|June 27, 2013
|Posted by Melinda under Uncategorized
It’s Thursday and I’m still really really, deep-in-my-bones tired.
Soreness is mostly gone except for a few twinges in my quads and some residual stiffness in my neck, but there’s some healing going on someplace because I’m the sort of tired that only occurs when the body is diverting massive resources to something other maintenance activities.
I have 2 jobs – yesterday I went in to put in some hours with the department that is mostly sit down computer work. Today I got brave and actually waltzed in the door of my more active lab job. And….was begging for mercy mere hours later. I spent the entire morning fantasizing about sneaking into my homeroom that was just a building away and taking a nap on the couch for my entire.lunch……mmm…….
It’s a bit strange because Ive spent my time over the last couple days both more hyped up than I’ve been a long time (over Tevis and prepping for it, and all the blog posts I want to write, and a scholarship RnT essay that I haven’t started) and yet really really sedentary. The dichonomy between what my mind is doing and what my body is doing doesn’t feel….right.
In summary, I feel like I did 100 miles last weekend.
I’ve been giving some thought to whether it’s harder for a horse to do the mileage all in one chunk (ie 100 miles in 24 hours) or as a multiday (2 50’s over 48 hours).
As a rider, I feel about the same whether I do a one or two day 100 – mileage is mileage when it comes to my riding.
What about the horse?
Historically I would have automatically said that riding a multiday was easier on the horse. After all, isn’t that what I’ve practiced and preached over the years? That the intermediate step before moving up a distance is to ride a series of low mileage multidays?
But now I’m not sure.
Advantage of riding 2 50’s: the horse can catch up on hydration and eating over the 12 hour break
Disadvantage of riding 2 50’s: You are riding through 2 afternoons, not just one.
IMO during an endurance ride, heat is you and your horse’s enemy #1. If you ride 100 miles over 2 days, you are doing twice as many miles in the heat of the day, than if you continued on and ride the “second 50” in the evening and into the early morning hours. The ability of a horse to “perk” up after the sun falls in a 100 is remarkably like the “perkiness” I feel on my horse at the start of day 2 of a multiday.
It’s hard to make any hard and fast rules. What if it isn’t a hot ride? Then does the 12 hour break make up for riding during 2 afternoons? Is it possible for a horse that has been a poor eater and drinker in the first 50 miles “catch up” in a 12 hour break and finish the 2nd 50 strong the next day? Can you do that in a 100 utilizing 1 hour holds?
What are the actual physiologic differences in a horse asked to do 100 miles over a 24 hour period, and horse asked to go 100 miles over a 36 hour period (in 2 12 hour periods with a 12 hour rest period between) over similar terrain in similar weather at a similar pace?
I don’t know. But I’m inclined to say that in general mileage is mileage is mileage. And whether you are splitting that mileage up over 2 or 3 days rather than doing it in one big chunk….the miles are still miles. With one caveat that I’ll get to shortly.
I think that this miles are miles are miles has 2 important implications.
Firstly, why is it that we will do 2 or 3 50’s in a weekend, yet, not do 2 or 3 consecutive weekends of one day 50’s (leave the trailering consideration out of it)? One seems entirely reasonable, the other a recipe for overriding your horse.
Secondly, I think we are less likely to give a horse the rest before and after a multiday as compared to a 100. Because we have a perception that the 100 is harder on the horse.
So, if miles are miles are miles……why do 100’s have a greater pull rate than 50’s and people riding consecutive 50’s?
First, we are going to assume that the 50’s and the 100’s we are comparing are comparable – in fact, let’s assume for the sake of this discussion that the 50’s ride the same 50 mile loop on each day, and that the 100 is 2 loops of the same 50 mile trail. So, the 100 mile horses are not riding trail they haven’t seen during the day, the horses on both rides are doing the same mileage and the same terrain. And now, let’s assume that you have decent weather. Moderately hot in the afternoon, and cooling off in the evening/wee hours of the morning to long sleeve tshirt weather (can you tell that I’m in California?).
If we ran this experiment, I predict that 2 things would happen.
1. The pull rate on the 100 would be greater than the pull rate at the end of the 2 consecutive 50’s.
2. The actual dehydration and other physiologic parameters of all the horses in both events as measured at the 36 hour mark after the initial start would be identical, (or possibly the horses on the 24 hour 100 would be slightly improved over the horses on the 50….).
If the physical ramifications are the same for both, why the greater pull rate on the 100? I think it has more to do with the mental aspect of the game than the physical. I get stupid at the end of a long 100 that is taking me much of my 24 hours to complete. I’m not necessarily any more sore or stiff or tired after a 100 versus a 2 days, but trying to work through sleep deprivation at the end of a long 100 is the WORST. It’s really really hard to make good decisions, and it’s really really hard to keep doing the “little” things that make sure you don’t have problems later in the ride. Riding 2 50’s basically gives you (IMO) exactly the same physical “workout” without having to deal with the mental stuff.
I know I need 8-9 hours of sleep a night. I have no idea what my horse needs – but whatever it is, just like me they aren’t getting it on a 100. And just like the rider, I think that mental “tiredness” and “stupidity” of the horse after a long day with no sleep plays a bigger role in the pulls than any true physical unreadiness, assuming that same horse can do the same 100 miles over 2 days at a multiday.
IMO a 100 mile rider and 100 mile horse aren’t necessarily a fitter team than those doing back to back 50’s, but they ARE dealing with a mental component that just isn’t present during a multiday (and yes, I think there are people and horses are that better at dealing with this than others).
So……if you want to do 100’s and you feel stuck at the 50 mile mark, consider doing back to back 50’s over similar terrain in similar weather as the 100 you want to do. Obviously if your goal is Tevis, don’t do 2 50’s in the bay area, or in the high desert in December and expect success and smooth sailing for a 100 held in July in the Seirra Nevadas. But assuming that you and your horse get through those comparable 50’s in good physical shape, recognize that your biggest obstacle for riding a 100 at that point is mental. Physically, as long as you gave you and your horse the appropriate rest after those 50’s, you should be ready to go.
Obviously, this is all a guess on my part. Educated guessing from someone with too much time on their hands and a commute that allows them to be inside their head too much….but guesses all the same. (I welcome your comments and thoughts!)
My next post will address moving up in distance (I’ve done an LD. Now what?) so I don’t want to venture too far down the lane of moving up distances and when the right time is to move up a distance….but a couple more thoughts on multidays
– Because I’m starting to feel like mileage is mileage is mileage…..If I wanted to do an intermediate distance between a 50 and a 100 miles before diving into 100 miles over 2 days, I would do a 50 and an LD back to back before doing 2 50’s. (as a side note, I would do the 50 the day before the LD, not the other way around – that allows me to ride my horse in the cool of the morning, the heat of the afternoon, and then the cool of the morning again. Instead of doing 2 cools and ending on a hot, which is not how a 100 is going to go!)
– I think that doing LD mulidays do NOT give you the same benefit of moving up to 50’s as doing multiday 50’s does for moving up to 100’s. Because most of the LD mileage is done before the heat of the day, you have to consider that you just did 50 or 60 miles in the best part of the day when it was cool, and zero mileage in the heat of the day. (In contrast, doing 2 50’s as 100 mile prep means that you will be doing MORE mileage in the sun than you will for your 100, which may offset the 12 hour break in helping prepare you for the step up in ride distance). Even doing 3 or 4 LD’s in a row isn’t a guarantee that you are preparing your horse well for the step up in distance – The break is too long between ride starts (18 hours), all mileage is done in the cool of the day. This is one reason why I think the step up from an LD to a 50 is in some ways tougher than the step up from a 50 to a 100.