With under two weeks until my goal race for spring the NDW50, I am fluctuating between feeling better prepared for a race than ever before and woefully under prepared- taper crazies have started already.
I’ve never trained harder or more consistently for a race, I’ve looked through training logs for previous ultras/marathons and realised I’ve always missed significant chunks of training with injury. This time around I’ve managed to stay injury free- thanks strength training- but I have been ill twice, missing two entire weeks of training which I do feel has set me back a bit, although I did build in 2 spare weeks to my plan for this kind of eventuality. I’ll be close to 700 miles for the year by race day, and all those miles have brought me to this point.
I was going to start my taper this week, but I kind of checked out during my long run last week. I had planned 20 miles, but was mentally and physically struggling the whole way, so I called it a day at 13.5, and decided to start my taper and wind down to race day early. I was already starting to feel pretty drained and tired and had not wanted to go out for a few sessions last week, I thought it better to go in a little fresher then feeling battered and not recovered.
My NDW recce run a few weeks ago filled me with many doubts, and I realised my training hasn’t been as specific as it could be. I know that training in South East London is never going to replicate being on the trails, and I wish I had been able to get out for more recce runs, but I just haven’t had the time or motivation to spend hours traveling somewhere before running. I realised on my recce that the NDW is very very different to the SDW, it felt a lot more closed in with all the woodland sections, I also found the trail and terrain a little more challenging too, a lot of narrower rutted paths, and the amount of times I tripped over indicated I hadn’t spent enough time running this terrain, or trails in general. The steps are also a killer, and it’s tough when you are looking forward to a downhill and it turns out to be horrendously steep set of steps that are arguably harder than the ups! I haven’t spent enough time walking/hiking, which really showed as I struggled to even walk up some of the hills on my recce, god knows what state I will be in trying to attempt them after 20+ miles.
Is it normal to feel both over and under-prepared at the same time, because right now that is how I’m feeling. Prepared in terms of miles run, time on feet, nutrition and gear practiced with, but not prepared in terms of terrain or elevation profile. For the SDW50 last year, I did less mileage, I didn’t do a recce or any trail running before, and I went into the race blind and that went OK, so maybe I will be fine. I feel like in some ways having done the recce I am slightly terrified of what to expect, and almost dreading the second half before I have even started, but I just need to put it out of my head until I get to that point on race day.
The next 2 weeks will be spent winding down my runs and strength training, dialing in my nutrition which has been bloody awful lately, and trying to stay healthy to make the start line on May 13th. I’m already thinking about future goals and races so I’ve maintained some form of passion towards running which has usually petered out at this point in training. I feel like I could have run more, and my running and strength work could have been more specific. I could have eaten and looked after myself better, but when you are running 50-60 miles per week, you are so tired and in a permanent state of hunger so you will kind of settle for anything. The decisions I’ve made have made up my journey over the last few months, yes I could be better prepared, but I could also be less prepared too. I just hope that everything comes together on race day, and it makes for an enjoyable day out on the North Downs Way.