As I have gotten older and tried to continue to do what I did when I was younger and injury free, I have slowly figured out that it's all about margin and how much do I have?
At Surf the Murph, I went into the race with no margin, I was undertrained, slightly injured, coming off a few weeks of stress from work and coming in with no confidence as all of my recent races had been failures. For the last 2 years I have not completed a marathon or ultra, this includes dropping from Chippewa (2012) with a re-injured ankle, dropping the year before from Potawatomi 50 (2011) after 40 miles with the same injured ankle and missing the cutoff at Superior 50 (2010) when I originally injured the ankle and calf.
At Murph, truth be told, I probably was at a negative margin as my longest run coming into it was around 20 miles and that was on relatively flat trails as when I tried to run hills I had issues. So how did I think I would complete Murph, pretty simple, my plan was to get through the first loop based on my training and then get through the second loop with my mind.
One thing that I have learned is you can't bluff your way through an ultra especially with injury issues. For me the race technically ended after 17 miles, my down fall started with the misstep during mile 4, the real cause though happened in the weeks and months proceeding the event as I wasn't strong enough, healthy enough or trained enough to get through it.
What am I going to do about? I can either change or repeat what I have been doing over the last 2 years which hasn't worked. What I have done over the last 2 years is run, I converted to minimalist running this past summer which has helped my ankle but I have had issues with my calf and achilles both of which relate back to other injuries. It has been said by others that "to repeat the same pattern and expect different results is an act of insanity", so for the last few years, I have been repeating the pattern of trying to run long distances with minimal training to try and compensate for my injuries, I believe that I tried different things but I haven't resolved getting my legs healthy so I can work on my weight and training.
So what I need to do is to work on improving my lower leg strength to eliminate my injuries,. Then I can increase my mileage to develop a deeper base and I could then focus on specific workouts for speed and strength. If I do that then I will lose the extra weight and last I need to some cross training to ensure that I get and stay balanced. Without a doubt if I do this, I will have increased my margin, ugh........all of this pretty much means it's time to figure out a new routine.
So as I contemplate the upcoming off-season, I think it's time to figure out the new plan and then follow it and if I do I will add some margin. Stay tuned.