Comfortably Numb Training Plan

10 weeks.

The countdown to Comfortably Numb is on! Comfortably Numb is a 23k trail run, that is really just one giant hill – climb 800m over the first 12 km, then descend to the finish line. Talk about a quad-thrasher!

Here’s the plan:

  • Tuesdays – run hills, working up to an hour of hill repeats by the end of April, then adding some intensity.
  • Thursdays – shorter, faster runs of 6-10km, throwing in some fartlek intervals for variety.
  • Weekends – long runs of 2+ hours (15+km), adding in more hills as time goes on. 3 and 5 weeks out for the race I’m planning some particularly hard runs with some extended climbs and descents.

Yup. Just 3 runs a week. Of course, one it (finally) stops raining, I might be inspired to throw in a few shorter recovery runs. But who am I kidding? I’m pretty sure that I would rather spend that time hiking or climbing instead.

The only other training I’m doing is a super-minimalist conditioning routine. It’s just 4 exercises:

  • Pushups,
  • Split squats,
  • One leg hip lifts, and
  • One leg calf raises.

I started two weeks ago with 1 set of 10 reps, and I’ve been adding 1 rep per workout. Once I get to 15 reps, it will be time to start over with 2 sets of 10 reps, and add one rep to each set until I get to 2×15. Then it’s time to move on to 3 sets. I figure I will be doing something like 3×20 or 3×30 by race day 🙂



Return to running

Saturday marked my first “real” run since July 22nd (by real, I mean more than 10 minutes). But taking six (six!!!) weeks off running isn’t the worst of it… in the 3.5 months prior (aka, since finishing the Juan de Fuca way back when), I only made it out for a grand total of 16 runs, and the vast majority of those were only 3 or 4 km.

Needless to say, it hasn’t been a great summer for running. I wouldn’t mind so much if I’d spent the summer hiking and scrambling, but with the rather cool, damp weather we had this year, I didn’t get much of that in either. boo.

Watersprite Lake

This was July…

So I’m feeling rather out of shape (cardio-wise, at least) and in need of a new goal to get my lazy butt out the door. I’ve decided to focus on a 10km, and, in doing so, begin to incorporate a bit of speed work into my training. Here’s the thing: I’ve always walked a fine line between training enough and training too much – so I know I have to be careful about how much speed work I incorporate. The competitive side of me wants to jump in and do interval workouts and tempo runs and hill workouts all in the same week. The wiser, more rational side knows that if I do so I’m just going to end up injured.

So I did some research.

At my physio’s suggestion, I looked up some articles by David Roche. And I came across this: One Workout, Big Breakthroughs. Roche states:

If you are injury prone, speed limited or just want to try something new, adding hill strides to your training (either as your only workout or as one component in a more advanced plan) could provide a near-magical boost to your performance.


Who doesn’t like a near-magical boost to performance? I certainly want one! So I’ll be incorporating 4-6 x 20-30 sec hill strides at the end of each of my easy runs – and maybe even at the end of my longer runs. Other than that, I’m just going to keep my pace easy, and focus on getting out consistently. Oh, and maybe stretch my calves a bit more.

A return to minimalism

So much for all my good intentions to train hard and train consistently this year. All it did was add stress to my already busy life. And result in a sprained (?) foot.


So I’m back to listening to my body and that means minimalist training: lots of hiking and a weekly-ish long run. And a return to the gym for some strength training (hopefully I’ll feel up for that soon!).


April Training Update

About a month ago I announced that I was planning to run the Hallow’s Eve trail marathon this fall. Training has been going… OK. Here’s a quick summary:

  • April 1: Run 1.4 hours, ~9 km
  • April 3: Hike 1.2 hours
  • April 5: Hike 0.5 hours
  • April 8: Run 0.5 hours, ~3 km
  • April 11: Run 0.25 hours, ~2.5 km (flat walking trails)
  • April 19: Run 0.75 hours, ~5.5 km
  • April 24: Run 1.0 hours, ~6.5 km
  • April 28: Run 1.65 hours, ~12 km
  • April 29: Hike 2.5 hours

Beyond this, I walk pretty much every day with Loki but since they’re all flat, easy walking trails, I don’t count them as training.

Lesson #1: I’m not running often enough. Right now, I’m committing to going for at least two runs per week, plus at least two real hikes per week.

Lesson #2: It’s really, really boring to run on a wide, flat trail. Hence the very short run on April 11th – I quit because I got bored.

Lesson #3: I still don’t like going uphill. I can’t run uphill for very long, or if it gets steep. And sometime my calves will cramp up. Any solutions?

Lesson #4: Speed makes a huge difference to my endurance. The run on April 19th was with my cousin who is a far better runner than me – and at a much faster pace than I’m used to. Even though I was done at the end of it, I think that it was highly beneficial because I felt much stronger (and somewhat better running uphill!) on my next runs.

Big Goals

I’ve flirted with running off and on over the years (ok, to be perfectly honest, it’s been mostly off). But something about being surrounded by mountains and adopting a puppy has made me start thinking about it again…

So I’ve decided that this fall I’m going to finish the Hallow’s Eve trail marathon. Yes, all 42 km of it. But that’s not all. Next year, I’m planning to finish the Grand to Grand Ultra. It’s a 7-day, 6-stage, 170 mile self-supported race. Am I crazy?


Just thinking about the races makes me want to get out there and go for a run. But I know that I have to be careful about my training. I have all sorts of muscle imbalances and old injuries from my years as a competitive gymnast that tend to flare up when I try running. My left knee especially isn’t too fond of running…

So… I’m in the process of determining the absolute minimum amount of running I can do while still preparing myself the trail races.

I started out about a month ago, planning to run 2-3 times per week, with one long run each week. To my surprise, I discovered that my endurance on the flats and downhills developed incredibly quickly (I’m still no good at running up hill). Two weeks after I started with a 15 minute run-walk, I was able to mostly run for an hour.

But my body said too much, too fast. First my knee got all achy, so I backed off to hiking only. Then just as my knee was getting better, I got sick. So there went another week… Despite the layoff, there seems to have been no effect on my endurance. I still can’t run uphill very well, but I was able to mostly run for almost 90 minutes last week.

Which got me to thinking. Do endurance athletes really need to train as much as they do?

I suspect not. There are references to “chronic cardio” all over the web. And I’ve read (somewhere) that it takes 3-4 weeks to fully adapt and recover from a long run. So if it really takes that long to adapt to a long run, then is absolutely no reason to do a long run every week like most runners do. One long run every few weeks should be sufficient.

But what about in between?

I already walk Loki daily, but I’ll take her for more hikes, and once or twice a week we’ll go for a short hilly run. One day, I will be able to run uphill…