See my previous update here.
Damn how time is flying. July is nearly half done and I’m only just writing the June update. As I write this there is less (yep less!) than 2 months to race day. In 60 days now the race happens. That’s a bit scary, but also exciting. So many weeks of training have been put in to get ready for it. They have to count towards something, and that’s a feeling of being in a pretty well formed place. I’m ready for 100 miles. I know I can achieve 100 miles as long as I keep my focus, prepare well and stick to what I have practiced.
June itself was an interesting period for training. I started with a couple of races – very poorly planned a 50Km followed the next day by a 10Km race. But it also included a recovery block where I had a 4 week low mileage block (low compared to other blocks that is. I also got to take my training out onto the South West Coastal Path for a stretch and really hammer some hill training.
One thing I have really noticed is my improvement on hill running. I regularly run the same hills locally and occasionally hit some bigger hills around the Ridgeway. And as mentioned, I got myself onto some Dorset coastal hills this month. I’ve found that the training program has really helped me build my ability to run hills.
I have developed a better technique – more considered stride length, better breathing and more controlled pacing. I have become stronger – more able to maintain an effort on a hill, and I have been better at facing the challenge and mentally carving the hill up. Previously I would start a hill run picturing the point I would be aiming to reach before dropping to a walk. The hill climbing equivalent of a glass half empty approach. I’ve turned this around now, looking for where I will find the hill harder, and preparing for digging deeper. I also break big hills into much smaller parts. When I start the climb I’m then focusing much closer on the job in hand. I’ve anticipated where the harder sections are before I start and then take the hill down slice by slice.
It’s not always foolproof. God knows some of the coastal hills are mad. But I have really built more confidence on hills and I genuinely now can complete hills that only a few short months ago I simply wouldn’t have managed without stopping.
The power of training and structure!
The final throw of the dice
The coming two months are the final pieces of the puzzle. The final long run happened by mid July then it’s fine tuning before a three week taper block. It’s now too late to make massive changes in the outcome of the event day – short of taking wrong decisions and bad choices. The big thing now is closely listening to what’s going on in myself. Keeping to the plan, no heroics or crazy off piste ideas now. Really focus on health and staying in good shape, eating and fuelling well, staying hydrated and healthy. All these little things can so easily derail even the safer train. I may be new to this distance and compared to others, new to running, but I really feel that there’s been a huge education over the last 9 months or so since this training lark started. I’m sure I could have done things better, and many would say ;I would have done it this way’ etc. But in trying to find my way through this journey I’ve gained experience, knowledge and an improved ability to succeed. And I’m not done just yet. In 2 months I aim to do something I had no right to even contemplate only 4 years ago. This really will be a big day.
This month I tried out a speed session in the new Nike Next% Vaporfly shoes. A little extravagance on my part, but with a special sale price I thought it’s now or never. They work! No surprise maybe but to me they were a joy. A big squidgy fast joy to run in. They clearly won’t be for everyone, but on my feet they felt good.
Races for training
In June I started with 2 races. June 5th – Run to the Sea Bright, and June 6th Tough Runner Oxford. My calendar skills are such that I landed up having those back to back. Not ideal!
The Run to the Sea is also not a leisurely easy 50Km stroll. It takes in a good chunk of South Downs Way meaning the second half of the event is a hilly bugger.
See my report: Run To The Sea 2021
I then got back home same day and next morning was up running around Cornbury Park in my first Tough Runner. I expected a real challenge and legs of lead. Instead I got a very respectable 46 minute 10Km time whilst wearing the wrong shoes! So actually maybe a 50Km race is a good warmup the day before a trail 10Km ha ha.