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Training plan for the annual Bataan Memorial Death March
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Failed to load latest commit information. Added my tentative schedule for 2019. Relegated 2018 to separate file… Apr 8, 2018 Added my tentative schedule for 2019. Relegated 2018 to separate file… Apr 8, 2018 Fixed a broken link and added additional thoughts about my big blow up. Apr 2, 2019
broken_frame.jpg Includes preliminary results from BMDM 2019. Mar 18, 2019

Bataan Memorial Death March training

My (Cliff Matthews) training log (formerly plan) for the 2019 Bataan Memorial Death March (civilian heavy), similar to what I did for 2017 and 2018.

What is the BMDM?

The Bataan Memorial Death March is a tribute to the men and women who defended the Philippines at the onset of World War II. They suffered greatly and many perished either during the defense, after they were surrendered and were forced to march (having subsisted on quarter rations prior to the start of the march), at the inhumane prison camps, the hell-ships that carried them to Japan or in the forced labor thereafter.

Some of those men and women, now in their nineties (or more!), are still alive. In 1989, members of the Army ROTC Department at New Mexico State University started an annual march to honor these veterans. The march has grown considerably since then and although it was initially open only to military members, they began allowing civilians early on. These days, participation is about half and half. For the record, I am a civilian, although my father was in the Air Force and there's a good chance one of my daughters will serve.

Why do I do it?

I attended my first BMDM in 2010. I knew that in principle it was a good cause, but it wasn't until I heard the vets tell their histories that I was hooked.

Although that first march took me seven and a half hours and beat the hell out of me, I decided to return each year as long as the original vets were still coming out. I also decided to volunteer for search and rescue (SAR) since I realized I met the physical requirements and knew that SAR was a tiny way I could say thanks with more than a word and a handshake.

In addition to honoring veterans, training for BMDM keeps me fit for SAR missions.

How do I train?

I was totally unprepared my first year. I did only four practice hikes, each with a 35 pound pack, each with an increasing distance. My hikes were in sandy terrain, because I had read about the sand pits, and I wore hiking boots. That was not a heavy enough pack to train with; that wasn't enough training days, and the surface was too soft. So, when I attended my first BMDM, my feet hurt quite a bit by mile six. I could barely walk the last several miles.

Somewhere around 2014, I started training in November. Then, in 2017, I started doing weekly pack runs in late August. From 2014 until 2018, in my non-training months I tried to do something with my pack at least once a month in my "off season" (i.e., between BMDM and whenever I started my weekly pack runs). Often that was a search and rescue mission or two, but when my SAR team had no missions for a month I did something like a big hike with a fifty pound pack.

Since 2014, I've been ramping up my training starting in November. Until 2018, I'd run with my pack on Wednesdays and on Saturdays. Starting in 2018 I did that but also ran with my pack on Mondays. My Wednesday runs were done as quickly as I could and started from and ended at my house. Typically I increased the distance by a half mile each week. My Saturday runs alternated between a level run at race pace and a run five miles up and five miles down La Luz Trail (i.e., the local mountain). My level run distance typically increased by three miles. My mountain run stayed the same distance, but in theory I tried to do it faster each time. In reality, we had so much snow this year that I was more concerned with avoiding injury than I was in improving my time. My Monday run was 13.1 miles, but incorporated 12 75 second all-out intervals in the middle.

In addition to my pack runs, I also ran without my pack the remaining days of the week except Sunday, when in theory I rode my bike. In reality, I only rode my bike seven times (not counting The Quad) between November 1st 2018 and March 23rd, mostly due to weather.

Is this training plan safe?

No. If you run with a pack, you risk injury. I have worked up to this training plan over several years. A plan of doing two pack runs a week with running and cycling in between is probably doable for anyone who has already run a marathon or two, although the times, distances and weight should probably be lessened. Three pack runs a week is probably a bad idea for almost everyone. In fact, I think three pack runs a week for me in my 2018-2019 training cycle was slightly excessive. For one thing, the abrasions on my back never completely healed, but additionally my resting heart rate crept up slowly. I haven't figured out the specifics yet, but for 2019-2020, I'll probably do more than two, but less than three pack runs a week, perhaps it'll be as easy as strictly alternating between three pack run and two pack run weeks.

Base building

In previous years, my BMDM training has begun in mid November. I was not happy with my performance @ BMDM in March of 2017, so that year I started doing Wednesday pack runs in late August. I also stopped tapering and taking recovery days after my August through November races.

I did fine without the taper or recovery days for all of my races until the Tucson marathon (December 2017). I caught a pretty bad cold (or maybe it was the flu) a week after Tucson that I may have avoided had I either spent a little time recovering or not done as much celebratory drinking. On the other hand, my son had caught the same bug before I did and my wife caught it shortly after. Friends and relatives caught it around the same time, so maybe I'd have fallen sick regardless.

During my 2018-2019 training season I have only missed a few days due to sickness and I'm not sure, but I may not have missed a single pack run for that reason, although there have been some search-and-rescue missions that I've not attended due to sickness. I'm much more willing to push myself training when under the weather than go on a SAR mission, because I don't have to worry about infecting others or letting people down if I can't follow through.

Back to base building, my post 2019 BMDM tentative plan is to do a pack run a week, probably on Wednesdays, probably 13.1 miles and probably for speed. The rest of my training will be more tuned to ultra running than BMDM, at least until November.

Weight loss

On March 29th, 2018 I went down to UNM and was hydrostatically weighed. My body fat percentage was 21.95%. That was a wake-up call, so I decided to experiment with losing weight and trying to not lose power. I was a little nervous that doing so would interfere with my ability to finish Cruel Jewel 100, but it was just the opposite. I finished CJ100 much quicker than I expected, in part—I believe—due to my weight loss.

My goal was to get my body fat percentage down to 7.3%. Based on my first hydrostatic weighing, that would have been approximately 156 pounds, except I had a second hydrostatic weighing on June 4th. I weighed 159.6, which was a 25.9 pound loss, but 8.5 of that was lean muscle mass.

After that weighing, I raised the number of calories and the amount of protein I was taking during some of my more lengthy runs. The change was successful. I had my third weighing on July 26th and I lost 8.6 pounds of fat and gained .4 pounds of muscle. Similarly, I had my fourth on November 8th and lost only .7 pounds of fat, but gained 1.9 pounds of muscle.

Test Date Body Weight Fat Weight Fat Free Weight Body Fat %
2018-03-29 185.5 40.7 144.8 21.95
2018-06-04 159.6 23.3 136.3 14.61
2018-07-26 151.4 14.7 136.7 9.74
2018-11-08 152.6 14.0 138.6 9.15

Even though I didn't hit 7.3%, I ramped up my carbohydrate intake and increased the intensity of some of my training days. I'm still did some of my diet protocol, but chose not to have another hydrostatic weighing during my BMDM training, since I don't think I'd have changed anything based on the numbers.

After BMDM, close to March 29th, I'll have another hydrostatic weighing and then figure out what to do as I train for the Hardrock 100. My guess is I'll return to trying for 7.3%.

Non-pack Days

The remainder of this document uses the present tense rather than past, but really it documents what I did up until BMDM 2019. I'm running the Boston Marathon in April and am likely to do very short runs for a week or two after BMDM 2019 until my resting HR is back in the mid forties (it was 51 on March 13th). I'm also planning on doing a two week taper for Boston, so basically I'll be on a very reduced training schedule for about a month and after Boston I'll be training for HR100.

During the week I do slow runs from my house out to Albuquerque Academy, some distance around Albuquerque Academy and back to my house. On Sundays I ride my bike along the Bosque Bike trail. How far I ride is dependent on weather, mood, how much time I want to be out and to a lesser extent how beat up I am from my Saturday activity. I usually ride my bike between 35 and 50 miles the day after a La Luz pack run and 35 miles the day after a Bosque Bike Path pack run.

On Mondays I run from my house to Albuquerque Academy, run three laps around AA, back to my house and then do another .9 miles to bring the total up to 13.1 miles. However, during that half marathon, I do twelve all-outs of seventy-five seconds with only thirty seconds of rest in between.

In theory, I try to keep my heart-rate at about 130bpm for my slow runs and bike ride, but if it's chilly or I'm rushed or otherwise feeling frisky I may run, or bike, a bit faster.

This is what I did up until BMDM 2018

Day Activity Amount
Sunday Bike Ride 35 - 70 miles
Monday Interval Training 8.9 miles
Tuesday Slow Run 3 miles
Thursday Slow Run 5.6 miles
Friday Slow Run 3 miles

Starting in April 2018, I upped my schedule to:

Day Activity Amount
Sunday Bike Ride 35 - 70 miles
Monday Interval Training 13.1 miles
Tuesday Slow Run 8.9 miles
Thursday Slow Run 8.9 miles
Friday Slow Run 13.1 miles

On November 19th, 2018, I started doing my interval training with my pack, so Monday is no longer a non-pack day.

Starting Friday, January 11th, I wound up taking four of the following seven Fridays completely off from running so I could run harder on Saturdays.

Pack (and exception) days

In the following table, speed means as quickly as I can to minimize the total time I spend. This year it should be about a 9:30 minute/mile pace when running with my pack. My speed during my non-pack races (e.g., Sandia Snowshoe Race and the Mt. Taylor Winter Quadrathlon) varies greatly.

Race is my race goal of 10:18 minute/mile.

Mountain means I'm running up and down a mountain and trying to minimize my time. I run the same mountain course every other weekend. As my fitness increases, so does my pace. My record, in February 2016, was a 14:15 minute/mile pace. I should be able to better this year.

Comfort means I'll keep my HR between below 150bpm during the training or event. I'm out there to have fun.

Interval Beginning November 19th, I began doing interval training with my forty pound pack, wrapped with enough low heart rate running on either end to be a total of 13.1 miles with an average heart rate of 130bpm. The intervals themselves are 12 all-outs of 75 seconds each, with 30 seconds of light running as rest in between.

Prior to November 19th, I had done interval trainings on Monday, but without the pack.

Pace meant whatever it took to be the best pacer possible for my brother-in-law as he finished his first Leadville 100. Turns out the little bugger was plagued with GI trouble that slowed him down for much of the return from Winfield, then—after that subsided—he wanted to run the final seven or eight miles. Fun!

When I run from my house, I typically run over to Albuquerque Academy, then run around it some distance before coming back. As such, I typically have to wait at a stoplight a couple of times or more and it's hillier than the Bosque Bike path, which has neither stops nor hills.


Date Miles Pace Pounds Where Notes
Apr 26 8.9 comfort 31.5 from house 1:41:58, 130bpm, 11:28 min/mi
Apr 28 6.6 comfort+ 31.5 from Philmont (trail) 1:20:42, 148bpm, 12:15 min/mi
Apr 29 8.1 speed 31.5 from Philmont (road) 1:27:15, 145bpm, 10:45 min/mi
May 9 5.55 race 36.5 from house 53:21, 150bpm, 9:36 min/mi
May 16 2.24 race 40 from house 19:46, 155bpm, 8:50 min/mi, 5# plate too far forward
May 18 106 comfort 0 Cruel Jewel 100 39:12, 116bpm, 22:13 min/mi
May 26 3.1 race 35 Believe in Heroes (Los Lunas) 26:06, 154bpm, 8:26 min/mi
May 30 12.26 comfort 40 from house 2:36:46, 128bpm, 12:47 min/mi
Jun 2 27 comfort 40 Sandia Crest Trail 12:31:29, 103bpm, 27:59 min/mi, 2.5 gallon water brick leaked, should have been 50#
Jun 6 12.52 comfort 38 from house 2:30:12, 133bpm, 11:59 min/mi
Jun 9 34.34 comfort 0 Chimney Melon 50k 13:29:03, 118bpm, 23:23 min/mi, Not a race, just a fun group training run
Jun 13 13.11 comfort 40 from house 2:35:08, 141bpm, 11:50 min/mi
Jun 16 8.65 race 40 Bosque Bike Path 1:25:45, 149bpm, 9:54 min/mi
Jun 20 13.11 comfort 40 from house 2:28:51, 132bpm, 11:21 min/mi
Jun 27 13.10 comfort 40 from house 2:27:40, 132bpm, 11:16 min/mi
Jun 30 18 race 40 Bosque Bike Path 3:09:21, 142?bpm, 10:31 min/mi
Jul 4 13.11 comfort 40 from house 2:24:45, 128bpm, 11:02 min/mi
Jul 11 13.12 comfort 40 from house 2:24:17, 130bpm, 10:59 min/mi
Jul 18 13.11 comfort 40 from house 2:23:35, 130bpm, 10:57 min/mi
Jul 21 13.10 comfort 40 from house 2:19:55, 130bpm, 10:40 min/mi
Jul 25 13.10 comfort 40 from house 2:27:14, < 130bpm, 11:13 min/mi
Aug 4 31 comfort 0 Baldy 50k 10:56:27, 118bpm, 20:22 min/mi
Aug 8 13.11 comfort 40 from house 2:28:43, < 130bpm, 11:20 min/mi
Aug 9 5.57 comfort 40 from house 54:58, 131bpm**, 9:52 min/mi
Aug 10 8.89 comfort 40 from house 1:33:31, 130bpm, 10:31 min/mi
Aug 11 8.56 race 40 Bosque Bike Path 1:16:15, 143bpm, 8:54 min/mi
Aug 14 2.21 speed 40 from house 18:56, 138bpm, 8:33 min/mi
Aug 18 50 pace 10 Leadville Trail 100 15:26:35, 117bpm, 18:13 min/mi, Paced Jeff, my brother-in-law, the last 50 miles
Aug 25 27 comfort 10 Sandia Crest Trail 9:38:56, 99bpm, 21:30 min/mi, did not wear 50# pack because I'm tapering for Tahoe 200
Aug 29 6.56 comfort 40 from house 1:09:02, 130bpm, 10:31 min/mi
Aug 31 6.56 speed 40 from house 58:30, 148bpm, 8:55 min/mi
Sep 4 3.28 comfort 40 from house 32:46, 131bpm, 9:58 min/mi
Sep 7 205 comfort 15 Tahoe 200 89:23:05, ~13 hours sleeping, a few more hours lazing around aid stations, no crew or pacers, would have been faster if I hadn't stubbed my toe on the second day
Sep 16 100* comfort 0 Tour de Cheapskates *Self-supported 100 mile bike ride 6:46:51, 117bpm, 14.7 mph
Sep 19 6.56 comfort 40 from house 1:17:38, 129bpm, 11:50 min/mi
Sep 21 33 comfort 0 AA 50k 7:54:58, 106bpm, 14:10 min/mi
Sep 26 13.10 comfort 40 from house 2:25:49, 130bpm, 11:07 min/mi
Sep 29 31 comfort 0 Mt. Taylor 50k 6:13:03, 138bpm, 12:21 min/mi
Oct 3 13.10 comfort 40 from house 2:21:02, 130bpm, 10:45 min/mi
Oct 6 6.05 mountain 40 La Luz 1:31:29, 133bpm, 15:06 min/mi
Oct 10 5.55 race 40 from house 57:07, 141bpm, 10:17 min/mi
Oct 17 13.11 comfort 40 from house 2:22:44, 130bpm, 10:53 min/mi
Oct 20 31 comfort 0 White Mesa Fat Ass 50k 6:46:54, 130bpm, 12:39 min/mi
Oct 21 26.2 comfort 0 Duke City Marathon 5:00:03, 114bpm, 11:27 min/mi
Oct 27 99.9 comfort 0 Javelina Jundred 20:10:40, 117?bpm, 12:07 min/mi
Oct 31 13.11 comfort 40 from house 2:17:04, 131bpm, 10:27 min/mi
Nov 3 53 comfort 0 Deadman Peaks Trail Run 11:14:48, 127bpm, 12:48 min/mi
Nov 7 13.11 comfort 40 from house 2:14:37, 130bpm, 10:16 min/mi
Nov 11 30.63 comfort 0 Ghost Town 50k 5:45:30, 139bpm, 11:16 min/mi
Nov 14 6 speed 40 from house 53:05, 145bpm, 8:50 min/mi
Nov 17 9.86 mountain 35 La Luz 2:19:50, 131bpm, 14:10, alternate trailhead
Nov 19 13.1 interval 40 from house 2:09:37, 130bpm, 9:53 min/mi
Nov 21 6.5 speed 40 from house 56:07, 147bpm, 8:40 min/mi
Nov 23 4 speed 0 Black Friday Turkey Trots 28:20, 156bpm, 7:00 min/mi
Nov 24 32.57 comfort 0 Bosque Bigfoot 50k 4:59:29, 135bpm, 9:11 min/mi
Nov 26 13.1 interval 40 from house 2:15:56, 126bpm, 10:22 min/mi
Nov 28 7 speed 40 from house 1:01:53, 146bpm, 8:49 min/mi
Dec 1 15 race 40 Bosque Bike Path 2:22:11, 136bpm, 9:28 min/mi
Dec 3 13.11 interval 40 from house 2:14:11, 134bpm, 10:13 min/mi
Dec 5 7.5 speed 40 from house 1:07:18, 145bpm, 8:50 min/mi
Dec 8 9.88 mountain 35 La Luz 2:19:27, 141bpm, 14:07 min/mi
Dec 10 13.1 interval 40 from house 2:25:36, 132bpm, 11:06 min/mi
Dec 12 8.0 speed 40 from house 1:10:34, 150bpm, 8:48 min/mi
Dec 15 18.01 race 40 Bosque Bike Path 2:51:19, 139bpm, 9:30 min/mi
Dec 17 13.11 interval 40 from house 2:09:34, 143bpm, 9:53 min/mi
Dec 19 8.5 speed 40 from house 1:14:16, 153bpm, 8:43 min/mi
Dec 22 9.5 mountain 35 La Luz 2:27:47, 133bpm, 14:56 min/mi
Dec 24 13.11 interval 40 from house 2:18:52, 133bpm, 10:36 min/mi
Dec 26 9 speed 40 from house 1:18:21, 149bpm, 8:41 min/mi
Dec 29 18 race 40 Bosque Bike Path 2:49:44, 137bpm, 9:22 min/mi
Dec 29 3 race 0 The Grinch Lunch 24:48.2, 149bpm, 7:59 min/mi
Dec 31 13.11 interval 40 from house 2:18:13, 135bpm, 10:32 min/mi
Jan 1 11.11 comfort 0 Foothills Fat Ass 50k 3:05:51, 118bpm, 16:44 min/mi, blizzard wiped 50k
Jan 3 5.6 speed 40 from house 50:36, 149bpm, 9:08 min/mi, day late due to weather, tiredness
Jan 5 7.97 mountain 35 La Luz 2:43:39, 127bpm, 20:32 min/mi, dangerous snow
Jan 7 13.12 interval 40 from house 2:10:56, 138bpm, 9:58 min/mi
Jan 9 10 speed 40 from house 1:26:07, 148bpm, 8:35 min/mi
Jan 12 21 race 40 Bosque Bike Path 3:15:40, 141bpm, 9:18 min/mi
Jan 12 3.76 race 0 Resolutions Stink! 28:21, 155bpm, 7:32 min/mi
Jan 14 13.11 interval 40 from house 2:09:16, 139bpm, 9:51 min/mi
Jan 16 10.5 speed 40 from house 1:31:53, 151bpm, 8:44 min/mi
Jan 19 7.72 mountain 35 La Luz 2:30:25, 130bpm, 19:28 min/mi
Jan 21 13.10 interval 40 from house 2:07:58, 143bpm, 9:45 min/mi
Jan 23 11 speed 40 from house 1:36:16, 149bpm, 8:44 min/mi
Jan 26 2.71 race 0 Sandia Snowshoe Race 29:27, 157 bpm, 10:55 min/mi
Jan 28 13.11 interval 40 from house 2:10:14, 140bpm, 9:56 min/mi
Jan 30 11.51 speed 43 from house 1:42:58, 148bpm, 8:56 min/mi
Feb 2 24.01 race 40 Bosque Bike Path 3:44:23, 142bpm, 9:20 min/mi
Feb 4 13.11 interval 40 from house 2:09:36, 141bpm, 9:53 min/mi
Feb 6 12.01 speed 40 from house 1:48:23, 150bpm, 9:01 min/mi
Feb 9 9.91 mountain 35 La Luz 2:45:42, 131bpm, 16:42 min/mi
Feb 11 6.56 interval 40 from house 1:03:39, 139bpm, 9:41 min/mi
Feb 13 5.54 speed 40 from house 46:01, 154bpm, 8:18 min/mi
Feb 16 43* comfort 0 Mount Taylor Winter Quadrathlon *bike/run/ski/snowshoe 5:55:22 140bpm
Feb 18 6.56 interval 40 from house 1:04:22.3, 139bpm, 9:48 min/mi
Feb 20 6.21 speed 40 from house 53:32, 151bpm, 8:37 min/mi
Feb 22 24.01 race 40 Bosque Bike Path 3:43:27, 143bpm, 9:18 min/mi
Feb 23 3 race 0 V Day Run 18:58, 147bpm, 7:53 min/mi
Feb 25 13.11 interval 40 from house 2:12:20, 143bpm, 10:06 min/mi
Feb 27 13.11 speed 40 from house 2:02:12, 149bpm, 9:19 min/mi
Mar 2 5.02 mountain 35 La Luz 1:05:44, 146bpm, 13:05 min/mi
Mar 4 6.55 interval(6) 40 from house 1:04:08, 144bpm, 9:47 min/mi
Mar 6 6.56 speed 40 from house 56:11, 154bpm, 8:34 min/mi
Mar 9 6.17 race 32 King of the Hill 57:38, 153bpm, 9:17 min/mi
Mar 10 3.51* race 0 BBT Crowning 31:32, 137bpm, 8:00 min/mi *I missed a turn and did .42 bonus miles
Mar 11 3.28 interval(3) 40 from house 32:06, 140bpm, 9:47 min/mi
Mar 13 3.28 speed 40 from house 26:50, 153bpm, 8:11 min/mi
Mar 17 26.2 race 35 Bataan Memorial Death March 4:45:48, 150bpm, 10:54 min/mi

Excuses, Excuses

Wah! Wah! Wah! My Pack Broke!

I was in first place for the first two checkpoints, but the timing info shows Jason Stuck having passed me on the third leg, during which I required a porta-potty break, probably due to my having had too large of a high fiber lunch the day before.

I really fell apart though after the descent down the asphalt portion of mineral hill. I normally start to have trouble around then. However, it's likely that my pack frame broke as I did an 8:27 minute mile.

I'll never know for sure that my pack broke then. Nor will I know if that is what caused the huge amount of hip/lower-back discomfort I felt, but I do know that when I looked at my pack the morning after my run the upright tube that supports the stay that holds the pack open was indeed broken in half and the stay and pin were free floating.

Although there's a tiny chance that the break happened after the race, I've seen my finishing line photos and my pack looks pretty skewed. Additionally, although during the race, and even the day after, my pain felt uniformly spread around my hips, that changed. My left side healed much faster than my right. In retrospect, I think that is another sign that the pack break put undue stress on one side and eventually the discomfort was so severe that it overwhelmed everything.

Even prior to this year's run, I had been debating using a different pack for a while (and even briefly experimented with an internal frame pack a few years ago). This most recent break was the final straw. For 2020, I'll train and run with a different style pack. Joseph Altobello: if you're out there, please send me email. I value your opinion and would like to discuss pack options with you. FWIW, I'm interested in hearing from others, too, it's just that Joseph and I have talked after the race a few times and I've forgotten to get his email address (or I got it and misplaced it).

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