Category Archives: Ultramarathon Training

London 2 Brighton 56k

IMG_1938As the alarm went off at 4.30am on Saturday I hauled myself from the pillow after 3 hours sleep and realised it was finally race day-the time that I had been training 6 months for! I wolfed some porridge, felt sick in the taxi due to my sleep deprived state, and finally got to Old Deer Park amidst absolutely torrential rain! There was thankfully a huge marquee to keep us out of the rain. My trainers were already drenched, so there was no bloody way I was going to stand in the pissing down rain for 15 minutes doing Zumba as a race warm up! I headed out just before 6.40am and a group of us set off on our way.

IMG_1937The weather was absolutely horrific, and the first section which was 12k around the Thames path to Kingston was completely water logged. I spent more time dodging round puddles, trying to keep my feet as dry as possible, not that that happened at all.

IMG_1941After a quick detour round the houses we reached the first stop point at Green Lane 12.5k. I was feeling pretty good by this point, other than being soaking wet. I had a quick toilet stop and headed off on my way. The stops along the way were awesome, there was huge marquees, ample portaloos, and loads of food and refreshments. I had brought all my own food so didn’t have anything, but there was loads to choose from.

From looking at the route map I knew the route started to get a bit hillier, and from about 10k until 35k the route was steady incline. There was a little bit more round the houses, and throughout there was a lot of crossing of very busy roads, one road in particular near the end took an age to get across. We headed through more built up areas, with the most bizarre section cutting through a train station including up and down the steps.

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Credit to Nikki Kennedy

Taken off Instagram

Taken off Instagram

The mud was a bloody nightmare, and having gone without trail shoes thinking it was best with the initial road sections I had literally no grip on any off road sections. My shoes did not stand up well, and I was amazed I managed to stay on my feet.

It finally stopped raining at around 16-17 mile point, and I took my jacket off for a bit but it was only a few miles later that the heavens opened again.

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I felt decent for the first 18 miles and ran up all the hills until that point, I went through half way just after 3.20 taking it slow and steady. At this point we started getting into the North Downs and it got very hilly and more undulating on footpaths off-road, there was a huge incline and I decided that from that point it wouldn’t be worth slugging it out on the inclines so I walked any from there.

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The field never spread out that far, and there was always someone in sight behind or in front, although it seemed like there was significantly more men than women running it. The course was really well marked with pink arrows and km markers so I managed not to get lost like my last trail race. I had a lot of nice chats with fellow runners along the way, and I just love the atmosphere of races like this.

I really struggled with any sections that were muddy particularly in the second half of the race and had to walk a lot of them for safety more than anything else. One of the worst sections was a very steep downhill which was slightly muddy, I was trying to go against gravity and slow myself down as it was really slippy and dangerous, but this just destroyed my knees. This combined with stile after stile in the latter part of the race was brutal on tired legs!

Not long after 20 miles I realised that my very very wet shorts had started to chafe my inner thigh, it was stinging really badly and I had to lash a load more vaseline (yes I am anti-vaseline but I bought it for this) on them and wear my shorts as low as possible to try and alleviate it. Every step was painful and I knew I was going to be in a bad way!

I was quite glad to see the rest stop at around 26 miles, and stopped for a little bit to have a toilet break, update the social media and family and have some food before heading off for the final section. I pretty much ate the whole way round: bars, gels, almonds, baby food sachets. It kept me going and occupied me mentally having to remember to eat and drink something every 20 minutes.

The last 9 miles took absolutely forever. Thankfully I teamed up with another runner and we both spurred each other on for the last hard push, she was doing the 100k but actually stopped at 56km due to a knee injury and the atrocious conditions. I think a number of people who were signed up for the 100k actually stopped at the 56k as the conditions were so bad and I don’t blame them.

The final section was all on trail, through farmers fields and off-road paths with thick mud which was impossible to run through. These miles took an age, and we seemed to do more walking than running as the conditions were awful, we did drop a 10 minute mile in there at one point, but most of them were very slow (17 minutes!) and very hard work as we crawled to the finish line.

I wished that the race had been 50k rather than 56k, as that extra little bit mentally was hard especially as it was the toughest part. I ran without music the entire time, I was going to get it out for the last 10 miles but then having a run buddy there I didn’t need it, it helped so much as I don’t know what state I would have been in without her. We battled on through heavy rain and thunder to get to the finish.

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We got to 56k and there was literally no sight of the finish line which was quite demoralising. Especially as we had been trudging through the mud for the last few miles up particularly steep slippy inclines. At 57.4k the farm finally came into sight and we ran together across the finish line. I was given my medal and offered a plethora of refreshments, downing the prosecco first! Rehydration is important! There was massage and blister tents, as well as loads of hot food and refreshments for anyone finishing or continuing onwards.

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I picked up my bag and headed to the disabled portaloo to get changed- glamorous. I was absolutely soaking and caked in mud, so after a quick wet wipe down got changed and headed to get the shuttle bus to the nearest train station. Ironically as soon as I stopped running the sun came out and it didn’t rain for the rest of the day!

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I’m still in a little bit of a phase were it doesn’t feel like it’s all over or that I’ve done it. I feel absolutely fine, my feet are a little sore, but nothing as bad blister wise as I would have thought. The only bad part is the horrendous chafe on my left leg, it is so sore! The body feels pretty good, probably as I had to walk through quite a lot of the second half which broke it up a bit.

Right now I’m not sure if I’d do another one, I did enjoy it and I guess if I can do one in those conditions I can do one in anything. I’d probably choose a bit of a flatter one to do next time too! The whole race was incredibly well organised, there was great banter along the way and it was just a shame the weather didn’t co-operate, but it didn’t dampen spirits too much.

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I finished around 7.20 on my Garmin and 7.36 overall. Amusingly I was the second lady in the 56k and 11th overall. I think it’s a case of there being hardly any ladies running, but I’m taking it anyway ha! I was on for a bit faster than that, but the second half was largely un-runnable. I actually enjoy long distances like this off road, as I don’t care about the time, I just run because I enjoy it, and I enjoy the places I am running, even though they may be really bloody muddy! I definitely think my heart leans towards trail running, there’s just something so special about it, and I’d like to do it a lot more in the future.

But first, to rest for a few weeks and celebrate becoming an ultra runner!

Ultra Training Week 19- Taper

That week absolutely flew by, my training has massively dropped this week as I’ve started my taper for race day, which is just 6 days away ARGH!!

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Mon: Upper Body Weights/Core
Tues: 6 mile Run + 3.5 mile Walk
Weds: Lower Body Weights/Core + 3.6 mile Walk
Thurs: 4 mile Run + 3.6 mile Walk
Fri: REST DAY 6 mile Walk
Sat: Metabolic Blaster Upper Body Weights/Hiit
Sun: 10.5 mile Run + 3 mile Walk

My running has dropped from 5 runs a week over the last few months to just 3 this week, and it’s been a little strange. Taper crazy much?! I feel like I’ve barely run at all, and my legs have been the opposite of fresh, as the marathon + mileage from last week finally caught up with me, leaving me feeling pretty drained.

My runs have been pretty enjoyable this week. Although the 6 miler was tough as my legs finally realised they had run a marathon the week before, and were not really co-operating. I felt better during some intervals on Thursday. Today I had a really enjoyable-if slightly hot- run. I ran just over 3 miles with the other half and then ran just over 7 with Lululemon run club, we went along the canal and through Regent’s park, spotting lots of animals along the way. It was nice to have a comfortable run and a chat along the way. It was so bloody hot though, and it’s starting to worry me a bit for next weekend as the forecast is 25 degrees! Not ideal ultra running weather!

I started Phase 2 of the Fat Burn Revolution this week, and it was absolutely killer. There just seemed to be such a massive jump between the phase one workouts and these, and all the core stuff totally destroyed me! Those workouts left me feeling quite drained, so I’m thinking about taking a week off them this week before the race.

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I’ve had a really busy week trying to balance work/studying/house buying/training and I’m not really doing amazingly with that balance at the moment. Unfortunately my cooking has been the thing that’s totally gone out of the window, and I spent most of last week living off these amazing but probably not all that healthy raw sandwiches, as well as home-made energy bars and restaurant food. Hence I’m not really feeling my best, my allergies are worse than ever and I need to get on top of that this week heading into the ultra.

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I’ve got a few short runs lined up early this week as well as a much needed sports massage, and then I’ll have to start getting organised for race day. I can’t believe race day is nearly here!!

Ultra Training Week 18

Less than 2 weeks to go now until Ultra D-day! This week has been a massive confidence boost training wise and I’m now ready to taper and head into the big day feeling fresh!

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Mon: Milton Keynes Marathon + 3 mile Walk
Tues: Upper Body Weights + 1.5 mile Walk
Weds: 4 mile Run + 4 mile Walk
Thurs: Total Body Blast Circuits + 3.6 mile Walk
Fri: 6 mile Run + 3.6 mile Walk
Sat: 3.5 mile Run + We own the Night 10k + 6 mile Walk
Sun: 8 mile Run + Lower Body Weights

Just writing that out, I realised I didn’t actually take a rest day last week, oops! The body has been feeling pretty good, especially after the marathon, I feel like I am recovering really quickly right now, highlighted by the fact that I didn’t even realise I hadn’t taken a rest day.

This week at 54 miles stands at my highest mileage week during the training cycle, I would have liked a few more weeks around that, but the injury put me way behind schedule.

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This week saw me racing twice, and somewhat unexpectedly setting two new PB’s at MK Marathon and We Own the Night. After that I’m in a sort of triumphant, nothing can stop me, happy running zone- I just need to ride that wave all the way to the ultra now. After all the injury problems in Feb/March I’m so glad to be back feeling strong.

Credit to Mary

Credit to Mary

This week was my final week of Phase 1 of the Fat Burn Revolution, I’ve really enjoyed this phase, although after 4 weeks I’m looking forward to some new workouts. I get bored very easily, so like to change things up quite frequently. I’ve noticed a big difference strength wise over the course of the month, and I’m sure that’s helped massively with my running too, I’ll have a more in depth post on it up soon.

Outside of racing, I’ve got in some shake out/recovery jogs, and have just been taking it pretty easy during these runs. The weather has been shocking this week, so I’ve got drenched a few times, as well as felt like I was moving sideways rather than going forwards due to the wind during a few runs. My hay-fever has also been atrocious again, making me feel completely exhausted on some days this week, such a horrible feeling.

The 8 miler I did yesterday was barely 12 hours after the 10 miler on Saturday evening, I felt pretty good and I went fasted on a longer run for the first time, so I was starving when I finished. I think the hardest part about the fasted runs is just getting myself out the door. I’m so used to eating something pre workout it’s a hard habit to break, especially as I don’t eat late at night so usually wake up reasonably hungry. I’m sure it will just take time to get used to.

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I’ve continued with my physio exercises and stretches daily- it’s just become part of my routine now, as has legs up the wall! I’ve also been walking loads this week which has helped with recovery. My new job is just under 2 miles walk from my house so I’ve been walking there and back most days. We also did a lot of walking in Greenwich on Saturday as we were viewing a load of houses. We’ve made an offer for one, so fingers crossed!!

This week my plan has dropped the runs from 5 to 3 which will be a bit of a weird shock to the system. Let the taper begin!

MK Marathon 2014

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You can’t control the uncontrollables– this was the motto that I had to keep in mind for this race. There was National Rail train works over the bank holiday which meant I had to get up at 5.30am for the marathon which didn’t start until 10. I also was slightly concerned about the weather forecast, as I’ve suffered really badly in races before when the sun is out and the temps are up! Those things were out of my hands so I had to put them to the back of my mind. I just knew I wanted to have a better race than I did in Manchester, and most of all I wanted to enjoy it.

After multiple changes of transport, and meeting up with fellow runner Gina to share a taxi across some of the missing train route, we arrived around 9.20am at the MK Stadium. Being a stadium there were ample amounts of toilets and changing facilities- the mens toilet queue was massive, but we didn’t have to queue at all for the ladies- result!

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After lashing on some sun cream we headed over to the start, and just after 10am we were on our way. The first 8 miles of the course (pictured above) were fairly bizarre, as we headed along several out and back sections which were mostly up/down a hill, the sun was beating down on the tarmac, and there was no relief from the heat.

I deliberately started out slower than I have done in previous marathons, as I wanted to conserve energy, so I kept trying to get myself to run slower than I felt I could. At around the 10 mile point the half marathoners split off one way, and us marathoners went another. This started what was quite an enjoyable, but tough part of the course, we wound up and down through lots of park/wood/lake areas, and there were some really beautiful spots along the way- not just roads and roundabouts!

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The course was much more undulating than I thought it would be, and I felt like it was constantly up and down the whole way which in the heat was draining. I actually ran the whole thing, other than 2 hills near the end at mile 22 and 24 which I had to walk up as my legs physically couldn’t get up them by that point!

I didn’t have anyone supporting at the race, so it was nice to spot Mary at mile 7-8? and she later spotted me around mile 16- pretty heroic effort considering she ran 44 miles the day before!! The support was decent around the course, and the marshal’s were absolutely fantastic. Big thumbs up to the guy handing out oranges too, that went down super well. There were ample water stations, and toilets along the route at every 3 mile point. It was a busy day for St Johns Ambulance with the heat, and there were a lot of people in need of help around the course, big props to them for the awesome work they do.

At Manchester I hit the wall mentally at around mile 18, I was concious of that, and knew this time I just wanted to push through however slowly. I felt pretty good for the majority of the route, but I started to feel it big time in the last 6 miles, my stomach also started to feel really dodgy which was a bit unpleasant for the last few miles.

As we neared mile 26 the stadium came into sight and I knew there wasn’t long to go, there was a nice downhill/flat section and the support was great coming into the stadium and pitch-side as you ran round the pitch to finish. I actually felt quite emotional on that lap, felt like I had put Manchester to rest, and had gone out there to do what I wanted to- bloody enjoy it.

IMG_1852I ended up unintentionally knocking a few minutes off my PB to finish in 4.31.05. On an extremely hot day, and a tough undulating course I was more than happy with that! I ran comfortably without pushing myself which is key to enjoyment in my book! I didn’t even listen to any music until the last 7 miles when I needed a bit of a boost.

I ran pretty even splits throughout the race, after blowing up and running 20 min positive splits in my last two marathons. The stats on the results page were pretty interesting too, at the 10k point I was 444/583 women, but by the end I finished 258th, that shows how much better my pacing was for this race, and I did feel like I spent a lot of time in the second half of the race overtaking people- I felt pretty strong which considering the conditions was a good sign!

IMG_1848 I can see why it was voted one of the best marathons in the UK, it’s very well organised, not over crowded, the course although tough is a good one, and much more scenic than I thought it would be. The only issue I had was that the closest train station was 30 minutes walk away from the start/finish, which took me absolutely forever to walk back to as I could barely move! I finally got home about 5.30pm, absolutely starving, so we ordered in from our favourite local Thai restaurant Isarn and I capped the day off with a cherry beer.

I’m pleased that my last long training run for the ultra is out of the way, and I feel much more confident going into it with that marathon in the bag. I am going to start tapering down for race day now as it’s less than 3 weeks to go!

Ultra Training Week 17

This week is my final higher mileage week before I start tapering down for London 2 Brighton in less than 3 weeks! Ideally my last long run would have taken place today, but I’m doing it as the Milton Keynes marathon tomorrow.

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Mon: Lower Body Weights
Tues: 8 mile Run + Total Body Blast Circuits + 2.5 mile Walk
Weds: 6 mile Run + 4 mile Walk
Thurs: 4 mile Run + Upper Body Weights + 4 mile Walk
Fri: Rest Day: 6 mile Walk
Sat: Highbury Fields Parkrun + 12 mile Walk
Sun: Complete Rest (short walk)

I’ve kept my mileage a little lower this week as I wanted to save the legs for tomorrow, I had a decent mid-distance run earlier in the week and then wound down from there.

My run on Wednesday was pretty grim, I went out before work and went along the canal which was a huge error, as the tube strikes were ongoing. It seemed everyone in London decided to cycle-on the canal-it was crazy busy, and not really the peaceful gentle early run I had imagined!

I did a short interval run on Thurs to stretch the legs out, and then had a lovely slow jog round Highbury Fields parkrun yesterday as a last shake out run before tomorrow. I was so slow in fact that had I been running my usual parkrun pace I would have lapped myself! It was very enjoyable and I think I will make an effort to go more as it’s my local, it’s just the 5 lap course that puts me off.

I’ve kept up my Fat Burn Revolution workouts quite well again this week, I don’t do the furnace workouts as I just count my running (speed/tempo workouts) instead. I only got one total body blast in this week as I wanted to be fresh for tomorrow, I did increase the high intensity sets from 30-45 seconds and was pretty wrecked afterwards! Burpees ugh!

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This week has been all about getting into a new routine as I have recently started a new job, and I’m trying to balance that, going to lectures, studying, training etc. Unfortunately cooking and prep seems to have gone out the window, leading to me having smoothies for dinner when I get back home some evenings, which is fine, but I miss cooking! I was also super glad I made a bunch of raw energy/protein bars, they really have saved me this week!

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I’ve been really tired this week, hayfever is still bothering me, and I think I’m just adjusting to the new routine as well. Hopefully the hayfever won’t play up tomorrow!

I’ve done absolutely loads of walking again this week, my new commute is only a 30 minute walk which is ideal. We also went house hunting yesterday, hence the mega amount of miles walked just 2 days before the marathon! It’s pretty frustrating as there isn’t much available where we are looking at the moment, and stuff is very high in demand. We have time though so hopefully something decent will come up soon.

Other than a short walk today, my legs will be up, I will be carbo loading- started this in style yesterday when we shared an amazing peanut butter choc brownie from Ruby Tuesday in Greenwich Market, awesome Vegan cake stall. I have a huge list of things to get organized for tomorrow, and I have finally sorted out my transport for tomorrow after the stress of last week.

As it’s bank holiday weekend National Rail are doing train works on the entire line from Euston to Watford Junction, so what I thought would be just over an hours journey, turned into the journey from hell. Thankfully somebody else suggested a different way to go, and I’m cabbing with her between the stations, so hopefully will get there OK!

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I’m really looking forward to Milton Keynes, I feel in a much better place than I was before Manchester, a few extra weeks of solid training behind me. I need to keep reminding myself that this is supposed to be fun, and taking the pressure off is key. I’m just going out to enjoy it, see you on the other side!