Thursday, April 5, 2007


Training for ultras takes a lot of time and a ton of consistency. Without that you will most likely end up injured or DNFing at races time and time again. Training comes in many forms for ultra runners and I think that is why it's so fun, there is no one right way to train for an ultra. Some folks do really well with logging a ton of miles like putting together many 100 weeks, some don't do any speed work and still run like the wind while others do a ton of speed work and very little long runs and it still works. I have tried them all and with some success but no plan has delivered the results like the ones Scott Jurek has put together for me. I have followed Scott's approach to training for over two years now and have seen a lot of measurable results which is what keeps me coming back! I use my heart rate monitor for all my training, it helps me gauge my workout by keeping me on task. The hardest part about using a HR monitor is knowing what your zones are. There are 5 running zones and each one builds a different part of your cardiovascular and muscular systems. There are many tests out there you can use to figure out your HR zones by first determining your max. These are great ways to get a runner started and most likely will be close but ultra runners are a bit different in that they have a huge base. A base is your low HR zones Z1-Z3a. These are your probably the most important zones for ultra runners to develop because they build endurance. They are your aerobic base building zones, they develop muscle capillaries and mitochondria to carry the needed oxygen through your body. Z3b-Z5 are your power zones. These zones teach your body how to recover and become more efficient at carrying oxygen to muscles and clearing unwanted lactic acid.
I have used VO2 Max tests to determine my zones and my velocity at lactic threshold. What is Lactic Threshold?????? It is the point at which your body stops using oxygen and you go from be aerobic to anaerobic, it is the point at which the cells in your body can't receive, extract or utilize oxygen. Scott suggested I use his preferred lab to get my test done. 18 months ago Stacey and I went to and got VO2 max and Lactate Threshold tests done and the information has been so valuable we went again on March 29th, 18 months after our first test. What a difference 18 months of training can make. My results are listed below:
October 6, 2005
Max HR = 182
VO2 Max = 62
Lactic Threshold on Incline = 6.2 speed, 10% grade HR = 171
Lactic Threshold on Flat = 8.25 speed or 7:16min. mile, 1% grade HR = 175
Z1= 123-133
Z1 = 134-144
Z3a = 145-155
Z4a= 167-172
Z4b= 173-178
Z5 = 179 to max
March 29, 2007
Max HR = 184
VO2 Max = 60
Lactic Threshold incline=6.4 speed, 10% grade HR 178
Lactic Threshold Flat = 8.75 speed or 6:51min mile HR 182
Z1 = 130-140
Z2 = 141-151
Z3a = 152-162
Z3b = 163-173
Z4a = 174-179
Z4b = 180-185
Z5 = 186 to Max
As you can see I am faster on both incline and flat before my body stops using oxygen. Also, my zones moved significantly. I have done many of these tests at another lab in Bend Oregon over the 6 years prior to taking my first one at this lab in Oct. of 2005 and have never seen this kind of changes. But, I have never trained using the philosophies Scott uses either.
When you run a 100M race the target zone for the first 50M is 3A. If you can stay in 3A for the first 50M and after that let it rip you will have a great race. Most of time folks go out near their 3B or above and feel really good for about 30 miles then have some pretty bad patches as their body works to clear the damage. I am looking forward to working with these new zones which will be tough at first but as I get more comfortable with these new paces and can really hone my new 3A I will have a good race in my future :).
All these new numbers just means my body is ready for the next step and that means faster track workouts, faster tempo runs and better hill repeats. I can't wait to see how all that pays off, should be interesting!


Darin Swanson said...

Sub-seven minute miles on the flats...forget ultras...sign up for a 5K :-)

Rooster said...

It would be cool to see what I could run a marathon at right now, according to my test I am looking at somewhere around 3:10-3:15. I actuall think I could do it. Eugene is tempting but I gotta keep focused :).