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Big Week Training & Holcomb Valley Ultra

1 July 2011 No Comment

I have had some significant changes in my life over the last six months and until recently have been very busy.  Trying to close out projects at work while packing in some great training camps this year, a move along with some international adventure races makes for some stressful weeks to back up.

Big week training and big week life stress are all the same to our bodies and combining them is not always the best idea… This lead me to the idea for this post in outlining some of the goals and things to keep in focus for Big Week Training (BWT) ideas and flow that you maybe able to pop into your schedule when time  (and energy) permits.


BWT – Outline-

Lets start with some goals to outline the structure and motivation for your week to start.  I had some specific goals for my BWT outlined below and these become critical in shaping what you will work on, how much time you will have to work on them and most importantly why.

One of the recent changes in my life has opened up my schedule…and allowed me to train more.  In short I am taking a break from work and going to head to Boulder for the summer to train.  This helped my time for the week because I had all week “off” to train and I wanted to have a solid week to set me up before I headed to elevation and away from home.  My goal was to bump my average bike week into a new PB of distance over the week (500+ miles) and keep swimming and running going.  My outline allowed me to have some motivation at the end and finish strong.  Some key points in the outline were

– Ensuring that the week was realistically a BWT

The value of a “camp” is seen in the week or two after.  If you smoke yourself with a big week it is setting you back not forward.  I made sure I had a 3 week build then a rest week before heading into this week and 3-4 days unload or very easy after.  That had me swimming, biking and running at PB fitness once I got to Boulder.  In short, you want to stretch yourself in a safe 15-20% range across a single sport while keeping the others rolling.

– Keeping it simple and the bigger load of volume/intensity at the end of the week

I did the majority of workouts out of my front door – not easy for me to do.  I like adventure but it has its place and with a big week I stuck to the plan and simplicity early on to make sure I was staying on top of recovery, energy intake (qualify food!).  It is just lower stress and let me look forward to getting out with friends on the weekend in Big Bear for some long rides in the mountains and an ultramarathlon race!

My goals for the week were based on volume and that set my intensity profile.  Most of the ridding that I did Mon-Wed was solo or with a single training partner (Max) that I knew we would just get the miles in.  I swam solo some days so I would not be tempted to blast it at our masters swim squad.  This let me build into the week with intensity so that I never had to back down and helped me stay on top of recovery.


a million miles with Max

– Stick to the plan 

Although I normally do not follow a structured plan I did for this week.   I was working with Gordo to insure I was prepared to execute and I could turn off my brain from negotiation once I got started.  This saves you huge amount of energy and again comes back to that motivation at the end of the week when your tired.



– Increased my (good) calories –

I am not worried about getting fat and usually eat a good amount of healthy fats but I upped my calories going into, across and after this week.  With all the LSD training, I focused on eating even more health fats like almonds and avocados and a few jars of Justin’s.  The big bike days were enough to deplete my glucose by the end of the week (when I wanted to be strongest) so going into the weekend I also added a shake of Vitargo before bed and upon waking up in addition to using it during training.  All these extra calories were fun to put down and it provided the energy, insurance from injury and a faster recovery that a increase in volume requires.  Stay way from sugar!   Its the start of a downward cycle and a sign your body is behind and looking for a quick fix.  Quality calories in, quality power out…


– Stick with the team

I can write volumes about this but the group dynamic can always pull more “work” out of you and make it a much more enjoyable experience.  This is why you want to save group sessions for key times.  The TEAM and the experiences is what it is all about anyways when the fitness fades and flower fall.  We had some solid rides planned over the weekend and some good nights up in Big Bear to wrap up the week.

teamwork, teamwork, teamwork

Holcomb Valley 33 mile Ultramarathon Race – Always Finish Strong

When it came to Sunday, I used the Holcomb Valley Ultramarathon to cap off my week and motivate me and make my long run easy(er) than if I had gone about it alone.  Normally, I would not build so much towards the end of a camp but I knew I would have an easy unload for the next few days before transitioning to Boulder and the intensity for the long run was still pretty low. I was inspired by the beauty of the PCT, my friends who were out running with me and supported by well stocked aid stations.  The placement of races on the weekend, at the end of a week, can be huge help if it is the appropriate race and venue.  I approached the run with the same format that I had for the week building into it.  Got prepared before it so I could focus on just doing the work, took in extra calories early on, paced with the right teammates at the right time and focused on what my goal was….just get it done.

The first couple of miles I ran out with Monique. She was doing the 15 mile version with  Carrie, Chad, Max, Art Kirk and Gregg. I enjoyed the time with her and was not thinking about racing at all.  I love being on the trails with Monique.  I stopped at the first aid station, cracked some jokes, took a dump and basically took my time getting going.

A few hours into the run I was looking for my old friend Mr. Pain and thought that I would see him sooner or later.  While the week leading in had me questioning when I would feel the fatigue I just allowed myself to be “present” and enjoyed the run.  It was a good lesson.  Don’t get stuck on numbers – chasing them or running from them.  You will always do more when you get an early start, set the right pace and plan on finishing strong.

I ran met and ran with a new teammate and now good friend Josh Malpass.  When we got to the next aid station together they informed us that we only had 5.5 miles to go.  It is amazing how fast it goes by when you are just putting one foot in front of the other.  It turned out that Mr. Pain was a no show for me but I used that last 5.5 miles to try and run him down.  I passed a few more people but never had to get into race pace efforts and finished the run feeling pretty good…even running to a 4th place overall finish.  I’ll take it.

always be strong in the end



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