Tag Archives: ultra training

Ultra Training Done: Ready to Race…

I had some pretty good runs at the start of week 17 of training, my legs felt good, and I felt like fitness was coming back, but by the long runs towards the end of that week I was feeling really tired. I was going to focus on one more high mileage week, and another couple of really long runs, but my body was just saying no and that it was time to start winding the mileage down.

I think I wanted to do an extra few miles to make up for the missed training due to illness. I ending up cutting the planned 20 miler to 13 miles, which was just a constant mental and physical battle the whole way, my body felt heavy and niggly and I couldn’t push through one more time. Despite this I had a really good 10 mile run the next day which included a course PB at Hilly fields parkrun, so it seems like the hill training has been paying off.

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I haven’t done any super hilly runs since the NDW recce 3 weeks ago, as I felt like my legs took a while to recover from that, and I wanted them to feel fresh rather than battered on race day. In week 17 I managed nearly 40 miles, it was a drop from the 50-60 mile weeks I had been peaking at, but just a gentle way to ease into the taper, and still a decent amount of mileage.

In week 18 I slashed the mileage even further and dropped down to 4 runs a week from 5, and just scraped over 20 miles for the week. At the end of week 17 and beginning of week 18 I just fell into a right funk, I didn’t want to train, my motivation and mojo had totally gone. I had three rest days of moping and feeling sorry for myself, before getting my butt in gear and getting back out there. Week 18 was mostly made up of shorter runs, and I had to take it pretty easy as I had a bit of a niggly left calf which I think was stemming from my hip/ITB. I have a stretching/rolling/strength routine I put in place whenever I feel an injury coming on and this seemed to do the trick. My longest run of the week was 7 miles which freed up a lot of time! I also did a 6.5m run with my other half which was his longest run ever- super proud.

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This week is all about staying fresh, so I’ve just done two short three mile runs- I can’t remember the last time I ran 3 miles!- and I’ve stopped going to the gym too. I was still lifting three times a week up until last week, but last week I dropped the weights slightly and focused on higher reps, and I also dropped big compound moves like deadlifts and squats too. My legs certainly feel fresher this week for stopping the weight training.

I can’t believe how cold it’s been in London lately, it’s felt like January and been utterly miserable and grey, at least it’s been dry though. I’ve been obsessively checking the weather forecast for the weekend, it keeps changing daily between rain, and sun. The ground is going to be very very dry though- I hear it’s quite sandy in places too as it’s been so dry, if I had been training in more supportive road shoes I would probably race in them, but I’m n0t risking wearing ultra boosts for 50 miles so will still to my Inov-8 trail shoes.

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My nutrition was a bit crap when I drifted into the funk at the end of week 17, just eating too much packaged stuff and not enough freshness, so I’ve had a big overhaul over the last 10 days or so, reintroduced juicing into my diet, and have been loving having ginger shots and loads of green smoothies and beet filled juices. I’ve tried to focus on eating as many veggies as possible, and I am feeling really good at the minute. I would have liked to have been a little lighter going into the run, but I’ve lived off bagels, oats and energy bars for most of training which explains a lot!

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So that’s it, 690 miles run, 5 months of training in the bag, time to run 50 miles!

Week 17: 39m
Week 18: 22m
Week 19: 6m (plus race day!)

Race Ready?

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Ultra Training Month 4: Dealing with Sickness

The positivity and high mileage of March sadly didn’t continue into April, as I got struck down with a terrible chest cold. I was feeling really ropey on a 27 mile run after flying back from Amsterdam and a couple of days later I came down with a sore throat and chesty cough which lasted about a week before turning into an awful cold. All I could do was rest and be sensible about my training, but it came at the worst possible timing around peak week, and was annoying having already missed a week earlier in the training cycle due to a stomach bug. It has taken me a while to recover and feel normal again, but towards the end of this month I have managed to get some more solid training in, though I am feeling that week has set me back a bit.

Week 13 was where I came down with the cold, at first I thought it was really terrible hayfever, as I was really struggling with the pollen on a hill session, but then it just went full blown and all I could do was rest up. I wasn’t risking running too soon especially as the cold was on my chest, so I ended up taking 9 days off running or any exercise completely.

I started running again towards the back end of week 14, and rather than cram in my scheduled long runs, I decided to continue where I had left off with week 13’s drop week miles and then get back onto plan the following week. I think it’s easy to get carried away, and push too hard too soon after illness, worried about missing sessions, but I just wanted to ease back in and not risk making it worse. I was still struggling with my chest, and also a constant running nose on those first few runs back, so I have taken quite a chunk of time to feel half decent on runs again.

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During week 15 I got back to my training plan, and aimed to complete my peak week- and I think possible my highest mileage week ever. I was suffering with heavy legs and quite a lot of fatigue after being ill, so I just focused on taking it easy, and avoiding any hard sessions like speed/hills. I did a back to back 25/20 mile run that week, those kind of miles are always going to feel tough, but it felt really difficult coming back from illness and having had a bit of break from the longer stuff. It was nice to do them in Cardiff over Easter though, always good to long run somewhere different as it gets a bit dull and monotonous doing the same routes at this point in training.

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Week 16 was another decent mileage week, and the first time I got out to the NDW to recce some of the route. In hindsight I’m thinking maybe going into the race blind might have been better as I now know how horrendous that second half will be, and I don’t want to be dreading it on race day. I did 25 miles starting in Dorking and finishing about 3 miles from Knockholt- I couldn’t continue as the police had closed off part of the route and wouldn’t let me go that way, I then had to walk up a treacherous country lane to get to the nearest bus stop and head home. The hills were great training, but I did find it incredibly tough going. The thought of doing that after 25 miles, is not that enticing! I’ve learnt that the NDW and SDW are very very different, and I found the terrain and ascents of the NDW far more challenging than the SDW, it’s also nowhere near as pretty! I followed the run with 11 miles the next day, and my legs felt surprisingly OK, which has continued into this week too.

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I’ve still been continuing with my 3 gym sessions a week other than the time off for illness, but I will probably drop these from next week heading into the taper, as I want to feel as fresh as can be on race day. I have been terrible at going to yoga again but might try and get some sessions in during the taper. Overall my body is feeling OK right now, and it’s just about keeping it fit, healthy and injury and illness free before race day. Kind of frustrating that I’ve managed to stay injury free but have been sick on two occasions which has set me back a bit, I’m glad I built a spare 2 weeks into my training plan for this kind of thing.

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My nutrition has been pretty good over the last few weeks. We were on holiday in Amsterdam in March and we had my family visit then we had Easter where we were in Wales, so there was quite a lot of eating out, but since then I’ve really focused on nutrient density, with big smoothies, salads and going with my appetite and whatever my body wants or doesn’t want after long runs.

The focus for the final few weeks is a final higher mileage week and then 2 weeks of taper. I can’t believe the race is only 2 and a half weeks away now- it has really come around so soon. My biggest fear is that my period is due right around the time of the race, and after having to pull out of the marathon in March with period pain, I know that if that happens it is unlikely I will be able to run, so I just have to keep everything crossed that it either comes early, or very late and doesn’t ruin my race!

Week 13: 14m (Drop week and illness)
Week 14: 22m (Illness and finishing drop week)
Week 15: 62m
Week 16: 51m

 

Ultra Training Month 3: Going Long

February was a really solid training month for me, and this thankfully continued into March. My mileage has been hitting near it’s peak for the training plan and the long runs and back to back long runs have been getting longer.
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I started the third month of training with a drop week, where I lowered my mileage from 50+ down to 30ish for the week. I like to do this after every 3 weeks of harder training, as I just find it most effective for recovery and progress, and not burning out.

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The last 3 weeks have all been big mileage weeks. I’ve been getting in a hill session each week, and will continue to increase these and try and do some sessions on steps in the run up to the race. I’ve also tried to run off road as much as possible although I know it’s not really equivalent to running on the NDW.

I had a really good 12 mile run during week 10 of training but unfortunately that week ended badly with me having to drop out of the Thames Meander Marathon after 17m due to severe period pains. Thankfully it didn’t affect my training too much other than the race and a shorter run the day after, and I still managed to hit my mileage goal for the week.

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I had a really good 24m run in week 11 of training, with a parkrun at Mile End during the run. I haven’t done that parkrun before, and it was a lovely route, albeit undulating. That run was a massive confidence booster, I felt really strong, and comfortable throughout, and didn’t feel too bad later on, or the next day when I ran the Salomon Richmond half and was only 18s off my PB.

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I think that week probably took quite a bit out of my body and it has taken a while to recover from it, which explains the fatigue in week 12. I spent most of week 12 in Amsterdam, but managed to get all my training in, I had two lovely 5m runs in the Vondelpark, and a beautiful 15m run along the river Amstel which I am quite amazed I managed to navigate without getting lost. I just followed the river once I found it, it was a lovely route, and so peaceful.

Last Sunday I did my longest run of training yet at 27m, and it couldn’t have felt more different to the 24m the week before. I had flown back really early from Amsterdam that morning, and lacking sleep due to the clock change and time difference, I was pretty tired from the off. I also set off much later than usual, and it was 17 degrees in Cardiff which was unusual. After about 4 miles I was really struggling with heavy legs, and just nothing in the tank physically or mentally- I knew this run was really important in terms of going through these feelings and emotions for race day, so I just pushed on, shuffling with one foot in front of the other. I felt battered by the end, incredibly sore and drained. It was great to get the mileage in, but it was confidence knocking for it to be feel as bad as that. Thankfully it’s another drop week this week, so time to recoup and recover, ready for the last push.

I’ve been struggling for the last week with incredibly bad hayfever which I think played a role in the terrible run too. I get really bad fatigue, headaches and chest tightness during hayfever season, and these symptoms coincided with running out of Reishi mushroom capsules over the last week, which I had been taking for a few weeks- time to restock!

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I need to really nail my nutrition for the next 6-7 weeks, because I basically ate/drank everything that Amsterdam had to offer, and I need to tighten this up, to focus on maximising recovery and getting the most out of my training too.

I’ve continued with my three gym sessions a week, and I’m still training pretty hard in the gym. I did drop my leg session on the week of the marathon, but other than that, I’ve kept going in the gym and will continue until the taper. I did get to a yoga class finally too, and I am hoping to keep going this month, it’s just the thing that gets dropped when I’m struggling to fit everything else in. I’ve continue with my rolling/strength/stretching a couple of times a week, and fingers crossed that is working for now. Hoping the drop week recharges me, and ready to hit some big mileage in the coming weeks.

Week 9: 32m
Week 10: 56m
Week 11: 53m
Week 12: 58m

Training Month 2: Building the Mileage

January ended with me missing a whole week of training due to stomach flu, I spent the week on the sofa, binging on netflix, and recovering. I knew it wouldn’t be easy getting back to running, and it would take me a while to recover, so February was all about getting back on track and upping my mileage and long runs.

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I feel like overall February has been a good month of training, my mileage has been 40-50+ miles each week, there’s been a few sessions, and my first race in almost a year at the Maverick race Sussex (post coming on this). I’ve been trying to get some hill sessions in each week, and hitting the trails in Sussex was really invaluable, as no matter how hard you try, you really can’t train for that in London. The back to back long slow runs have been increasing, currently up to 22 and 15 miles now, and they only continue to increase from here.

I’m really tired going into March, and this nicely coincides with a drop week this week, where I will be lowering my mileage and trying to give my legs a break. I like to do this after every 3 bigger weeks of training, but due to the race this weekend I had to postpone the recovery week by a week, and I think that’s why I feel it’s overdue.

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I feel like a lot of my runs this month have sucked, I’ve felt like I’ve not been able to get my legs going on a lot of runs, they’ve been unusually heavy, and I’ve felt I’ve been unable to turn them over any quicker. The first week back after stomach flu, I was really struggling with fatigue and my energy levels, I think I was just so depleted after that week plus I always struggle with fatigue the week before my period, so it was a bad combo, and I took some time to recover properly, this last week they have started to feel much better though.

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My nutrition has been horrible this month, after my week of eating pretty much nothing while out with stomach flu, I’ve just been absolutely ravenous. It’s like my body was so starved and depleted, it just wanted all of the foods, all of the time. Which was fine for a week or so, but it has continued the whole month- coinciding with PMS and higher mileage weeks, I’ve just been living in a constant state of hunger and grazing. I need to pay more attention to my eating post exercise, and focus on increasing nutrient density, not just what’s quick and easy to grab. Definitely room to work on this for March.

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Unintentional Colour Co-ordination…

I’ve felt really good in the gym, and have continued with 3 sessions a week, I’m trying to tweak when I do my leg session and what I do in that session, to ensure it’s not affecting my running too much, as I think the heavy legged, sluggishness is partly related to training legs hard each week. I didn’t get to yoga at all this month, I just never remember to book it, and it fills up almost immediately when the sessions go online, something to work on for March. I have however been getting back into a strict habit of rolling, stretching and doing specific prevention/rehab exercises as my ITB was bothering me a bit in the middle of the month. I’d say I’m doing 30 minutes of that routine 4-5 evenings a week, and it has made a big difference, and the pain has gone away for now. I’m looking forward to a drop week now, before 2 races this month and some big mileage ahead.

Training Month Two
Week 5: 42m
Week 6: 46m
Week 7: 43m
Week 8: 53m