Blog

April 26, 2021

A course strategy – and overall race strategy – is a must for optimal performance on race day. Whether this is your first REVEL race, and your goal is simply to finish, or you are a REVEL veteran aiming for a PR or BQ, you should have a well-planned strategy for how you intend to manage the REVEL Wasatch course!

The head coach of REVEL’s Online Coaching Program, who has run a Boston Qualifier in all the REVEL marathons he has run (25 of them), has prepared a detailed description of the Wasatch Marathon and Half-Marathon courses.

Managing the Course Based On Segments

A critical component of your race strategy is the course profile itself. Where are the sharp descents? Where are the climbs? Where does the course “flatten” a bit?

You want to plan your race with course segments in mind, and with an overall strategy for varying paces throughout. Your varied paces will be dictated by the elevation losses and gains, and you want to know before the race where those variations will occur.

Generally, the REVEL Wasatch Marathon course can be divided into five sections:

Miles 1-3: Slow 3

Miles 4-8: Fast 5

Miles 9-17: Settle in for 9

Miles 18-23: Steady 6

Miles 24-F: Flat 5K Finish

Similarly, REVEL Wasatch Half-Marathon course can be divided into three sections:

Miles 1-4: Fast 4

Miles 5-10: Steady 6

Miles 11-F: Flat 5K Finish

You can study the courses yourself on the REVEL website. You can zoom in, use the interactive elevation chart, and get a feel for what lays ahead of you on race day. If possible, you should drive the course before race day to get a feel for what the segments look and feel like. Knowing what to expect, and when, is helpful when preparing your course strategy.

The marathon and half-marathon courses are summarized below based on the segments described above.

The Marathon Course

Miles 1-3: Slow 3

Starting at more than 7,700’ elevation, the first 3 miles of the course are challenging, but with proper planning and strategy you can manage the slowdown that you almost certainly will experience here.

The first mile of the race gains 37’ of elevation, which is not significant but is enough to slow you down at the high altitude. The course continues to climb another 172’ almost to mile 3 (the climbing ends around mile 2.8 as the course starts to descend before the mile 3 marker).

Allow yourself to slow down in these climbing miles, especially at the high altitude. You still have many miles to go, and you want to conserve your energy for the miles ahead, which include some remarkably fast and markedly downhill sections.

Miles 4-8: Fast 5

Over the distance of the next 5 miles, you will lose 1,114 feet. That is an average of 223’ per mile, with a downhill grade of -4.2% overall.

Resist the urge to chase people if they pass you. Let gravity pull you along at a comfortably fast pace. Early in this section you might feel a bit winded from the elevation (altitude), but you should not feel as if you are running “too hard” or “too fast.” If you do, then you should ease back a bit and aim for a “comfortably hard” pace.

Keep in mind that there are some short climbs in this section. You will see them if you drive the course before the race, and you will feel them when you run the course. These climbs will slow you down a bit, but your overall pace in those sections will still be faster than what you encountered in the climbs inside the first 3 miles. However, be prepared so that you are not surprised or discouraged when you encounter them.

Miles 9-17: Settle in for 9

Over the next 9 miles, up to mile 17, the course loses almost 990’. This 9-mile segment is not as sharp as the previous 5-mile segment, but still runs noticeably downhill. Except for mile 15, they all lose about 100’ or more. You will want to continue taking advantage of gravity and let your pace hold at the "comfortably fast" edge of your ability. Generally, this section of the course is where you want to “settle in” at your goal pace, or slightly ahead of it.

Miles 18-23: Steady 6

This 6-mile section is where you might find it hard to a bit harder to hold a steady speed that is right around your overall goal pace. The total drop over these 6 miles is 360’ (average of -1.1% grade), which will feel noticeably less than any miles past the opening 3.

The key to this section is to maintain a steady pace that mimics the steady drop in elevation. There are no steep or fast drops, but also no hard climbs. As the course gradually drops, you want to maintain a steady level of effort to hold your pace. However, it is likely that you will notice a slowing of your pace, and that you cannot increase your pace without an increase in effort. This is due not only to the normal and expected fatigue at this point in a race, but also due to the lower amount of elevation loss per mile.

Miles 24-F: Flat 5K Finish

Technically, this section is .1 more than a 5K. But think of it as “only 5K to go” when you pass the mile 23 marker.

After mile 23, the course flattens out noticeably, with the total elevation loss at 63’ for the final 3.2 miles – an average of about 20’ per mile. Although it is not really “flat,” it will feel flat. Also, mile 26 has an overall gain of 18’ which is not much but will seem to be more. Don’t panic if you find your pace slowing in this segment. You don’t want to “push” yourself to try matching the fast pace that you held in the preceding more downhill miles. Late-stage cramps can be common when runners push harder than their muscles are able to work!

Summary of the Marathon Course

The REVEL Wasatch Marathon course loses 2,314’ of elevation from start to finish, which is a comfortable overall grade of -1.7%. Over the 26.2-mile course, you likely will surprise yourself with your "faster than normal" pace on the downhill segments, but you will need to show patience and persistence is managing the climbs at miles 1-3. The long, steady, gradual downhill sections up to mile 17 will afford an opportunity to “make up” for the “lost time” in the first 3 miles. After that, maintain a steady pace but be prepared for the flat “feel” in the final 3.2 miles.

The Half-Marathon Course

Miles 1-4: Fast 4

Starting at 6,220’ of elevation, the course drops 372’ from the start to mile 4, which is a grade of -1.8%. You will need to resist the urge to chase people as they pass you. While you want to take advantage of gravity throughout this course by running “faster than normal” on the downhills, you need to manage the downhills by easing into your pace, settling in for the long haul, and letting gravity pull you along at a comfortably fast pace. You should not feel as if you are running “too hard” or “too fast.” If you do, then you should ease back a bit and aim for a “comfortably hard” pace.

Miles 5-10: Steady 6

Miles 5-10 together lose 358’. You can expect a gradual slowdown over this section, where the overall grade switches to -1.1%. That is not a significant difference from the first 4-mile grade of -1.8%, but this section is where you might find it hard to run faster than goal pace. However, you should be able to hold a steady speed that is right around your overall goal pace.

The key to this section is to maintain a steady pace that mimics the steady drop in elevation. There are no steep or fast drops, but also no hard climbs. As the course gradually drops, you want to maintain a steady level of effort to hold your pace.

Miles 11-F: Flat 5K Finish

After mile 10, the course flattens out noticeably, with the total elevation loss at 56’ for the final 3.1 miles – an average of about 18’ per mile. Although it is not really “flat,” it will feel flat. Also, mile 13 has an overall gain of 13’ which is not much but will seem to be more. The flatter terrain will make it feel like climbing even when you are running slightly downhill, and the short climbs that do appear will slow your pace. But don’t “push” yourself to try matching the fast pace that you held in the preceding more downhill miles. Hang on and keep working hard for that finish line!

Summary of the Half-Marathon Course

The REVEL Wasatch Half-Marathon course loses 786’ of elevation from start to finish. With an average loss of around 60' per mile (a grade of -1.1%), you likely will surprise yourself with your "faster than normal" pace on the downhill segments.

Paul Carmona is the Online REVEL Coach who has designed training plans specifically for REVEL downhill courses. He is a 25-time REVEL Marathon Finisher and has run multiple Boston Qualifiers on every REVEL course that he has run, with his current streak at 23 BQs in a row at REVEL marathons!



April 6, 2021

Warm weather is ahead, which means lots of sweat. Get ready for “head rushes.”

Have you ever stood up quickly from a sitting or squatting position and suddenly experienced a “head rush” or dizziness? Many runners are familiar with the sensation, but not the name of the condition: orthostatic hypotension. Commonly described as lightheadedness when you “stand up too fast,” it is something that many people experience, including non-runners. However, some research indicates that highly fit runners are more susceptible to it, especially when dehydrated. This “head rush” usually prompts people to say “Whoa...all the blood rushed to my head.” Indeed, the sensation is caused by the exact opposite - the blood (and oxygen) goes “out of your head.”

Again, the technical term for this experience is orthostatic hypotension. “Orthostatic” means “standing upright,” and hypotension means “low blood pressure.” It is caused primarily by the pooling of blood in the lower extremities while sitting, squatting, or lying down, followed by a sharp drop in blood pressure when moving into an upright position. This in turn causes a rapid loss of blood supply – and oxygen – to the brain, which causes the sensation of dizziness, tingling, blurred vision, and other disconcerting sensations.

There is no serious risk of injury from orthostatic hypotension, other than potential injuries associated with a fall if you pass out or otherwise lose your balance. While it is important to note that orthostatic hypotension can be a sign of more serious medical conditions, the likelihood of underlying medical problems is low.

Several factors can increase the effects of orthostatic hypotension, including dehydration, low sodium or electrolyte levels, and hypovolemia, which is low blood-plasma volume. A runner who has lost of lot of sweat and electrolytes is going to be dehydrated, have low electrolyte levels, and have blood that is “thicker” than normal due to dehydration – all the right conditions for a serious head rush if that runner sits for a period of time or maybe bends over to tie a shoelace and then suddenly stands up.

The important note for runners is to be prepared for the effects of orthostatic hypotension and to understand the conditions that worsen the situation. Basically, take your time moving from a sitting, kneeling, squatting or prone position into a standing position, especially if you are dehydrated or otherwise physically depleted after a workout. Be prepared to grab onto something nearby if you get dizzy after standing, and take deep breaths to help get some oxygen back to your brain. And stay hydrated during hot months ahead!

Paul Carmona is the Online REVEL Coach who has designed training plans specifically for REVEL downhill courses. He is a 25-time REVEL marathon finisher and has run multiple Boston Qualifiers on every REVEL course that he has run, with his current streak at 23 BQs in a row at REVEL marathons!

March 9, 2021

Since its inception in 2016, the REVEL Online Coaching Program has provided training for hundreds of REVEL marathon and half-marathon participants. The marathon and half-marathon programs both have Advanced, Intermediate, Beginner, and Introductory training levels. Marathon programs are 24 weeks long, and the half-marathon programs are 16 weeks (the Introductory levels are slightly shorter). The training programs are specifically designed for downhill racing, and the weekly schedules include regular workouts designed to improve downhill efficiency and speed.

The REVEL Online Coaching Program is designed by REVEL’s experienced and successful Coach Paul Carmona, who has run more than two dozen REVEL marathons and half-marathons, has run Boston Qualifiers on all the REVEL marathon courses he has run, and is a 10-time Boston Marathon finisher. Coach Paul and the REVEL coaches work directly with runners throughout the program and explain the purpose of every workout.

The training programs are entirely online, with a calendar that includes daily workouts, weekly targets, and overall strategy for the training cycle. The online training center also features a message tool, daily logs, videos, articles, and other resources that are included with all training programs. The coach’s weekly emails provide instructions for the weekly workouts, reminders about the objectives of that specific training cycle, explanations for the goals of each workout, and tips on how to translate key concepts into preparation for downhill racing.

The coaches stress the importance of keeping in touch with participants in the program. The coaches respond to emails directly with runners, and are available to answer questions, offer advice, and assist with anything related to training and racing.

The success of the REVEL Online Coaching Program is reflected in comments from participants in the program:

Got me to the starting line feeling like I had already ‘earned’ the PR and just needed to go ‘collect’ it at the finish line.”

The program is built in a way that you feel tangible improvements as you progress towards your marathon date. Coach Paul explains the rationale behind each workout…the weekly emails, check-ins, videos, and enthusiasm got me in the right mindset, and at age 47 I ran my best marathon with a big PR and BQ!”

It's not just a cookie cutter training plan, but a customized roadmap to take you from where you are to where you want to go.”

From those who want to do their first half-marathon to those who want to qualify for Boston, Coach Paul has the knowledge and experience to bring out the best in the people he works with.”

A year ago, I thought I could never get a Boston qualifying time. 12 months later, I now have a BQ minus 23 minutes thanks to Coach Paul and the Revel Online Coaching Program.”

To learn more about the program, visit the REVEL Online Coaching Program.

Feb. 22, 2021

 

 

A course strategy – and overall race strategy – is a must for optimal performance on race day. Whether this is your first REVEL race and your goal is simply to finish, or you are REVEL veteran aiming for a PR or BQ, you should have a well-planned strategy for how you intend to manage the Mt. Lemmon course!

The head coach of REVEL’s Online Coaching Program, who has run a Boston Qualifier in all the REVEL marathons, has prepared a detailed description of the Mt. Lemmon Marathon and Half-Marathon courses.

Managing the Course Based On Segments

A critical component of your race strategy is the course profile itself. Where are the sharp descents? Where are the climbs? Where does the course “flatten” a bit?

You want to plan your race with course segments in mind, and with an overall strategy for varying paces throughout. Your varied paces will be dictated by the elevation losses and gains, and you want to know before the race where those variations will occur.

Generally, the Mt. Lemmon Marathon course can be divided into three sections:

Miles 1-4: The Very Slow Start

Miles 5-25: Blazing Fast 21 Miles

Miles 26-F: The Flat Finish

Similarly, the Mt. Lemmon Half-Marathon course can be divided into four sections:

Miles 1-2: The Gently Fast Start

Mile 3: Short Slowdown

Miles 4-12: PR Territory

Miles 13-F: The Flat Finish

You can study the courses yourself on the REVEL website. You can zoom in, use the interactive elevation chart, and get a feel for what lays ahead of you on race day. If possible, you should drive the course before race day to get a feel for what the segments look and feel like. Knowing what to expect, and when, is helpful when preparing your course strategy.

The marathon and half-marathon courses are summarized below based on the segments described above.

The Marathon Course

Miles 1-4: The Very Slow Start

Starting at almost 7,800’ elevation, the first 4 miles of the course are challenging, but with proper planning and strategy you can manage the slowdown that you almost certainly will experience here.

From the very start, the first half-mile of the race gains 126’ of elevation, which is more than the famous “Heartbreak Hill” in The Boston Marathon. Mile 2 loses 189’ of elevation and can be extremely fast, with an overall downhill grade of -3.6%.

Miles 3 and 4 are where you can expect to slow down the most. Mile 3 gains 128’ of elevation, and that is at altitude of more than 7,900’. Breathing will be difficult, and the climbing will be tough. Mile 4 climbs another 229’ at an elevation just under 8,200’.

Allow yourself to slow down in these climbing miles. You still have many miles to go, and you want to conserve your energy for the next 22+ miles ahead, which are all remarkably fast and markedly downhill.

Miles 5-25: Blazing Fast 21 Miles

The climb throughout mile 4 peaks at mile 4.35, where the elevation is 8,187’. Over the distance of the next 20.65 miles, all the way to mile 25, you will lose 5,387 feet. That is 260’ per mile, with an average downhill grade of -4.9% overall.

Resist the urge to chase people if they pass you. While you want to take advantage of gravity, you should not feel as if you are running “too hard” or “too fast.” If you do, then you should ease back a bit and aim for a “comfortably hard” pace.

There is no question that this 21-mile section is what makes Mt. Lemmon a fast race. Every mile in this stretch, except for miles 11 and 14, drops more than 200’ per mile, with most well more than that.

Keep in mind that there are some short climbs in this section. You will see them if you drive the course before the race, and you definitely will feel them when you run the course. Prepare yourself for a few short but steep climbs at miles 7.3 (70’), 8.8 (59’), 10.1 (34’), and 15.9 (88’). These climbs will slow you down a bit, but your overall pace in those sections will still be faster than what you encountered in the climbs inside the first 4 miles. However, be prepared so that you are not surprised or discouraged when you encounter them.

Miles 26-26.2: The Flat Finish

After mile 25, the course flattens out a bit compared to the prior 21 miles, especially in the final half-mile of the race. Although the course does continue to drop another 96’ in the final 1.2 miles, you will notice the flatter sections of the finish.

Summary of the Marathon Course

The Mt. Lemmon Marathon course loses almost 5,100’ of elevation from start to finish, but actually loses more than that (5,473’) from mile 4 to the finish. Over the 26.2-mile course, you likely will surprise yourself with your speed on the downhill segments. After the anticipated slow miles from the start up to mile 4, remember that gravity is your friend for the next 22 miles. Take advantage of the benefits of downhill running!

The Half-Marathon Course

Miles 1-2: The Gently Fast Start

Starting at 5,877’ of elevation, the course drops over 180’ from the start to mile 1. That is a comfortable and manageable descent for your first mile as you warm up. Mile 2 picks up speed significantly, dropping another 273’. You will want to manage the early downhill by easing into your pace, settling in for the long haul, and letting gravity pull you along at a comfortably fast pace. You should not feel as if you are running “too hard” or “too fast.” If you do, then you should ease back a bit and aim for a “comfortably hard” pace.

Mile 3: Short Slowdown

You can expect a short slowdown in the second half of mile 3 due to the short, but steep, climb. Around mile 2.8, your elevation will be 5,181’. Before you get to mile 3, you will climb almost 90’ to 5,268’. You will need to “switch gears” to a slower pace based on even effort and should be prepared to run slightly slower than your goal pace on the uphill segment. Remember, this is still very early in the race, and you have downhill miles ahead where you can expect to speed up significantly.

Miles 4-12: PR Territory

This is where your half-marathon personal record (PR) will be made. Miles 4-12 all totaled lose 2,473’ of elevation, which is 275’ per mile. If you are keeping tabs on your pace, don’t be surprised to see that you have picked up significant speed. This is where gravity is your friend, and you will want to take advantage of the favorable downhill miles. However, be wary of a sensation of “running too fast.” If you feel out of control, or if you feel yourself working “too hard” while running downhill, then slow down.

Miles 13-13.1: The Flat Finish

The final 1.1 miles of the course are relatively flat, losing 84’ overall for the final stretch.

Summary of the Half-Marathon Course

The Mt. Lemmon Half-Marathon course loses 3,173’ of elevation from start to finish. With an average loss of around 242' per mile (a grade of -4.6%), this one of the fastest half-marathon courses you will ever run. Over the 13.1-mile course, you likely will surprise yourself with your "faster than normal" pace on the downhill segments.

Paul Carmona is the Online REVEL Coach who has designed training plans specifically for REVEL downhill courses. He is a 25-time REVEL Marathon Finisher and has run multiple Boston Qualifiers on every REVEL course that he has run, with his current streak at 23 BQs in a row at REVEL marathons!

Oct. 7, 2020

You’ve been there: A few miles into a run, you are wondering to yourself, “Why am I running today? When is my next race?” Maybe you ran long the day before. Perhaps you have an especially challenging workout the next day. Whatever the reason, you are not sure exactly why you are doing a particular workout on a given day. Likewise, you might have no idea how hard you should be running, or whether you should be running at all.

Like many other aspects of life in 2020, you are caught in a cycle of uncertainty. Accompanying that uncertainty is a sense of feeling “lost,” where you are not exactly sure where your running should be – base work, speed work, race prep?

Unless you are running “just to run” - and many of us do exactly that - you are probably accustomed to training for a specific race, or a series of races. In that case, every workout in your training schedule has a certain purpose that is aligned with your current training phase. Commonly referred to as “periodization,” the optimal training method for any race distance is to go through different phases - usually lasting several weeks - where you focus on different aspects of your running. Generally, those distinct periods are base, build, sharpen, peak, and taper.

But again, all of that is shattered when races are canceled or postponed and there are extremely few certain race dates on the calendar anywhere.

So, what to do? Here is a recommended 3-step plan that can help you get through it. Remember that most training plans have distinct periods that all begin with a base period, followed by a building phase. Together, the base and build phases account for about 10-12 weeks for marathon training, and about 6-8 weeks for half-marathon training.

Step 1: Get back to basics with base work.

This is where you gradually increase your volume (total weekly miles) over time at an easy pace. The objective is to improve endurance, not to gain speed. A key aspect here is to think in terms of weeks, not days. How many weeks? That depends on your level of fitness when you begin the base work. There are no one-size-fits-all regimens for base building, and runners start their own base periods with different levels of conditioning, speed, strength, and stamina. A coach can help you schedule a series of weeks where you focus on your base training, after which you’ll notice improvements in your speed. That’s a positive development to note, but it should not be your daily goal to “beat yesterday’s time.” That will come in the next phase.

Step 2: Start to build strength and stamina.

There are several commonly used terms for the next periodization phase. “Build stage,” “quality workout phase,” and “stamina phase” are examples that coaches use. The common component of this phase is that the workouts begin to increase intensity, with tempo runs, interval sessions, hill workouts, and other types of runs. It is important to note that not all your workouts will be high intensity during this phase. A lot of your weekly mileage should continue to be at your aerobic pace. There is also a need for “recovery runs,” which typically are scheduled for the days after hard workouts or very long runs. The objective of recovery runs is to loosen up stiff and tired legs, and to move oxygen and nutrients into the muscles for repair.

Step 3: Move on towards sharpen and peak phases or GO BACK to Step 1.

After the base and build periods is the “sharpen” phase, where workouts focus on “goal pace.” Workouts include many miles of sustained intensity at increasingly longer distances. Beyond the sharpen period is the “peak,” where intensity and volume are the highest in the training cycle. Finally, after that, the “taper” period leads up to a target race.

>But in the current uncertain times we are experiencing, the question runners face is “Will my race happen, and if not, what do I do?” That is the key point at which you must evaluate the likelihood of the race occurring, weighed against your own current level of fitness, overall health, and (most important) willingness to commit to the growing demands of the training cycles ahead.

This is where you have to make the decision to (1) proceed into the next phases of hard work, or (2) show the discipline to back off training, let your body recover from weeks or months of hard work, and…start over again with base work.

It is frustrating but does not have to be thought of as “going back to square one.” Instead, think of your training as going through a series of plateaus. If you progress through Steps 1 and 2 properly, and have remained healthy through those weeks of training, you will be starting another base period at a fitness level that is higher than before. From there, you can advance through another building stage, and hopefully will see another race on the horizon.

Most importantly, you must not fall into a mentality of “I have reached this level of fitness and I want to stay here.” It is extremely difficult to sustain the high levels of intensity and volume that are common during the sharpen and peak periods. A typical training cycle has only a few weeks of training in these phases, and they are not designed for long-term training within those periods. The number one reason to avoid too much intensity and mileage? Injury. You do not want to become injured.

So, why am I doing this workout today?

Back to the initial question: “Why am I running today?” Whatever your answer, make sure that your workout is consistent with your periodization phase. Are you in the early weeks of your base training? If so, you should not be doing intervals on the track. Are you in the middle of your “build” period, where you are ramping up speed and intensity? If so, you might not want to be grinding out a hilly 10-miler the day after a hard intervals session. Are you wondering why you’re scheduled for a 3-mile “recovery run” the day after a long run? If you cannot answer the question, ask your coach. If your coach cannot answer the question...then it might be time to find another coach!

The point here is that you want to avoid the pitfall of wandering aimlessly through days and weeks of running without purpose. When faced with uncertainty, you can establish your own certainty by planning your base and build phases, followed by planning what to do next depending on the question we all are trying to answer: “When is my next race?”

Paul Carmona is the Online REVEL Coach who has designed training plans specifically for REVEL downhill courses. He is a 24-time REVEL Marathon Finisher and has run multiple Boston Qualifiers on every REVEL course. His current streak is 22 BQs in a row at REVEL marathons! You can contact Coach Paul at coach@runrevel.com.

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