No Magic To Get Faster

Michael AKA Gumbo
Ann AKA Rocky
For the last several years, both Michael and Ann have dramatically improved their trail racing.  We other mortals will probably not duplicate Michael's nor Ann's regimen, but maybe we might improve our training techniques somewhat.
 
Thanks for divulging your secrets...
 
Let me start by stating that Ann and I (Michael) represent the more competitive end of the diverse spectrum of running abilities displayed on our club’s trail runs. The runs are not informal races or structured training sessions. In fact, for me, that’s one of the pluses of trail running and the courses offered. I’m going to get a decent work out in even if I try to take it easy. Hills have a way of doing that. Nature provides the structure. I’ve just got to show up and keep my legs moving.
 Ernie has asked Ann and I if we wouldn’t mind stepping in and contributing our thoughts on training, racing and share our calendars for those interested.
 No problem. And I’m curious as to what Ann feels is an appropriate method to bridge the gap between us. She is a strong runner and is making steady progress but it baffles me when she and others feel that with age their performance will somehow deteriorate to a lesser extent than mine.
 The people in the club span a broad age and interests range. They’re all very friendly and helpful so don’t hesitate to ask any of us questions. But if you have any questions about either Ann’s or my regimen, ask Ann first. She’s far more cordial and prettier than I.
 
Philosophy/Training/Diet and Weight
Michael’s:
 As a multi-sport athlete and full time employee the time I have for training is limited and therefore, to receive the most bang for my buck I focus on high intensity workouts that involve a speed, a progressive tempo, and one endurance run per week. The last being our Sunday trail runs. I follow a similar pattern with cycling. The long ride being on Sat. I lift, jump rope, row, slide, and do plyometrics twice a week. I also follow my hard workouts with a short yoga flexibility routine.
 I enjoy racing across a broad spectrum of distances from anywhere between a mile to 50 miles and also plan on at least one long ultra-light hiking trip and one long bike trip per summer. So I may slightly tweak my training around what’s around the corner, but not much.
 I am a vegetarian and have been for over 30 years, but that has more to do with majoring in philosophy in college than athletics. But I don’t feel it hurts my performance, though even if it did I’m pretty screwed up mentally by now and wouldn’t change.
 The biggest change I’ve made since joining the trail runners was dropping my weight down from close to 170 lbs. to about 140 lbs by the time bikini show off my scars season rolls around. Lifting that 30 lb. burden off my joints and pushing so much less weight up and down hills has allowed me to push myself pretty hard for a number of years while remaining relatively injury free.
 
Ann
 I started running and exercising four years ago because it was something fun to do for myself now that the kids were growing up and I liked the fitness benefits that came with it. Along the way I found that running offered so much more, it gave me focus, challenges, goals, friends, health, toned muscles, a reason to be outside and vitality to run a household of seven.
 Becoming a member of the Trail Runners Club was the next step and that provided me with the additional benefit of a consistent long run every Sunday morning on a variety of scenic and challenging trails. I also enjoy the safety a group provides while experiencing the wilderness.
 In the beginning I hung at the back of the group and I was okay with that but slowly I grew stronger and became a middle of the packer. But I knew I could do better and started to push it a bit more, “If I try hard enough maybe Michael will not pass me anymore.” is what I was telling myself.
 I thought if I focused more on my midweek training runs and cross training, it would pay off in improved performances on Sunday. It seems to be paying off, though not enough to run off speedy Michael (yet!). I look up at guys like him; they are my inspiration and make me realize that age doesn’t have to hold you back.
 Yes, I keep trying to improve; my competitive spirit is born and the flame is burning high. It’s just plain fun and a great feeling to be stronger than ever, to be fully alive and in the best shape of my life at age 46!
 Racing became the next aspect of my running world. I enjoy testing myself in a competitive field, it brings me to new and exciting places, I get to meet other runners and it motivates me to keep pushing my fitness limits.
 I have learned a lot through reading a ton of running books and magazines, surfing on running related websites and talking with other athletes about training and injury prevention. I became a member of our local YMCA and during my free mornings, when school’s in session, I participate in fitness classes offered there I automatically rolled into a workout regimen that still works great for me while having plenty of time left to manage my household.
 Mondays are my rest days. (As cleaning a big house and doing the laundry of seven is not considered a workout of course.)
Tuesday mornings I start with a Core Strength class which is totally fun. (And hard but will hardly ever miss it because it’s the best thing I can do for myself next to running.) Then I run on the treadmill for a speed interval session and finish this up with at least a half hour stretch.
Wednesday is cross training day. I hop on the elliptical or I ride my mountain bike to the gym and back and participate in a Weights Class which is again a lot of fun while having a total body workout.
Thursday is when I start dreaming about the outdoors again. But first another   Core Class before I tie the laces of my trail shoes and venture on the trails of Pt.Mugu for at least one hour and a half of hill fun. (Or I run the roads when in marathon training.)
Friday is again cross training or just running trails easy, depending if races are coming up.
Saturday is the day I’m available for the family, but still try to get an early trail run in my backyard before other activities start.
Unless I’m racing, Sunday is Trail Runners Club day which I ALWAYS look forward to.
 
Michael’s 
Schedule
 Jan.9 Boney Mt. 21k 14th overall 1st in age 1:47:47
Feb. 20 Bandit 50k trail race
Mar. 13 Safari Park half marathon
Mar. 26 Great Agoura half marathon
April 10 Victory for Victims 5k
April 16 Devil Dog Duathlon
April 23 Sycamore 50k
May 7 Malibu Creek 50k
May 22 Orange County Duathlon
June 4 Ojai Valley Century - cycling
June 5 State Street mile
July 4 Palisades 10k
July 9 Headlands 50
July   Tahoe Bear trail -TBD
Aug 5 Wild Idaho 50 mile
 
Somewhere in there I also plan an ultra light hiking trip along the Border Trail and Superior hiking trail in Minnesota and would like to ride between Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks. If Art feels like arranging another Grand Canyon crossing, wouldn’t mind attempting a rim-rim-rim.
Ann’s
 Races:
Jan.9th: Boney Mountain Half marathon trail race
Feb.6th: Mission Gorge 15k trail race
Feb.20: Bandit 30k trail race
April 10: Black Mountain 15k trail race
April 15-16: Ragnar relay; Women’s Ultra team
May 1st: Big Sur Marathon
May 7th: Malibu Bulldog 25k trail race
June 12: Holcomb Valley 50k (my first real Ultra!)
Wish list:
August 21-26: TransRockies Run with Art
Sept.:Trail Running Nat. Championship – Bend,Origon
Sept.:Yosemite with the Trail Runners Club
another Fall 50k (if I survive the first one!)
Malibu Marathon (November)
Death Valley Marathon ? (December)
Double Grand Canyon crossing (of course!)
And so much more which I don’t know of yet!
 
Happy Trails. Ann.