almost all of them came from poor families in the provinces and longing to enter the military service with the running talent that they possess. I am proud that I became the bridge and instrument for them to enter the military service as most of them now have rise up from the ranks of Private to Staff/ Technical Sergeants, and for the smart ones, they became members of the Officer Corps. I had also the chance to bring them to International Races in Asia in IAU-sanctioned and world corporate sponsored races. In all these international races, they brought pride to our National Pride and Flag without any support coming from the Government.
The whole Team were housed and supported by me for three years. And one of the Multi-National Corporate Brands in the country had supported the Team for 6 months with the objective of qualifying them to the National Pool of athletes for the Marathon distance. Despite such effort, the support to this Team was not sustained as to the cohesiveness of the team and in terms of financial resources. There had been personal differences among my Coaches plus the fact that most of my runners became regular soldiers of the Philippine Army and some were re-assigned to different units outside Metro Manila. When the Team was dissolved, these three Coaches went on their own lives. One continued to develop runners in the “grassroots” level in the province where he is now residing. One is already immigrant in one of the temperate countries in the West. And the other one is still active as a Coach in Metro Manila. I think one of the Local Qualifiers for the Boston Marathon is being handled by this Coach. You can ask around about this Local Coach if he is still available to be your Coach and be able to guide you to qualify for the Boston Marathon.
For some of the former members of the Elite Team Bald Runner, I have seen them as “Coaches” to some new runners whenever I do my daily running workouts at the Philippine Army Parade Grounds’ Jogging Lane in the early morning or in the late afternoon.
As I have monitored in the Social Media for the past 6-7 years, I have read and seen Coaches on running giving their services to new runners and I am not sure where they got their IAAF Certification or other related Running Coach Certification as Running Coaches. I am not questioning their credibility but, personally, it is very irritating to hear new runners calling a certain average/competitive runner as a “Coach” as their title to them! This personal observation goes also to my former members of the Elite Team Bald Runner.
Why am I mentioning this thing? Because there are so many pretenders in the local running community. I am very sorry to say this one and it is my opinion based from my personal experience and observation of what I see and hear around. Just because they (Local Coaches) can finish a Marathon Race in Sub-3 or Sub-4 hours, they are now allowed to be given the title as Coach. More often, if they always give you some advise and you feel you are getting stronger and faster, the tendency is for you to call this person as your “Coach”. I know, I am becoming “judgmental” on this but that is the reality nowadays. Just be aware that at some point as you progressed in your running career, you will experience what they call “running plateau” where the same workouts that are being fed to you by your Coach will no longer result to a better performance on your part and that will be the time that you are almost a few minutes or seconds before you can qualify for the Boston Marathon. This will be your greatest dilemma or challenge.
Always remember, if you want the services of a Coach and if you don’t want to pay, YOU are the best Coach to yourself because Running is the experiment of one! And you are the most reliable to be able to “Listen To Your Body”. But if you have the time and money, get the services of a PROFESSIONAL Coaching Service and you will continuously progress towards the attainment of your goal without any injury.
(Note: Starting in my succeeding posts, I will be sharing what I have learned from CTS based from the training workouts given to me from those four (4) months leading to the 2017 Revel Canyon City Marathon. I will be requesting a $2.00 donation (not compulsory) if you think my suggestion/advise will be useful to you and in your training leading to your goal to qualify for the Boston Marathon. You can send it through Pay Pal through my e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org. Such donation will go for the maintenance of this website and Internet connection service. Thank you very much!)
Training Plans On The Internet & Professional Coaching Services
From the age of 45 years old to 64 years old, the range of Qualifying Time for Men’s is from 3:20 hours to 3:50 hours. And for the Women’s in the same range of age, it is 3:50 hours to 4:20 hours. Those qualifying times are very hard to attain if you are not consistent in your training. So, what should you do? You have two options: Download a Training Plan in the Internet or simply follow the suggested Training Plans at the back of every Running Book published and available in the market (that is one option). And the other option is subscribe to a Professional Coaching Service where you could apply with a considerable amount of monthly fee or a fee for the whole package deal of the Training Plan. In the number of years that I have been a runner, I have tried both and at the present I am under the supervision and coaching service of the CTS.
Let us talk first with the FIRST Option of getting a Training Plan in the Internet or in the back pages of Running Books. You can do that and most likely, you will not pay for anything or if you download those training plans with a fee, it is still very cheap and affordable. However, you should be consistent in following your training plan. Nobody will monitor you except yourself. As long as you follow the scheduled workouts and you attain your desired pace or speed to a certain distance, there is no problem. Most of these training plans consider your weekly mileage as the barometer of your weekly performance. You will realize that your training program will ask you to do more of your mileage to become faster. These training plans will not consider or measure your body condition after every workout and you have only your Strava or any Training Platform where you can download the data from your GPS Watch and see the basic distance, time of duration of your run, pace/speed. elevation, and your heart rate. Your watch might recommend also the number of recovery hours every workout but most of the time, such data is not always accurate.
If you are training on your own, you have to consider visiting the Jack Daniels’ VDOT Running Calculator. All you have to do is to input your Boston Marathon Qualifying Time and it will calculate your Race Pace for the Marathon; your Training Pace for each type of running workout, and Equivalent Pace/Speed for each Distance from 1,500 meters to Marathon Distance. If you can attain your Target Goal Time in 4-6 months, then you are very good and very consistent in your training. But remember, these training plans should be supplemented with better hydration, nutrition, strength training, recovery periods, and flexibility exercises. On this site, you can ask for a custom plan depending on the number of weeks you select as the duration of your training. An example is: You pay $100 for a Training Plan for 24 weeks based from your target goal time.
When I applied for Professional Coaching Service with CTS, the book, “Training Essentials For Ultrarunning: How To Train Smarter, Race Faster, and Maximize Your Ultramarathon Performance” by Jason Koop was just published and available in the market in May 2016. I immediately bought the book and personally contacted Jason Koop through Direct Message on Facebook and asked him if I can qualify to apply for their Coaching Service even if I am about to reach the age of 65 years old. He replied positively and the next days and weeks, I was asked to answer some questionnaire about my running, set up my Premium Training Peaks, and I had my first telephone conversation with my designated Coach. So, in the middle of June 2016, I started my training geared towards a “smarter and faster” ultrarunner. If you happened to read the book of Jason Koop, you would find out how scientific is their approach to make you a long-lasting ultrarunner. And for the past 4 years that I have been a “CTS athlete”, they have valued to maintain my healthy condition as a runner so that I can enjoy running as long as I live.
For the first 6 months as a CTS Athlete, I subscribed to their Premium Plan with One Month Free with a monthly subscription of $300. You can click on their site if you want to know more of their Coaching Services. For the past 3 years, I downgraded to their Select level where I am paying a subscription of $185 per month with a yearly contract. But before last year, I was paying then $175 per month. I am not telling or suggesting you to apply also for a Professional Coaching Service as most of these more popular and credible (not “fly-by-night”) ones have the number of athletes to attend to, are filled-up already. You are very lucky if you will be accepted as one of their CTS athletes but you may never know. You can try. I must accept that those first 4 months that I have trained with CTS, I became stronger ultrarunner but my “gut problem” due to heat was always my weakness. Slowly, I have progressed through the years with the help of my Coach on this problem. I can say that CTS accidentally helped me to qualify for the Boston Marathon.
What is the difference between CTS and this Training Plans in the Internet? There are so many differences. First, CTS measures your training output by the time (number of hours) you put in to your weekly training schedule. Those Training Plans in the Internet measure your output by the number of miles/kilometers you run for the week. CTS monitors my daily workout through the Premium Training Peaks and I have once in two weeks telephone conversation for 30 minutes with my Coach. My Coach had never been changed since the time I started to be enrolled with their service. You could just imagine the relationship I have developed with my Coach for the past four years.
In the coming days, I will mention in my posts the details of my training workouts leading to the 2017 Revel Canyon City Marathon Race.
It was an accident or spur of the moment when I decided to register for the 2017 Revel Canyon City Marathon Race after I DNF at the 2017 Javelina Jundred 100-Mile Endurance. I was mentally and physically devastated when I was driving from Mesa/Phoenix, Arizona to Los Angeles, California on October 29, 2017 after the event. It was supposed to be my first 100-mile race with the CTS Coaching Service which I started to enroll in the middle of June 2017. I was too confident that after 4 months of training under my CTS Coach, I would be able to finish the Javelina Jundred. However, at Mile 38, I started to have a “stomach problem” and that I had to “throw-up” my ingested food and the fluids that I have taken few meters after I left the last Aid Station. It took me 34 minutes to finish Mile 38 and walked all the way to the end of the 2nd loop at the elapsed time of 10:42+ hours. I rested in my tent for almost 16 minutes to recover and find out if I can still take in some fluids and food. However, my body took a lot of beating due to the heat of the day. I decided to DNF with the elapsed time of 10:56+ hours at 42 miles with another one hour of buffer time to rest some more. But on hindsight, while I was thinking on my way back to Los Angeles, I should have slept and spent the whole one hour for my body to recover and just in time for the heat of the day to cool off as it was already early in the evening.
Reviewing my data on Training Peaks during the said event, I had 4 Peak Performances and an Average Pace of 14-15 minutes per mile which I consider to be above average from my past performance considering that it was too hot that time. My recurring problem with my gut due to the heat really zapped my body physically and mentally. As a consolation, I would think also that the elapsed period (4 months) that I was with CTS Coaching Service was not enough for me to moulded as an ultrarunner at the age of 65 years old. I talked to my Coach and I told him what really happened and he gave me advises and suggestions on how to manage my nutrition problem. He suggested for me to take some rest the following week and do some easy runs for my recovery.
The day after I arrived in Los Angeles, I don’t know what came into my mind when I tried to browse for any race to be held within the Los Angeles area in the coming days and weeks. Surprisingly, I came across the Revel Canyon City Marathon Race which is to be held on November 4, 2017, six days after I DNF at the Javelina Jundred, and I registered with the aim to finish the race. I immediately called and informed my friend, Rowell Ramos, to monitor me during the race and if he has the time, meet me at the Finish Line. Qualifying for the Boston Marathon was never in my mind to be my goal when I registered in this race. I just wanted to run and finish a race!
And the rest is history. I have to photo grab the data which I retrieved from Training Peaks where you can see the Ten (10) Peak Performances that I did in the said Marathon Race which are self-explanatory.
Will I ever go back to Phoenix, Arizona, USA to finish this race? Why not?
Unfortunately, the Revel Canyon City Marathon Race that I joined was the last edition of the said race. It is now being held in Big Bear, California. This year, I am registered to join this year’s edition with the hope that the Covid19 restrictions will be lifted soon.
There are two things that you would think with this story. Is the CTS Coaching Service where I have enrolled and subscribed was the main reason why I was able to qualify for the Boston Marathon? Or Was it the Downhill Elevation of the Revel Marathon Course contributed to my faster time for an Old Runner with the age of 65? Neither of the two were the main reasons why I started my journey to the Boston Marathon. It is the “Man In The Arena”!
The following article is a repost from what Jason Koop, Head Coach of CTS Ultrarunning, had published in their CTS website and shared in the Social Media outlets. I have received a copy of this article in my e-mail as one of the CTS Athletes for the past two years. (Note: I am on rest and recovery up to the end of this year). I hope this article will be of help to future trail ultra runners who have plans of joining this iconic race.
Repost: Top 3 Hot Takes from the 2019 UTMB, CCC and TDS Races
As has been the case for the last few years, I spent the better part of a weekend following athletes around the (newly revamped) Sur les Traces des Ducs de Savoie (TDS), Courmayeur – Champex – Chamonix (CCC), and Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc (UTMB) races. The races were packed with drama, success, failure and everything in between. From the front of the field through the final finishers, the mountain teaches us common lessons – sometimes the hard way – about how to prepare for and execute a great race.
Lesson #1- To win the race, you can be reasonably bold or just grind it out.
UTMB winners Pau Capel and Courtney Dauwalter days played out in seemingly opposing fashion, yet both ended up taking the top step of the podium. Pau took the lead early and never relinquished it, looking spry and springy all the way around the 170-kilometer course. Courtney on the other hand, quite frankly looked terrible the whole way. Normally a smiling and happy runner, she muddled, grunted and grinded her way to a 24 hour and 34 min winning time (which from a historical perspective is quite good).
As a quick comparison, go take a quick look at Update #8 and Update #9 from the final climb to Tête Aux Vents here- https://utmbmontblanc.com/en/live/utmb. It’s an easy compare and contrast of the styles from the winners of both races on the exact same climb.
What all runners can learn from this: There are several different pathways to the exact same result. If you are having a good day, take it and roll. Don’t get greedy with your race plan, but at the same time, if you are having a good day enjoy it and ride out the goodness, hopefully all the way to the finish line. On the other hand, if you are not having the best day and you have built up enough good fitness (as Courtney had), you should have enough resources to simply grind and tough it out. The day might not be all you hoped of, but you can still reach the finish line (and maybe surprise yourself along the way).
Lesson #2- Everyone has a bad day. The harder the race, the more the bad day is exacerbated.
Many of the top runners in the UTMB, CCC and TDS races did not have their days go to plan. Some of these runners ended up dropping out, while some ended up forging on for a respectable finish. Similarly, many of the mid- and back-of-the-pack runners we work with, and several I witnessed out on the course, were simply not having their best days. Although there is no easy ultra, the UTMB race in particular presents a wider variety of issues to contend with. The difficulty is compounded by the event’s length, starting at 6:00PM, running through the entire night right from the get go, copious amount of elevation gain, and the sheer energy of the Chamonix valley that drains the runners in advance of the starting gun. Generally speaking, athletes who got themselves into trouble in this race simply had a harder time bouncing back than those in the shorter (but still ridiculously hard) TDS and CCC.
What all runners can learn from this: If you are in a ridiculously hard race, do yourself a favor and play some defense early on. Aside from entering the race fit and ready, runners can do themselves a favor by running conservatively, taking some additional time at aid stations, having a good attitude, and – if there are any weather conditions – making sure you have enough gear to stay comfortable. All of these will give you a bit of downside protection for races where the penalty for failure is high!
Lesson #3- Multiple mistakes have compounding effects
Every runner wants to have a perfect race. Sorry to tell you, but those are rare. In a lifetime of running if you are able to scrape together a small handful of perfect races, consider yourself lucky. More often, ultramarathons are a series of problem solving exercises. Encounter some bad weather, move through it. Then, you will have a big, quad thrashing descent. After the descent, maybe your legs are giving you trouble. Your legs feel a bit better, then you have a monster climb ahead of you. Most runners can take each individual battle head-on in sequence by solving one problem and then moving to the next.
When issues pile on top of issues, the effect is greater than the sum of all the individual parts. I saw this unfold at the Beaufort (91.7 K) aid station during TDS. Nearly every runner from the front to the back of the field was tired at this point. CTS coach and eventual 2nd place finisher Hillary Allen (coached by Adam St. Pierre) even had the 1000-yard stare as she entered the aid station. As the day transpired, the runners arriving at the aid station complaining of one singular thing (I can’t eat, for example) would move in and move out quickly to tackle the next climb. The runners with a laundry list of issues (I can’t eat and my feet hurt and my quads are shot) took at least four times longer in the aid station and were moving at half the speed, regardless of where they were in the field. In this way, the runner who can’t eat but deals with it, then has their feet hurting and deals with that, and then has shot quads and deals with that, will finish far faster than the runner dealing with all three issues at once.
What all runners can learn from this: Dealing with issues during ultrarunning is inevitable. They are long and hard enough to present a host of problem solving opportunities. When these ‘opportunities’ creep up, don’t compound the problem by creating another one or not addressing the first. Address each issue as it comes up, when it comes up. ADAPT when necessary and slow down if you need to. It is far better to take a bit more time as issues creep up than continue to plow forward and create compounding issues.
I have always relished the opportunity to attend races as a coach, fan and support crew. These opportunities have always been ‘learning by observing’. The UTMB, CCC and TDS races were no exception. If you are reading, I hope you enjoyed the wonderful coverage of the event and some of these on the ground takeaways.
Race Report: 2018 Salomon Cappadocia Medium Ultra 63K Race
After my early on the race DNF at the Maideira Island Ultra Trail Race (MIUT) in April 2018, I immediately looked for another Ultra Trail World Tour (UTWT) Event where I would join even if I was already registered to join the TNF Lavaredo 120K Ultra Race on the last weekend of June 2018. When I DNF at Km 65 at the TNF Lavaredo 120K Ultra due to “altitude sickness”, I have evaluated myself and accepted that I am already getting older and weaker despite the fact that I’ve been training consistently for my races. Having thought of my past DNF, I was able to assess myself that I should run shorter/medium ultra trail races which are less than 100 kilometers to regain my confidence to continue doing international trail running events.
As soon as I was going back to Manila from Madeira, I reviewed the remaining races for the UTWT and I found out about the Salomon Cappadocia Ultra Trail Races which is scheduled on the third week of October 2018. Through a close and good friend who is based in London, Great Britain and had visited Turkey in the past, I made her a request to find out the details of the said race even if I could easily read the details of the said race in the Race Event’s Official Website. It was on the first week of May that I decided to join the said race. From there, I was officially registered to join the Medium Ultra which is 63+K distance. Later in the month, I asked my top trail runners who are regular runners in my BR’s Events and representing the Philippine Association of Ultrarunners (PAU) if they can join the event and take a shot at the longer distance which is the 119K event. Finally, we made a team of three (3) runners in the Medium distance (63K) and two (2) runners in the Ultra distance (119K). It was later, in the following months that another Filipino trail runner, Alex Yap, registered also to join the Ultra distance event. For this year’s 2018 edition, the Team PAU/Philippines is represented to join this event for the FIRST time!
My trip itinerary with our Team will be discussed in a separate blog to include our accommodation in Urgup, Cappadocia, Turkey. This is to include my training and other administrative activities related to the Race.
The Cappadocia Ultra Trail (CUT) 119K and Cappadocia Medium Trail (CMT) 63K Races started at exactly 7:00 AM of Saturday, October 20, 2018 at the Town Center of Urgup with 300+ CUT starters and 500+ CMT starters. So, 800+runners were at the starting line raring to go for their respective distances in a cold morning. After some greetings and briefing by the Race Director/EMCEE, the race started where I placed myself and my Pinoy co-runners for the CMT at the middle of the pack. The two Pinoy runners for the CUT were positioned in front of the runners.
The first 2 kilometers were on an uphill cobble-stone wide road where I could easily find my space once I left the starting line. Once the road leveled up, I was already few meters away from the start of the trail/dirt road where later we have to cross the paved highway going to the center of Urgup. Once I was on the wide dirt road, I was already feeling comfortable with my pace aside from the fact that we had a familiarity of the place due to a recon run on the first 9K of the route two days before the race day. As the wide dirt road would become narrower into a single-track trail, I would pass the slower runners who would form a “conga” line from the sides of the trail. This had been my routine on this part of the course, most specially, on the ascending portions of the trail. There were some flat portions where I could run and hike on short steep ascents until we reached a cobble-stoned paved road leading to a populated area where a “Stone Castle” is located. We passed this town and we descended to a very steep cemented stairs until we reached again a dirt road.
It was my plan to have an average speed of at least, 6 kilometers per hour on the first 10K of the course just to able to reach the first checkpoint so that I could have a buffer time of 20 minutes. And that is what I did. I reached the first checkpoint in 1:30+ minutes and I did not have to waste any time inside the Aid Station after I refilled my bottles with water. The place is called Ibrahimpasa which 10.8 kilometers away from the Start Line. I picked up 3 slices of Apple and placed them inside my Salomon Vest pocket. It took me at least one minute in this Aid Station. From this Checkpoint, it was another paved road going to the very peak of the mountain which is lined with houses. It was drizzling and cold but I enjoyed the coolness of the day and the air around me. Once at the peak, everything after was about 7-kilometer downhill where I was surrounded with the beautiful scenery of the mountains and hills on both sides of the trail. The scenery consisted of rock formations and rocks with some holes in them. I knew that the distance from Checkpoint 1 to Checkpoint 2 is 17 kilometers but I was confident that my two bottles of water and drink mix were enough for my hydration for the whole distance due to the cold weather. Although I have an empty hydration flask in my pack as a reseve for my hydration drinks, I was not able to use it during the whole duration of the race.
The descending portion from the peak ended in a populated area with cobblestoned roads with commercial establishments on both sides and some parking areas. Race Marshals were there to point to us on which direction to take once we approach a road crossing. Because of the different electric posts and trees abound on both sides of the streets, there were tape markings tied on these posts and trees aside from those sticks with flag being being placed on strategic places and corners of each street turn. and As I got nearer to Checkpoint 2 which is called Uchisar, another populated area with houses and commercial establishments, I could see two pointed stone castles from afar but I need to pass through tunnels and canyons on a single-track trail. There was an incident where I bumped my head on the on the upper portion of the tunnel when I was not able to bend my body at a lower level just to be able to clear and pass through the tunnel. A Malaysian trail runner, Bryan Kho, was tailing behind me when this incident happened and he shouted to me, “Ingat, Sir”! (Be Careful, Sir!). And I said, “Thank you!”. I am glad that was the only cave with the lowest ceiling over ones head! The 63K route has a lot of tunnels to pass through and most of them are wide and big enough for the runners to pass through.
On a winding and uphill route going to the Checkpoint 2 (Uchisar), most of the runners in front of me would bring out their cellphones and took some pictures of a garden with lots of flowering plants beside the road. I was not tempted to bring out my phone and promised myself not to take any pictures of anything along the route before the start of the race. Finally, I reached the Uchisar Aid Station which also served as the Checkpoint 2. It is located inside the “Rock Castle” and I estimated that I was able to add another 15 minutes to my buffer time which was already 45+minutes in total. I did not stay long in the Aid Station after I refilled my bottle; drank some water and Coca Cola; and finally mixed my powdered nutrition. I left a lot of runners at the Aid Station who arrived earlier than me. I was already approaching Km 28. as soon as I left the Aid Station.
Few meters from the Aid Station is a very steep descent that runners in front of me would stop and look for other part of the route where their trail shoes would be stable and prevent them from sliding. Although I did not have any trekking poles, I was happy that I decided to use my Salomon Speedcross 4 as it gave me the appropriate and stable traction on those loose and steep downhill runs. On the downhill, I observed that there were lots of tourists along the route and there was a group of children who were very noisy as they trekked the trails where we shared with each other. I avoided these children until I reached a paved highway with some Police and Race Marshal directing the traffic as runners would cross the Highway. It was at this point that I was able to see a Camel and because of my excitement to see one for the first time, I brought out my Cellphone and took a picture of the animal and a “selfie”!
From the Highway, it was another descending part of the route with rock formations on the left side and I was amazed with the beauty of the place. It was starting to heat up as the sun would show from the cloudy sky but the air was still moderately cold. I would be running with other runners on a wide dirt road which is sandy and loose on this part of the route. There are other parts which are muddy but my trail shoes would manage to maintain its traction. On these flat sandy trail, I would increase my pace and race with the other runners, making those runners in front of me as my “targets” to overtake. At this point, I was confident that I would be able to finish the race in less than 10 hours based from my prevailing speed as recorded by my Garmin GPS Watch. But I think, I celebrated too early!
I finally reached Checkpoint 3/Aid Station 3 in Goreme which is Km 35.5 with one hour and 15+minutes as buffer time and I was able to meet Akyut, a very popular Turkish ultrarunner who is finished the Spartathlon for so many times, as the Chief Marshal at the said Aid Station. I refilled my bottles and grabbed some apple chunks/cuts and stashed them in my vest pockets; ate some chocolate raisin bread; and drank some Coke. I was frustrated to find out that they don’t have any Ice which I intend to use for my Ice Bandana. I think this is the place where I stayed longer for about 4-5 minutes.
I started running on a flat terrain for about 1.5 kilometers from the Goreme Aid Station until I reached another paved road where I merged and joined the runners of the 38K distance event. As I left the paved road towards the trailhead, I was joined by these 38K runners who can still run through the trail on the ascents while I would hike on such parts of the route. I became irritated and uneasy whenever I could hear the footsteps of these runners who would be a group in 5-6 runners or more on a “conga” line. I was courteous enough to side step on the trail whenever they would be behind me and I was able to do this for so many times. Knowing that the distance to the next Checkpoint is 12.7 kilometers with two peaks/mountains to pass, I knew that my pace and speed had slowed down. Aside from the passing 38K runners, the ascents and descents were more technical, steeper, and more challenging. I was already having some signs of early cramping at this point but I was able to manage it through my nutrition and tempering my speed/pace. This part of the course slowed me down and I conclude that this is the hardest part of the course! However, this part of the course could be the most scenic and most beautiful, too.
As I was about to descend from the second mountain, the 63K and 119K runners were separated from the 38K runners and I was happy to be alone again on the trail. This is where the scenery would be amazing again. The single track trail would be tricky/technical because it is along the side of the rocky mountain where either side of the mountain would be very steep and scary to look to the bottom of the mountain. The downhill on the side of the mountain has long switchbacks but there are steep short ascents and descents in-between. Finally, I reached a descending cobblestoned road that leads to a populated area which is lined up with commercial stores with their local products. After a short right turn from these stores, I would see the Aid Station at Cavusin which is Checkpoint 4 and located in a small one-story building on the corner left side of the road.
I refilled my bottles, drank water and coke, ate some slices of their chocolate raisin bread and stashed some slices also inside my empty ziplock bag. I already knew at this point that my buffer time of one hour plus had been reduced to less than 30 minutes and I really needed to get back fast on the trail route. I was following a male runner which was 10 meters ahead of me and after about 200 meters, I was faced with steepest incline of the course which took me almost half hour to reach the first level portion which later became much steeper after one kilometer. I call this portion as “Kiss The Mountain” (where the slope of the mountain is on your face) and there is no established trail as I reached the peak of the mountain. I was passed by a tall and younger male runner with trekking poles when I reached the peak of the said mountain and our eyes met with each other and smiled to one another. At this point, I was already cursing myself why I did not bring my new GIPRON Trekking Poles with me. Anyway, it was only at this part of the race where I thought I would have needed the aid of my trekking poles.
I could not believe when the peak of the mountain is a plateau where we would run for at least 2 kilometers and descending to a trail on the side of the mountain for another 3-4 kilometers. As I start to descend from the mountain, I would see the next Aid Station which is the Fifth and Last Checkpoint at Akdag, but it was still another almost 3 kilometers afar before reaching the Checkpoint. On these last 2 kilometers to the Checkpoint, the trail was very steep and the soil was very loose that almost all the runners in front of me had to slow down. But my reliable Salomon Speedcross 4 did the work for me as I put more speed on my downhill run. I reached the Akdag Checkpoint with about 30+ minutes as a buffer time from the cut-off time of 10:30 hours. With almost 9 kilometers to the Finish Line, I knew I would be able to finish the race in 11+hours. I refilled my bottles for the last time and mixed my nutritional powder which would be enough to bring me to the finish line.
The last section of the course is a vineyard with a rolling terrain which I would run the flatter sections and brisk walk the ascents. I could hear the sounds of the passing vehicles from the highway and it was my gauge on how I was progressing in my run towards the finish line. The sounds were becoming louder as I got nearer to the Highway but it was becoming darker as the sun was already setting to the west horizon. I was passed by a couple of male and female runners who are locals in Turkey and I made them as my “guides” towards the finish line. They were also kind enough to wait for me as I appear around the bend to make sure that I was following them. I decided not to use my headlight as I knew the street lights would be able to illuminate the last meters to the Finish Line. As soon as I crossed the Highway, it was my last 800 meters towards the Finish Line and everything was all downhill! However, I was very careful on the last few meters of the cobblestoned road because the road was rough and the cobblestones were not lined evenly flat that I might trip on them with a single misstep. (I found out later that some runners had fallen and tripped themselves on this road before they crossed the finish line).
I crossed the Finish Line in 11:36+ hours, which is almost one hour before the race cut-off time of 12:30 hours! I was happy and I was able to redeem myself from my past DNFs in the Ultra Trail World Tour races where I registered. This finish gave me much more confidence to join and tackle more international trail races in the future. Aside from my personal satisfaction and accomplishment of this race, my Team PAU made a history as the FIRST Filipino Team of Ultra Trail Runners to have finished the Cappadocia Ultra Trail 119K and the Cappadocia Medium Ultra 63K Trail Events.