Brad's Ultra Running Journey: Black Canyon 60k Prep

Brad's Ultra Running Journey:  Black Canyon 60k Prep

Hello there! My name is Brad Miles. I’m a Cofounder of LEVER, husband, dad of 2 (and another on the way), and in the last couple of years, I’ve been diving into the world of ultra running. It’s race week for the Black Canyon ultra marathon taking place north of Phoenix, Az. Black Canyon hosts a 100k and a 60k race distance and this year I am signed up for the 60k. Although both races are stacked with professional and avid trail runners, the 100k has an especially stacked elite field vying for a coveted Western States Golden Ticket this year. If you’ve never followed along the broadcast of an ultra trail race, check out the 100k broadcast on Saturday, February 10th at 6 am MST. You won’t regret it! These endurance athletes are impressive.

To kick off the race week festivities, I wanted to highlight 3 of my key workouts from the last couple of weeks that have helped prepare me to compete in this 60 kilometer ultra. 


First Long Run of 2024, 1/19: Super Flag:

STRAVA LINK

Running up/down Flagstaff road has been a bucket list run of mine for a while now. I’ve ridden it plenty of times, but taking it on foot was still high on my list. Flagstaff road is an iconic Boulder road that starts its main ascent from Chautauqua park. It winds up 4.5 miles at an 8.1% incline (~2k ft elevation gain) with fantastic Flatirons views, and as a cherry on top, it gives you sneak peaks of the perfectly snow capped Continental Divide this time of year. Typically I would have taken the road up and the trails down, but due to a recent snow and the fact that I am preparing for a net downhill race, this was a perfect opportunity to prepare the quads for faster downhill running. The Black Canyon 60k is a point to point ultra that starts at ~4,400 ft elevation and ends at ~2,000 ft elevation. Over the 60 kilometers (~37 miles), the trail gains 3k ft and loses 5k ft of vert. Getting this bucket list run completed 3+ weeks out from the race kick started the confidence that my quads would be ready to handle what the Black Canyon Trail has in store.


 

LEVER Runs:

16*k- STRAVA LINK

I use the LEVER device for many different types of runs. Some of them include overspeed workouts, post long run shakeouts, recovery runs, doubles, and specific taper runs. When I plan my LEVER runs, I look to what I need to work on specifically and then incorporate the LEVER strategically. If the goal is to increase my run volume quickly (which was the goal in December because I was coming off of low mileage training for a Hyrox competition), then I use it a few more times per week for doubles, recovery runs, and whenever else I need to get a couple more miles in. If the goal is for turnover, then overspeed and progression runs are ideal for the LEVER. Fortunately for this race build, I haven’t had to use the LEVER for specific injury recovery so I’ve gotten to focus on the performance side of using body weight support. In the last 4 weeks of preparing for this race, I’ve used LEVER for every type of the performance runs I mentioned above. 


The LEVER run I’ll dive into specifically came off the back of a sick week. I needed to start getting some speedy volume in, but the body wasn’t fully recovered from being sick so I improvised on this workout a bit. The total workout was 16*1k repeats… on the treadmill. I know that sounds like a nightmare dreadmill run to some of you, but I love the treadmill/LEVER combo for runs like these since they are in a controlled environment and the LEVER helps me get the volume & speed in that I am not ready to hit outdoors at full body weight. 


I ran the first 10*1k at full body weight at 3:30/k with 60” rest. For the last 6*1k, I used the LEVER to run 3:08/k at 88% body weight and at the same rest interval. Getting this extra volume and speed in made the body feel great. Removing 12% body weight for the 6 remaining intervals allowed me to hit the same heart rate as the full body weight intervals, but decrease the pounding and run nearly 30” minute per mile pace faster.  

30 miler:

STRAVA LINK

The last workout to highlight in this Ultra build was my longest long run. The long runs for this race prep looked a lot different than getting ready for the Silver Rush 50 miler last summer. Where the Silver Rush long runs were more about getting ready for the climbing in Leadville, the purpose of these long runs was to feel comfortable at paces I’d see throughout the race. I kept this long run fairly flat (1,500 ft of vert), and I tried to stay mainly on gravel and single track like I will see in the race. This 30 mile long run ultimately averaged out to 7:11/mi, with some steady miles under 6:50/mile. My goal for most long runs is to get the time on the legs, but not to destroy the legs. I accomplished that with this run and was able to turn around and do a 6 mile progression run on the LEVER the next day. Hitting close to race distance in a long run is a big confidence builder as this race draws closer and closer.