60 Weeks to Squaw Valley: 58 Weeks to Go

Bryon Powell kicks off his training for the 2011 Western States 100.

By on May 14, 2010 | Comments
Bryon Powell Western States 2005

The author after the 2005 WS 100.

A number of readers have asked what races I’m focusing on this year. The short answer is none. I will have no racing season in 2010 for the same reason that you have not read about my running in a long while: plantar fasciitis. I’ll get into the injury later. For now, I’ll announce one race that I am gearing up for – Western States 2011 – and that I hope to post an update on my preparation about every ten weeks unless there’s interest in more frequent updates closer to race time.

The Goal
Why am I focusing on a race that I got into a year and a half ago and won’t be running for over year? Three reasons. First, I’ve been injured for nearly half a year and have no interest in racing with the resultant lack of fitness. Second, with the lack of fitness and the lingering threat of injury I want a long term goal that both motivates me and allows for caution when needed. Finally, I’m genuinely excited about the race. In fact, it was excitement to train for the race that got me injured last November, a full 19 months before the race. Regardless, in my three previous goes at the race, I’ve run conservatively. Next time, I want to be in top form and to go for it from the gun.

The Injury
Some days I feel like a hypocrite when I’m working on iRunFar. Quite frankly, I don’t run far at the moment and haven’t for a long while. On the Monday before Thanksgiving, I went for an easy 10.5 mile run on a hilly course with my girlfriend. Afterward, I noticed a odd sensation in my left heel. I didn’t know what it was. The next day, I ran the same loop in my fastest ever time by quite a bit. The heel felt worse after the run, so I iced and took Wednesday off. On Thursday, American Thanksgiving, I decided to go for the run I had planned, a 40-45 mile run from our home in Midpines, California to Curry Village in Yosemite Valley by way of El Portal and Foresta. I figured I’d earn the feast that was awaiting me. I did and assured that my plantar fascia was toast.

The Status
In the half year since the onset of plantar fasciitis (PF), I’ve kept running. The PF has not hurt at any point since the initial onset all those months ago. However, the PF has often let me know that it’s not yet gone. I’ve routinely logged 25-35 miles on four to six runs per week. I did log a 59 mile week in mid-February followed by three weeks in the low to mid-40s. On the other hand, I’ve got a few weeks in the single digits or teens, including 4 miles last week. Beginning last Tuesday, I took seven days off in hopes that I’d feel better afterward. The time off didn’t help, so I’m back at it.

Bryon Powell Orcas Island

The lone picture I have of me running this year. Seriously. Photo by Glenn Tachiyama.

So far this year, I’ve run a whopping 570.5 miles. The 431 miles I put in during the first 13 full weeks of the year is the lowest seasonal mileage (I split my yearly log into 4 13-week seasons) since I started keeping a continuous log at the start of 2004. In addition, a not insignificant portion of those miles (maybe 50 to 75 miles) were actually me walking on snowshoes. I logged the miles as they’re a great workout, but it’s not running.

All in all, I’m in the worst shape I’ve been in in a long time. I consider myself to be back at square one. I can’t quickly jump up the mileage like I’ve been able to after taking it easy for a month or two. From here forward, my gains will be hard fought. It’s a good thing I have 58 weeks and 26 hours from the time I publish this until I start my journey from Squaw Valley to Auburn.

Bryon Powell Western States 100 2005

A reminder to myself that I was once fast.

The Outlook
As you can see, I’ve got a long way to go and have to be careful while doing it. In the short term, I’ve got two goals aside from consistent, healthy training: running the RothRock Trail Challenge (30k) near State College, Pennsylvania the first weekend in June and pacing Andy Jones-Wilkins at Western States at the end of June. To reach those goals, I’ll be adding progressively longer long runs on flat terrain at least once per week. I also need to go for one or two well-planned shorter runs on hilly routes with rest the following day. The remainder of my days will be filled with flattish 4-5 mile runs and more days off than I’m used to taking.

Aside from running, I’ll be working on a few other things. Of utmost importance will be continuing the rehabilitation of my plantar fasciitis and lower legs in general. That means stretching my lower legs, rolling my plantar fascia, strengthening my glutes, and doing a bit of core work. I’m also working on eating more healthfully and in more moderation. I’m not overweight at the moment, but I could ease my transition to fitness by trimming up more quickly than would happen solely by running higher mileage.

Looking a bit further out, I’d love to running 40+ miles weeks by early July. More important, I really want to be able to go for some long run in the mountains this summer. I can’t do that right now. Being in shape for an easy fastpacking trip come early fall would be great.

The Stats (as of May 13, 2010):

  • Miles logged through week 1: 21.8
  • Weight: 162.6
  • Body fat: N/A (will be included my once scale is fixed or replaced)
  • Resting heart rate (evening): 43 beats per minute

Ok, you’ve just had a window into my world. What do you think?

Bryon Powell Scotty Mills 2006 Western States 100

I hope to be here again around midnight sometime next June.

Bryon Powell

Bryon Powell is the Founding Editor of iRunFar. He’s been writing about trail running, ultrarunning, and running gear for more than 15 years. Aside from iRunFar, he’s authored the books Relentless Forward Progress: A Guide to Running Ultramarathons and Where the Road Ends: A Guide to Trail Running, been a contributing editor at Trail Runner magazine, written for publications including Outside, Sierra, and Running Times, and coached ultrarunners of all abilities. Based in Silverton, Colorado, Bryon is an avid trail runner and ultrarunner who competes in events from the Hardrock 100 Mile just out his front door to races long and short around the world, that is, when he’s not fly fishing or tending to his garden.