Failing My Way Through Ultra Training (more lessons learned)
Hey, Athletes! Failing My Way Through Ultra Training (more lessons learned)
IN THIS 26-MINUTE EPISODE WE DISCUSS:
- Jerred talks about his lessons learned from Ultra training
- He talks about some advice he has received from his coach on his running form
- He dives into paying attention to other small habits and data you should track
- And A LOT MORE!!
If you want to go a little bit deeper on this episode, here is a link to the study for you:
- No study this week
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To becoming better!
Jerred: This is the garage gym athlete podcast, and we're here to build autonomous athletes and put phenomenal programming into every garage basement and spare bedroom out there. I'm Jared moon and with Joe Courtney, we are strength and conditioning coaches who have turned over 20, 000 people into garage gym athletes over the last decade.
And we're here to reduce the information overload that exists in the health and fitness industry today. We're going to do that by covering relevant science and give actionable takeaways, not only from the. But from our years of experience, so let's dive in.
All right, let's dive in. Ladies and gentlemen, I am Jared Moon. This is the garage gym athlete podcast. Been a while since I've talked specifically about training for this 50 K that I'm doing in April. And if you scroll back to episode 210, 210, you can see some of my lessons learned about the training and the programming, talked about heart rate training, different zones and intensities.
So if you want to pick up on my first set of lessons learned, go to episode 210. Today I'm gonna be talking a little bit more about the journey I've been through so far, some massive setbacks I had end of December and through part of the first part of January where I'm at now. So again, just more lessons learned on training for a 50K from someone who's not truly an endurance athlete and to be honest, doesn't overly enjoy.
Running that much and I don't hate it. It's definitely growing on me I enjoy it to some degree But it has been a bear to learn how to get good at running and that's what I want to talk about A little bit more today. So I'm gonna catch everyone up first a few years ago I really wanted to chase the 500 pound back squat five minute mile in the same day.
That was a huge goal of mine. I really wanted to do it. I was training for that. I feel like I just, I'm primed for that with being more power based athlete. I've always had fast mile times. I've had big squats and I got really close and that might be the closest I ever get because I screwed up my back.
In the process, everyone who's been listening to podcast knows that I've not had any MRI imaging or anything, but I just been it was a long road to recovery to get back to normal to where I could do the type of training and add back intensity and add back load. It was one of the biggest setbacks I've ever had back ever had in training.
But then I finally got back to it. And really, this was it. Last year in 2023, I was feeling about normal, about my, my, my normal self. And that's when I picked up running just a little bit on the side. I was logging some miles. I was able to like squat and deadlift again. I wasn't going too crazy with the loads.
And then what always happens with me is I want to take things more seriously. I want to do a 50 K. I want to do an ultra marathon, whatever. And I felt like I was in a good position. Like I waited several months of running and. Making sure my body could withstand everything before I increased my run volume to, to ultimately decide if I wanted to do this ultramarathon.
It was funny I held that for a few months into last year and I was feeling great. And then all of a sudden I had this back thing pop up on a run. I think I mentioned it on the podcast because it wasn't that bad. It wasn't like a lower back pain like I had with the squatting. Lower back pain is just, oh, it takes forever to go away.
And it's like, where's this coming from? This pain was definitely lat, muscular. My body, my lat just locked up and it wouldn't let go. It took two weeks for it to chill out. I ran through most of that and it was problematic. But then I got that under control. And I was like, okay, that was a minor setback.
This was different. It was muscular, like soft tissue. I don't have to worry about this as much as I did lower back. Went back right back into that ultra marathon run volume, which is a lot more than I'm accustomed to. This brings us up to December and end of December, my back locked up again, but like in a major way.
And again, so it was, it's the lat, it's like that entire, it's like the right side of my back and it got to the point where I couldn't rotate like left or right, but I could still do things. I could do a pull up and it wouldn't hurt my lat. Like I could still exercise, I could still run, it wouldn't necessarily hurt, but I couldn't twist or turn or any of those kinds of things.
It was like. Laying down in my bed, it was very hard to move from one side to the other. I was like, great, here I am again, committed to a race or committed to a goal, injured, and I'm going to have to back out this thing. That's what I'm thinking. And I really don't want to, because I really want to do this race.
And so what I did, I was like, I, this seems like it just needs time. And so I took off all running. I didn't run for. Two or three weeks. This is end of December going into January. I still exercise obviously. I was still doing some strength training and I tried to keep up with just my aerobic training. So I was doing a lot of bike erg stuff, anything that I could fit in and my back did get a lot better.
I'd say I'm like at 98, 99%. The reason I don't give it a full 100 is just because I feel it in my rotation. Like when I go to rotate to my right, I feel like I don't have as good of range of motion. Like it's still a little bit locked up there. But what I decided to do End of December, beginning of January was hire a coach to work with me more specifically on what the hell am I doing wrong?
And that's what I want to talk about today. And I also want to talk about volume in my views on volume in training. So let's get into what I discovered. with the coach and what I've been working on. So it's funny when you work with somebody who's like an expert, like a world class expert in something, because I'm not that in running.
And what happened was I was like, Hey, I look at my run dynamics and my Garmin. And I'm like, I just feel like If I had to spot anything here, what seems to be awful, and I don't know a lot, all I can see is what Garmin says is good and bad, I was like, my vertical oscillation seems awful. I really, I'm going up and down a lot in the run, and it's very inefficient, but also, on top of the inefficiency, I feel like there's a pounding when like I land on the concrete, like maybe I just don't have the best form.
And I think that's what was pissing off my back and causing the muscle to lock up was just like, I've already had insults to the back area and then to put go run for several hours or a dozen miles or so, whatever the back muscle just eventually locks up. It doesn't want to play anymore. And I think that was what was happening with me.
And so I had my coach look at the data and he was like, Okay, yeah, that's definitely your vertical oscillation is definitely a little higher than we would want it, but that's not what we're going to focus on. And what's funny is I tried to focus on vertical oscillation by myself sometime last year.
I was like, okay, I'm just going to run smoother. You watch some YouTube videos, whatever. Like I'm going to try a little bit more of a forward lean, like basic stuff that you pick up on YouTube. And that's where self education can be hard. I just really don't know what the problem is. Like I'm not enough of a run expert to know what to diagnose and what to fix.
And he was like, here's what we're going to do. What's your cadence? And so he really honed in on my cadence, which is something I just had not paid attention to. I felt like I just had a decent cadence. And so cadence is how many steps per minute you're taking. And my cadence on average almost didn't really matter.
The run was about 150. Steps per minute and he's this is not good. He's we need to have you 170 180 really like 180 if we can get you there But that might be too big of a jump to start and I was like, that's a Massive difference and he walked me through how to do that how to change up my cadence and really helped me Kind of transition there and what's crazy is the first couple of runs I do this increased cadence which for me was just a lot of people think increased cadence is just running faster.
And what's, and that's what I noticed is if I run faster, like if I'm running in zone four or doing an actual sprint, all of my run dynamics look awesome. Like steps per minute, cadence, vertical oscillation. Everything just looks awesome. And that might be because I have a sprinting background. I like to run fast.
I'm more efficient at it, but when I run slow or even medium pace, like zone three or zone two, I have horrible form. And it's really just because I don't know how to move that slow. Like, how do I keep my heart rate in zone 2 but still do the thing? So anyway, a lot of people think that it's, you're just going to run faster if you want faster cadence.
But it's not. It's, if you're trying to maintain a lower heart rate, obviously, it's just shorter steps. So just shorter steps, and that increased my cadence. And so what I did on my Garmin, and part of him coaching me through it too, was just putting the cadence on my Garmin screen so I can see it at all times.
So I put you can, customize what kind of data. So I put on cadence, I put on heart rate and I put on pace just to make sure I'm holding what I want. And it was not hard for me to get into a 170 to 180 cadence, just like I knew what I had to do. I understood how to take the steps, added a little bit of forward lean.
That immediately fixed my vertical oscillation down to like elite level as far as Garmin is rating it. Like it got so much better and I didn't even know that this was a problem. And also after that run, which is about an hour run, my back felt great after. And I actually didn't realize how much my back, I didn't feel good after runs until I had a run where I didn't really piss off my back.
I just, I was like, Oh, I feel good. And I think that's been part of the problem with me running in general is I've just been pushing my way through it, never having really focused on run form that much other than having a, like a four foot strike, a mid to four foot strike along those lines, trying not to strike on the heel of some basic things.
I've never really focused on specific data like that. And so we fixed that. And I don't know, like I'm only a few runs into this, but everything like my back feels better. My vertical oscillation is down. My cadence is where it needs to be. And I just feel a lot better right now. So I'm very optimistic.
That everything is going to work itself out and I'm going to be able to still do the 50k. So I'm not backing out. I definitely still doing that in April as of right now. But if you've heard me talk about like how basically how I feel after runs, I'm very interested to see how I feel after another month of training like this.
And I'll update everybody on the podcast again. And a big reason I want to come on and talk about this is if you have a Garmin start to look at this data. me never really being a runner and maybe putting in 15 miles a week, it doesn't, that doesn't really compound into injury. It's like you could probably be a poor form runner and it's fine.
Or when I did run back in the day, it was normally only fast stuff. And for some reason, when I'm running faster, my form, like I said, clears up, everything looks great. But these slower runs, it was a big deal and compounded to 30 miles a week. It became an even bigger deal and was really pissing off my back.
So look at those things definitely is one thing. And then two other things that I've been doing is really just consistent mobility. And then habit tracking to make sure I'm doing everything that I say that I should be doing. And those I'm going to lump together. So I started doing habit tracking for all of my everything, whether or not I'm.
Doing mobility routines the amount of times I want to per week tracking, making sure I'm getting enough, the amount of water that I should be getting each and every single day. Making sure I'm doing recovery, like cold plunge, sauna, those kind of things. I'm tracking all these things and what's been really awesome is actually just looking this stuff and like putting it on graphs and charts and realizing you are doing what you say you should be doing.
Because sometimes it can feel like you're doing everything. We, you have a busy life and you're like, oh, if you worked out or not, that's easy to track. And that's something I'm always like. Very aware of how many training sessions that I get this week. It's not that's never an ambiguous thing for me But if you were to just be like, hey, how many times did you do mobility work over the last month?
I'd probably ballpark it and I'd probably be wrong. I would overestimate what I had done So it's been great to track these and so I also want to encourage people to Track the small things if you're trying to make true changes Especially we're still here at the beginning of the year. You might be trying to add some sort of new habit And just make sure you're tracking it to see, okay, how many times per week did I, do I think I should be doing this is one thing like, okay, I should be doing this six times per week, but then going back down to, okay, what's realistic.
Cause originally I was like, okay, yeah, I should be doing mobility work. Like five days a week, but I already knew I was like, that's not realistic with my schedule, being able to fit in like an addition, an extra 20 to 30 minute session of mobility. Let's start at three times per week and then move it up to four times per week.
So I'm definitely starting smaller and building up when doing all of these things. I feel really good right now. Like I feel better on my runs. I feel more recovered, like everything's feeling better. And that's because I'm actually tracking and doing all the things that I know I need to be doing. Paying attention to the minute, the tiny details in your execution are very important.
That's a big lesson learned for me right 50k, is paying attention to what the run dynamics are saying on your Garmin, things that I otherwise Ignored most of the time other than what's my pace? How far did I go? Those kind of things. So actually making sure I'm a good runner, making sure I have the cadence that I want to be at versus vertical oscillations where it's at.
And then also getting in all the small habits that are needed to support. This tiny kind of activity and actually looking at that and be like, Hey, you want to do it this many times per week. Did you actually get it all done? These things have been phenomenal for me feeling pretty good as a runner right now or in running.
I don't think I'll ever truly consider myself a runner and has me on track for actually being able to complete the race in April. Now I did have quite a bit big setback there, like almost three full weeks of not truly running how I should like I've talked about this on other podcasts recently you can stop running and do all this aerobic work on a skierg or a rower or a bikerg or whatever.
And it might help your, cardio respiratory system, but it doesn't help you with running. So only thing that helps you with running is running. And so I got to get back to that. So some setbacks for the ultra, but I'm not, again, I'm not trying to get some phenomenal time or anything like that. So it should be fine overall.
And so that's overall my, my update for the 50 K. But one thing I want to talk about because I've also reduced my training load. That might be another reason why I'm feeling better. And this is something that I think everybody should know has been a big lesson learned for me in life. But if you head down the performance road, that's I want to lift a certain amount.
I want to run a certain speed. I want to run a certain distance, anything performance based. I think those are the best goals that you can possibly set for yourself because they're so much more fun to tackle. So much better than anything aesthetic. Or weight, what's my weight, what do I look like, those kind of things, those aren't good goals and they don't stick.
I love performance goals. But what you have to realize in performance settings is the only way to improve typically is going to be more volume. And I hate to oversimplify things, but it's true. If you want to run a marathon. You have to get in more running volume. And then if you want to run a marathon again the next year, and you want it to be faster, probably more volume.
And more volume. And more volume. Now there are lower volume programs, but really it's volume. And then that's the same with lifting. If you want to, initially you're good, like you're doing like three sets of five, then it's a five by five, but then it's okay, now I need German volume trainings ten by ten, and then I need my accessory work.
More volume is typically always the answer for most people when you're going into this performance world. And so you have to be really careful and know when to draw the line, because there has to be a line, there has to be a rest at some point. And that's what I think I'm definitely learning is PR in a bunch of lifts and you're.
A couple of PRs and a bunch of lift, take some time off, like recalibrate, give yourself some space between hitting those PRs and the same with running, give yourself some space and recovery before you go back to adding more volume. And then also know when are you unable to add any more volume? Like when do you personally, just as a human being, when and where are you going to draw that line?
And that's what I've realized in running that I've just, I've been like, I kept going down the more volume path. But then I was like, I got to draw the line at a certain amount of volume. And that's given how much time I actually have to train, how much time I actually want to train.
The fact that I am an entrepreneur, the fact that I am a father of three, doing a lot of I know about the volume I can handle and my body doesn't. Start breaking down. I don't get injured and I've I'm just starting to realize where that point is And I know how to take really good care of my body Talking about what I was talking about with habit trackers and in mobility and all these kind of things But there's still going to be this threshold of this is about all I want to put in But I'm going to give it my all In those sessions, what I have to devote time wise that way I can still get performance metrics that I want, but I have to know it's not going to lead to any kind of elite time, which is not necessarily what I'm after.
So I'm okay with drawing the line at the volume. And so I, what I'm not saying is, okay, be okay with being mediocre. What I'm saying is know what your volume time intensity thresholds are, and then you need to find the best training possible for. The time limits or restraints that you have, and that's all I've ever been trying to do at garage gym athlete and with my programming in general.
I know myself and most of every athlete that follows our programming. They enjoy our. hour ish training sessions. They're typically an hour or less if you're doing all the blocks how they're supposed to be stated. And you're doing that four to five times per week. And what I'm trying to optimize for in garage gym athlete programming is the most optimal, rounded programming, especially on the hard to kill track, within that time frame.
Okay, the volume that is allowed in that time frame, and we never go above it. And there is no next level with Garage Gym Athlete. There's no, Oh, you've mastered doing this hour per week or hour per day for five days a week. Let's go to two hours per day, six days per week, because that's the next, that's the next threshold of the hard to kill track.
We don't go there. And that's where a lot of performance programs do go. So you have to know where to draw the line. Like a lot of programs will have, I've seen session one, session two, and you're supposed to do a strength session in the morning and like a cardio session in the evening.
That's great if you have the time for it. But where do you draw the line? I would rather be more efficient in the time that I have and squeeze as much, like I said. Focus, time, intensity, focus into what I'm actually doing, never slack off in a training session, and you'll still see all the results that you want.
But with that comes that mentality. You have to brace that. So the first thing is realizing what's realistic for you to train. Where is your volume threshold or time threshold? I can run this many miles per week. I can train this many hours per week, or I can train this many minutes per day. Once you have that line, you have to know something if you're not willing to train 15 16 hours per week Then you're not going to ever get to any of those elite levels and anything that you're wanting to do, which is fine for most of us.
It's not what we're after. But also if you draw the line too low to where you're like, I'm only okay to train three hours per week. When reality, what you're seeking, the performance you're seeking is probably six hours per week, five to six hours per week. You just have to know. What you're setting yourself up for.
And then let's say you get to those five hours per week and you really, truly want to optimize those. Now the next step is everything mentality wise. So this is not checking our phones, not posting on Instagram, not scrolling Instagram, not getting distracted with emails or messages or anything else. It's complete mental focus on your training session and really thinking every part of the workout that you're getting into, it doesn't have to be.
the maximum effort in everything that you're doing, but it's the absolute focus on what you're doing. I can do 20 pull ups and they can be really crappy, right? Not necessarily crappy, like they're good form, but I might be able to do that for a few sets and I can do that, but I could also do five pull ups.
And be completely burnt out. Like I could go really slow on the way up and down and not really pause at the bottom and get just as good of a workout in with five reps as it would 20 reps. Cause 20 reps, all I'm trying to do is be completely efficient, knock them out because I'm trying to get my chin over the bar 20 times and that's it.
If I'm trying to just. Optimize my muscular strength and get the most out of a pull up that looks a little bit different. And so that's what you need to start thinking about how you execute things in a workout. Efficiency is good. Efficiency can lead to fitness. But you also have to think about execution in terms of how exactly am I doing the exercise.
And that goes back, full circle here to my running. Now when I'm running I, because I have that mentality when I'm in the garage, when I'm doing training sessions, when I'm doing mixed modality stuff, when I'm doing strength work, but I didn't have that mentality when I was running and it bit me in the ass.
And so now when I'm running, I'm focused, I'm dialed in. I'm not worried about listening to an audio book or a podcast, which is mainly what I'm doing on zone to run. Not right now, I don't have the brain space for it. Right now I'm trying to focus on getting the cadence I want. Adapting my body to a new stimulus.
It's hard to change your form when you've run hundreds if not thousands of miles with the same form and the same cadence for a number of years and now you're trying to change it. It takes a lot of mental focus. Like I'm mentally tired after some of these training sessions with my new running style, but that's where I have to be.
I have to be focused because 1. I'm doing less volume and 2. I need to make sure that I'm not getting injured. So I have to be completely dialed in. So that's the last tip I have for all the athletes out there. Be dialed in mentally. Because most everyone listening to this is not training 14, 15 hours, 20 hours per week, nor do we want to.
And if we are training 6 hours per week, like most garage gym athletes out there, we still will not accept mediocrity. We're not going to. And look, if you're training that many times per week, you're far from mediocre. You're far from average. You're so far from that 100%. Most people aren't even doing that now.
I know I'm speaking to some of the people who that's what they have to train, but they still want to be badass. They don't want to be average. They want to be above average human beings. They want to be better humans and how you're going to execute that is it. How you walk into every training session, how focused are you?
How are you executing? What are you doing? How focused are you? All of those things really start to matter. And it becomes a mental toughness battle over a long enough time period. So focus on that over this next week. See what you can get out of your training session. See if they feel a little bit different just going in mentally dialed in.
And look, I get it. Sometimes you're just tired and you, it was all you could do just to get the training session done today. And that's fine. If you can't walk into every single training session with a mental acuity necessary to like truly see every result you can out of every training minute, that's okay.
But when you do have that mental capacity, absolutely see what you can do in your training session when you're really focused on every rep, how it's executed, how you feel in all those things as you go through your next training session, give it a try and let me know how you feel when you do it that way.
That's all I have for this one. Hopefully you learned something through all the mistakes I'm making in trying to run an ultramarathon. If you are part of the community, thank you so much for being a part of the community, for listening to the podcast, doing the training, really appreciate each and every single one of you.
And if anybody's out there interested in being a part of what I was talking about, really well rounded, optimal training in about an hour, Go to garagegymathlete. com, sign up for a free trial, and we would love to have you. But that's it for this one. Remember, if you don't kill comfort will kill you.
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