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My name is Lauren Jones.  And I am on the road to “Becoming Ultra in 2016”.

I decided to blog about my journey to run my first ultra marathon distance, the
Rim to Rim to Rim in early November.  If you haven’t heard about this run it’s a doozy: 46ish miles, 11,000 feet elevation gain, down one side of the grand canyon up the other and back.

This decision came about as my husband and I were talking about New Years resolutions.  We were looking back through some old pictures and wistfully thinking about how adventurous our lives used to be.  We met on the highest chairlift in North American and spent our first years together snowboarding, mountain biking, rock climbing, backpacking, you name it around the world.   We needed something big to do in the new year to get that adventure back and what better than a long run in one of the most beautiful places in the world?

So we did it.  We announced to the world we would be taking on this endeavor and now we are committed.  As a part of holding myself accountable I will be posting weekly about training for My First Ultra!

leadville marathon pic
Scott and I at the finish line of the Leadville Marathon in 2010

Just a couple things you should know about me before we get started:

  •  I am not completely new to tough trail runs.  You could almost say that I thrive on adversity.  My first marathon was the Leadville trail marathon back in 2010 and then the Imogene pass run (17 miles, 7,000 vertical feet gain) in 2011 (when my first son was 5 months old).
  • Since then I haven’t done a ton.  I had a difficult pregnancy and delivery with my 2nd son in 2013 which left me unable to run for over a year!
  • I completed my first obstacle races last year and surprised myself by doing pretty well: a 2nd place finish for females in the open heat of the Breckenridge Spartan sprint (5.5 miles) and 3rd place for elite females in the Copper mountain Warrior Dash (3.2 miles) earning me a spot in the world championships in October.  I competed in that event and earned 31st place.  So in addition to training for this ultra run I will also be training to compete in a handful of OCR races on the elite level, my goal being a top 10 finish in the World championships in 2016.
  • obstacle image
  • I have my degree in exercise science and sports performance and minor in nutrition with various other certifications
  • Last year I was also diagnosed with 2 autoimmune diseases:  Hashimotos (thyroid disease) and Celiac disease so I am not only gluten free but on a very strict anti-inflammatory diet with a ton of medications and supplements I now need to take daily.
  • My husband and I balance working from home full time and watching our kids full time.  So these means at least 2 workouts a week with my boys in tow.  Time to get creative!
  • I have no idea how my body will react to endurance training.  I know that I don’t do well with high-intensity workouts and my body does not handle the heat very well.  It will be interesting to see how much I will be able to push myself with the conditions and dietary restrictions (like how to get enough calories in without going crazy!)

My basic goals for the posts:

  •  Share my training!  I will be posting a weekly recap of exactly what I did for my training
  •  Share my basic diet/nutrition.  I am still learning as I go but maybe what I discover along the way will help others who need to learn to train with dietary restrictions.
I love trail running with my boys, even in the snow!

So now here is the question:  How do I plan on training?

Well, first of all, I have a very specific philosophy when I train for events that is a little different than some of the mainstream thoughts on race training.   I want to feel amazing the entire run.  I want my body to know what to expect and to be confident that I can finish without problems.
So for me, this means running pretty close to the race distance at least once before the actual event.

I don’t like a lot of the coaching or training plans out there because they are structured is so that race day is the longest you will have ever ran.   To me that just sounds crazy!  Now I am talking mostly about runs under 26.2 miles.  I know that an ultra marathon is a whole other animal.  I know that a runner’s immunity is decreased after an ultra endurance event and that too much mileage in a short period of time is hard on the body.

However, I have 9 months to train.  Plenty of time to slowly build a base, increase the distance of my long runs and then time to taper back within a couple weeks of the run.

If I do the math here is what I am looking at:
Right now my long run is up to 10 miles.  If I just add 1 mile a week (well within the recommendation for 10-15% a week) with 42 weeks till the run I would be up to 52 miles for my long run!
My plan is to add 1-2 miles a week until I reach 30 miles, then add in 5 mile increments but stagger those longer runs with several weeks of shorter long runs in between until I can handle a 40-45 mile run.   The thought being to challenge my body, then back off for a couple weeks, then challenge it again with a greater stimulus.

Also, I plan on running only 4 days a week on average.  Yeah that’s right.   I know, this sounds crazy too right?  Well, it’s not.  I want to make sure I give my body the breaks it needs to recover, repair and rebuild so my plan is to spend the other days cross training.

I will be doing 2 strength workouts a week, 1-2 pi-yo classes a week and then mixing in some swimming, mountain biking and other fun stuff with 1 dedicated day off a week.   Some of my cross training will be devoted to building the skills and strength I need for my OCR events so this also means lots of monkey bars, pull-ups, bear crawls, carrying around heavy, awkward objects (like a sandbag, log or my kids!), and more fun stuff.

Bear Crawls are so much fun, even in the snow!

So that’s it for now.

Stay tuned for my first post at the end of the week with a recap of how my training went and thanks for joining along on this journey, I am so excited to get started!

– Lauren Jones  (aka “Ultra mama”)



Scott is the founder of Becoming Ultra and spends most of his time with his family and ideas to get people moving!