Sunday, June 13, 2010

Steve Q theory - a test?

Steve Q. has written a lot of interesting posts through the years, in a recent post which he titled "Steve's Rule for Ultrarunning" he said he had come up with one good rule for ultrarunning:

"run 1/3 of the distance, with 1/2 of the climb in 1/4 of the time"

In his post, he explained it this way, say you want to run 100 miles at FANS 24, that means you need to run 33 miles in 6 hours. Seems reasonable, now this formula may or may not be scientific but when it comes to running longer distances, I think that is ok because the more running I do the more it seems I just need to have something that keeps me focused for training and believing that I can do the longer distances.

At FANS I wanted to run 50 miles in 12 hours, if I had used Steve's formula using the marathons I ran with my wife as a predictor, they had us going through ~17 miles in 3 hours 30 minutes. It would say that the 12 hour goal would be a stretch. Neither marathon was very hilly but both had a few more hills than FANS so I am not sure that we matched the "1/2 of the climb" requirement or not. In order to make the "1/4 of the time", we would have had to be a 1/2 hour faster, since it was a marathon not a 17 mile race, I can't be sure if we could have shaved the 1/2 hour or not but I think we could. If we had nailed his formula during the marathons, I think it would simply have given me a bit more cushion at FANS. I failed at FANS (at least in my mind) because of the combination of the back, the nausea and the hypothermia which all led to the medical tent issue but I was on pace for 50 miles having gone through 40 miles in 9 hours. I thought at the time that I could walk 10 miles in 3 hours and at that point I had no intention of walking it in. I like to think that take the back issue away and I would not have had to stop, I was working on the nausea and I wasn't planning on stopping because of that. Regardless, I know believe I can do 50 miles in 12 hours on a flat course. Yes I have to prove it and I may fail the next time I try but the reality is I now believe I can, which to me is an important step. Getting the mind to believe so the body will follow.

So for me, I want to eventually run a 100 mile race and I was thinking a 28 hour goal would be something to train for. Therefore using the formula that is 33 miles in 7 hours, why shoot for 28 hours, well it just seems like a reasonable goal to shoot for. Sure I would like to run it in 24 hours but let me think a bit on that, I have yet to run sub 12 for 50 miles so all I got to do is accomplish that and then double it, nope not likely to happen. I am not not sure the 28 hour goal is doable either but it does seem like something I can imagine doing.

So what does this mean? It means over the next couple of years, I would need to get my 50k times down to around 6:40 which is an hour faster than I am currently at. Can I get there, I think yes and it will become my goal over the next 12 to 18 months. If I can't train to do that then I question my commitment towards doing a 100 anyway.

My next race is Afton and I don't plan on trying to run that pace there but I would like to try to cut the deficit in half. So I am going to try and cut a half hour off which basically means a minute/mile faster which is doable. Of course, I do need to see what the weather is going to be and probably a few other things as if I learned anything from FANS, it is make sure you adjust to the day and then adjust even more as the day goes on.

Am I wise to follow Steve's formula, time will tell but it does give me something that I can use to shape my training towards, I kind of view it as the ultrarunning version of Yasso 800's.


SteveQ said...

First, there's a big difference between 50K on flat ground and 50K on trails!

Second, the weather at FANS spoiled any chance to run well.

Third, thank goodness you're seeing the "rule" as it was intended - just a benchmark!

Mike said...

Steve - agreed my 50k split at FANS was an hour ahead of any trail 50k I have ever done and I could have gone faster. The weather, not ideal but not hot so not as bad as it could have been.


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