If I think back to 2017 the year started with nothing of note when I think activity/fitness or health. New year came and passed, 40th birthday drifted by with minimal note and that was that. March saw my youngest born – the cheekiest most wonderful little cheeky chap you could imagine. And then the summer approached.
I’ve mentioned more in my running story. But if I look back now I don’t think I could ever have thought back then that I was ever going to reach the day when I say ‘I think it’s time to sign up to a 100 mile race’!! Seems so unlikely reflecting back. But roll on the somewhat peculiar year of 2020 and that’s where I find myself.
In Summer 2020 the thoughts that I had reached that milestone started to occur. I did some looking around, asked for some ideas online and decided to settle on the Robin Hood 100. I also did some research for books and found a book I thought would help.
Reading the training programs in that book was inspiring. Reading the hints, tips and advice cemented in my mind that this was the right choice. So October rolls along and I eventually decide that this is the time. I’m ready for this. I can do a 100 miler. So I sign up, pay my money and the confirmation email comes through.
I can do this.
What Have I Done?
I like running long distances. Having done the 62 mile Race To The Stones in 13 hours in 2019 I can surely extend to 100 miles. I’m not really sure that makes sense, or that this is enough reason to sign up. But I kind of think that with the right training that basis is enough to build from.
The Krissy Moehl book provides training programs and for me that is a god send. I need structure to train and I need advice as to what sort of running to do, what to build up, when to rest and recover, the right sort of balance between miles/workouts/full efforts etc.
I’m going to follow the 48 week plan.
I’m going to build my blog on this page with monthly training and prep updates. I’m not sure I know what I’m doing. And I’m not sure I can be any useful source of inspiration or advice myself. But maybe there are others who have similar dreams or thoughts and this might just be a blog that rings true.
Another shoe in the armoury is the Nike React Infinity Run. A super cushioned shoe for those easy runs.
With the first 120 miles now logged, what are my thoughts?
So first thing first, they are the flyknit upper from Nike. not the usual tongue and upper.
Firstly I thought this wouldn’t work for me. I like a shoe to have a tongue.
Having thrashed a few miles in them though I would say that I really have gotten to like them.
The tongue is really comfy. The upper hugs the foot but doesn’t create friction and the dreaded blisters. There is also good ventilation, so feet don’t overheat.
The sole has a decent amount of rubber but only very minor tread patterning. This means they are terrible in muddy or wet grass conditions. But they are firm and stable on road, gravel etc. I found the issue on mud through experience – not a fun way to finish a 10 mile run!!
The big selling point of these shoes is the React foam in the sole of the shoe. It’s the shoe with the most foam, and therefore the most cushioning. And I would say you really notice it. I normally run Nike Pegasus and they are great shoes, but these feel like slippers in comparison. For some they might feel too soft and spongy. For me, they are great for those slow, easy recovery runs. After long runs when the legs might ache a little, these shoes do a great job of minimising the impact on those recovery runs.
Width – Well the shoe is wide, not in the fit, but its got a wide sole. For me this doesn’t cause a problem but for others there’s the risk that feet might clip ankles etc. Depends on technique and running form maybe, but if you struggle with wide shoes these might cause you trouble.
Price – Wow! these aren’t cheap. one of the most expensive shoes in the nike running range that don’t have a carbon plate in them! The shoes are good but at around an RRP of £135 the price point is damned steep. You also tend to find they rarely get given discounted prices. Of course Nike sometimes do offer discounts across all their range, a great time to pick these shoes up – if you can find your size – I was lucky!!!
Style – Mine are pretty understated – it was the only size 10 I could find! But generally the styles are pretty understated and modest. They have a rigid plastic wring around the heel (just on the join with the sole) and this gives a shiny feature around the rear. The rest of the shoe is a good modern style shoe, not too ‘in your face’ and not too retro. My kind of shoe.
Would I recommend – Yes absolutely. For the right run these are perfect. As I said, these are my sloe.recovery running shoe. They sit alongside my other Nike Peg’s which I use on my more up tempo runs, and also my Inov8 shoes I thrash around on the trails in. They are now a key part of my running kit. And I would say they are here to stay!
Firstly, these are one of the first times I’ve bought ‘new’. This was bought on the day of release and I paid the full price. Not my normal way, I’ll normally go for a previous model at a cheaper price. But with these the improvements were really key for me and I felt if I was going to go for the TerraUltra, it would need to be the G270.
So 100 miles (well 96) done and what do I think?
Well they are simply stunning. I cannot say enough about how highly I rate these.
They are designed for long run, properly long ultra length runs.
I’ve worn them (apart from the first 10 mile taster) on 20 miles and up.
I’ll start at the top, and work down.
The laces are good, simple but good. they stay tight, grip when being sone up and help anchor the shoe nicely.
The upper is very flexible and comfortable. The material doesn’t always clean well but it is a very comfortable upper.
The heal and sides of the foot around the ankle get a good deal of support in this shoe and you feel really well supported.
The shoe is wide, the widest width Inov8 do (level 5 out of 5). This was a reservation on my part as I’m an. average width foot person and was worried this would slip around all over the place. In reality there is nothing of this. With a bit of adjustment, the placing and the upper really anchor the foot into the shoe and the width of the toe box is generous and really comfortable. The width is intended to steal with expanding feet over long runs, and I can see this would be a fantastic feature as runs stretch on. The rubbing fear came to nothing and the idea the foot would move about, simply was unfounded. My foot feels at home in these shoes.
The insole is a piece of magic, with cushioning beads fo foam to provide a more comfy run to the predecessor (according to Inov8). the shoe certainly has good comfort over long runs and feet don’t feel tired.
Drop. This shoe is a zero drop shoe. I’ve never run in zero drop shoes and feared the change would give discomfort in the calf and thighs. But nothing. These just feel quick and easy and I don’t find they have had any negative impact given the zero drop. Of course some people are more suited to the zero drop than others, and maybe I’m just one of those that it suits.
Sole and grip. The ‘G’ relates to graphene which is integrated in the sole to give durable grip. In my experience the grip is great. On the South West Coastal Path in Cornwall I found the grip was great on damp rocks, gravel, paths and grass. really giving me a confident run, including running the path in the rain. It also seems pretty durable. 100 miles has certainly given it some wear but not much and hopefully the shoes will be good for a whole many more miles.
Overall I think these could be quite possibly the best Trail shoes you could want. (yes I know I have only tried a few – so make of that as you wish). I will be using them on trail miles of 20 and above and my ultra’s I have in the plan over the coming months (sadly less than I would have hoped but hey 2020 is what it is !
As I said at the start, the idea of paying full price for a shoe is often reason enough to look back at old versions. In this case I couldn’t be convinced to part with these and am very pleased I took the decision to. enter the Inov8 fold.
These sit proudly and happily alongside my Roclite 300’s.
Well, with Brighton Marathon moving to 2021 I thought the wait for the sub 3:30 marathon would wait until April next year. Then, Brighton move the event to September. No problem! Sadly yes. I have my sights set on a 100mile event next September which now clashes. I could move the the 100 miler – Hmm. Well the hard decision had to be taken. So 2021 doesn’t look like a marathon year for me. Lots of Ultra’s and the Holy Grail of a 100miler in September, but the marathon distance looks like it might have to wait until 2022. Im signed up to Brighton already. If it happens I will be there and I will get that 3:30 marathon time – its a deal!
For now, im focussing on the 100 Miler in 2021. Follow my blog for my progress – Oh and wish me luck!!
September 2020 Update:
Well the inevitable means Brighton is off this year and the 3:30 Marathon won’t be happening this year. Bummer but that’s life and no surprise.
So what now? A lot of training all to waste?
Well not really, I have signed up to the Race to the Sea 50Km event on 10th October, run by UltraViolet events.
It’s not a marathon and its not the same sort of race, but it at least keeps my training as valuable time spent.
The other news is that next year I aim to hit a bigger milestone of 100miles. This means a longer formal training program and incorporating Brighton 2021 into the training plan. I still believe I can get my 3:30 target even if the marathon becomes part of the training program and not my A race.
Lets see how that goes!
July 2020 Update:
Things seem so unsettled still around whether my target race will go ahead. At the moment I assume its game one and training is on. But it seems so unlikely a mass event of such size could go ahead. in the current climate. I guess we wait and see. For now, the sub 3:30 goal is still on for 2020!
Since Junes update I finished the month with 300+ miles of training and completed the #GVRAT1000Km virtual event. Massive mileage for me (635 in 2 months) and probably not the best training miles for a marathon but I certainly feel I’ve built some good endurance in the legs.
I also did the Quarantine Backyard Ultra earlier this month. loops of 4.17miles every hour, on the hour. A really different type of event, and one that made me feel I had to behave like a real endurance runner. Planning, nutrition, pacing lots of things I don’t really do well (ha ha). But I thought why not. I covered over 107Km (Report link). I learnt a huge lesson on preparation that will stick with me for a long time. I hope to do the next event, but it will all come down to timing.
For now I’ve reverted back to marathon training. Lower weekday mileage and long weekend runs. Pace sessions using temp/threshold structure as well as typical short intervals. Mixing this with easy miles too, including having my 6 year old pace me on a scooter (lol!).
So July continues and I expect more certainty will come next month.
Bournemouth half was cancelled and so after Brighton im looking at the Great South Run, then Reading Half. What will be will be and we will have to realise that COVID-19 has made the world a very different place. At least for a while longer that is!
‘If you can’t run, then walk. And if you can’t walk, then crawl. Do what you have to do. Just keep moving forward and never, ever give up
June 2020 Update:
Well what happened there then!
I think we all know the answer to that. With the onset of March’s Coronavirus lockdown and global events being cancelled and postponed, my sub 3:30 plans were left in a few tatters. Brighton Marathon was postponed from April to September. Training was ultimately put on hold and a little bit of my enthusiasm and excitement for reaching that goal went south!
That said it wasn’t like the world had ended. I usually have an optimistic outlook, at least externally, and was just thinking ‘well OK, it’ll be September, maybe the rest of my events will go ahead’… Obviously now I know that was beyond optimism. As march moved to April I had to seek a new option, a new goal. Enter the world of Zwift.
I’ve had a treadmill for a bout 18 months and have only ever used it when weather is awful, or I wanted to run but had to also look after the youngsters. But treadmill running in my garage is tedious and it’s so much harder for that fact alone. Zwift however gave me a competitive edge to the running, something to watch and a little bit of a feeling that I actually was running with others.
That led me to join a Marathon event , on the treadmill at 8am on the 26th April – London Marathon day!
not to be underestimated how challenging that can be.
Anyway with a bit of focus I managed to get that done in under 3:15. Now whilst I was chuffed I also realise that its a bit different running on a treadmill.
For now the true sub 3:30 dream is on ice until September. And realistically until April 2021 if I’m being really honest with myself.
But we keep running and there will be a chance to go for my goal in the not too distant future.
Feb 2020 Update:
February saw the training continue but has been a tricky month. The weather was hard to fight against with long runs lost to the elements. The temperature has been up and down and it’s been harder to get out first thing in the morning to keep churning out the miles. But I plodded on with my marathon training plan with the Ultra twist.
I managed to put in a few couple of 20 miler runs. One on road and one trails around Wendover Woods – a real highlight in the month for me. I tried to push one of them to my marathon pace. I aim to hit 8 minute miles to get around Brighton Marathon in 3:30. On the 2nd Feb I put in just over 18 miles at an average pace of 7:31 per mile. comfortably within marathon pace. this was on roads so close as I can to race day. I also employed the relatively new Levitate 2 in orange. So that was fabulous, that has given me renewed confidence of achieving the task in hand.
The highlight around Wendover woods has been something I have been thinking of and planning for a while. It has appeared on many searches, Facebook posts and there are a lot of events. Being a trail fan I got the feeling I needed to try it out. So on 20 Feb I packed up the car early and rolled up to Wendover woods, arriving in a rain shower and to be only the second car in the car park.
I packed a drink some snacks and took on the 10 mile circuit from Centurion Running. Well as best I could. the route includes some of path routes which were not always easy to find, let alone follow. I did two loops, pausing in the car park for a snack renewal half way. I pulled in just under 20 miles and achieved over 4000 feet of gain. It was a real challenge with some serious poor weather making it incredibly wet, slippery and windy. But I loved every step and every second of it. A trail runners dream I would say.
Theres only a smidge left of February, and I plan to put a small pre-race warmup 5K in for that on the 29th. I’m in the Big Half on the 1st March, to take on my first race of the year. I’ve taken part in the first two years of the big half and at the moment I intend to they and take part each year, until I forget and book another race the same day, or they introduce a ballot for which I have zero success with so far!!
Oh and the New York Marathon ballot was drawn on the 26th. Big fat no for me, will try again and maybe next year I’m lucky.
For March in in two events (Big Half, Maverick Buckinhamshire) and I need to build my training a little towards completion. Early April starts with the Reading Half too.
my distances for the last 6 months are below, Jan was a highlight and feb a little low.
I’ve also included the last 12 months trace for VO2 max as this has shown a nice trend and I’m really pleased with how that has developed.
So the month is up and we go again. Brighton is not far away and the thought of breaking that 3:30 barrier is front of my mind when I get out running. This could be the year for making it happen, and I certainly won’t miss the target through not trying.
Jan 2020 Update:
So training has started as of 1st Jan. In order to make a 15 minute improvement in my marathon time I’ve got to make some noticeable improvements in my training. 15 minutes is a big deal, that won’t come without some effort. So I’ve started to follow the Runners World sub 3Hr 30min training plan which is 5 runs most weeks, a mix of easy effort twice a week, mid to high effort twice a week and a long run. Now to confuse the situation I am running a 106Km ultra 2 weeks after Brighton. So a marathon plan alone isn’t going to give mt the mileage I need for the ultra. So I’ve decided to modify the plan a bit. Firstly 5 runs a weeks has become 6. Long runs starting around 9 miles and working up to 20 are starting at 10/15 miles and work up to 30 miles prior to marathon day. Finally I have opted to take the short easy runs (3-5 miles) and add an extra mile on. What that has meant is that week 2 totalled 45+ miles already and im likely to hit 60+ miles training weeks before I get to Brighton.
Progress though has been encouraging. My training runs were often mixed with some real high pace (for me around 3:30 per km/5:40 min per mile but also regularly 5:30 min per km/8:51 min per mile. So far after nearly completing 3 weeks of training my tuns are averaging 7:47 min per mile which equates to 4:50 min per Km. an average that is much faster than I used to run at. And it feels OK. I’m not finding it a real struggle and I’m not finding I’m on the edge of what I can do. A good indicator of where I am now is my rent long run at the end of week 2 – 17.06miles averaging 7:57 min per mile which, in a training run, is probably one if not the fastest run over 15 miles. And I still felt strong and could have carried on. My splits were good and I wasn’t flagging at the end.
So it’s going well. Im enjoying the training and I’m looking forward to the next few weeks. Building the miles further and looking to see my pace hopefully improve a bit to underpin my hope of making my goal of a sub 3:30 marathon. Fingers crossed!
In 2020 I aim to try an push 15 minutes off my Marathon PB and go under 3Hrs 30min. For many that’s an easy target, for more thats far too fast – we all have different targets which are all as challenging and significant on a personal level. Mine just happens to be 3:30, yours might be 2:30 or 4:30 or 5:30 – we all have our own goals to work to.
I’ve drawn uo a training program using Excel which is based on the Runners Worlds Training program for a sub 3:30 marathon. The link for that Runners World training plan online is here:
1 mile at 9min/mile followed by 3 repeats of – 0.5 miles at 6 min/mile then 200 metres at 10min/mile – cool down 1 mile at 10 min/mile
I have also included an adjacent column for the approximate total training time. For me thats also key as time is not so easy to find sometimes and knowing a good idea of the time I’m committing to a training session means I can better plan and work around training days.
I plan to put routine updates on this blog post during my training. Compare plan to actual, record general comments and how things feel. And hopefully come late April 2020 I can report on a successful marathon and breaking that 3:30 barrier.
Im not really a fan of virtual racing, I enjoy the atmosphere of an event and run races for that feeling. medals are great too, but running virtual events to get a medal has never grabbed my attention. That was until 2020 happened. COVID-19 has a lot to answer for!!
With the impact of cancellations and postponements of events on my 2020 running plans I started to think 2020 was going to be a forgettable year for running achievements.
Then in my Facebook feed I saw an advert for Runners World, referencing virtual event being hosted by Lazarus Lake. It was a virtual event to travel the distance across Tennessee, coming in around 635 miles or about 1021 Km. Of course in true Laz style it was called a 1000Km virtual event !!
Now I like running, you might have noticed. But that sort of distance is a bit bonkers. I was hitting the 200 miles a month or so level when I saw the advert, but this was not normal for me. More 150 miles a month is my level, but the lockdown was doing funny things to my running distances. And maybe was fogging my mind – so of course I signed up. When I then started reading, I saw that this wasn’t just a 635 mile event. It was an endless event, meaning there was the option of reaching the finish, and then returning – 1270 miles. OK you had 4 months to finish it but seriously Nick, that’s ridiculous. So of course I immediately set my personal target of reaching the finish after 2 of the 4 months, giving me a realistic chance of reaching the start line again. What had I done!!
Bring on the miles
So then the race starts, the miles begin and I. have to lay down 10.3 miles on average every day for. 2 months to make this initial finish line goal.
Number of activities
I started the race on the treadmill, lockdown still in force meaning that getting out was something I wasn’t;t comfortable on too much unless I could be confident of being out in the middle of nowhere. As lockdown restrictions began to lift I managed to build more time out in my comfortable place. The trails around South Oxfordshire, UK. And where possible out on the Ridgeway National Trail, Home of the Race To The Stones Ultra.
During May and June I simply had to dig deep. Achieving mileage like never before. I have been lucky to remain injury free, and with lockdown and working life in particular changing I was able to find more time to run, when normally I would be on a train travelling to work. I know what I prefer!!
I reached 20 June in a good place, but wasn’t able to run that weekend, that left me 115 miles to get in 9 days. So I decided (yes another crazy idea) to run the final full week as a 100 mile week. I had only ever hit 78 miles a couple of times so this was another crazy decision so late in June. But if I didn’t I felt achieving my 30 June target was lost.
100 mile week
This week was the hardest week.
I planned 15, 15, 15, 10, 10, 10, 25 miles giving me no rest day. But it was hard. The first 3 days went OK, with the two day weekend break I was fresh and energised. When I hit Thursday though I struggled. An evening run and I only managed 8 and a bit miles, that tied with being a little short earlier in the week (which was me being lazy) left me needing the full marathon distance come Sunday. No sweat, knocked out a few recently – but not at the end of a week where I had already run 73+ miles!!
Needless to say I got to the 29 June needing 15 miles to close out the job. I took the 29th as a rest and took the finish line on the 30th. I’m relieved to have achieved it and I have now learnt my first buckle – something I’m really excited about!
Within 24 hours I received an email from Laz giving me the link to sign up for the return journey. Well, rude not to, isn’t it?
Running this as I did taught me a lot. I have the ability to push hard, I can endure high mileage and stay committed to a cause, even when it is virtual event. I learnt the importance of treating recovery with respect and being more active in that phase of my running. I also learnt that pace is important to control, I felt it on days after I had run hard, and in they event that wasn’t required, that was annoying but I learnt the pace that works well for me to do my best, but also be able to go on and on.
Most. of all I learnt that there are a lot of similar people out there that are just crazy when it comes to running distance. No matter how far people ran, no matter how quickly they crossed Tennessee and no matter how quickly some of them yo-yo’d across the state knocking miles out like they were millimetres there are so many winners out there in that event, over 19,000 of them. Many of them took on their own challenge in this event, and that’s what made it so great. For those that run for fun they can clock the miles, and those that are more modest in their distance abilities, they can run with others virtually, and achieve goals that they would never have thought possible.
The Nike Pegasus has been updated to the 37 – and that means the 36 can be found at some bargain prices. But is it any good?
I’ve given this blue pair a run around for a couple of weeks, clocking up 100+ miles, so thought I would give my feedback.
As with the 35, I find the 36 needs to be a half to full size up from normal day-to-day shoes. The upper is nice, sift woven material and wraps the foot really well. The support around the. ankle, heel and achilles is comfortable and supportive. It gave me a feeling of confidence on the shoe. That it was working with me.
What I did notice was that, compared to the 35, this shoe sits wider across the forefoot. whilst that isn’t a problem per se I did find for me that the upper gathers a little near the lowest lacing point due to this wider fit. It took a couple go goes to get the laces right and to avoid this gathering up. But I got there.
The shoe tongue is minimal. I always expected fat, padded tongues in my shoes, but this one is almost paper thin, but it works.
Above the points in ‘Fit’ the shoe is very comfortable. The feel between sole and road is good, there is some spring and cushioning, but I didn’t feel that there was too much. I felt connected to the road and it didn’t have that Hoka like cushioning which some like.
It’s a road shoe so rocky trails are not it’s bread and butter and not surprisingly it can be a little uncomfortable on slightly stony trails. Gravel is fine, much bigger than that and you’ll feel it!
Traction and Grip
The Nike shoe has a minimal looking grip. but after 100 miles of running roads and light trails, it’s shown next to no wear. Which is quite impressive. Theres a few marks on the foam sections between the rubber, but given that I’ve run light stoney trails in this show that is expected.
I really find this shoe a fast shoe to use. I often feel surprised when I look at the post run data and see the pace and splits. It’s no sub 2 hour marathon shoe, but compared to my other road shoes, this feels easier to run fast in.
Well, considering that I got these shoes for around £55 I am very happy so far. Good look, comfortable, speedy and seemingly long lasting.
I think we could all be excused for thinking 2020 was going to end up a whitewash when Coronavirus hit and life as we know it changed.
There are obviously lots of negatives about the impact of COVID-19 and it has been a terrible global event. One we would all prefer to not see repeated soon. To compound all the health implications we all saw many of our day-to-day activities/expectations get taken away. Just when having an escape mechanism to get yourself immersed in, many of them were taken away.
As Spring continued and as a runner many of the plans that had been made become blurred, changed, postponed or cancelled it was hard to see what running ambitions and goals would remain.
When it comes to running I, like many, enjoy having the target of a race or event to focus the mind and provide motivation. Having everything cancelled or postponed for 2020 could have been an excuse to find the running shoes gathering dust in the cupboard, and seeing all the good from 2 1/2 years of running – in terms of weight, physical form and real escapism washed away and lost.
I started the pandemic optimistic. I usually see things as ‘glass half full’. So when things started going awry, I tried to remain optimistic that events that were just ‘shuffling around the calendar’ would still go ahead. I tried to keep an eye on marathon training. I tried to carry on as normal.
I’ve always been an early runner, getting up at 5:30am to run before then commuting to work etc. Working my running around family and work time. Initially I thought, yes! lie in. Get up later do the same and then all is well. But with young kids they then get ups before I can get out to run, and I feel a bit bad about getting up and going for a run when my wife is already up with the kids. So that wouldn’t work. So I had to still get up early. But not needing to commute meant I could consider running longer on a weekday morning. An interesting thought. Normally 6 miles on a weekday, was looking like I could push to maybe 10? Maybe more!!
So there started my first challenge. If I can run races I can see if I can break the monthly ceiling I had scraped but not reached, which was 200 miles. I got this landmark a little bit before Race to the Stones 2019.
March 2020 – 200.2 Miles
April 2020 – 250.9 Miles
So that was a pretty good feeling. A nice and kind of easy enough goal to reach given this new found morning time to run further.
Whilst my target was breaking 200 miles in a month, maybe for you it’s 200Km, maybe its 50Km. We all have a ‘most miles/Kms in a month’ value. Whatever that is, setting a new ‘best’ always has the possibility of putting a smile on your face.
But just distance for the sake of distance isn’t exactly a stimulating motivator, it’s also something that has it’s limits. Both physically for me, and also time wise. Yes I can do more morning miles, but I have to work, I have family time I don’t want to miss out on, and I need to make sure that my wife isn’t a running widower.