A resource for runners who like to suffer.
Getting ready for my first Pb. I'm not a night person at all and am probably most nervous about running through the night when my body is craving sleep. To that end, I'm starting to kick around the idea of adding 1-2 long night runs to my training each month til August. In the ballpark of 3-6 hours starting around 9-10pm.
Is this wise? Stupid? Am I just setting myself up to be overly tired for other training runs? Will my body just rise to the occasion on race day (night) and power through knowing I'm in a race? I've read a bunch about tips/tricks for staying awake, and I will have a pacer. I just haven't heard much about people training for that part of a 100.
Everyone is probably different so hopefully folks will give you a few different opinions.
Finished my first LT100 in 2010. I never concentrated on the night runs. Never even worried about it really. I did a single training run at night in Leadville with a group a few weeks out. We started at sunset and ran until midnight - 1 AM. That was it. Probably the best part of that was seeing how I liked my lights configured.
The night time during the race is sort of a welcome relief from the heat of the day.
Brandon - I was on that night run with you up in Pb last August. I really enjoyed the run (despite the cold rain) until about midnight. Then I fought hard the urge to sleep for the last 1.5 hours. The total darkness on the Boulevard didn't help! Maybe it was other factors that were making me so tired that night? Good point about relief from the heat.
Patrick - You're probably right. No need to punish myself too much. I guess I want to get to the point where the late night running is no big deal. The problem is that no training run I do will ever simulate the late night running experience at Pb.
I think doing 3-4 of the runs you described between now and race day would be good (though not 6 hours, more like 2-4, not enough to really take away from your other training). Plus it's a nice change to the routine to just head out and run after everyone is tucked in. I left home at 10pm last Saturday and got home a little after 1am, and really enjoyed it.
You did well at the night-time training run last year. It is a lot different on race day vs. just a handful of people out stumbling through the dark. Two years ago I did very little night training and had a pretty decent race. Last year I did quite a bit of night running and had an awful race. Not much correlation there.
One of the toughest things (for me) about Pb100 is the 04:00 start time. Running through the night is a lot harder when you have been up since 02:30 the previoius day (and if you're like me, pretty much zero sleep on that night). I think knowing the course from FH inbound really well is a huge help. It seems a bit easier if you know exactly how many false summits you have to hit on Powerline, and can mark your progress with all the little climbs and stream crossings along the lake.
Thanks for sharing your perspective Chris. I'm heading out tomorrow night for a long run since I have no other time to get it in this weekend. I'm looking forward to it because I'm going to try a totally different approach to nutrition and see what happens. If it bombs, at least I'm not blowing an amazing run in the mountains.
So the take-aways so far are: try to get in a few night runs, but don't sweat it; try to sleep the night before the race (unlikely) to minimize the effects of the early start; know the course well from FH inbound; feed off of the reality of being in a race and not on a training run.
I only did a couple of night-time runs before my Pb finish, but your biggest risk is the physical exhaustion and the hazards that result from darkness – not sleep deprivation. Specifically, slips, trips and falls. Your night vision is impaired by both fatigue and high-altitude. When you train at night, get a nice head lamp that you feel comfortable wearing and using. Identifying hazardous terrain is the primary goal. Clipping a rock, rut, or root is going to hurt you more than a need or desire to take a nap. The best defense against getting sleepy is a Red Bull or some other form of caffeine. Also, when you do practice using a headlamp, use the headlamp you will use on course. In addition to the headlamp, I have also used a small but powerful hand-held LED or mag-light or to help contrast the changes in terrain. All the lights bounce around, but when you have two at different levels, the lower light will cast a shadow that is not in your eyes line-of-sight. It helps to “illuminate” uneven terrain like rocks and roots that can otherwise become invisible to the headlamp.
Example: Turn off the lights in your garage and shine a light on your garage floor from about 4-feet high. What do you see? Then take the same light and lay it on the floor. You will see every imperfection, dust, rocks and anything else that casts a shadow. Same concept in the hand-held light…
I know this is not the question you asked, but I it is the bigger threat to night-time running. Every year I have run this course; there is ALWAYS someone who takes a header on the Dirt Road just south of the Boulevard heading towards Sugar Loafin Camp Grounds (3.5 miles into the course). This happens for two reasons, they are concentrating on runners in front of them, and also because the road is full of pot holes. You can’t always see the pot holes, but they are there. I run down the center of the road, between the pot holes. Yeah, I might get more puddles that way, but that is less of a threat than having my face torn up or worse. Good luck
Good stuff Clyde. Thanks. I run at night with a handheld light strapped to the back of my hand. I love this setup since it still allows my fingers freedom, but holds the light at the perfect level for running. I totally agree about the angle needed to cast shadows. Unfortunately, a headlamp doesn't work for me at all.
I got in a 5 hr trail run last night (8pm-1am). I can't say it was fun, but it was a good experience and probably the best one I've had for avoiding the sleepies. Around mile 25, I kicked a root the size of a thimble and went down...just barely catching myself with my hands. The trail was smoother than smooth...sheesh! I got to imagine an error like that inbound at Pb would result in a crash since your too tired save yourself.