It's been over two years now since I last trained with any serious structure (except for the structure that is a lack of structure), but this Spring has really evolved to a new level for me in this regard. In the past couple years as big races approached I did find myself focusing a little bit on peak training periods, high mileage runs, and specific tapers. Maybe I'll return to more of that again in the future, but so far I just haven't really done any of this in preparation for next week's race. Instead, I've just been running day to day more than I ever have. Even now, with the race at the end of this week I find myself thinking more about what run I'm going to do tomorrow than the run this coming weekend. This might sound like a careless and crazy approach to such a highly contested race, but I've had more fun than ever "training" for this race, and the more the line seems to blur between training and racing the more I seem to enjoy all of it, and the better my races seem to get from a performance standpoint.
At some point thus the question becomes: why race at all then? I'm still not to the point of seriously asking myself this question. I still get a lot of satisfaction from competing with others at something we've all put so much time and effort into. 29 days out of 30 I prefer to just be out running through the mountains at a mellow pace, exploring the terrain around me, but about once a month it's really fun to line up and push myself physically and mentally in conjunction with and in competition with dozens (sometimes hundreds) of other like minded folks. I imagine that I will eventually get to the point of not craving this kind of running anymore, or at least much less often than the once a month that I do now. For now though, come race day, I'm as focused and ready as anyone to scratch and claw to compete at my highest potential on that given day. I'm just not willing to compromise my enjoyment and nourishment from my running on the other 29 days of the month. I did that for a couple years in the past and there's just no comparison in terms of the nourishment that I get out of it. Training with a specific focus and purpose of trying to be as fast as possible on a given day at some point in the future feels so shallow and silly to me when compared to simply going out and doing the run that feels the most logical, enjoyable, and appealing on each given day.
So for now I'm thinking mostly about the Juneau ridge run that I'm probably going to do tomorrow morning, but come Saturday morning all of my focus will be turned to running from Squaw Valley to Auburn as fast as possible. And with the field showing up this year it's going to have to be really damn fast to have a chance of being anywhere near the front of the pack.