American River 50 Training Recap: Week 1

American River 50 Recap 1

This is my first week of official and focused training for the American River 50 Mile Race (AR50).

I reviewed many 50-mile training plans this week and found they all vary wildly. Some aren’t that much more mileage than a 50k training plan, others have insane mileage that would take me all day to complete. I’ve cobbled together a plan that meets somewhere in the middle, but I’m the first to admit I’m not 100% confident in it.

But for lack of a better option, I’ll run with it (so to speak).

American River 50 Mile Training Recap

Training Goals

  • Two strength training sessions a week. I make this a goal every training cycle and I nearly always fall (way) short. I’ll try it again.
  • Yoga once a week
  • Mobility work/foam rolling nearly every day. I won’t commit to every day (because I know that won’t happen), but I’ll leave it at ‘more often than not’
  • Research 1 area of running a 50 miler. I am overwhelmed by the things I don’t know about 50 miles. I’ll try to ease the panic by picking a single topic each week and focusing in on researching that area.
  • 1 run with significant elevation gain a week
  • 2 trail runs a week

The Plan v. Reality: Week 1

PlanYoga5 miles
7 miles5 miles
18 miles14 miles
ActualYoga5 miles
7 miles5 miles
21 miles13 miles

Area of Focus This Week

Mindset. I’m still trying to get my head around the idea I’m doing this.

I’m also focusing on my frame of mind – trying to balance being confident in myself with knowing this is a huge challenge that I may not be able to accomplish given the insanely short timetable.

My focus is on the trying.

Maybe I can finish, maybe I can’t, but I can do my best and I can try.

Read MoreAmerican River 50 mile kick off


The Week That Was


I’m starting the week off easy with the Nike Training Club Essential Restorative Yoga video.

It was fine, although it was a reminder of how long it’s been since I’ve done yoga. On my best day I’m stiff, but today… yikes. One downside of many of these yoga and stretching apps is that they usually don’t have beginner (or stiff folk) modifications. After doing yoga (inconsistently) for years, I know how to adapt many of the moves, but this video had a few moves where I couldn’t do the move as shown (because of tight hips and quads), but had no idea how to revise it.

I did my best.

Also did a foam rolling routine from the app Move Well. There is nothing earth-shattering in this routine that would require an app, but I find that following it keeps me honest.

Left to my own devices, I don’t always do the move for the recommended 45 or 60 seconds. Following an app keeps me to a clock.


By California standards, this morning’s run was freezing – 39 as I left the house. Not the stuff of the Midwestern polar vortex, but super cold for us. I don’t have the gear for it if it gets much colder.

I was out walking a bit yesterday wearing my rain boots and managed to get blisters on both my heels. It didn’t bother me too much on the run, but it was a good reminder that historically, the things that have created issues for my running aren’t caused by my running (I broke my foot a few years ago while walking in street shoes). I need to pay more attention to my non-running activities (and get a new pair of rain boots I can wear without blisters).

I’m trying something new with my strength work this time around.

I’ve developed two little strength routines, made up of basic moves like lunges and squats. I added in a few push ups so I don’t totally ignore my upper body. The plan is to do one of the routines on Tuesday and the other on Thursday.

Today’s strength routine was a reminder of how long it’s been since I’ve done planks (I sense a theme for the week).


The last few Wednesdays, I’ve been doing two-a-day runs.

In the morning, I did my scheduled 7 miles. Today – an uneventful (in the best possible way) run from home to Jack London Square.

Then, in the evening, I did a night trail run.

I’ve been doing night trail runs this winter with the Oakland Triathlon Club. I usually don’t like trail running with a group, but between way-finding and safety, I’m not willing to run trails at night solo – even the most familiar trails look totally different at night.

This group does a lot of new to me trails. Sometimes they are winners, sometimes not so much.

Today’s route is not one I’ll be returning to. I don’t usually like trails that are all uphill all at once. This trail was uphill for 2 straight miles, so lots of walking for me. There were nice views of Oakland and San Francisco at the top, so at least there was some payoff for the long uphill.


As you’d expect, my run this morning (after two runs yesterday) lacked a little bit of oomph.

However, that is what I expected and is actually a good thing when training for endurance events. It’s good to get used to running on tired legs.

Today’s run qualifies for that.

Then- more strength work, doing my second little routine.

I really like the idea behind my two little strength routines. I think I’ll tweak the specific moves a bit for next week, but the general idea is a winner.


For nearly as long as I’ve been running, Fridays have been rest days, or at least non-running days.

This training plan won’t be any different. Not for any great training rationale, but just out of habit. It’s what my body and my mind knows, so I’ll stick with it.

I did the foam rolling video, and a long walk around lunch, but no running.


I’m a pace group leader for a local marathon training group, so for most of my Saturday long runs, I’m acting as a pacer and a coach. However, there was no group run this morning (most of the marathon trainees were doing a half marathon for race practice), so I was free to do whatever. I ended up going out to my go-to trail for distances – the Iron Horse Trail.

The running club will be doing this same trail next week (in the opposite direction), but since I had some post-run errands to do in the general direction, I figured I’d multi-task.

The plan was to do 18 miles, but I felt so good I took the chance to get in a few extra miles and ended up doing 21.

I felt great the whole time.

I can’t quite get my head around the idea that after all that running, I wasn’t even at the halfway point of a 50-mile race.

What exactly have I gotten myself into?


After a few days of rain, I knew pretty much every trail around was going to be a muddy mess, but I wanted to do a trail run today. So I woke up ready for mud and went out to my favorite middle-distance trail training run route – Briones Reservoir.

It was muddy (as expected), full of puddles and thick with rivers of rainwater runoff, but the day was perfect for it so I just accepted my shoes would be soaked and caked in mud (which they were within the first mile) and got on with it.

This trail is on property that is owned by the East Bay Municipal Utilities District. The trail is open to the public, but you need to have a permit to be on the trails. I have my permit and dutifully carry it on every run.

Today was the first time I ran into a trail official who asked to see my permit. I don’t know why it made me so happy to finally be able to flash my permit and prove I’m legit.

The plan was to do 14 miles, this loop is 13. Close enough. I don’t get too picky with distance when it comes to trails.

Week Overall

  • 100% with my strength goal!? I think that’s a first! While I’ll switch up the moves next week, the idea is a keeper.
  • 100% on daily foam rolling / mobility work!? Yeah me! On most days, I did the Move Well mobility foam rolling app, but on some days I did free form foam rolling or rolled out using The Stick (I don’t always mention it in the recaps since it gets repetitive).
  • This week’s 50-mile race research was focused on race logistics – actually registering (eek!), making hotel reservations, trying to figure out the race shuttle options. All the unsexy stuff that needs to get done- the sooner the better.

Next Week


PlanYoga5 miles
7 miles6 miles
rest20 miles13 miles
ActualNTC Mobility5 miles
7 miles6 miles
rest20 miles14 miles

Area of Focus

Study more about the specifics of the AR50 course. I know part of it is paved, part is single track. Most of the elevation gain is near the end of the course.

I want to dig a bit more into the course specifics and mimic them in training.

I also want to study up a bit more on the cutoff times and a few other pacing things so I can better sense of what I’m in for.


American River 50 Recap 1


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