Training for Pine Creek

I’m now tapering for my second attempt at the Pine Creek Challenge 100k in lovely Pennsylvania.

My training got off to a slow start, or it felt like it did, but I managed the mileage increases pretty well and finished all the long runs and here I am with no injuries and in a good mental state.

Training Plan

I started with the same plan I used in 2015, which is a plan from Relentless Forward Progress that I altered for four-day running weeks. Because of a two-week vacation in the middle of the summer, I rearranged the long runs and completed the longest of the cycle (31.5 miles) a week earlier than last time. I had long runs of 28 miles in the weeks before and after that long run, instead of dropping down immediately. It felt comfortable to do it that way and we’ll see if it makes a difference on race day.

Strength Training

This time around I scrapped all my usual physical therapy exercises that I’ve been doing over the years to prevent issues with my hips. I’ve been doing a shorter regimen that includes core work, plus lunges, squats, and some exercises targeted at knees and IT bands. I’ve also been stretching more and incorporating some light yoga a few times a week. I’ve completed all my long runs with no IT band, or hamstring, OR hip problems. I am calling this change a huge success just for that. It has been years since my hips have felt normal, running or not.


I always say I would love to eat to run, but I run to eat. This is still true. However, over the summer I’ve reduced carbs by about two thirds and added in more protein and fat. I didn’t lose as many pounds as I often do during a long training cycle, but I’ve felt good the whole time and that counts for something.

I’ve also been taking a low-dose iron tablet five days a week instead of trying to remember to take a regular dose twice a week.


I’ve pretty much completely switched over from Altra to Topo for road shoes. Once a week I rotate in either Paradigm or Intuition 3.5, but the rest of my runs are in Topo Ultrafly. The wide toebox on an otherwise traditional shoe is definitely the combination that works for me. I suspect they are contributing to the running success I’ve already mentioned.

I’ve been running more than two years with an Ultraspire Astral hydration pack, that has started falling apart over the past few months. After running for several months with a Salomon pack for commuting, I’m sold on their vests, so I’ve recently replaced the Astral with a Salomon S/Lab Sense Ultra 5. I will have a longer review of that later on, but I can already say I am going to really like the feel of it and the storage options.

The darkness of northern Pennsylvania FREAKED. ME. OUT. in 2015. This time I’m going equipped with an 1800-lumen headlamp and a 500-lumen headlamp. (And probably old 150- and 350-lumen headlamps.) That’s about 1700 more lumen than I had last time. I hope to look like there is a car headlight strapped to my head.

And a side note: I’ve made the full switch from SmartWool socks to Balega. The last few pair of SmartWool I’ve bought lasted just a few runs before getting holes. The Balega are soft and hold their shape.

Wrap Up

I’m as ready as I’m going to be. I could have run farther and longer, I could have lifted more weight and stretched more, I could have eaten better and slept more soundly, but here I am and I feel pretty good. I’m ready for Pine Creek.

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