Step one in training for the Ohio Spartan Ultra was to evaluate what was really important and here is what I concluded:
1. Be able to be on my feet for 12 hours
2. Have a solid running base
3. Eliminate unneeded body weight
4. Maximize grip strength
5. Become comfortable carrying heavy things for long
periods of time
6. Be comfortable being uncomfortable
Ultimately I have decided to pursue a training protocol where I prioritize heart rate during runs over speed, strength training sessions concentrate on leg strength, grip strength, and heavy carries, nutrition is about fueling, I need to spend a lot of time on obstacle skill and efficiency, and I am working on standing all day and avoiding sitting.
Right now I am several weeks into my program and I am responding extremely well! The hardest part so far has been checking my ego at the door when it comes to running. I have known for a long time that the best way to truly build a solid endurance base is to back down and train right around your aerobic threshold. I have just generally ignored this because I could get away with it when training for shorter races and for me to run with my heart rate in that zone (estimated 135 beats per minute) I have to move significantly slower than I normally do. This is where I realize training for the Ultra is a different animal. By training in this zone I am increasing my efficiency and this ultimately means I can push harder for longer (pretty important for an ultra). At first it was really hard to keep my ego out of the way and stay in the proper heart rate zone, but the more I did it the easier it got. Then the craziest thing happened this week, I am back to my normal "easy run" pace but my heart rate stays about 10 beats per minute lower than it used to. So my first suggestion is calculate your aerobic threshold and anaerobic threshold and train based on them. It my seem too easy at first, but trust me if you check your ego at the door the improvements will come quickly!
My next post I will talk about how I handle strength and skill sessions. Right now I am optimistic with how my training is going but not over confident. I know there is still a long way to go and June will be here before I know it. I have to keep grinding!