Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Interview with Sophie Speidel, Part 1

A couple weeks ago I posted Sophie Speidel's story from Running Through the Wall. This is the first part of a follow-up interview with Sophie. Enjoy!

Holiday Lake 2002 was your first ultra. Describe how you trained for your first. Did you follow a detailed training plan? What was a typical training week like as you prepared for the 50k distance?

I trained for HL2002 by running the 2001 Richmond Marathon in November, and then running a 16 miler and 21 miler in December and January, along with track workouts with long repeats and shorter trail runs. I didn’t know about tempo runs back then, but I did have a good deal of residual fitness from 2 years of training for short- course triathlons. It wasn’t enough, though, because I developed IT band issues halfway into HL and had to walk/run to the finish! In hindsight, I should have put in a few more miles per week (I estimate that it was 45 mpw max), added tempo runs and run back-to-back long runs. I learned a lot at that race and continue to learn with every ultra that I run! I also would have taken advantage of running a training run on the course, but in 2002, Horton didn’t have training runs prior to the race.

How has your training evolved over the last 6 years? What did you do differently as you prepared for HL 2008?

This year I ran Holiday Lake two weeks after racing the Uwharrie 40, which is a tough event in NC. Typically I am very conservative about when I race…I rarely race more than 6-7 times a year but this year I am racing six ultras by the end of June! I am doing this because all the races work well with my family’s schedule (for example, I am racing the Highland Sky 40 in June not only because it is an awesome event, but also because my husband and I are making it a weekend getaway since our kids will all be at camp that weekend). I am also considering running the Grindstone 100 in October, so I want to race “fast and short” during the spring and then train for “long and slow” in the fall. 100-milers make me slow for many months afterwards, so I want to have fun with speed before I get slow again!

Back to Holiday Lake…I came into the event not completely rested from Uwharrie and Hellgate 100K from back in December. I could feel it in my legs during the latter part of the race when I just didn’t have any zip. However, I chose to race these events close together, so I knew HL was not a target race for me…it was actually a great training run for the Bull Run Run 50 in April. One thing that works for me is to have target races and to not just race randomly, without a plan. I like to compete in the Masters age group and I like to try to set PRs while I still can, so my main goals tend to focus on setting a PR on that course (weather permitting) and being competitive in the Masters category.

A good example of how my training has changed in six years is what I did for Masochists in 2007. I worked with a coach, Mark Lorenzoni, who is a very successful road racing coach in Charlottesville, but he also does a great job with the longer distances, so he put a plan in place for me for the 2007 Mountain Masochist 50. I told him I wanted to run a PR (sub-9:40), and he had me running upwards of 75-80 miles per week in July and August with very little speed work, and then he brought me down to 50-60 mpw with track workouts and tempo runs in September and October. A typical week in September looked like this:

Monday: 8 miles easy on dirt roads with 15x 30 seconds hard, 30 seconds easy toward the end of the run

Tuesday: 5 miles easy on roads in the a.m., 5 miles easy p.m. on rocky technical trail; Lift (upper body)

Wednesday: Track workout. 2 miles easy warm up, then 5x 1200 in 4:50 (6:40 per mile 5K pace) with an 800 meter hill repeat between each 1200 off the track, then 3 miles cool down for 10 miles total

Thursday: 5 miles easy on dirt in a.m., 7 miles easy on trail p.m; Lift (lower body)

Friday: Tempo Run: 3 miles easy warm up, then 3 miles at 7:10 pace on hilly dirt roads, 1 minute rest, then 2.5 miles at tempo pace up and over big hill climb for 8.5 total.

Saturday: Long run of 20 miles on very hilly dirt roads at 8:45 pace with last 4 miles at 7:40 pace, which is marathon pace for me

Sunday: Easy trail run or day off, depending on how I feel.

As a result of this kind of training, I had a great race at Masochists…I ran 9:34 and felt great the entire race. By comparison, I ran Masochists as my first 50 in 2003 in 10:25.

Editor's note: Thanks Sophie! I love seeing ultrarunners doing track intervals and tempo runs. We all have lots of slow years left in us. Let's enjoy the fast years while we can. Now get out there and run!

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