Wednesday, May 3, 2023

Work, hobby, life balance


I honestly can't say that it wasn't the run that I planned because I really didn't have a detailed plan. My training is more of a big picture mileage/volume increase rather than specific planned daily runs. It didn't feel like the run I wanted in the moment. Sometimes it takes three attempts to get the run you hoped for. The first segment was during my boys' baseball games. I did some loops at the park between stops to check in and watch a bit of my 2 boys' games. It never felt good. My legs felt heavy and the run just felt altogether sluggish and broken. It was chilly and had a bit of rain. I just never felt fluid or happy during it. It felt forced. As it reached the end of their games, I stopped with 4.9 miles. The next segment was a 1 mile run with my son. We got home from his game and he wanted to do his 1 mile training run & I was happy to run with him. I felt chilled and sluggish to start, but started feeling really good & wanted to keep going after about a half mile but stopped with him when he was done after his mile. It was time to start prepping for the kids' bedtime. I debated whether to just call it for the day but I wasn't happy with less than 6 miles for the day. I figured I would just go out again for a quick two miles to hit 8 miles for the day and then call it. I pushed myself out to do it but before I hit the turn around point for a 2 mile run I realized I was finally feeling good about this broken up run while also realizing that if I did one yard (4.16 miles) I would hit 10 miles for the day. At that point it was decided. I would do 1 more yard. And with that 3rd segment of today's run I was happy with the run I got. I like to tell myself when I don't want to go out for a training run that I can always do 1 more yard, no matter how tired I am or how much I don't feel like going out. I sell it to myself as mental training for backyards because every interloopal period between yards is an opportunity to quit, to say "I'm not going back out" or "I'm done." It really was rather serendipitous how these broken up run segments played out to accumulate to a run I am really pleased with, probably more so than if I had the opportunity to just go out and do a solid 10 miles. Life is busy and balancing what I consider my important responsibilities and my desired training to achieve personal hobby goals is always a challenge. But how this group of run segments played out reinforced my belief that I'm handling it the best way possible.


Scott Snell

2 May 2023

April Monthly Mileage Check In


Scott Snell beast Coast Trail

Monthly Mileage check in! I ran 322 miles in April with 100 of them during a 24 hour trail race. My last run was very fitting for April. I was hoping for a break in the rain, but as the rain continued all day it seemed like my options were either run in the rain or not run at all. I chose the former. I ran into the storm and lo and behold I found the sun on my way home and brought it back with me. With my last full month of training build up for Capital Backyard Ultra complete, I am feeling great about where my fitness is and how this training block went. Now that I’m feeling mostly recovered from my 24 hour effort, I am becoming more confident that sneaking a race in before Capital was a good move. It served several purposes: to get my pre-race jitters and anxiety out of the way with a lower priority race, test my fitness level for a long effort, and to reintroduce me to the physical and mental challenges of overnight running during an endurance event so it is not such a shock to the system the first night of Capital. I pretty much always go into races, especially backyards, with high expectations, but this time around I feel even more prepared than I was at previous backyard starts. At this point, my plan is to stay healthy until race day and hope the days and nights go smoothly. 

1 May 2023

Scott Snell

Thursday, April 20, 2023

Preparing for a 24 hour - Taper Panicking

By the numbers, yesterday’s run wasn’t amazing for any reason. It wasn’t a tough work out. It wasn’t at a high intensity or a faster than normal pace. The distance wasn’t crazy long or even any farther than my average training run. I did not reach any significant milestones for the month, year, or the number of miles on my shoes. Barring all the things it was not, yesterday’s run was special. The numbers and data behind the run didn’t make it interesting or significant, but the feeling of it did. Which is exactly what I needed to feel ready and prepared for this weekend’s 24-hour trail race.

The day before after getting home from work I began to feel depleted, like my mind and body needed some time off. That isn’t the feeling I was hoping for halfway through my taper week leading up to what I expect to be a pretty hard effort for 24 hours. I caught myself sneeze a couple of times and my throat felt scratchy. I feared I may me getting sick as my son was still getting over a cold he picked up a couple of weeks ago. Waves of anxiety, panic, and anger all took turns floating to the surface of my emotions as I feared that this was going to be a repeat of my last race that I ended up running while still recovering from a cough/cold. That would most likely make this weekend’s race a total sufferfest. Although my wife has told me, “you’re the best sufferer,” that doesn’t mean that I seek out extra opportunities to suffer or actually enjoy it.

I decided that as soon as the kids’ extracurricular activities were over for the night, getting ready for bed and getting some rest was my number one priority. But shortly after we got home my son reminded me that we had run our 1 mile training run for the day yet. We had just started running a mile a day this week because he wanted to train for his school’s fitness challenge run. I honestly had forgotten about it for the night, but when he asked if I was ready, I couldn’t bail on him and say no. We got our headlamps and went out for our mile. Once finished, it was bedtime.

Yesterday didn’t seem like it was going to be a change in my mental outlook or physical health until I managed to get out for my run after getting home from work. My legs felt great! I was full of energy and truly happy to run after a day of feeling worn out. Most importantly though, it was the confidence booster I needed to be ready for a 24-hour effort. It resolved the taper week feelings of panic I was experiencing just the previous day. It set my headspace right to trust my training and know that I have done the work to be as prepared as possible for a challenging physical endeavor. It’s almost go time, and I am ready!

Scott Snell
20 April 2023

Saturday, April 1, 2023

March Monthly Mileage Check In


Monthly mileage check in! Yesterday's run brought me to just over 300 miles for the month and 800 for the year! I'm feeling good and excited for my first race of the year, a 24 hour trail race in April! My goal is to achieve what I set out to do there two years ago: set a new course record. I feel better prepared and am confident I will hit my goal as long as I have a decent day!

Why the 300 theme? Well other than the mileage significance, it is due to a comment I received at Keystone Backyard Ultra about my tent / aid station set up. After the race, I heard someone describe my set up as very "spartan." I took a bit of pride in receiving that comment and still think about it over two years later when I pack for backyard races. Let's go 2023! Always room for improvement!

Scott Snell
1 April 2023

Thursday, March 16, 2023

February Monthly Mileage Check In

Happy #MonthlyMileage check in! I wrapped up February with a little over 239 miles! February was about increasing the solid base I started building in January and maintaining consistency without abandoning non running aspects of my life. With a baby boy due to arrive this month to join our family of five, the non running aspects of my life are obviously pretty demanding. Add in an unexpected bout of kidney stones leading to a trip to the ER that my wife had to endure while about eight months pregnant, and it’s easy to see how my training could have fallen pretty far off track. Thankfully it didn’t and I was able to meet my mileage goals and still have a few days at the end of the month dedicated to a ski trip with my older boys, or we can call it cross training if preferred.

My average daily mileage increased from 8.30 in January to 8.55 miles per day in February. Only a 3% increase in average daily mileage, but I am thrilled with it given the circumstances over the past month. I am especially happy with my mileage and where I’m at right now this early in the year with my training because it already exceeds where I was last year in preparation to run Capital Backyard. Last April leading up to Capital, I averaged 8.37 miles per day. This year, a full two months out from Capital, I’ve already surpassed where my training was last year. This gives me some high hopes and big expectations for how my days go at Capital this year.

But before I start focusing on Capital, my more imminent goal is to better my performance and the course record at the Adventure Trail Run 24 Hour race. Given my training thus far this year and my current fitness level, I am more confident in reaching my goal of bettering the course record there than I was when I attempted to do the same two years ago. I believe it is mainly due to the focus I had on consistent training and building volume last year. I had a decent endurance foundation prior to last year, but my training was still primarily structured around long training runs. I got away from those last year and refocused on consistency to build volume. That meant less recovery days for me and an overall increase in volume. I tested out the “brick by brick” training ideology and would say based on my results so far I am a subscriber. I feel like the long training run loses training value as you progress as an ultrarunner. They’re great for testing fueling options and improving mental toughness but after a few years of ultrarunning you tend to get fueling that works for you figured out and mental toughness develops and is refined over time. Therefore, my long runs are pretty much reserved for races, at least for the time being. We’ll see how that training regimen works for the 24 hour race format, but it has served me well in the backyard format so I intend to continue using it.

Scott Snell
16 March 2023

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

A Healthy Mix of Joy and Fear

Scott Snell beast Coast Trail Running

Big's Backyard was the first race to break me. Although it didn’t do it single handedly; it had a pretty helpful assist from the cold I came down with about a week before the race. It was a culmination of events and circumstances that led to me succumbing and ending my race shortly after beginning the third night of running. Immediately and for several weeks after I wasn’t sure I would go back or if I even wanted to, but now I’m certain. I hope to be back at Big's this fall, better prepared mentally and physically. And hopefully in better health as well. When I think about going back I’m filled with a healthy mix of joy and fear.

The phrase “healthy mix of joy and fear” was one that I spouted off on a whim recently. One of the scout leaders from my oldest son’s den was congratulating me as my wife and I are expecting a new baby boy soon. Maybe I didn’t gush with as much excitement as I should have and he said to me a bit sarcastically about how thrilled I look. I replied with, “yeah, I’m excited. It’s a healthy mix of joy and fear.” Later I realized that is exactly how I feel about going back to Big’s as well.

I believe the joy stems from the opportunity to have a second crack at Big’s to do better; second chances are never guaranteed so I am grateful for the opportunity. Last year I was so dead set and focused on Big’s that I feel like I built it up to be more than it actually was, like it was a once in a lifetime opportunity and no one ever goes back for a second attempt. Not that I all of a sudden don’t think that running at Big’s isn’t a big deal. It’s just that now I recognize that it was not a one time shot, that I may have several years of running Big’s with the national team format and in the strictly individual world competition format. In a way, it seems that strictly focusing on Big’s last year took away from the joy of the experience and made it feel like an impossible task. With what I hope to be my second chance at Big’s this year, I not only want to have a better performance but also want to enjoy the process.

The fear emanates from having experienced Big’s and having been broken by the backyard race format. Like I said earlier, I don’t think the race format alone broke me but it was the cumulative effect of the cold I was battling unrelated to the exhaustion and sleep deprivation which were directly induced by the race format. Top all of that with a severe drop in temperature and some strong gusting winds going into the third night and I was done. I’ve now experienced how quickly things can go from bad to worse and over so quickly in this race format and that is scary. It’s so scary because like second chances, there are no guarantees in the backyard format. Any runner, no matter how talented and resilient, can have a bad hour and sometimes that’s all it takes to end your race in the backyard. That is why I have a great deal of respect for the format; because it can humble anyone with little to no notice. I look forward to facing that specific fear that wasn’t there last year when I ran Big’s. I’ll still go into the race with high expectations for myself as I feel confidence is a key to success in backyards but this time with a bit more fear and respect for how quickly a race can fall apart and be over.

Scott Snell
15 March 2023

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

January Monthly Mileage Check In

Happy Monthly Mileage check in! I started the first month of the year with 257 miles! January was about building a solid base for me. And not just a solid base of mileage, but also a solid training mindset and a solid base of healthier habits to support and improve my training.

The base of healthier habits are varied, but the focus has been to supplement training runs with more cross training activities when the opportunity presents itself. If I’m staring at my screen with writer’s block at work I hit the pull up bar for a quick set. If I’m watching a show with the kids I throw in a few sets of crunches by the couch to break up the inactivity. When I finish a paragraph I do a quick set of burpees before I give it a final read through and move on. These are all just small cross training activity opportunities I have not taken advantage of regularly in the past.

Another focal point of healthier habits for me is sleep. In the past, I have mostly sacrificed getting a quality night of sleep due to late nights snacking and binge watching. What starts as just watching one episode turns into a three hour binge watching session and only five hours of sleep leaving me feeling groggy and depleted the following day. And if there was any alcohol involved (which I’ve pretty much discontinued altogether at this point), multiply the depleted feeling by about 10 or so. The best way for me to avoid extended binge watching sessions and ensure a good night’s sleep is to not start them.

I am focusing on consistency and volume for my training again this year as I did last year. It seemed to work really well for me last year; I never felt completely burned out or like I needed to take time off from training, I experienced no serious injuries or persistent, nagging pains, and I enjoyed and looked forward to my training runs. On top of all of that, I would say that the results were pretty good as well with two backyard race performances of over 60 hours. With 257 miles (an average of 8.3 miles per day) to start the first month of the year, I am starting with a base volume of about where I was in April last year (8.37 miles per day average) going into Capital Backyard Ultra. This is very promising for me and gives me hope that this year will be even better than last!

Scott Snell
2 February 2023