About my blog

Welcome to my trail running site. I enjoy being on the trail where I can take in nature and clear my mind. I prefer running in the mountains, but anywhere rural will do. I have completed four 100 mile trail races and many other ultramarathons. I spend countless hours running in the Franklin Mountains in El Paso, TX. I call it "going to church". I'm a member of Team Red, White and Blue. "Enriching the lives of America's veterans."

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Back-To-Back Long Runs

Training for a 100 mile trail race is a daunting task so I have enlisted the help of a coach and a personal trainer. Because we manage on a shoestring budget, I have had to get very creative to make this happen. I will tell you more about that later, but for now, I’ll give you an idea of how I’m getting ready to run some serious mileage on some rugged trails.

The Lost Dog Trailhead, El Paso TX (His name is "Lucky")

My trainers have started me on a regimen of back-to-back (B2B) long runs on the weekends. I’m running anywhere from 20-25 miles on Saturday followed by a run of 12-15 miles on Sunday; the idea being to simulate what it feels like late in an ultramarathon when your legs are shot.

These runs are not about speed, but simply for time on your feet and are run on the type of terrain you will experience on race day. They also give you the opportunity to try out different foods and drinks to see what your stomach can tolerate when you are running all day.

Sierra Vista Trail Run, April 20th, 2013
Last week I went out to the desert with a friend and ran about 25 miles along the Sierra Vista Trail which connects the Organ and Franklin Mountains between El Paso, TX and Las Cruces, NM. On a side note; a full and half marathon race will be held on this trail on April 20th with a registration fee of a mere $1.00 per mile and if you are a 5 mile type of runner, you can actually run for free so you have no excuse to not run this beautiful course.

(Registration: Sierra Vista Trail Runs)

Anyway, back to the back-to-back. The day after my 25 mile run I ran another 13 miles in the Franklin Mountains to make sure I got some good climbing in. I made it up to Mundy’s Gap, about 6000 ft, on tired legs which is what I will have to do when I run the San Diego 100 Mile Endurance Run this June along the Pacific Crest Trail. In addition to long runs on the weekends, my trainer has me running 6-10 miles on trails near my neighborhood throughout the week.

Did you say bacon?
Personal trainers are responsible for motivating their clients, making dietary recommendations and developing an individual fitness program (IFP) based on the needs of the athlete. My trainer, Lucy, never stops whining at me until I get out the door for a run (motivation), recommends that I eat bacon at every meal (diet) and thinks chasing jack rabbits in the desert is the best workout for me (IFP). I wouldn’t say Lucy is the best trainer in the world, but she works for a few bowls of kibble and the occasional pat on the head which is a far cry cheaper than the $75 per hour that a real trainer charges.

Cara's creations. Aren't they cute?
My coach, on the other hand, is the brainchild of my wife, Cara. She has been learning how to crochet from the Stitch ‘N Bitch; aka “The Happy Hooker” (I don’t make this stuff up) and has been making some little yarn critters for our two year old, Maddie. 

Easter is just around the corner.

Anyway, I asked her (Cara, not the hooker), “How ‘bout making me a running man?” Well she took on the challenge and fashioned a coach that I affectionately refer to as Crocheted Running Man. He’s not much help in my training, but instead enjoys riding in my pack on all my running adventures. 

Always tell someone where you are going.
Crocheted Running Man gettin' it done!
Stretching out before he gets back in my pack.
So, in reality, I’m mostly on my own with all my training needs, but am fortunate to have some loyal training partners to share the misery with. Local running club members have been meeting in the early mornings for various trail runs which is a huge help to me. I’ve also turned to the World Wide Web and found some helpful tips. Since everything you read on the internet is true maybe chocolate covered bacon isn’t so bad for you after all. Wouldn’t you agree?

Texas Rainbow Cactus
But seriously, I have found a few sites that have a wealth of information on how to train for and run ultramarathons. David Hanenburg's site, Endurance Buzz, features interviews, reviews and articles by experienced trail runners. Stan Jensen’s Run 100s is a good site for finding the race that’s right for you and Kevin Sayer’s UltRunR is chock full of training tips and advice on everything from nausea to chafed nipples. 

Despite all this nonsense, my training is going well and my B2B long runs are paying off. Next weekend I’ll be running my favorite race, the Bataan Memorial Death March, to honor our veterans so check back for a complete race report. 

See you on the trail.


  1. Sounds about the right approach Greg - back to back on tired legs. 13 miles with 6000ft ascent is good going though - keep it up.
    Love the personal trainer tips (works for the occasional bowl of kibble!) I think I need one of those too :-)
    Keep well.

  2. Thanks Richard. Good luck at MDS! I can't wait to hear about that one.

  3. Glad to know the backstory behind Crocheted Running Man, it appears that he is a heck of a good coach. If I ever start training for an ultra, I might need a recommendation from CRM for my coach.

  4. Thanks Jim, he comes cheap. Just let me know when you need his services. Congrats on your Bataan finish!