Wendover Woods 50 Miles

Since my 100 training miles had been slight. I had some races in the meantime (Bournemouth Half and The Great South Run) but the mileage and type of training undertaken had been minimal and flat! 

I had been recovering from some aches and pains that my 100 brought on and whilst I had hoped to have run them out by now I still had some lingering issues – mainly a sore left foot and a wonky right ankle. At least that combination meant I limped slightly on both legs so nobody noticed 🤣.   So I was less confident than I am normally in the run up to this and had ready let my kind play around a lot with the idea of a DNF, in fact DNS had occurred to me as an option. 

But I’m a stubborn bugger and whilst that sometimes means I stick with a wrong decision  and try and sit it out it also means that I don’t give in easily. Running has really magnified this to me. I’ve never quit a race. I’ve never failed to line up alongside other runners at the start of a race. And WW50 was really a race I so wanted to do – the location and the chance to compete in a Centurion race – so this was not going to be the first time I let the mind overrule the body. 

Be prepared…

Bags packed with 2x500ml soft flasks with Precision Hydration electrolytes onboard. 

Food for 250kcal per hour assuming 10 hours on the go (I had spare in my car which I could access during the race if needed). 

Mandatory kit of baselayer, head torch, waterproof etc. 

Drop bag with extra hat, socks, top, first aid kit, spare flask etc. 

I had the kit ready and 6am I was off for what I hoped to be a smashing 50 miles in the woods. 

Race your own race …

Organisation of the event was good. Turn up, enter the tent get your number, then your tracker then drop your drop bag (available after each 10 mile loop) and then wait out for the 9:30 start. 

The weather was breezy and cold so I took the choice to put on a thin long sleeved top over my t-shirt and start with gloves. I knew I would remove them later but it was a good shout. I hate starting too cold! 🥶 

Truth be told, I had previously run most of the WW50 loop route.  2 loops in just under 4 hours on a very wet February morning made me aware that this was challenging – and yet I still signed up!! Ha Ha!!

Lap 1 was just about finding the route, getting a feel for the course, and getting into the flow.  But blimey – I had definitely forgotten how steep some of the climbs were.  

Wendover is never flat, your either going up or down (at least it seems).  Some of the ups need a climbing qualification and some of the downs feel a bit like rappelling down a rock face.  There is the occasional flatter bit, but they soon go up or down, and often steeply!

That said the route is tremendous.  Running in woodland is fab, the different terrain surroundings and noises are great, one minute you are leaping over fallen trees, the next kicking the leaves up as you run, then all of a sudden you are splodging though muddy paths.  Something for everyone – all of which I love.

On paper the route looks really windy, with 3 near crossroads – which on any other route would have been frustrating.  The woods in Wendover though are so dense in places and of such varied terrain that you don’t get that feeling of running 10 mile loops in a space barely capable of making it possible.  The space feels so much bigger.

Lap 2…

Lap 2 is where I started to doubt that this was the best idea I had ever had.  I finished lap 1 in around 1:30-1:40 and really was probably going too fast.  I grabbed some fluid top ups from the checkpoint and bashed on.

I soon felt shot, my legs were already complaining, the climbing at 2000 ft a lap is much more than I’m used to and it started showing.  The demons in the mind started telling me that 5 laps of this was going to kill me, it was far too much.  I nearly believed them.  I reached the end of Lap 2 feeling pretty beaten up.  I was taking on fuel and liquids well enough, but felt like a dead weight.

I decided Lap 3 was going to be the decision point.

Lap 3…

My mind was already packing my shoes into the car and setting the Sat Nav for home before I got through the checkpoint marquee and onto the 3rd loop.  I wasn’t checking time I was doing what I could.  DNF was an acronym I could see looming large on the results table.  But then I got that kick up the but I really needed.  8 weeks ago I learnt what endurance was all about.  The Robin Hood 100 made me realise when your body is just asking politely to stop, but not really stamping its feet and demanding it.  My body was just saying it was working hard, it wasn’t done yet, it had more to give.  Yes my thighs ached now and they weren’t getting any happier, but an ache or two isn’t the end of it.  I could have easily packed up at the end of lap 3, honestly was moments away.  But I stopped at the marquee. Changed my top/hat/buff etc, sat for 2 minutes whilst changing and had a good word with myself.

The reality is, I’m easily embarrassed and easily worried about not doing my best.  There’s often an easy way out, a route away from hard work.  I know everyone would have said well done, good effort, you did your best.  But I didn’t think I had hit that ‘best’ effort yet.  I would have been faking a ‘best effort’ and I would have felt guilty.  I wouldn’t have deserved that good feeling form everyone.  If I’m going to quit having truly done my best, I had to believe I had given everything.  I wasn’t there yet, I hadn’t hit the ‘best’ I could do.  2 laps were left for me to complete this route, or for me to reach the true best I could do.  I stood up, pulled up my big boy pants and headed out of that tent hellbent on getting another 20 miles done, or quitting knowing I had given it my all.

Lap 4…

This was hard.  But one other learning from my 100 came to mind – Thanks to Mike I had his mantra in my head – ‘If a marble rolls done it, I walk up it’. It reminded me to pick my battles and run the right paths.  Had I not I would have blown up on lap 4 for sure.  But taking the right approach to the terrain really balanced my effort and helped me maintain a good pace on lap 4.  OK the up hills were tough, but I had a good hike going.  The downhills were also getting slippery, and in the dark rather tricky! So they had slowed too.  A couple of near slips could have been interesting, but I kept upright and I finished lap 4 knowing I had done the first 4 laps in not much more than half the event time allowed.  I could walk lap 5 and easily finish.  My mind wasn’t keen on walking it in from here, but I knew that barring a disaster I had a medal to collect and I was going to make sure I got there with a smile on my face and very little left in my legs.

Lap 5…

I met loads of great people on lap 5.  The darkness, the sheer effort people had put in and the fact that people still had 1/2 laps left to go built a really strong sense of teamwork.  Every so often I met somebody that was doing amazing, taking not heir first 50, or doing their 15th Ultra, but really smashing it in their own way.  Often I would walk or run with them for a while, share some conversation and then move on.  My legs had running left in them, and there was no way I was going to get to the end of this event feeling I had a skip in my step.  

The final few limbs were a killer, my head torch was waning and I couldn’t be bothered to change the battery.  I dropped the power (just about enough light to see) and pushed on.

As I climbed the final climbs and reached the fence around Trig Field I was overcome with a feeling of emotion.  I’ve had various other emotional experiences in running.  Brighton Marathon I cried as I crossed the finish line (yes I really did).  During Race To The Stones in 2019 (my first Ultra) I found the finish really emotional – beating 60 odd miles over some of my favourite and familiar terrain was a really big deal.  But this was something special.  I had conquered Wendover, not only that I had finished in the top 25 of a Centurion event.  I had just wanted to finish in the 15 hours – I was stoked.

Next …

I have a. Bunch of challenges lined up over the coming year, but I am already looking forward to my next Centurion event – Chilton Wonderland.  Not as hilly as Wendover, but another great event to look forward to.

On to the recovery … wish me well!

Finding my first 100 miler – Race Day

6am.  Race Day.  No turning back.  It’s now or never.

The car was full of refreshments and a change of clothes for after, plus all the painkillers you can imagine.  My pack, re-packed for the 7th time was hanging on the back of the chair.  My drop bag, with changes of socks/tops/food, additional first aid kit, additional ‘spare’ food and electrolyte sachets is by the door.

Back in October 2020 when I looked at starting training this race seemed so far off, like it would never come.  Today I complete the challenge I have trained for so hard over the past 11 months.  It all comes to this point.

I’m normally a very nervous runner.  Race day is normally a nerve wracking experience right up to the gun firing.  Today is different, I’m not so nervous.  I guess I have less expectation.  I really am starting this 100 mile race with nothing more than the hope to finish.  30 hours is the cut-off.  It sounds easy enough pace wise, but 100 miles, it’s a big deal.  So there weren’t nerves.  The pre-race period was strangely relaxed.

Race Director Ronnie gave a great briefing, settled many nerves for many runners, light hearted but important information.  

‘There’s a 10K going on in Wellbeck but their markings get priority as they are running a proper race, and this is just stupid!’

8am.  Go …

The first 6-7 miles is a near loop around a few tracks, gravel paths and a stubble field.  This takes us to the canal.  I started easily, settled in with a couple of chaps that seemed to be at the pace I wanted to run, good conversation and a nice start.

Once of those was Mike Scandrett, I would spend almost the whole of the remaining race alongside this seasoned 100 mile race goer.

We soon chatted about expectation and Mike was gunning for a sub 21 Hr result.  I like that idea and felt that sticking with Mike was wise.  Little did I know I would stand shoulder to shoulder with him at the finish line.

I reach Aid Station 1 alongside the canal at around 13-14 miles.  I take an age to get myself sorted.  Mike is in and out like a well oiled machine, I’m fumbling around like somebody hunting for their keys in a suitcase.  A quick lesson learnt, better planning of my kit and packing to be efficient at aid stations.  I got a lot better during the event!!

The Canal was lovely to run along, lovely little hoses, wildlife, a few barges.  A nice trail, and it’s not until nearly 20 miles that I turn to move away from the canal and head towards the forest.

At this point legs didn’t feel as strong as I would have hoped.  They were a little achy and heavy.  This worried me, thinking that another 80 miles might be hard work here!!

The trail then goes through some woods, hits some hillier sections, but eventually brings us into the forest.  At 26-27 miles we reach the drop bags.  The first time round I skip the drop bags.  Refuel, grab. A satsuma (my lifeline for the race) and head out.  

I’m now on the big loop.  2 approximate 30 mile loops through and around the forest.  I hope to complete the first in daylight, but new I would most definitely end the second I darkness.  Each loop started and finished at the drop bags.

Clumber park then honed into view and it is a lovely park.  First loop there were plenty of families out for the day, eating ice cream at the cafe, cycling around.  A lovely privilege to share the park with them on what was a lovely afternoon.

At 31 miles in we each the start of the 10 mile out and back ‘little loop’.  The longest gap without aid stations.

On this rout was the major oak which was fabulous.  Again rolling undulations, nothing huge in the hill department, and many runnable, but there a call needed to be made about whether you do. Run or walk.  We walked most hills, even the slight ones.   This. Was where experience told.  Many of the slight hills I would have definitely run.  Mike’s experience said walk.  ‘If a marble rolls down it, I walk up it!’  It seems drastic, but it works.  We were putting in a real hard march though, often sub 13 minute miles!!  This approach underpinned the event.  

Around 46 miles we reached Cresswell Crags – the areas answer to the grand canyon – what a Fabulous place!!!  Definitely a location I. Would love to return to with my family one day.  Huge history, hugely spectacular place.

Approaching 50 miles are some fabulous trees that appear to have grown out of large rocks, which form the sides of a trailway.  They were stunning in the light and really moody in the dark..

Drop Bags 2nd time.

This time it was a shirt change, top up my nutrition from my drop bag, new cap.  As quick as we could and then out again.  It was still daylight, we were over half way.  And things felt good.

The 30 mile loop for the second (and final time) was a psychological tipping point for me.  The distance run was higher than the distance left.  We were on the return leg now.  That’s a big thing for me.  I always picture it as a point whereby I have turned around and am now heading back home.

We made kept to the Major Oak a second time before we gave in and went to head torches. 

In the dark the atmosphere was great.  It made the terrain hard to judge and probably meant we walked runnable sections.  

82.8 miles final access of the drop bags before the return to the canal to get back home.  Another change of shirt. Some fresh snacks. Cmon we have this in the bag now. 18 odd miles to go. 

Generally the canal return is pretty much the same in reverse of the out leg, but the canal is so cool in the dark.  Safe as long as you are sensible.  The ground was getting damp so things were a little more precarious. We had to avoid the frogs, toads and hedgehogs. 

In the dark and after that distance things seem to tale a lot longer to get through.  Some of the paths seemed to also for ever!!  I’m sure the checkpoint gets bad moved – they of course had not!!!

Final 3 miles from the canal, was a shortened route from the the first 6 plus miles, so from the canal we knew it was less distance.  But we weren’t ready for the ploughed field.  Ankle breaking stuff.  And a little hard to see the route. The very kind farmer who owned the easily ran stubble field had decided today was the day to plough arrgggh!!!!!

After 20Hr and 19 minutes we reached the finish line. It was strangely calm, I expected overwhelming emotion, but to be honest I had gone through that earlier in the day.

I had done it, 102.5 miles, no words could explain how this feels. But a great cup of tea and some pizza from the car certainly helped!

And, to add a little bit of extra excitement, it turns out I finished joint 5th with mike. My first 100 miler and a 5th place finish!! I cannot begin to understand how that happened!!!

Nutrition

The plan was 250 kcal an hour. I pretty much hit this with a mix of the food I took and supplementing with satsumas (a real winner) and coke –  it’s normally my thing but really did the job!

I didn’t eat all my food I took, but the substitution with the coke and juice I think balanced that.  I didn’t feel I struggled with food at all. 

Fluids were good and I mostly took precision hydration electrolytes. Some tailwind and also towards the end some squash. I’d heard about overdoing the salts so wanted to keep fluids moving in but felt I could move away from electrolytes some times. 

Aid Station actions

Here I sucked!! I wasn’t quick or efficient. I found filling my Salomon soft flasks was harder on the go – definitely invest in the wider necked versions next time!!!  I could have really done this bit better. Something to work on!

Gear

All I changed during the event was top, cap and buff. Otherwise my Inov8 TerraUltra G270 hit the spot perfectly. The rest of my gear was:

  • Runderwear anti-blister socks
  • Under armour twin layer shorts
  • Runderwear briefs (merino)
  • Salomon S-Lab NSO t-shirt (52miles)
  • Ronhill tencel t-shirt (30miles)
  • Ronhill everyday t-shirt (20miles)
  • Buffs of all sorts
  • Trailheads caps
  • Naked runner glasses
  • 2XU calf sleeves
  • Salomon 8L hydration vest with 2x500ml soft flasks

Preparation

I taped my feet a little. Using Rock Tape. Mostly to avoid blisters. Heel, big toe and little toe. 

Treated socks with 2 Toms bluster shield powder too.

Body glide on the chest and ribs where I expected the vest to rub maybe after a while. 

Squirrels nut butter for those most sensitive of areas!

P20 sunscreen. 

Mental and physical

About 1/2 way round I was feeling a little bit of a struggle that was probably a little dehydration.  That lasted about 10 miles, but I adjusted my intake and all was good.  I had some salt sticks tabs so used one for a boost. 

I never reached a point of totally hitting the wall, physically or mentally. 

Physically I walked faster than ever and ran steady. I ignored tired legs. Legs that never hurt but clearly had a preference of stopping. I learnt a lot about what more there is to give when you might otherwise think it’s all done. I found the door to the pain cave but only peered in briefly before realising it wasn’t for me.  I ploughed on, legs tired, but mind winning the battle. 

Mentally I felt strong. There were times when I would zone into a focus and although I ran with Mike almost the whole way we would just go quiet and often a gap of a few metres might appear. We had both discussed how we might be when it got tough and agreed that focus, quiet, determination would likely define our tough moments. I was happy that they were really quite minor though. Mentally I felt always in control. I never felt quitting was a reality. 

Recovery

I had 3 small blisters which caused no discomfort. A bit of rubbing from my vest and a little chafing in the ‘rear’ department – thank you the inventor of sudocrem 🤣

Legs ached for 3 days but never terribly. I was back at work on the Tuesday as normal. 

Better next time

Change the soft flasks for wider necked ones.  I lost time at aid stations trying to carefully tip tailwind into my flasks.

Better aid station strategy.  Sharper, better organisation, prep in the years before the station and move away whilst still getting set again.  Standing still isn’t necessary!!

Better drop bag setup for faster movement through the drop bag points. 

Less gear. Or maybe be more aware of the conditions and adjust gear to suit better. I took 5 pairs of socks and never changed once!

Experience

I had the time of my life. It was tough but not as tough as I expected. It was emotional to achieve such a feet. I really learnt a lot from Mike for which I am properly grateful for. 

Most of all I learnt that the Robin Hood 100 isn’t my limit. It exists somewhere else. I just have to try and find it!

What’s Next?

For the rest of 2021 and into 2022 im focussing on shorter distances before then thinking more 100s in 23.  That’s to give me a year of focus on becoming a stronger runner, building a firmer foundation for an attack on more 100s in 2023.

Will I go beyond 100?  Im not sure, the one thing that might limit it is just time.  The training to make the 100 was intense and took a lot of time.  Listening to many, going longer doesn’t mean more training miles, and if I get a bit stringer in the next 12 months I might feel that this is the foundation to keep the mileage in training as it has been, but to the go further on event days.

What I do know, is that I haven’t attempted my last 100 mile race, there are more to come.  I have a taste for what this now.  No other event I have ever done comes close.  

Rea the rest of my story here!

Finding My First 100 Miler – August Update

Checkout the rest of my blog here

2 weeks to go:

Well the time for training is over and with less than two weeks to race day what is done is done. No training is going to now get me more ready or prepared for race day than I already am. The key is prepare, keep moving but take care of myself and don’t do anything that risks injury.

August was the start of the reduction in distance. I had a couple of races (half marathons) to do and training happened around that.

I thought the HMs would be a good way of measuring how my training had increased my strength. My first HM was a 1:32 trail half with some decent hills. My local race. The second was the Big Half in London which I got a PB of sub 1:24. So things look promising – the PB was more than a 5 minute improvement on last year in the same race!!

Preparation

During the month I have thought a lot about race day. I’ve had the dream in which I win 🤣 and I’ve had the dream in which I DNF. Im targeting something in between !!!

I’ve spent a lot of time preparing fuel strategies. I trained with a 250Kcal an hour policy after the great Gary Robbins recommended it.

So I have then planned my fuelling strategy on the day to this.

I’ve gone all geek on it and put a spreadsheet together, using a planned pace and therefore duration, and then mapped calorie intake to it. I’ve broken the race into section between checkpoints, bagged food up and labelled it. I can access my drop bag at approximately 20, 50 and 80 miles so will have food in there to replenish, so I don’t have to carry the food for the whole race from the off.

Gear

I’ve pulled together the obligatory list. It’s mostly complete and its below:

Packing

I’ll be using my 8L Salomon vest and a waterproof bag for my drop bag. I’ve test packed, and repacked.

Food

I have tried and tested food that I know I can stomach, that has served me well on my long training runs over the spring and summer.

Taper

I’ve cut the miles back and resisted the urge to just run when rest and preparation is the key.

Ready?

Well maybe! As much as I ever will be!

Race day is less than 36 hours away right now.

I’m in those final few moments of a 10 month training program. The time has come.

I keep looking back at a quote that I found from John Kelly (@randomforestrunner) which I think is one worth bearing in mind:

‘Don’t be afraid of failure.And measure success not by the outcome, but by how far you’ve come.Set a long term goal and then pick smaller ones based on how much closer their attempt will bring you to the big one.If the attempt is a “failure” then so be it.’

John Kelly, Endurance Athlete. From jamesrunsfar.com

The next couple of days won’t define my running experience or my running future. it will help me understand quite where I am compared to where I would like to be. Completing this challenge is so far above what I ever expected when I started running that it’s almost beyond computation. I have trained 10 months to take part in a 100 mile race. I am sat here a few miles from the start line ready.

I have already succeeded. Completing the race will be a wonderful bonus.

Damian Hall Training For A Mountain Ultra | inov-8

Damian Hall is about to embark on his fifth UTMB® (Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc) – a 105-mile ultramarathon race that incorporates a mammoth 10,000m of ascent around Europe’s most famous mountain. So how does Damian
train for epic ultra running races and challenges in “lumpy” mountains? He reveals his secrets in this blog post.

— Read on www.inov-8.com/damian-hall-training-for-a-mountain-ultra

Finding my first 100 miler – July Update

Well let’s not beat around the bush, its now August, the race is 33 days away. It’s all just a little too real. I’ve done my miles, I’ve done the wet mornings, snowy ultra marathon distance runs, I’ve been up before many have gone to bed to run silly amounts miles. I’m prepared. But the task in hand is still a significant one, it’s still a really big deal.

Four years ago I thought, yeah I should take up running, might like it, might lose some weight. But in all honesty will probably lose interest as many other hobbies have dwindled away in the past. It won’t last, I’ll sell those cheap New Balance shoes I got in June 2017 and forget about it.

Fast forward 4 years and we are at some sort of bizarre point whereby I’m nearly at the point of lining up on the start line of a 100 mile trail running event. The mind boggles, it really boggles.

Anyway, July, what’s happened?

The main highlight of the month was the trip to Cornwall and pulling on my Inov8 TerraUltra G270 shoes and throwing some shapes on the St Michaels Way and South West Coastal Path. A real dream of a place to run.

The month started with the end of an endurance block with some big miles. The last really big ones of the training session.

I suffered though with some struggles to get time to put some of the longer runs in and also had some rare spell of feeling unwell, so the training plan had to bend a little. But that’s what a training plan has to do. You have to listen to the issues and flex the plan accordingly, continuing blindly with a plan when things are not right is a path to ruin. Down that route injury lies!!

The month then moved onto a speed session, which overlapped my break down in Cornwall.

I’ve been using the Nike Vaporfly Next% shoes recently and have been impressed with the results. In the end of July block of speed sessions I managed to claw a new 1Km PR of 3:33. Very pleased with that. The speed sessions continued in August, but I won’t spoil the surprise with what happened there :)!

PREPPING

I’ve pretty much determined my race plan, food, nutrition, hydration etc and know what I’m going to work towards on race day. I’ve planned out my food checkpoint by checkpoint and will now work on preparing those parcels for race day, so each checkpoint I have prepared a bag with food/electrolyte tabs etc that I need to consume. Doing it this way (especially with the food) means that if I am anywhere near my plan I will have just the right calories/carbs to consume to keep myself in good shape. I need to eat the contents of the bag before the next checkpoint! Simple as that.

I’ve settled on my race pack for the day and have practice packed my bag a couple of times. Does it all fit, do I have everything? …

I’ve also planned my drop bag and. just need to pack this a few times to be sure.

That just leaves selection of the actual clothing. I have most settled on, I just need to pick the shirt I’ll use, and maybe 1 or 2 changes (if I need it).

It’s getting there, I’m nearly ready.

Just about a month to go and all this effort will be put to the test.

My running in July:

No human is limited.

See my previous post here.

Finding my first 100 miler – June update

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.

Hills

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.

June Training

New Shoes

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.

Gallery:

Tips for improving your uphill running technique

Decent article outlining a few things that might help build uphill speed. Worth a read.

www.trailrunnermag.com/training/workouts-training/uphill-battles

Finding my First 100 Miler – May Update

Go to my April Update.

May was an interesting month on paper. And it became even more interesting in reality.

There was always going to be times during the training planthat things went a bit off the rails. A busy working life, family with young humans and all that, just means that training is a juggling task and give and take.

You can also throw COVID into that mix as May was when i got my first vaccine jab, and that knocked the stuffing out of this usually cast iron immune system of a man!

The training this month had a mix of continuing building the endurance, and also to then start a period of recovery.

The highlight of the month should have been 2 40/40+ mile runs. Sadly onw bit the dust due to the jab. There was no way i was running 400m given how horrible I felt. That run just had to be chalked down to the ‘didn’t quite make it’ pile. A 40-mile run can’t just be slotted into the calendar over lunch, or before work (well at least not for me) so it just had to be chalked off. Never mind, one run doesn’t define a training plan.

The other long run happened as planned and boy it was a cracker. The decision was taken to go to my in-laws for lunch as restrictions for COVID were now starting to lift.

This was my months highlight and a glorious run involving the Ridgeway, The Brenda Parker Way, The Tess Way and The Wayfarers Walk. A group of stunning trails around Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Hampshire and ones that i need to spend a lot more time exploring (Well maybe the Ridgeway is a bit of an obvious one!).

Nutrition

I continued to invest some time in nutrition and have added mini pork pies to my carry load – brilliant little pick me ups those!

I also tried out Veloforte bars. These are not cheap so i thought i would by a trial pack and give them a whirl as they boast a high carb to calorie ratio, allowing me to increase my carb intake wihtout OD’ng on calories.

In review – OMG they are brilliant. They are soft, juicy and tasty, easy to eat and a real source of energy. They wont be my sole source of nutrition (i would have to sell a kidney to afford it) but they will definitely be in my long run reportoire.

The recovery phase

So following this recent focus on distance i was surprised to see there was a significant drop in mileage for a full 4 week cycle. This seemed odd and i thought that you just needed to continue building up to taper then ease off. But this plan has an additional section in, and it makes sense. Running 40/45 mile long runs week in week out is hard work and your body needs recovery time. The one week in four cycle gives this to some extent but not enough to fully recover, so during the training your body will get progressively more tired. This recovery block is designed to maintain fitness and strength but not to push it, not to continue driving the body hard. Give it time to refuel and rest, before some further cycles of distance, endurance and fine tuning, then taper. So that’s what I’m now at. I’m in a quiet phase, less load and less effort, but still 50 or so miles a week to keep fitness stable and the body in good form. Then we hit training again for July/August before a taper and race. Getting close now!

Upcoming for June: