Andrew Clink

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50k A Month- April Reflections

28 April 2020

On the 25th I finished my eighth 50k+ in as many months. I started this experiment on a whim back in August 2019 after realizing I had accumulated a bit of a schedule. My daily running streak has been immensely helpful— maybe a monthly 50k streak would be too? Besides, 50k races are fun— is there such a thing as too much? Here are some brief reflections.
  • 400+ km is a lot of data, and that's not counting the training in between. In considering that and what I've noted, I don't believe I can account for every factor that got me to where I am.
  • I have remained uninjured throughout this experiment. My daily running streak has continued unbroken, but it hasn't all been 100% pain-free. I have had some intense heel pain since June 2019 (possibly heal spurs). My shins have been pretty sore some days. Nothing debilitating. 
  • I didn't have a particularly great training block going into the first one in August. I did fine, but I was ultimately disappointed in how I performed at the end.
  • I had a great build up to Black Canyon in February. I specifically tried to back off at Pass Mountain and I could have pushed harder at Coldwater.
  • The solo 50k in December down the Black Canyon trail was something I'll remember forever. So much fun. But also a lot of downhill.
  • Contrast that with the last one this month, which was miserable. Even more solo. On the run I decided that the cumulative fatigue was unproductive going forward. If I can't recover I've only accomplished being in perpetual recovery. I don't think that's something anyone signs up for.

Which brings me to the trends. My finish times correlate fairly strongly with elevation (.67) and temperature (.65). That is, more elevation or hotter = slower and harder. This makes me question the cumulative fatigue theory. Harder conditions are harder, and that shouldn't surprise anyone.

Finish Time vs Elevation in Meters

Temperature, °F

Experientially, this is exactly right. The end of Marquette that I was disappointed with involved climbing a small mountain. My legs got wiggly at Coldwater on the climb near the end too. Mesquite was bound to be slower due to the climb, but the heat in Ford Canyon is what really cost me. And this month's run was miserable without any meaningful aclimation beforehand.
So is this a sustainable idea? I have mixed feelings. On one hand the data says I'm handling heat and elevation predictably. I have a thing for long-term ultras. I love going long, and the adventure of exploring on one's own two feet is strangely life-giving. But on the other hand I'm stagnating. I felt like Coldwater took a long time to recover from, and was somewhat disapointed with my performance at Black Canyon. I felt tired 5 miles in during the last one after two very low volume weeks. And the heat is only going to get more intense. It's going to take a lot of reflection to decide whether to continue next month or not. 
* September was pacing someone in rough shape and was very low intensity. I've removed it from the graphs for that reason.