These posts seem to be coming around faster each time, so this one is late late late! With just about three weeks to go before Jason and I take on the Thames Path 100 miler (our third 100 together) , training is still going well and I’m still in a good place physically and mentally. I’ve managed to remain a lot calmer for this training build up over the past few months that I have done in previous years. I’ve been doing a heck of a lot of mileage and have probably done too much as usual but reigned it in where I’ve needed to, unlike other years. I’ve kept to the simple strategy I picked up in Jason Koop’s ultra training book which has been all around building up strength and fitness in the months leading up to an ultra, before then getting a bit more race specific and then training more like you plan to race. This includes training on race specific course profiles too. I’ve done a ton of running around Portsmouth and kept the hills to my shorter recovery runs during the week.
So month three kicked off with a race I had booked in with Whistle Events called the Batty Bimble. It went very well. I’ve already written up a post report about it so no need to repeat myself but I managed to finish in second place with the same mileage as the winning runner, just a bit slower to cross the line. It was a day that had all runners experiencing horrible wind and rain pretty much through out the run. Great training, although I know for a fact I’d absolutely HATE to run a 100 miler in weather like that. It will happen one day I am sure. My feet were absolutely ruined after being wet for six hours straight in my extremely old Hoka ATR3’s which are barely held together with any material. I’m on a mission these days to use less gear, buy less new stuff, and use what I have for longer and so these trainers still have a good 1000 miles or more to go! No more unnecessary purchases or training gear for me unless it is up-cycled or I have no other choice and it’s something I need desperately. In this case, I probably could have suffered less with better trainers and I’d certainly not use them in the 100 miler unless it was definitely going to be dry. This race allowed me to get my training up to the 39 mile mark so extremely pleased that I managed to run most of that with a few short walks towards the end.
There was a ton of bad weather over this month which made training interesting. We’ve had some very high winds on the coast and a fair bit of rain. Some of the 30 mile training runs have been a case where I get cold, wet and dry – repeat. Still, I got them in and as mentioned above – all training is good training, whether it’s easy, hard, fun or not. I’ve made more use of my Inov-8 rain jacket which I purchased to meet the minimum kit requirements for my first 100 miler a couple of years back. Since then, apart from the SDW50 and SDW100 last year, it had mostly sat in my wardrobe. I started using it again at the end of last year and I have a whole new appreciation for good quality kit that actually does do the job. This jacket is great protection from much of the wind and rain during runs. Worth forking out some cash for quality products that last long, IF not available as an up-cycled item.
I’ve been able to test out nutrition a bit over month three too. To be honest, as I’ve written about before, nutrition is the impossible puzzle. Runners who chase the perfect nutrition plan will forever be chasing. Things change day to day, race to race and person to person. There is no exact configuration of food plan that will definitely get you to the finish line unscathed. Sometimes I’ve been lucky and got it right, but usually that’s just listening to the body and drawing upon the experience and knowledge gained through reading blogs like this, books and watching YouTube videos. This is why I believe that information is powerful, and I think exposing yourself to ALL forms of information is a good thing, so long as you try things out sensibly and find what works best for you. The more options you have through learning from each other, the better equipped you are. I did want to mention these really cool Guava squares another runner told me about last month. They are wrapped in a dried leaf (and initially plastic which you peel off), so you can store them in your bag and not worry about the rubbish. You can discard the leaf wherever. The fruit itself is really tasty however they are very sweet with the added sugar on top. You can buy other forms of the Guava that come in rolls. I used to eat these in South Africa and they are delicious. I also tried the Naked flavour of Tailwind which is quite nice. It’s slightly less sweet than the flavoured ones I think. Probably going to try and use this during stuff during the Thames Path 100.
One thing that has surprised me this year, and I attribute it to more sleep, is the speed work I’ve managed to maintain. I built up speed in the beginning of my training block in January / February and expected it to drop off at some point as the really long runs started. But it’s all hung together quite nicely. I can’t run super fast for the 30+ miles however it certainly helps with the pace I run those at. I did a tempo run during this month which I hadn’t done for a while managed to get a surprisingly good (for me at least!) overall pace considering the hills in the run. I thought I was nowhere near this pace, but was really pleased. Seems just keeping up the intervals and threshold run sessions twice a week has worked. Not aiming to get faster, but just try to keep what I have worked towards.
Another note worthy update this month which has been really inspiring to see, is the level of improvement made by some of the runners at the work over the past few months, particularly a couple of friends Mat and Rob who have joined in with some of our monthly challenges. This month I had the honours of pacing Mat through to an amazing 5k PB. Rob joined in too and was paced by Bracken to an amazing new 5K PB. This was a tough run, but both Rob and Mat have made huge improvements in their speed and distance training. Such good fun to be a part of. The very best of motivational running!
And now it’s onto the last month of training, and also very excited to be volunteering at the Centurion South Downs Way 50. I plan to write up about my experiences there so hope to publish that some time in April. Best of luck with everyone coming up to their marathon races. I’ve seen so many people working so hard to achieve their goals. It’s been great reading and hearing about your experiences and lessons. So inspiring. Happy miles everyone! xxx