I know some folks may turn to this message board seeking advice on how to train as a flatlander (I sure did!). So I thought I'd share what worked for my inaugural PPA last year.
For context - I'm a mediocre athlete (road half-marathon PR is 2:08), middle-aged mom of 2 with a job (so my limited time for workouts had to be purposeful). And I training in Central Texas. My goal was to do targeted workouts that specifically addressed the issues of running uphill and at altitude.
I decided to focus on building my core and leg strength (rather than training on a treadmill set to a certain percentage of incline) in order to prepare for uphill. And for running at altitude, I decided to do most of my training in the heat of the day (based on information I found indicating that running in heat has a similar physiological affect as running at altitude).
So here was my weekly schedule:
Bootcamp-style workout - 2X's per week. These were done with a trainer who used to be a pro runner, so he understands how to strength train in support of running.
Long, slow runs IN THE HEAT OF THE DAY - 1 to 2X's per-week. or 2 runs in the *heat of the day.* These increased in distance from 5 to 12 miles from May through early August. All runs were done some time between noon and 5 p.m. and they were SLOW (10:30 to 12 min/mile pace). Running in the heat not only prepared my body for the additional strain of running at altitude, but it got me in the habit of drinking small sips of water constantly. I believe that on race day this was influential in avoiding altitude sickness, because I wore a hydration pack and sipped constantly.
Trail run of 6 to 9 miles - 1X per-week.
Hill Repeats - 1X per-week. This included a warm-up and cool-down of 15 min each, plus 30 minutes of hill repeats on the steepest incline I could find in my neighborhood.
So I did about 5 workouts weekly, and never ran more than 12 miles before the race. Sometimes I switched out one of these workouts with a bike ride or trail hike where I pulled my toddler in the bike trailer or carried her in a pack - anything that made the workout harder.
I finished PPA in about 5:40. So I wasn't fast, but my workouts definitely prepared me to finish well within the cut-off time. The only thing I wish I had done more of was speed work (which I think would have influenced the first 2 miles of the race).
I hope this information is helpful to someone running this year. Wish I was going to be there doing it with you! Have fun - it's a great race, with tons of support.