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Sunday, April 24, 2022

Capital Backyard Training - One Month Out



Capital Backyard Ultra, which I fully intend to be my longest distance run ever, is only about a month away. This means that the beginning of my taper period is less than a month away and that the longest training plan I have ever used is coming to an end. This training block has been the most gradual, consistent, and intentional training I have ever submitted myself to following. Probably even more so than the plans I used for my first marathon and hundred mile distance races, which were basically the only times I used and followed a training plan. Even in those situations, I didn’t follow the plan verbatim; I used them more as an outline to follow. My plan to prepare for Capital Backyard has been similar. I don’t have specific daily mileage runs at certain effort levels. The whole purpose of the plan I came up with and decided to follow was to build an increased base for sustained endurance gradually without injuring myself.

How did I go about that? It was a pretty simple idea and plan altogether. I took my December running mileage and calculated my average daily mileage for the month (5.94 miles/day). Now, the plan was to just run a higher average daily mileage in January and continue to increase that daily average for February, March, and April. There are no rest days built in, no built in cross training days, no scheduled long runs or speed workouts. None of that typical training plan stuff that a coach would probably include. It has been more or less all based on feel and how my body is reacting and when it is ready to be pushed, using that average daily mileage figure as the target. November and December were supposed to be my “off season” or recovery months after last year’s racing, but we had a pretty mild winter and I really didn’t cut back on running as much as I had intended, so my starting base mileage for this training plan was greater than I originally thought it would be. I thought this might spell trouble for me when trying to incrementally build my mileage each month, but I’ve been able to hit all of my monthly mileage goals thus far without a great deal of difficulty.

Training mileage so far...

That’s not to say there haven’t been a few speed bumps and challenges along the way. Life happens and schedules become disrupted, but I believe if you’re committed to a goal you’ll adapt and find a way to make it happen. My family went through a one and a half week bout with a stomach flu in January. Snowstorms made it difficult to get out for runs on multiple occasions. Most recently, a case of colds and sinus congestion made their rounds through our household which we still have a few lingering symptoms from and are in what I hope are the final stages of recovery. Through all the challenges, the goal never felt out of reach.

Now that the training is nearly complete, the question remains as to whether it was ever a good plan at all. The backyard racing format is still in its infancy. There is a wealth of data to support the science of good and bad training for most race distances. This is not the case for the unique structure, demands, and strategy of the backyard race format. Whether this plan I followed was good or bad will not be determined until the end of Memorial Day weekend when my race at Capital Backyard Ultra is concluded. I am confident and excited for the race. I have high hopes for my day there. I am excited to run through two consecutive nights. I intend to PR my greatest distance ever run and finally surpass that 200 mile distance milestone then continue to see how much farther I can go before breaking. The ultimate goal is to be the last person standing; that is the point of the race. The “B” goal for me is to push until I break, to never quit, but time out on a lap due to sheer exhaustion and inability to continue the required pace. If I achieve either of those goals, I believe it will provide some validation to my training plan.




Scott Snell
24 April 2022

Monday, April 4, 2022

Capital Backyard Training - Month Three - March





March has come and gone, but training doesn't stop! I hit 244.65 miles in March for a daily average of 7.89 miles. I am right on track for my four month training plan to build up my mileage to prepare for what I hope to be a distance PR (over 150 miles) for me at Capitol Backyard Ultra. My training in March went super smooth. I was a little under my target daily mileage average for the first three weeks, but I knew I had a 42 mile run to celebrate my birthday on my schedule for the third weekend of the month. I was sure that long run would pull my average above my target and it certainly did as I comfortably increased in daily mileage from February to March by 5.64%.



Now I just have to do it again in April then sneak in a long run in early May and it will be time to roll into a taper. I was uncertain about attempting this type of mileage build up as a training plan in January, but with only a month and a half of training time left, everything is going splendidly and I am confident I’ll hit the mileage goal (a higher average daily mileage than March) I have set for April! With hard work and dedication, goals can be reached. Look out Capital Backyard; I’m going to be ready!




Scott Snell
April 4, 2022










Thursday, March 24, 2022

St. Jude Fundraising Success and a Happy Birthday Run




I am so happy and excited to report that my fundraising effort for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital® has been a complete success this year! Thanks to the generous donations of friends and family, we have raised nearly $600 through the St. Jude Heroes program and I couldn’t be happier about it. I am so grateful to everyone for their contributions!


This success is in stark contrast to last year’s fundraising effort. Last year I ran three events (a birthday 41 miler, Adventure Trail 24 Hour, and Keystone Backyard Ultra) and incorporated a fundraising component. After the three running and fundraising efforts, I came up short of my fundraising goal so I donated a portion of my cash prize from Keystone Backyard Ultra to reach my fundraising goal of $250. This year my fundraising goal was exceeded after the first running event I had lined up, my birthday 42 mile run.


And for an extra thick layer of icing on the cake, my 42 mile birthday run went really well, but not without a few challenges along the way. First off was a small change of plans due to some less than pleasant and potentially dangerous weather. I had planned to run the bulk of the 42 miles on a stretch of the Appalachian Trail in Pennsylvania. However, leading up to the Saturday I had planned to run, the weather forecast was predicting showers and potentially severe thunderstorms. I decided to push my run back one day and run on some local trails instead when the weather forecast looked better. Well, Saturday arrived and what I expected to be a rainy washout of a day was a beautiful, sunny day. I decided to make hay while the sun was shining and headed out to run early in the afternoon after the threat of thunderstorms was nil.



An additional challenge was also weather related. Getting a later start than I had planned, the bulk of my run was during the warmest part of the day and it was a pretty warm mid March day with highs reaching the low 70’s. The local trails I run on are only a few miles from home for me, so I figured I’d wear my hydration vest, return home once to refill and then finish the bulk of my 42 miles on the trail. Well, I made it to 22 miles when I stopped to refill my bottles, but I ran through my fluids much more quickly during the second half of my run. With seven miles left and no fluids, I decided it was time to head home and refill. With only about five miles left to go after my second refill stop, I decided to just finish my run on roads around my neighborhood. Although I planned to do more on trails, overall the run was a nice mix of roads and trails. Not to mention, it felt good to get a faster road mile in at the end.

A final challenge that had to be faced during this run was the fact that it had been a decent amount of time since my last long run. My last LONG run was at the Last Squatch Standing at the end of August 2021, over six months ago. I had run a few runs around or slightly over 20 miles since then, but nothing where you get to that exhaustion point when your brain says “quit” and you have to mentally overcome the desire to stop. It is a real mental challenge that seems to me to be more manageable when it is familiar. In other words, I find it’s harder to run long distances if it’s been awhile since I’ve run a long distance. Thankfully, I was able to reacquaint myself with my old frenemy and see my run through to its end.


This was my running my second consecutive year of running my age in miles to celebrate my birthday. For me, this is a fun way to celebrate being alive. It also is a great way to get an early, easy paced long run in to kick off the training season. For those reasons, I intend to celebrate my birthday this way every year as long as I am still capable.




Scott Snell
March 24, 2022




Learn more about my fundraising goal here: https://www.beastcoasttrailrunning.com/2022/02/2022-st-jude-heroes-fundraising-campaign.html




Direct link to St. Jude donation page: https://fundraising.stjude.org/site/TR/Heroes/Heroes?px=6955516&pg=personal&fr_id=130587



Friday, March 11, 2022

My Cure For Training Slumps: Trail Run Your Way Out of Them


 


Have you ever experienced a perfect or near perfect training build up without any setbacks or obstacles along the way? If so, consider yourself lucky because it is a pretty rare occurrence. Even the most goal oriented and motivated people can find themselves caught up in a training slump. Everything can be going along swimmingly and according to plan, but life happens and unforeseen challenges completely out of our control present themselves. I’m currently working my way through a bit of a training slump at this point as I build to prepare myself for whatever distance I end up running at Capital Backyard Ultra.

I’m about midway through my 4.5 month training plan for what I consider my biggest race ever. There have been a few challenges along the way that could have derailed or significantly set back my training. My family had a bout of the stomach flu for about a week of January. There have been bad weather days that made getting out to get the training miles extra challenging. Up until this past week though, I have recognized the challenges, adapted, and overcome them. As much as I hate to admit it, the cold/congestion I’ve been dealing with for a little over the last week has hit me the hardest.

I got taken down by a bad cold for a couple days and the sinus congestion and runny nose that has ensued has really tested my will to train. I've still pushed myself out the door to get at least a few easy miles, but I haven't enjoyed it and it's not the way I want to train. I'm questioning if I'm exaggerating the impacts of the cold by not just resting, but I don't want to lose fitness in the middle of my training.


*Trail Run Break*


Well I got out for a trail run tonight and it was the best run I've had in over a week. I still have some congestion, but the sinus headache is gone and my energy level seems to be almost back to normal. Apparently the cure for a training slump is a quality trail run! There's something magical about going out for a trail run a little before sunset this time of year. The trail is soft underfoot extensively cushioned with pine needles. The spring peepers are out singing. Suddenly, the last fading hues of orange and red sunlight are nearly gone beyond the horizon. Gradually everything fades to shades of gray and it becomes necessary to turn the headlamp on. Almost shockingly, the entire universe seems to contract instantaneously to be contained within the range of the light emitted from my lamp. And that is the extent of my world for the remainder of the trail run. The seemingly endless universe returns as I exit the canopy of the trail and the night sky and stars become visible again. A feeling that reminds me of hurtling through a void of space envelopes me as I adjust to my new environment. The foot falls are different on the pavement now. The air and lighting is different here. It's all changed. For the last couple miles I run under the dim moonlight grateful for the clear night sky and the many stars on display.




Scott Snell
March 11, 2022

My latest vlog ⤵️ 
























Wednesday, March 2, 2022

Capital Backyard Training - Month Two - February





I am already approaching the midway point of my training for Capital Backyard. February’s training went much more smoothly with less speed bumps and worries than January’s training. My only concern during February was that I was overtraining and that I could peak or burn out too soon. Hopefully that doesn’t happen, but so far so good. My training plan to match or exceed my monthly daily mileage average from the previous month until May is working well. I have exceeded my target marks for January (6.19 miles/day) and February (7.47 miles/day). Now I only have two full months of mileage build up left before rolling into a taper period in May.
 

My primary motivation to keep this train on the tracks and continue this training regime is to earn a place on the US International Backyard Team and run at Big’s Backyard this October. With this goal in mind, I will continue to put in the effort and hopefully have the best performance possible come May!



Scott Snell
March 2, 2022




Thursday, February 10, 2022

2022 St. Jude Heroes Fundraising Campaign


Well, at this point I’m well into my training for my first race of the year and only a little over a month out from my birthday run I will use to kick off my St. Jude Heroes fundraising campaign. This year, like last year, I am attempting to fundraise for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital® again through the St. Jude Heroes program. My plan is to basically do what I did last year and hope for better results. Like last year, I’ll kick it off again with a celebratory birthday run where I run my age in miles (42). I’ll follow that up by asking for per mile pledge donations for the races I run this year. If you would like to support my fundraising efforts, you can help in many ways even if you aren’t able to make a financial contribution. Just share this blog post through your social media platforms to help spread the word and hopefully find additional donors. If you are able and choose to, donations can be made at my St. Jude Heroes fundraising page. Want to pledge a per mile donation based on how far I run at the Capitol Backyard Ultra? Fill out this Google form and donate when the results are posted. Want to learn more about this fundraising effort? Check out this blog post to learn more about this and my past fundraising attempts.

Thank you for any and all support!

Scott Snell
February 10, 2022



Tuesday, February 1, 2022

Capital Backyard Training - Month One - January




Best Coast Trail Running Scott Snell


I am officially in training mode for Capital Backyard and am right on track where I want to be with 192 miles for January after today's run! My training plan is to use December's mileage as my baseline and match or exceed my monthly mileage from the previous month until May. I hit that target for January even with record breaking snowfall and a week long bout of the stomach flu in our household. I wasn't sure if it was going to happen with those extra challenges, but I managed to keep this train on the tracks. Three more months of training with tentative monthly mileage goals then it will be time to run some yards before I know it. I am psyched! My only worry is that I may have started out too hard. I question whether I can keep the momentum and energy going for the next 3.5 months. I fear I may burn out in March or April. Earning a place on the US International Backyard Team to run at Big’s Backyard this October is a big goal which requires a big effort. No other way to do it other than to put in the work and grind!

The plan.




Scott Snell
January 31, 2022














Thursday, January 20, 2022

2022 Goals… Errrr...I mean goal. As in Singular.



What are my goals for 2022? I should rephrase that. What is my goal for 2022? Earn a place on the 15 person USA Big Dog’s Backyard Ultra Satellite Team. That’s pretty much it. Pass or fail. All or nothing. A singular goal.

Of course there are building blocks to reach that goal. I’ll run plenty of training workouts, incorporate cross training, and have distance goals for long runs. But I’m not looking at those as goals in themselves. For me, at least this year, those are just stepping stones or progress markers towards achieving the goal.


How does one earn a place on the USA Big Dog’s Backyard Ultra Satellite Team this year? Well, there's a couple ways to get a spot. One is to win a silver ticket backyard race (currently six of them). The other way is through the “at large entry” route, which basically means run one of the top 9 backyard performances (outside of the winners of the silver tickets) in the US and apply for entry. As of now, a top 9 performance is right around 40 yards or 166 miles. I'm registered for Capital Backyard (a silver ticket race), so the plan is to win there or at least do well enough to have a solid shot at the “at large entry” route. We'll see what the day brings… If I fail to secure a spot there or think that my “at large entry” route chances aren’t good based on whatever distance I run, I’ll look into other backyard races to better my chances of getting in via the “at large entry” route.
                                    
Although I only have a single running goal for the year, that doesn’t mean I don’t have other goals I hope to achieve this year. One of which I will mention here since I am incorporating it into my running habit. This year, like last year, I am attempting to fundraise for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital® again through the St. Jude Heroes program. I will basically do what I did last year and hope for better results. I’ll kick it off again with a celebratory birthday run where I run my age in miles (42). I’ll follow that up by asking for per mile pledge donations for the races I run this year. If you would like to support my fundraising efforts, donations can be made at my St. Jude Heroes fundraising page. Want to pledge a per mile donation based on how far I run at the Capitol Backyard Ultra? Fill out this Google form and donate when the results are posted. You can learn more about my past fundraising attempts in this blog post.

Thank you for any and all support!



Scott Snell
January 20, 2022






Friday, January 14, 2022

Stomach Flu and DISCIPLINE




At first glance, nothing about this run looks special. Maybe "special" is a poor word choice; every run, no matter how routine or average is special in the sense that you're out there running. You're physically capable of that act and mentally motivated enough to do it which in itself is special. So let me rephrase that opening statement. At first glance, nothing about this run looks out of the ordinary. It was a common route and distance for me at a relaxed pace. What makes it "special" for me is the fact that it came at the tail end of about a week of my household being plagued with a case of the stomach flu. Of the five of us, only one managed to avoid vomiting. I spent the week leading up to this run cleaning up vomit, caring for my vomiting kids and wife, and doing my own share of vomiting. 

It felt like yesterday everybody was back to good health and we were finally returning to normal activities; which meant I could pick back up on running after a short hiatus. It would have been so easy to give myself an excuse to not run last night. 

We'd all been sick for a week. 
I needed another day to recover. 
Take your pick.

It was busy day between work, helping the kids with homework, and running them to extracurricular activities; I was ready to call it a night by the time I got the kids fed and ready for bed. It was after 9. I asked myself "are these just excuses? How bad do you want a spot at Big's?" The answers were "yes" and "bad enough to go run tonight." 

Oftentimes, your mind will happily justify the easy path, but it is a short lived victory. And for me, when I allow and accept that seemingly valid reason to not get after it, in retrospect, I usually regret it. Because I usually realize the main factor determining whether you get after it or not isn't extenuating circumstances. It's DISCIPLINE. Only you can gift yourself with discipline and either you have it or you don't.

Scott Snell
January 14, 2022







Wednesday, January 5, 2022

2021 Goals Check




It’s January and the deadline to achieve my 2021 running goals has come and gone. Here’s what I accomplished and the targets I missed.

At my last goal status check, I had already checked two boxes on my running goals list for this year and they were the two targets that I most wanted to complete successfully. Those two goals were (1) to test myself and see what I am capable of at a 24 hour timed event (Adventure Trail Run) and (2) to PR my greatest distance run. Since then, I further improved my distance PR from 129 miles at the inaugural Keystone Backyard Ultra to 150 miles at the inaugural Backyard Squatch at the end of August.

I never attempted the 12 minute aerobic fitness test. After looking at some of my run data, I could see just based on faster paced training runs I was going to fall into the fittest category of the fitness test. It seemed pointless to me to do the 12 minute test of running as hard as I could to prove it. So I chucked that goal away as a poorly planned goal to begin with. I may attempt it this year earlier in the year so I can compare multiple test results throughout the year. The interest is no longer in seeing what fitness category I fall in, but whether I remain consistent during the year.

My long term project and goal to run every single street of Egg Harbor Township still hasn’t increased in appeal to me since my last status check for all of the same reasons: I would rather do my long runs on trails and I don’t want to go out of my way to run on busy roads with high speed traffic. For those reasons, that entire project has more or less been put on the shelf.

The final goal (FKT attempt) was more dependent on what race opportunities present themselves and I jumped at the chance to run Backyard Squatch rather than an FKT. I am getting some more solid ideas that have me excited and looking into planning a longer distance FKT attempt sometime in 2023. Why the delay? Because my primary running goal for 2022 is already decided: Big’s or Bust!


Scott Snell
January 5, 2022