Gary 'Smiler' Turner's Blog

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Monday, 1 October 2012

8 Weeks to 40m Ultra-marathon

8 Weeks to 40m Ultra-marathon

The weather is starting to change. This week started with a 21 mile run which started dry yet ended in torrential rain! This is the first rain during a run since I started this blog.

Immediately I felt the change underfoot. Tree roots became slippery. The ground softened. My feet got wet. I will now need to monitor the condition of my feet to ensure that blisters and other problems don’t start to appear. I will also have to start being more careful in respect to my foot placement.

The 21 miles was not easy. Well, it was easy until around mile 16. Then it started to bite with my legs becoming heavier. Fortunately the huskies are getting better and better at staying on task for longer distances without distractions. This helped me through the last 5 miles as I could just concentrate on my technique.

I had a little play with my food during the run. I had a banana and a coffee just before I left, a 330ml full fat milkshake at the hour and 2 hour mark, and a ½ a Mars bar at the 2.5hr and 3hr points. The Mars bar was a mistake. I had a drop in energy around 20minutes after eating and my legs became heavy. I took the next ½ of the bar and I picked up again for another 20minutes before my energy dropped once more.

From this I believe I am running much better without fast sugars. I may well end up taking carbohydrates on the Ultra, yet it won’t be in the form of fast sugar, such as a Mars bar, that’s for sure! I can do without the fast energy followed by the heavy drop.

My long runs are the time for experimenting like this. I need to make sure that I have practiced everything in training, working out what is the optimum foods to take, when, and for what effect, several times before the race. During an Ultramarathon is not the time to be experimenting.

36 hours before my long run I had a heavy sparring session. This left me with aching and tired shoulders, and I was interested to see how this would affect my run, especially with respect to carrying my rucksack. During the run I could feel them, yet it didn’t affect me at all.

I made a change this week to my back to back runs. Instead of doing a single long distance on the Monday morning after the Sunday long run, I split it into two, in order to get a higher mileage in. Two runs of 7 miles completed.  And the huskies rocked in the afternoon – in fact, the afternoon run was one of my most enjoyable ever!

I’ve got to admit though, the Tuesday morning run was a bit of a grind – I did feel every step. This in itself is great training as it is preparing me for being mentally strong. Lots of ultrarunners have told me that running an ultra is more about the mind than the body. I’m beginning to realise that they were 100% right. Yet I stuck with it and surpassed my 40 mile total even earlier in the week than last.

The high mileage took it out of me this week and by Wednesday I was very tired. So in order to prevent fatigue setting in, to bolster my immune system, and to assist recovery I didn’t do any further runs this week, took the odd afternoon nap (the joys of being your own boss!) and the husky walks were gentle ‘smell walks’ – they need to recover too of course!

This is my fifth week’s mileage, week commencing Sunday 23rd September:
Sunday:               21 miles
Monday:             7 miles
                            7 miles
Tuesday:              6.5 miles
Wednesday:         Rest
Thursday:            Rest
Friday:                  Rest
Weekly Total =  44 miles


  1. Hello Gary, Great blog. If you are around this weekend then it might be handy for a trip over to Caesars Camp in Aldershot. Henk & his team could be a bit busy for the first hour. Starts at noon on Saturday. Good luck in your training & forthcoming ultra.

    Website link to Caesars Camp Endurances Runs.

  2. Hey Gary,

    Interesting that the tiredness kicked in a couple of days later! I'm only training for a normal marathon but when my mileage gets up to 21 like yours I'd not thought about how that might affect my plan for the rest of the week. I may need to revisit my plan!


  3. Hi Mr K - I popped over there on Saturday, thanks for the heads up! I did make enquiries about canicross at the events too - might have to pester a little to allow dog teams lol!

    This is the event that Gary Vallance won a few years back - a tough 100miler for sure!

    Ben, allow adaptation to take place, and you will quickly learn to recover. Recovery isn't just the most important part of training - its something you need to train your body to do too! Keep it up mate!