Friday, April 19, 2013

Diablo Challenge 50K Race Strategy

The Diablo Challenge 50K is here!  And I am so ready.  The weather looks like it might be slightly cooler than last year which is good; however, we are much better prepared (mentally and physically) for the heat.  

Last year attempt at the 50K, we were coming into the race with injuries from the Napa Marathon a month before as well as reduced training. I was also mentally not in the game being unemployed much of the month (I actually started work two days after the race).  Combined with temperatures in the 90's, we received our first DNF.

This year, we have followed closely with our training plan, even with my toothpick and calf injuries back in January.  The result has also been a much improved trail half marathon time (Trail P.R. at Lagoon Valley) as well as my 5 mile training runs moving closer to a 8:30 pace (Road half marathon PR pace). 

Taper Strategy

One modification I did to the training this year, however, is adjust my taper strategy.  In the past, when we were training for our marathons, we followed a two week schedule which greatly reduced both our volume and intensity.  In fact, we typically would do no running, and I would cut out my bike commute.  For the 50K, I have followed more closely with a three week plan, again reducing the volume; however, I have implemented an increased intensity taper.   After doing the research, a low volume high intensity taper actually helps maintain (or improve) your fitness since you have already built up your endurance.  This also allows your muscles to heal any micro tears that have developed over time on long hilly training runs.

I have noticed over the taper that my 5 mile times, and more specifically mile 2 to 5 improving dramatically.  I am interested in seeing how this will affect my race day performance.

For more references on long distance tapering (marathon and greater), I found these resources very useful:

·         Taper for Endurance Athletes

·         Not So Easy

·         Tapering for the Marathon

·         Tapering for Endurance Runners

Race Day Strategy

My wife and I have decided to run separately, since much of our training during the week has been as such.  My main concern is getting caught up with the other runners, so I have set the following goals in place:

1.  Run my own race - Since I will not be running with my wife, I know it would be very easy for me to get caught up with the other runners around me.  So I am going to stick with my strategy, keep my pace and meet my goals.

2.  Finish the 50K - I left a job to be done last year, so I will not jeopardize finishing this year.

3.  Reach the halfway point in 3 hours – this means that I will be averaging a 12 minute mile, which is very doable; however, most of the elevation gain is in the first half.  More specifically the toughest climb is begins at mile 3.  The main reason for this goal is to beat the heat.  

4.  Reach Curry Station in 2.5 hours - I know the remaining climb from mile 15 to 23 has a lot more shade, so I should be good to go heat wise. Curry Station is my line, where I know that no matter what I will finish.

5.  Since I have a goal to finish in 8 hours, this means that I will be giving myself another 2.5 hours to cover the final 8 miles, which is mostly downhill but is also fully exposed.  I do expect an adrenaline rush though since the final 8 is in Beth and my training grounds.  I also plan that my strategy up to this point will allow me to have enough reserves to kick in.

6.  “Plan to flow and know how to flow when it is not going to plan.” – Jimmy Dean Freeman – To flow means go.  So keep going ! In other words, if something happens and I need to alter my strategy to meet goal #1 and #2.

Now that is my 8 hour strategy, which should have me finish in the middle of the pack.  In reality, depending how I feel I hope to shave off an hour on using the uphill portions for mini recovery spots so that I can run down Wall Road.  So my stretch goal is 7 hours. 

For more great information on race strategy:

With the heat planned for tomorrow, I will definitely be running with two water bottles.  I also plan on taking extra trail mix and focusing on picking up trail mix and GU at each aid station. 

Also Mr. and Mrs. Notthatlucas introduced us to these awesome cooling bandanas that when exposed to water, keeps cold.  We both have one, so they will be well used tomorrow. 

And while I am bringing my IPod, I don’t plan using it until I begin to have problems. 

And one last strategy I learn last week listening to the Max King interview this week, if I need to go…do it at the bottom of the hill.  You are more likely to catch up with other runners on the uphill than the downhill.

So the race starts at 7:00 and we need to be at the buses at 5:30 so I hope we get some sleep.  I can say I am pretty excited about this race.  If all goes well and I meet the 8 hour goal, our next run will be the Big Basin Redwoods 50K (or marathon) in the first week of June, followed by Brazen’s 12 Hour July 6th.


  1. Lets see-
    you ran your own race
    you finished

    Winner, winner, chicken dinner!!
    Proud of you, babe!

  2. This post is great.your article is important and helpful for race.This post give more new informative information for race.Thanks a lot for share your great post. fifa world cup


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