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Sunday, 23 September 2012

9 Weeks to 40m Ultra-marathon

9 Weeks to 40m Ultra-marathon

It gets easier from here!

Sunday I broke my psychological milestone – the 20mile barrier. This is the farthest distance I have run since I completed the 2001 London Marathon. Should you be interested I did that in 4hrs and 12 minutes, and learnt lots along the way.

In my mind a ‘long run’ is 20 miles plus. So to break the 20 mile mark is a mental triumph for me. As far as I am mentally concerned I can now complete the 40 miles of the Brecon Beacon race. Everything that I now do will just help me to enjoy it.

I did the 20 miles in 3hrs and 30minutes, and that was with around 5kg of weight in my backpack. Doubling this gives the 40 mile race distance, and a 7hr time. Adding a further 2hrs on the end gives me a current target time of 9hrs to complete the ultramarathon. I am running cross country over varied and hilly terrain – yet nothing compared to the Brecon Beacons. However I climb very well and am very quick and efficient on the downhill sections. Therefore I think at this point that 9 hours is a realistic target time. Most importantly it is still several hours under the cut-off time, so I have room to breathe!

This was also the first run where I took on board fuel and water. It seemed to help my recovery quite nicely. When I walked the huskies that afternoon, leisurely 2mile cross-country, I actually thought “I could do a 7 miler now…” which is comforting. When you think that you can do more after a run like that it is definitely a good sign!

I took on board two 330ml of chocolate milkshake. The recipe for this was ¾ full fat milk with ¼ cream, a teaspoon of dark high quality cocoa, and 2 teaspoons of sugar. I drank them at the 1hr and 2hr 30minute points. I took on board a further 500ml of water during the run. I had zero stomach problems and the milkshakes tasted lovely!

Monday my legs felt a little heavy, and I set out on a 10miler. Starting with my local Beacon Hill I had warmed up by the time I got to the top. I am now getting very strict with the huskies too ensuring that they remain “on task”. I had a couple of corrections where they decided to stop suddenly and smell - though they are working better and better. I allow them water and also to have regular pee stops, yet they are not allowed to just check the local ‘pee mail’ points. ‘Smell’ walks are for that, not working.

Off lead dogs continue to be a pain. I am now just continuing to drive my dogs forward “on by” and letting the other owners worry about their dogs. I used my knee to push a Labrador off Harley on Tuesday’s run, when he decided to jump on him. The owner protested, unable to see my frustration and I snapped “working dogs – control him!” I’m now just looking after and protecting my dogs, keeping them on task, keeping on task myself. If the off-lead dog owners can’t keep their dogs under control I will look after mine first.

The long run on Sunday also exposed a weakness in my body. I have a rub point on the small of my back. After Monday it was quite raw. This was protected with zinc oxide tape, an old Army trick. So far I have had absolutely no trouble with my feet at all. Let’s hope that lasts! I’m running with Brooks Pure Grit trail running shoes, which are nice and minimalistic allowing me to midsole/forefoot run.

Tuesday was a good day – I felt comfortable on my morning run. So I popped out later that day for another 3 to get the 40miles in the bag. So in my second weeks training I got 40miles in 5 days, third week it was in 4 days, and this week it was completed in 3. I have the assistance now that the weather is cooling allowing me to run in the afternoon as well as the morning. It will make getting the miles in easier!

This is also the stage where I need to seriously think about my recovery. My body needs to adjust to these high mileage runs. The advantage of doing them all together (as well as training myself to run on tired legs!) is that I then get several days rest and recovery – as do the huskies too! So although I’m increasing the intensity of the work I am also increasing the rest period accordingly. My body is feeling strong, my health is feeling high, so I won’t put in an ‘easy’ or ‘plateau’ week unless I feel like it.

This is my fourth week’s mileage, week commencing Sunday 16th September:
Sunday:                20 miles
Monday:              10 miles
Tuesday:              7 miles
                             3.5 miles
Wednesday:      Rest
Thursday:            3.5 miles
Friday:                  Rest
Saturday:             Rest
Weekly Total =  44 miles

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