Class in Session! RTB Insights

It has been several months since I last posted a note to Lessons section of the blog (which does not imply I don’t continue to learn new things each time I run) so let’s get back into the swing of things and add a new “lesson” for your enjoyment! (Or critique) Today’s lesson is a follow up to yesterday’s post…a primer on the Reach the Beach relay which is taking place in the middle of September. As I mentioned yesterday, I ran this race with team #GuzmanGuys in 2015 and rode along in 2014 so I am an “experienced” participant so to speak! Since I have learned so much from this race, this will be broken into a few parts and posted leading up to the race (in 18 days). Today, we focus on preparation!

THE ROLLING HILLS OF NH

This race begins by CLIMBING Bretton Woods – a decently sized ski resort located in the Town of Carrol in New Hampshire. Notice I said “climbing” because this “excursion” to the top sets the tone for the next 35 legs of a very hilly race. Flat roads are few and far between so leg pain will be a constant throughout! Based on the leg pain and the variability of the terrain, the race is grueling! In short, “Be prepared!” So with these factors in mind, how does one get prepared for the RTB? Well, it is not easy by any stretch because most of us don’t run hills every day of our lives (I run very flat ground in Boston most of the time) or almost marathon levels of miles over a 24 hour span!

source RTBRelay.com

MY PLAN FOR THE RACE

For the RTB, the keys to succeed for me are threefold. First, you must have a grasp of long distance running in your arsenal. In short, you need to be able to complete 5-7 miles rather easily (easily being a pace that does not make you feel sick). This will allow you to deal with the physical nature of the race as well as the stopping and starting of three runs in 24 hours! Second, you must be able to deal with hills both physically and mentally. Hills are tough no matter what the grade and if they look imposing, then your mind comes into play and can make them harder to climb (and make your running experience miserable) – you need to put your head down and focus on one step at a time! Lastly, patience and pace are very important – don’t run yourself out of legs 2 and 3 by running very hard in leg 1! Treat leg one as if it were the beginning legs of a half marathon…slow and then increase slowly your  pace.

Road and scenery of the RTB

So how do I train for this relay? 

  • Well, first my training last year for RTB involved increasing distance so I could be comfortable running 5-7 miles. I was actually training to run longer distances though (half marathons) all summer so my comfortable runs were in the 10-12 miles.  To get to this point I employed one of those half marathon plans you see on the web (can’t remember where but they are all very similar). It was a mixture of short runs and then one long one on the weekend. 
  • I mixed in plenty of Fartleks and mixed tempo running over the course of my preRTB training. These varied runs helped me in two ways. First, they gave me more power which increases the distance and speed I could run at. Second, by the increase in power, I was able to conquer hills more easily. When hills are rare or limited where one runs, mixing in Fartleks can help with hill training!
  • Running Beacon hill and NH were very helpful! While Boston does not have many hills, it still has “Beacon hill” so one day a week, I would run up and down this neighborhood of hilly streets. This helped with the endurance end of climbing hills. These streets are somewhat long for the average hill one encounters but they mirror much of one sees during RTB so they are a big help in preparation!
  • Cross Training and Ninja Warrior training was part of the regiment! To mix things up during this training, I added aerobic weight training to my schedule twice a week. In addition, I found myself also jumping over obstacles in parks and anywhere else I could find a good jump or consistent hop. This helped with my agility which I found useful when encountering the variability of the New Hampshire roads. 
  • I planned out my runs! This is one of my most important steps I do for any race! I examine my route and plan how I am going to run it (I will share this in a later note). Knowing the route takes out the surprise that can weigh on the mind during this race (over 24 hours of running, surprise is something that should be countered as much as possible beforehand) and keeping the mental weights at bay will make the race and experience more enjoyable.


This is the basic path I took towards my RTB training for last year. With the swath of injuries that have come my way this summer, I have not been able to do to replicate much of this but my body is ready and I will deal. Also, compared to a year ago, I am in much better physical condition and a much smarter runner. This goes a long way toward helping me support the #Guzmanguys as we look to complete 200+ miles on the roads of New Hampshire!

Thanks for reading! 

BM

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