I decided 2016 will be a quiet year for races compared to 2015. So picking a select few races was hard. One of the races that appealed to me was the L2M mainly because it follows the TPT ( trans pennine trail) from Liverpool to Manchester and it is an ultra marathon covering 47miles, so a clear winner really :).
Training so far has consisted of me basically trying to win my mojo back. this has been leaking since Sept 2015. I think my body was still trying to come outof race mode. With running for running sake as there was no race or PB left to smash ( not that I smashed that many any way). I was still trying to get the miles in my legs by running as often as I could, basically still running every day. Loosely trying to follow the odd plan or two helped. Anyhoo with about 10 weeks left I decided that was it I had to nail down a plan and try to follow it closely, so I could give myself and my mojo a head start in not failing on the day. Because I know I have put the miles into my legs I knew it was more about my head. I always suffer from race nerves soon convincing myself I can actually do it is going to be the hardest part of the next few weeks training. So I opted to follow a plan that is aimed at doing a 100mile ultra.
The plan goes like this:
- Monday rest day – gulp
- Tuesday 5miles
- Wednesday 10-15miles
- Thursday 6miles
- Friday rest day
- Saturday 30miles
- Sunday 10-15miles
Well 3 weeks into the training and things are going fine. My mojo is about 88% complete. I have been running the days as my planner says and even having the rest days, woot. I have been using these days to go on the bike and doing some weights. For the 5- 15 mile runs I have been trying to run routes where I now there is the odd hill or two to give my legs something to bite onto. Finding a route for the 30 miler wasn’t easy but I found one that consisted of places I have ran, walked and ridden before so I knew I had markers I could spot while on the run, something to aim for. Iplotted the route to include different terrains and situations for my legs and mind. The first 10miles is made up of mainly roads. The A619 which is a busy road to run on so getting this out of the way first is a good idea lol. Getting used to running on this road now. Some drivers still don’t pay attention and you can see them swerve as they suddenly spot you on the side of the road. The road is straight and you can see for miles so there is no excuses for that really. I run on the right so I can see cars coming my way. ( Highway Code). The second part is along the Chesterfield canal.(10miles) This section of the route is the most scenic with locks a plenty. I always enjoy running this section. The best part of this compared to other canal sections I run is this is slightly up hill, hence all the locks. So getting bored is less of a factor. The last section is along an old railway line and is actually part of the TPT(9miles ish). This is the most boring part, it is flat, straight and I have ridden and ran it too many times so know it too well. This makes it perfect for the last section as I can switch off, wind down, get into recovery running. The last mile and a bit is street running to home. The route is great and I have done it twice now. The first time it was icy and freezing, the second it was windy and wet. Oh and muddy. I got faster the second time too and it seemed to work well. The 3rd Saturday, the one just gone I opted for a different route as I didn’t want to get into a rut with the new one I had done twice already. So I opted for a route that was my fav bike route, it was 38miles and I had ran it once before, funnily it was this time last year and was my first main long run ever so seemed kinda fitting. It is a hillier, messier route but I knew it would be good for the mojo. I also knew that it would prevent me from getting into PB chasing on the other route. My long runs had to be a out miles not pace. I knew I ran it in 6.30 hours last year so knew I would be faster anyway. The route was really refreshing as it was on roads, paths, trail, canal, woods, a bit of everything. So that was the 3 main runs out of the way and I. Was surprised as everything went to plan. My legs didn’t scream too much. The kit I was taking with me on these long runs is basically what I will be taking on the day and that is:
- Ultimate direction PB running vest
- 2x 500ml kicker bottles ( came with vest)
- Garmin fenix3
- Mili external battery
- iPhone 5s
- Petzl tikka xp light
- Salomon x scream 3D
- Satmap active 10
- Salomon waterproof jacket
- Ibuprofen tablets
- Socks and shorts
- Various sized zip lock bags
- Key ring bundle with shard, money pod, torch, whistle.
- Road ID band
- Myprotein gels not the caffeine ones.
- Sis fruit energy bars
- Caffeine energy shots
- 1x 500ml bottle of flat Coke
- 1x 500ml with water and electrolyte powder
- Salt sticks- caps
Now I know this may seem like a lot but on many ultras you have to have the kit or you can not run. So basically even if I do not use 90% of the stuff on the training runs I have to train with it. It is no good getting to the race day and then finding out that your kit is too heavy, too noisy, too faffy. It is better to find out 5 miles into a training run that your vest rubs on your left collar bone than to find out on race day when you have 40miles to go. SO TRAIN WITH EVERYTHING YOU PLAN TO TAKE WITH YOU . On race day there will be a water station every 5miles so I have set my watch to alert me every 5 miles. This is good for me mentally as I can break the run into smaller chunks if needed. I also allow myself a walk break if needed. I try to take on a sip of liquid or a gel even if I don’t need it as it is better to take fuel onboard before you need it because it is too late to take it when it is needed as your body is already reacting to the fact it needs it and is going into survival mode. Not what you need during a long run or a race. So get used to taking on fuel before you need it. Doesn’t need to be a lot. For my long runs I ended up drinking every 5miles ish and taking a gel at 10miles and a bar at 20miles. On the last run of 38miles I stopped into a shop at 30miles to get a Mars chocolate milk shake, full of sugar and yummy juice 🙂 didn’t drink it all but it served to distract me and give me a bit of go go juice.
My main tips for long training runs are:
- Set yourself a realistic route, no good plotting a all hilly off road route if you will get too knackered completing it esp if it is a flat road race you are doing. Of course hills and off road runs are important as they build legs up,but the idea of the long run is to get you mentally prepared and give your legs some miles. No good if you have burnt yourself out in the first half of your training run. You will be fighting fatigue and mental woes more.
- Prepare yourself for the route. Learn where any trouble spots are likely to be. Busy roads, built up areas, and more importantly where the shops, toilets and transport hubs are I case you get into trouble. I roughly plan routes now where I instinctively know there is a toilet around the 10 mile marker. There is a pub or shop around 25-30 miles so I can grab my last drink if I ran out. This is my safety net.
- Remembering I am allowed to walk if I want or need to is ok. There is no shame or harm in taking 20-120 seconds to walk, it allows you to compose yourself, regulate your pace/ heart rate, gather your thoughts about location or sections that are ahead that might need your full attention. Running for a long time you can easily get in the zone and miss a pointor corner. I have ran passed diversion signs and had do a U turn about half a mile back lol. Walking up a steep hill that will take more out of you than it is worth is also a good place to walk, what is the point in burning your energy on a hill that is 30miles from the finish line?
- Fail. You are allowed to fail on any level on a training run as this is the best way to learn. You are not perfect and there will be things that come up that you will have to resolve . How else will you learn.
- Be your friend, long runs are boring and if you plant bad seeds in your head it will make the run even harder to focus so think happy thoughts.
Oh and some might wonder what I eat the night before a long run well I go for good old fashioned Indian take out curry :). I do not eat breakfast before the long run only drink coffee. :). I love the fact I can still have my curry and still run 🙂
Sunday’s runs are equally important, they might not be as long or as full on as the Long long Saturday ones,but I feel and have read several times that running a back to back long ish run helps get the legs running on fatigued legs. Like on the back end of a ultra race.it doesn’t need to be a fast or demanding run just a run that pushes your legs in a controlled way over the edge when normally you would be resting them. I have felt great doing my long runs on a Saturday and instead of being stuff days after my legs are fresh because of this Sunday run and the fact I am keeping the, loose so they don’t stiffen up and become painful.
I m now entering the omg phase now where it will soon be out of my hands, tapering and no more miles to train. I shall try to document it so someone might gain something from it . I a actually still getting very nervous about the race and if I can do it so the next phase will be interesting to say the least. I am sorry for the long post but thought I better put something down. I am not a professional, nor ultra serious runner or blogger by any means so this post will sound crap to some 🙂 I do not go on about how to be a better, faster runner nor belly ache on at you about what you should eat i just spill what i am doing and what i think helps me.
If I can think of anything else I shall edit this post. Thanks for reading .