Author Topic: Flat Lander Training for Races Like the PPA and PPM from Trail Running Magazine  (Read 6537 times)


Ed Kitchen

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I ran my first PPM last year as a flatlander. First off, I would like to thank John V. and others who provided invaluable info on the old message boards last year. I started training about this time and followed Matt Carpenter's training advice http://skyrunner.com/peak_faq.htm. Plus I got on a treadmill a couple of times and simulated the 13 mile ascent (I'm not sure where the link is any more that had the % grade changes, maybe John V. knows). This was all great, but I think what helped me the most from a psychological point of view, was simply hiking up in altitude. Not running, just hiking. The highest peak I could find was about a 3 hr drive at about 10k elevation at the top (around 12 miles round trip). I did that on 3 different occasions. It simply alleviated my fear of altitude and gave me some confidence. It also got me used to some of the roots, rocks and a few boulders you'll have to navigate carefully on the way down. So my advice is to try and find a peak if you can and hike up it, and then carefully jog down, even it's only 1 time.

Also, the theme that was echoed over and over again by these vets of PPM, is to train hard, and race easy. Great advice for a first time flatlander. Of the 35 marathons I have run, including 12 Bostons, this was my most satisfying accomplishment.

Jeff Boehlert

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This is the treadmill incline chart I created of PPA - based on information from the book "Americas Ultimate Challenge - The Pikes peak Marathon" by Harald Fricker

PPA Incline chart - treadmill

Ed Kitchen

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Jeff, I actually used the one John Vomastic listed on on another thread http://pikespeakmarathon.org/forum/index.php?topic=37.0. I'm sure the one you posted would work just as well, however I noticed that the one you listed didn't list anything at 15%. I would recommend doing around a 1 mile at that %, particularly some near the end, because I remember a distinct difference between 14 and 15%, and it really helped me when I did the race, particularly near the top when you are more tired with less air. This was the hardest of all the workouts I did because I hate treadmills and it was time consuming. It was a necessary evil for anyone who doesn't have access to something like Pike's peak. The key is to finish the workout, even if you have to walk most of it. I also recommend using the drink/gel/food you plan to use during the race. I had a belt with 2 12 oz bottles of Tailwind Nutrition http://www.tailwindnutrition.com/why-tailwind drink because it was an all in one--it provided hydration/electrolytes and carbs.

Jeff Boehlert

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Ed - thanx for response. Mine I hastily put together based on information form the book. It obviously has average grade based on elevation change over distance. I certainly will adjust my plan based on the more accurate information from John, and agree I need to hit those 15% peaks. thanx again. Jeff

Ed Kitchen

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I'll try to add more observations as they come to mind as a first time flat lander last year, while they are still fresh on my mind. I was looking at my training log and I did two 13+ ascent mile simulations on a tread mill http://pikespeakmarathon.org/forum/index.php?topic=37.0. My times for the simulations both took about 3 hrs and 30 minutes to do. My ascent time was around 4 hrs and 40 minutes in the actual race. The difference in time was most likely due to a combination of altitude, not being used to some of the rugged trail conditions, going up very conservatively (I didn't care about the my time, my goal was to finish), and having to wait to let runners pass who were descending near the top. So for me at least, it took about an hour and 10 minutes longer than the simulation to get to the top. I did the marathon, so the ascent doesn't have to worry about runners coming down. However,  I'm not sure about how much time you lose with the congestion of having more runners on the trail with the ascent only.

Ed Kitchen

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Ok, I remembered a very important aspect of the race, especially for those doing the marathon. Many people fell during the race, most with minor cuts, some with pretty nasty ones, but others with more serious injuries. I was very lucky and never fell, but I did trip several times, mostly on the way down. I was fortunate to regain my balance on every occasion. After about my 4th trip, I noticed it was happening when I was trying to drink on the run. Finally, since it was my goal was to finish (remember, you're not going to set a PR on this course, so why worry about the time unless you're trying for a high place or are close to missing the cutoff time), I decided to find a good spot and just come to a complete stop and drink. For everyone running this course for the first time and your goal is to cross the finish line, I strongly recommend doing this. This course takes an immense amount of concentration negotiating the rocks and roots along the way. You're going to be feeling better once you start down, but you will be tired. Going up, I would do the same thing. The higher up you go, the more delirious you're going to feel. I can tell you flat landers who do have some trails like the ones out where I live, there is no comparison when you hit the ground. I have fallen where I live, but only got small abrasions. At Pikes Peak, it's going to hurt a whole lot more, and may end your race.
« Last Edit: June 11, 2015, 06:08:26 am by Ed Kitchen »

Ryan Glaze

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Great advice on this post. Printed the treadmill chart and will see if I can simulate it at the gym.

Ed Kitchen

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I want to point out an issue that occurred during the race that I didn't expect to happen--blisters. I have run many marathons, and my first one I received a few blisters on my feet. After researching, I found that a combination of cotton socks and the sweat from your feet was the main cause of friction that cause blisters. So I started prepping my toes and feet with Vaseline before a marathon or a long training run (I also put it on other parts of my body to prevent irritation), wore some dry fit socks, and never had a problem. But in this race, I got blisters and I'm fairly sure they were caused by pebbles getting into my shoes. There is a section above treeline that is very gravelly to the point they your feet are sinking (oh and on your way down be careful through this section if you're doing the marathon). I was so oblivious of anything because of the altitude, I didn't realize I had formed some nasty blisters until I had started back down had regained my senses. I stopped and emptied my shoes, but the damage was done. So I suggest to try and keep a mental note during the race if anything is getting into your shoes, or perhaps try using some gaiters that will definitely keeps those pesky little rocks out.

Good luck to you all, and remember train hard and race easy.

Mark

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Yes, good advice Ed, I make it a point to empty my shoes at the summit and at Barr Camp on the way down to empty my shoes of those pesky rocks. More often if desired... offers a good excuse for a break too, sucks getting old...

And yes, Good Luck to all, looks like the weather is heating up and will start really melting the snow up top. Hope to get up there for some training the next week or two.

Ed Kitchen

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Yes, Mark I agree that stopping and taking care of problems like this should be encouraged. I think as runners we are so enamored with racing against the clock, we forget the type of race this is. It took me a while to get it out of my head that stopping goes against the grain, but eventually I came to my senses and not doing so may have cost me a chance to finish. You're going to be on the course for a very long time, especially if you're doing the marathon, and you're inevitably going to run into problems. Take care of them. As I said before, unless you're an elite runner or struggling to make cutoffs, your time shouldn't be an issue if this is your first time on the course. As someone said, if you came here to qualify for Boston, you picked the wrong race. (I  haven't looked into it, but I wonder if anyone has qualified for Boston in their age group for this marathon. It would be even more special if they actually used this race to qualify with!)