Last week I participated in the Iron Warrior Dash (IWD), a 15-mile off-road obstacle course. In early January I suddenly had the urge to start running again. No, this wasn't a New Year resolution, just a coincidence that I suddenly felt the desire to begin running again. The weather here in Texas was pretty mild and running is a great way to take advantage of that. My other motivation to start running was this race. I happened to have seen an email in my junkbox from the folks that put on the Warrior Dash, that advertised that they would run three new races this year called the Iron Warrior Dash. The original Warrior Dash is a 5k with 12 obstacles; the new Iron version is 15.2 miles with 24 obstacles. I ran the 5k version in 2011 and it was a lot of fun and well produced, so this sounded like a great challenge. I invited my good friend and business partner +Chris Hackerd to join me and he heartily accepted...Truth be told he had already asked me if I wanted to do event this with him but I must not have been listening….some people say I’m hard of hearing, others say I have selective hearing...
So now I had a goal and about 10 weeks to train. I put together a training plan similar to one I used for a marathon I ran in 2004. The plan is essentially a graduated step-up plan, with four days of running per week: Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, with Saturday being a long run day. For example, Week #4: Monday, 4 miles, Wednesday, 3 miles, Friday, 3 miles and Saturday, 8 miles, the following week would be 5, 4, 4 and 9.
Throughout my training I was pretty excited because I managed to stick to the schedule almost perfectly from week 1 through week 8. Unfortunately week 9 brought about a couple of wrinkles. First, I had traveled the prior week, and somehow tweaked my lower back during the trip. I’m not sure if it was the hill running I had done or the bed I slept in, but the pain was intense enough that standing up for longer than 20 minutes was near impossible. To add insult to injury, we had a rather large wind storm here while I was gone and my mother-in-law’s fence blew down. I spent a few hours rebuilding it on Friday night and in the process really aggravated my lower back and probably tore some back muscles. So running during week eight was non-existent. But by Wednesday of week nine I felt better and ran Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday, although there was another wrinkle that week, which was that I was on vacation and in Colorado. So these runs were at elevation and I learned a valuable lesson here, running in Austin at 700’ on mostly flat terrain is incredibly different than running real hills or at elevation. I know, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure this out, but actually experiencing it makes it really hit home. Taking this into consideration, my next training plan will involve real hills and varied inclines on the treadmill.
Some things I did and learned along the way...First, I ran a total of 140 miles during my training period. My goal was 175, but the week and a half of injury and my vacation scrubbed two long runs.
Road vs. Treadmill
|Merrell Bare Access|
|New Balance Minimus|
Compression Socks and Sleeves
I experimented with several versions of compression socks and a set of compression sleeves for my calves. The socks I run in are the CEP Progreesive Running Socks. I ran in them for most of my long runs as well as some of the shorter ones. I also wore a pair for several hours after many of the long runs. While it is difficult for me to quantify how helpful they were, I do know that even after a 20+ mile week of running, that my legs while tired, were in much better shape than I ever expected.
I don’t have a lot of experience with trail running, at least not recent experience. Years ago I use to participate in adventure races, but that seems like forever ago. I learned one thing while training, you really need to concentrate on picking up your feet on the trail. It’s easy to shuffle along on the road, sidewalk or track, but on the trail this will most definitely lead to a trip and possibly a fall, especially as you tire.
Hydration & Food
Leading up to the race I used a waist mounted bottle system from CamelBak called the Arc 4 Hydration Belt, it features four convenient 8 oz. snap-in bottles that are easy to remove and replace while maintaining pace. The back band of the belt has a small zipper pocket for keys or maybe some gels. It seems to awkward with four bottles so I removed the two from the front. While it was good for 16 oz. of water when I needed it, I just never got used the weight on my waist while running.
So I learned a lot along the way. This was the most serious training that I have put in since a marathon almost a decade ago. While I missed my goal for total mileage during my training period, I feel like I built a solid foundation to which I look forward to continuing to build upon after I recover from the Iron Warrior Dash. I already have several other races on the docket to continue to motivate me throughout the spring and summer. I'll chronicle the details of my follies in the IWD tomorrow.