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Monday, May 6, 2013

A woefully inadequate post (and a spackle recipe!)

This post was going to be much better. 

It was going to have trimmed feet pictures (sorry Ashley - will get them to you tomorrow)

It was going to have a group picture of me in seriously wacky colors, Farley, and Tess getting ready to go on our afternoon run. 

It was going to a much better post than just words and me rambling along. 

But I took the pics using my REAL camera, and not my phone, and thus the pics don't automatically upload to my drop box, and thus when I leave my camera at home on the counter while I run to starbuck to do a little internet, those pictures do NOT magically appear on my computer, ready to share with YOU, my Dear Reader. 

So instead, my Dear Reader gets random Monday Mel thoughts, without the benefit of pictures, an outline, or a plan of what exactly this post is going to include! 

Did you know I have a fifty this weekend?

Yep.  It's been 2 years since me or Farley have been that far.  Should be interesting.  I'm planning on getting off a LOT and running.  If I'm not ready to collapse at the end from running I probably didn't run enough.

To be perfectly honest I'm a bit freaked out about the whole thing.  Which is why I haven't been posting much about the 50 here.  It's hard to sit here and not second guess my conditioning plan and compare it to everywhere around me and what THEY are doing.  Even though I have lots of miles underneath my belt, know what it takes to do 50 miles, and understand the balance between training and rested.  I don't have the time to get Farley super fit.  To try and do so would be to risk an over-training injury and go to rides with a tired horse that is more prone to injury.  Thus, my smarter strategy is to do minimal training and arrive at the ride with a well rested, uninjured horse and then try to mitigate the minimal training by utilizing pace and rider fitness.  Two different strategies that are both appropriate depending on horse and rider experience, and the goals of the ride. 

The WORST thing I could is let enough self doubt creep into my pschy that I'm tempted to do more mileage and training to try and push myself towards the edge of the seesaw that represents the less rested/more fit side --> because I do NOT have enough time, I would get half way there and then get stuck on the middle of the seesaw - not rested enough, nor fit enough. 

ANYWAYS....back to the 50 this weekend.  I'm trying to low key, not fret too much, and just take it one thing at a time.  Either it happens or it doesn't.  Either I decide not to continue going out on loops or I finish.  I either finish well enough that I decide to do Wild West, or I don't. 

I just have to say one thing.....
Unless someone specifically asks my opinion on their conditioning program and is looking for specific advice, I keep my mouth shut.  There are many different ways to accomplish the same goal.  For example, we've already touched on 2 different strategies above - super fit versus super rested.  That's just one example of how it's important to look at different protocols and schedules and strategies and choose one that compliments your horse, you as a rider, and your ride goals.  The variation can be immense!  That being said, there are a couple of common themes throughout any program - one of which is that REST is very important.   It is during REST that the horse gets stronger.  REST is at least as important as any other component (long rides, intervals etc.) of your chosen program.  That is why I was shocked to see so many people who are going to Cache creek this weekend, posting that they were doing "one last long ride" before Cache creek this past weekend?  What the Hell???????  I've always followed the wisdom that any "last long rides" or any ride that could be considered "strenuous" never took place closer than 2 weeks before the ride.  That has been true whether I've been riding 50's or 100's.  Whether I've been using a "superfit" philosophy or (my current) "super rested" philosophy.  The fittness gained by doing a ride within that 2 week window before the ride gives you minimal increase in fitness, but increases greatly the chances of an overtraining injury or that you will be bringing less than optimally rested horse to the start of that 50.  If you absolutely MUST do that one last long conditioning ride 7 days prior to the start of the race in order to get that incremental amount of fittness possibly gained by doing so, I would argue that you probably REDUCED your chance of finishing by at LEAST the same amount that you increased them by the additional training. 

I was so suprised by the number of posts that I saw, I actually had to check with another endurance rider that I hadn't gone crazy and was totally missing something.  Nope, she thinks that is crazy too. 

Of course "long" is relative.  If I've been training for 100's and decide to go for a recreational 10 mile ride 2 weeks before the 100 - no big deal.  If I'm doing my first LD or first 50 and decide to do a faster 10-15 miles (or more) over challenging terrain with the intent to actually "train/condition" my horse - bad idea. 

Even during Marathons human athletes taper for 3 weeks prior to a marathon.  I might do a 20 miler or a half marathon 3-4 weeks out, I would NOT do a half marathon the weekend prior to a marathon that I wanted to do well at.  There is a limit to how much you can extrapolate from human performance to horse performance, but rest is one of those parameters that is universal. 

So if you've ever wanted my advice on what you should do in that 2 weeks before a ride, here it is:
Whatever mileage and riding you got in at the 2 week mark is what you are going into your ride with.  Any further training with the intent of increasing fitness will only harm you (or at best be neutral).  What should you do in those 2 weeks?  Have fun.  Definitely keep riding - but don't do it with time or mileages in mind and if it seems strenuous or hard, don't do it.  I'm not giving you a specific mileage or speed because you know exactly what consitutes training.  Go on a 10 mile ride because you have the time and the horse is eager.  Sure!  Gallop some because the horse and you are having fun and it's a great stretch of trail? Sure!  Ask the horse to canter or gallop specified intervals or perform according to heart rate?  Not such a good idea.  Going out to plug away on that trail with that huge hill?  Not such a great idea.  Asking the horse to continue at a speed when it begins to tire because it will be good training?  Not a great mindset in this period.  A 8 mile ride that intersperses some galloping, eating, hand running, and walking?  Sounds good.  Doing some ground work, maybe a bit of dressage - sounds great! 

Get the idea?

I'm experimenting with saddle food!
Not to leave you on such a "finger wagging" note......I want to share with you a recipe I'm going to try this weekend.  It's based on some experimenting that I'm doing with backpacking food for some trips this summer. 

The meals for ridecamp I have handled - those sectioned containers filled with food in an icechest wonderful! 

At camp far west last fall, I experimented with different commercial bars and elytes and nut butters and applesauce.  For that ride I made up baggies of balanced nutrition that were a certain number of calories and forced myself to eat one bag an hour.  It worked great - I didn't bonk and making sure that my protein and carbs were balanced went a long ways towards making my stomach and brain happy. 

I'm doing something similar for this ride, but I'm replacing the nut butter packets with a homemade "spackle".  Of everything I brought in my saddle bags, the applesauce went down the best, the nut butter the worst - and since the nut butter is how I'm getting the majority of my protein, I want to make it more palatable.  (eating jerky in the saddle was no bueno). 

Here's the recipe

1 c. almond butter (Winco lets you grind your own in the bulk section, which made it more affordable).
1c. cashew butter (I couldn't find, so I bought unsalted raw cashew pieces and ground them to smithereens in my food processor)
1/4 c. almond oil (Ha!  Couldn't find this either so I used a soy or vegetable oil with minimal taste - thought about using coconut oil, but didn't - but I might next time)
1/2 c. Agave syrup (I used honey - because I wanted more flavor, not just for it to be sweet)
1 Tbl vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract (I didn't add because I didn't have)
Salt - to taste

Mix in a blender

Once I had it all mixed up, I seperated into 4 bags so I could experiment with "additives".
- 1 bag I kept as original
- Added white chocolate chips and dried cranberries to 1 baggie
- added miniture chocolate chips and minature marshmellows to another
- added coco powder and minature chocolate chips to the last baggie. 

I'll see what flavors sit the best while "working". 

To dispense the spackle, a 500 ml platypus water bottle was suggested, but the idea of stuffing spackle into the little opening, and having that huge bag for a relatively little amount of spackle did not appeal, so I bought those little refillable squeeze bottles that you can buy in the camping section.  I am concerned that some of my "additives" won't fit through the nozzle of the bottles, so next time I'll probably throw the additives into the food processor to chop them up a bit. 

The plan is to throw a squeeze bottle in my saddle bags with one of the mixtures.  I'm putting applesauce in another squeeze bottle because it went down SO GOOD at my last ride, and I think that these 2 foods, along with S!caps (my electrolytes pills) and vitalyte in my water bottles (a different kind of electrolytes that I can drink that has an acceptable taste....) should get me through most of the loops, without having to open up a gazillion little packets and deal with the trash. 

For those of you that care about the numbers - note that none of the numbers/calculations below include the additives - just the original spackle base:

One spackle recipe = ~4000 calories
One serving is considered 1 Tablespoon = ~130 calories
I found it easier to weigh the spackle (thanks mom for the scale!  I use it all the time!); one recipe = ~22 ounces
Thus ~180 calories per ounce
The current recommendation I use for calories per hour of exercise = 200-300 calories per hour
So....let's call it 1.5 oz per hour and the rest I'll make up in apple sauce (yum!). 

I'm not quite sure how much is going to fit into my squeeze bottles, but I think it's going to be around 6 oz from what I've experimented worth so far........

So one squeeze bottle SHOULD be good for ~4 hours.  If haven't finished off a bottle of the stuff in 4 hours, I know that I'm probably working on a calorie deficit. 


  1. Stashi is a huge supporter of less is more and has never been lame :) Good luck at Cache Creek, wish we could go with you!

  2. Okay, I'll bite again! Haflinger, looking at doing our second LD, first one this year. With our usual riding partners, average speed tends to be 3-4mph. Am I right in thinking that most 4-10 mile rides with them are not going to do an awful lot for Fetti's conditioning/fitness level? We're generally not going above a medium-slow trot, with a fair bit of walking thrown in when the others get tired.

    For context: her Big Trot is closer to 7-8mph (on flat ground, but without other horses). We did finish the 25 last year at Ride Bear, but just barely pulsed down in time. As a result, I'm currently erring towards the super-fit side of the spectrum. It's entirely possible we'll never make it to a 50, but I don't think it's unreasonable to aim for some 25s where I don't have to worry the whole time about time/pulsing down at the end.

    I'd happily welcome any suggestions for managing the non-Arab through rides, too, and I promise to pick and choose whatever seems to work for us!

    1. I will answer this in a seperate post! Hopefully that goes up this afternoon :) Great question and its' been a while since we've talked about conditioning here, so this will make a good excuse.

  3. Did I just write this?

    "ANYWAYS....back to the 50 this weekend. I'm trying to low key, not fret too much, and just take it one thing at a time. Either it happens or it doesn't. Either I decide not to continue going out on loops or I finish. I either finish well enough that I decide to do Wild West, or I don't. "

    I think I did. I totally believe in rest. 2 weeks before for a long training ride is my limit. I'm hoping Major's leg heals from a superficial but ugly cut to do Cache Creek, but also realize I wouldn't be riding right now anyway. We'd be resting. And packing.

    But I question all the time because I DON"T have the experience you do. I'm just going with what I've read/talked to people/how my horse feels/gut feelings on how to train for an upcoming ride (like all newbies!). I have so much doubt and questions on whether I'm doing it "right" even though I know there are variations of right.

    And I cherish my "fun" and "junk" miles. I do not think that my horse gets an added training boost from a 7 mile slow jaunt around the lake. But when he gets to splash around, goof with friends and relax, that is pretty great training too. To be my long-term trail partner, which comes before endurance horse or competitor.

    Have a great time at Cache Creek. May or may not see you there. I hope you don't have to run too many of those hills.

    1. I hope that I do see you there and that cut heals up! I missed that on your blog so need to go back and read the story. ugh - does not sound like fun at all - although you are right - you would be resting and packing anyways.

  4. Squeeze bottles...just normal squeeze water bottles or something more elaborate?

    1. These squeeze bottles!


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