The first time I tackled an ultra distance road race was also this race, Hida Takayama 100k last June 2014. After signing up just “for fun” and with the only goal to finish, it became my A-race of 2014 as a redemption of my big failure of Seoul Marathon 2014. I finished it in 8:58, 2700m of cumulative elevation diff., and placed 15th overall (out of 2600 runners roughly). This year, after reaching a new level of fitness during my training for Beppu Marathon, my ambition is to podium the 4th edition of Hida Takayama 100k that will be held on June 7th 2015 – that is finishing within the top 6 finishers.
Almost from the moment I crossed the finish line last year, the idea of coming back and doing better hit me almost instantly. I already knew what I had to improve. My pace was good, did not slow down too much over the entire race, averaged a 5:23 pace and even picking up the very last km @ 4:20 pace. But here are a few points I will focus on for this build up
- Downhill running
The course goes uphill for 40k then down hill for 20k ! This is a lot of eccentric muscle contraction that your quads have to endure. It is very brutal and you have to be well prepared for that. Going up is hard aerobically wise but forgiving on your muscles and joints. But running downhill (~10% grade) for such a long time, if not prepared properly, that can kill your race. That means lots of training in Okutama and Mitake (west part of Tokyo) in order to forge bulletproof iron-quads !
Then of course, because of all the climbs, you need to be strong when going up. Training will have lots of hill running, hill tempo and hill repeats for sure ! If you want to be good at hills, you need to train on hills, it’s that simple, the specificity principle.
It goes without saying that if you have to be on your feet for over 8 hours running in the mountains, you better have a good endurance and have a descent mileage. I’m not sure how my training volume will be as I don’t chase for a mileage now. I let the mileage come to me. This is what I’ve learned over the years. Listening to your body is more important than chasing a number. If you are an A-type athlete and you’re Otaku/nerd at the same time, then controlling your OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder 🙂 )can be very hard. But it can save you from overtraining and injury. Your body doesn’t know what 120km means, it only knows the stress load, accute or chronic.
It’s been almost 3 weeks since the Marathon and I’ve been gradually taking back training. I was able to run 3 times the week after the race. Then last week I logged 92km, mostly easy runs (90%) and an average pace of 4:27k/min. This week should end up with about the same volume but with a bit more intensity as I have a C-race coming this Sunday – Fukaya Half marathon.
Last but not least, and it’s a biggie for me. I was able to convince the Badass team, Stan and Derek and drag them into this ! I am really looking forward to train with the team in the mountains of Okutama on Sunday’s mornings, shine, rain or snow !
Until next time, keep enjoying your training !