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getting in touch with my inner colorado girl

Pikes Peak Marathon: Training Update #1


I really think the trick to making yourself train hard for a race is to sign up for something that terrifies you. For example, I signed up for the Pikes Peak Marathon a few months ago, and it’s without a doubt the most technical, challenging race I have ever entered. People tend to be impressed when I tell them I’m entered in the Pikes Peak Marathon to which I quickly reply, “Don’t be impressed until I’ve finished it!

Pikes Peak profile (unofficial)The most intimidating race profile I have ever seen.

ascent112The course.

You might be asking yourself why Paula why? Good question. I ask myself that often! The answer is just because. I want to run the Pikes Peak Marathon to prove to myself that I can do hard things. I think it was Walt Disney who said, “It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.” And also there are really sweet finisher jackets.

Anyway, how has the training been going? Up until this week, to be honest, it has not really been going anywhere. You see April turned out to be a bit snowier than anticipated and can you really expect me to pass up skiing for running in the snow? Absolutely not. I maintain that skiing in April was useful cross training though. I did a lot of hiking to sidecountry terrain (e.g. Lake Chutes at Breckenridge, the Cirque at Winter Park/Mary Jane, and the North Pole at A Basin) and you can’t tell me that carrying your skis while walking up the side of a mountain in heavy ski boots at 11,000 feet isn’t a great workout!

IMG_6063Hiking to the North Pole at A Basin.

I have zero regrets about how I spent my April but as soon as the calendar switched over to May I knew that I no longer had time on my side. I had to start actually training! More importantly, I had to start running hilly trails on purpose. Unfortunately the only way to become better at running hills is to suck it up and do them, and it has definitely been a painful process. I have three months or so to be ready to run up and back down an entire mountain, no big deal.


Monday – Five mile run at Three Sisters/Alderfer. Felt mostly strong on the hilly sections.


Tuesday – Rest day. I actually put on running shoes and tried to go for an evening run but I just could not make myself do it. So not in the mood!

Wednesday – 90 minute bouldering session at Thrillseekers followed by 150 crunches.

Thursday – Four mile run at Wash Park. Super boring. Lots of geese.

Friday – 90 minute trail run at Matthews/Winters. Semi-muddy but doable. Good confidence building run! Felt pretty good on hills. Finished strong, feeling like I could continue.


Saturday – Four mile run at Snow Mountain Ranch outside of Fraser. Had fun running with ladies from my church (we were on a women’s retreat). Didn’t feel great but it was good to have a recovery run at altitude with some stellar company.


Sunday – Stopped at Lookout Mountain on the drive back to Denver. Got in a 40 minute trail run that was equally downhill/uphill. Finally making progress on hill running skills!

Weekly Total – 25 miles ~

I’m not one to focus solely on mileage, and especially in this training cycle I am focusing a lot more on quality than quantity. If it takes me an hour to do a hilly 4 mile run on trails that seems more beneficial to me than getting a 7 mile run on sidewalks. Based on last week it also looks like I have a much more cohesive plan than I really do. I hate having a training plan that tells me exactly what I have to do on what day. I like having the flexibility to move days around so that I can do hard runs on days when I have the will and time to get the most out of them (see Tuesday). I also have a lot of hobbies, and I will be throwing occasional days of climbing/bouldering and CrossFit in the mix.

I do have a general training plan from Jerry Armstrong (@endurancejer), and that has been perfect for me. I’m really excited for June; actual excerpt from my training plan: “Go buy some new shoes and stuff… whisper to a stranger, ‘Fear me.'” Yes.

Goals for Next Week: Get in a 2 hour+ trail run and at least 2-3 other hilly trail runs. Have fun!


Author: paulamahla

Typical Colorado girl that can't make up her mind. Trail running, hiking, climbing, camping, CrossFit, ultimate frisbee, and skiing? E, all of the above.

7 thoughts on “Pikes Peak Marathon: Training Update #1

  1. You are nutzo! But I am really looking forward to seeing your training. I can’t imagine training for up and downhill – the downhills on my training runs have been the hardest, especially on my toes!

  2. your first paragraph explains mt. evans ascent for me. to a T!

    next wknd, heidi and i are running the first part of mt. evans – i think THEN i’ll feel a little bit better (i hope!!) about running the whole thing. maybe. EEK!

  3. Ohhhh man. Mad props Paula. I can’t wait to hear about this race!

  4. Pingback: Pikes Peak Marathon: Training Update #2 | return to the motherland

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