Finding my First 100 Miler – March update

Go to February’s update

Another month done Some more miles and a month closer to my first 100 miler. This has been the month when the distances got real. Consistent marathon distances and the view of April over the horizon where 20-30 mile runs become 35-45 mile runs. This is big mile territory and where I’ll really get to know if things are going in the right direction.

Recovery

So this month apart from the miles I have been thinking about gear and recovery. It dawned on me this month that recovery after long runs is so much quicker and easier now. Casting my mind back to days gone by when a half marathon would render my legs less useful than a chocolate tea-pot for 3 days or so, I realised that my recovery is now so much better. Running 20-30 miles now doesn’t result in any post run days where I have to walk down the stairs sideways, or do my best John Wayne impression. The training has built tolerance in my body so it now manages these activities without trouble – they aren’t easy to run, but I’m not taking ages to get over them. This was something that clearly training has helped with, but getting the nutrition right, the fluids accurate and using post running stretches, movement etc into the package has really benefitted me.

Gear

Been thinking about a few things this month. Mainly bags. I have a Salomon Agile 2 – far too small for a 100 miler. I also have a Kalenji 10L. Much more like it, but whilst it’s been with me since my first decision to purchase a running backpack, the one thing that lets it. down is the front pockets and easy access to food and items, without taking the bag off. So I’ve been hunting for a while for something else and this month found the. Salomon Active Skin set. Comes in a 4L and 8L model and has the advantage of some better side and front pockets, a bungee fastening on the back to hold jackets etc, and a quick fasting.adjusting chest strap. I’ve bought these and have started trying them out. First impressions are good, but I’ll do a short review another day !!

The other thing I’ve done is invested in some new Runderwear anti-blister socks – to replace the old ones, and also started to think about the small bits in the kit bag – small tub of vaseline for the … well you know 😉 . Plasters, first aid bits as well. Just trying to get these things sorted now and ready so I have the small items sorted ahead of time.

Other bits

I’ve continued to work on eating whilst running. I’ve followed the advice fro Gary Robbins’ video I go(see my homepage) to eat 250 calories an hour, and that’s working well. Drinking about 500mL isotonic drink or tailwind as well per 10 miles is also working for me. As the miles crank up next month this becomes a lot to carry. So thinking about the routes I run might be a bigger job. Stop off points, or water stations somehow – I don’t know, something to think about. I want to avoid loops as this is not fun, and extending my distances is also an opportunity to stretch my adventures further – we will see what happens in April 😁.

The running:

Week 21

I got my week wrong this week and forgot I had a Monday run. Still I got out there, late but still out.

Excellent speed pyramid session Tuesday, really nice to stretch the legs and work the body at speed for a while. Love these sessions.

The weekend was spent running park loops with my 7 year old and then hitting 28-ish miles out to the Ridgeway. A real favourite hunting ground and excellent training base for my 100 miler.

Week 22

Rubbish weather really testing the resolve. Got the treadmill out and working to make sure I made the plan work. Treadmill intervals are crap – from a Strava perspective as my Treadmill isn’t smart and it never gives a realistic view of the session. But I know I hit some good times on my 5 minute at full pace and 1 minute recoveries.

28 miles on Saturday as Sunday was Mothering Sunday and a long run was not maybe the best way to start the day – if you know what I mean!

Another strong week, miles are building…

Week 23

More 5 minute intervals this week, but the big effort was a solid weekend, starting on Friday with three long runs, 13, 18 and 30 miles. That was brutal, but as I mentioned above, recovery is really working and those miles didn’t feel anywhere near as challenging as they might otherwise have been. The training is meant to challenge but it’s meant to build you up to achieve the goal. That’s what I feel this is really doing now. The efforts are paying off and the training structure is really the scaffolding that is helping to make it all hold together.

Feeling in a good place right now 😁

Week 24

After last weeks biggest week for ages, this week was recovery. These miles normally feel more of a struggle than they should. Many of the miles though this week really flowed and really came easy. More progress !! Challenged with heavy winds though for a lot of the week, so had to battle some of the miles more than I would have liked, but still a comfortable week.

Week 25 will be in Aprils update.

So a strong month, the miles are really building now and I’m feeling positive about my progress. The coming month or two sees those long runs really take a turn and hit 45 miles at times. Really keen to see how I face up tot hat challenge, how my body behaves, the gear, the nutrition and importantly the recovery. These next few weeks will really tell me if I’m in a good position to face the 100 miles or if there’s work to be done.

GPS files (GPX Format)

Access (via DropBox) to some of my favourite routes. in GPX format. Download the file from DropBox and then upload to a GPX viewer or phone/watch etc.

Botany Bay (Kent) to Ramsgate – GPX

Brenda Parker Way – GPX

Mapledurham 10 – GPX

Race To The Stones –GPX

Run to The Sea Bournemouth – GPX

Run to The Sea Brighton – GPX

Silverstone Half Marathon – GPX

SWCP – Crackington Haven to Hayle – GPX

SWCP – St. Ives to Godrevy point – GPX

SWCP – St. Ives to Portreath – GPX

SWCP – St. Ives to Sennen – GPX

It’s not always easy – a thought on motivation

I previously put a post out about motivation and its a topic that remains close to the top of the pile when it comes to reasons for struggling with training.

These last few weeks have been tough and motivation has been at the forefront of my mind. This is a post I put onto my Facebook page.

Motivation to get out and run is an odd one at times. Yesterday being Mother’s Day was a perfectly good reason to sack it off. Trying to make sure I did the morning period when the kids got up and covering the meals etc meant daytime running was a no go. Putting in 18 miles then would have been tricky. I wasn’t really motivated to go out and run those miles. Doing 10 pre-dawn treadmill miles then 8 post kids bedtime treadmill miles to make the 18 was not something I felt motivated to do. But I got them done. I do find that having that end goal; be it a race, a personal best distance or time trial, or building up so you can run some special place – is what motivates me! In my case my ambition to tackle a 100 mile race and feel I have brought the best I can to it is what motivates me to put the miles in. A little under 4 years ago I did no exercise outside of going to work and having a family – which does keep you busy! But I did no running, little walking and certainly none of this stretching or yoga moves etc. Fast forward to now and I’ve done some marathons, some ultras and have clocked over 670 miles so far this year. Almost all of those done before 10am!What does this all mean?Well to me it shows that sometimes it can help to look at the bigger picture when it comes to motivation.

As well as that I think the reason for writing this is to remind us all that you never quite know what you can do until you have really tried to find out. I may still not achieve my 100 mile race goal. But I know it’s not impossible. I don’t know if I can achieve it, but equally I don’t know that I can’t.

That’s a goal that motivates me!

Whatever you aim is just remember why you do what you do and where you have come from. Day to day can be hard to see the motivation and reason in something but look up at the bigger situation and suddenly the reason for all the training/work becomes clearer.

wherever you are going find your motivation in the goals you set yourself

Finding my first 100 Miler – February Update

Goto: January Update

So things are getting serious now. Race day in around 7 months. COVID lockdown easing plans published and it looks like things are going to start moving towards something that might resemble life before coronavirus. I think we can all agree that we have looked forward to that time, but we also want it to be something that sticks. We don’t want more lockdowns and we want a recovery that is sustainable. So no chickens are being counted yet, but I think we can be optimistic and order a bumper sized bag of chicken feed 🤣.

February, being 4 weeks and starting on a Monday aligned perfectly with 4 weeks of my plan.

Week 17

Start the month as you mean to go on. A week with a double workout (Pyramid session and a Hill workout) and then throw in a weekend back-to-back.

Pyramid sessions are good, some short sprints with some longer tempo speed intervals as well. Hill workouts are that necessary evil that I love, but I know will be brutal. The first week post recovery week can take a few days to get going, so this was a tough week. Not helped by some bitter temperatures and fog. These are the training weeks though when you earn your stripes. Its easy to cry off on the cold days and think an extra rest day is always good. And yes, sometimes they are, but not just because it’s cold. I invested in a couple more hats, pairs of gloves and running tights, and just sucked it up. Nearly froze to death though 🤣🤣🤣

Week 18

This week started to climb the distance. Tuesday threw the usual 5 min intervals in and I bloody loved it. There is something top about that session. The only down side was that given the cols and frosty morning I jumped on the treadmill and the Reebok unit I have isn’t smart and the Garmin treadmill function smooths out the pace as it measures steps and converts to distance. Slow is short steps and fast is long steps, so when sprinting it doesn’t really realise. So the data looks rubbish but I ran 6 reps at 6:10 min/mile for 5 minutes with 1 minute recovery. A bit brutal on a treadmill -m especially when you forget to turn the fan on 🤷‍♂️.

This week also threw in a midweek long run – nice to mix it up and get out in my Roclite 300 shoes which had not been out and about for a few weeks – due to running mostly roads recently due to lockdown.

The weekend then put in a triple long run. 17 hilly miles (where I was expected to put effort into the hills), 10 miles and then 20 miles. Loved all of it, even if the Sunday 20 miler was riddled with more puddles than a puppy training school.

I just love trails. I could live every run on trails if I could. Puddles and mud make things sow going, of course they do. However, I do think that it helps to build a bit of strength and balance.

Week 19

Looking ahead to week 19 I knew this had 30 miles as the longest run. What I forgot to notice was the 18 mile and 10 mile runs also on the schedule at the end of the week. Friday to Sunday had 58 miles in the schedule. Outside of Race To The Stones in 2019 this was going to be the hardest weekend of running.

That’s not to miss out the 8×5 min intervals earlier in the week. Again a treadmill session due to weather and timing. The treadmill is not a fun place to run, I won’t lie! However it has been a very useful assistance to me when trying to get runs in at odd times of day, or in icy conditions. I love a good run in the rain or snow, but when it’s properly icy out, the treadmill is maybe the safer option. How on earth I ran a marathon on my treadmill in April 2020 I don’t know!!!!!!

The weekend was hard work. Friday 10 treadmill miles, OK. Saturday 18 miles early morning. Weather more mild, threat of rain, but a bit windy at times. Was good with a mx of trails and generally went well. 18 miles is not a short distance! It also doubled up as my Virtual Gut Buster (delayed since December 2020).

4:30 am Sunday morning and 30 miles was required. Started OK, though the early start and the miles were making it less than an energetic start! I had plotted a new route out along trails to Streatley and back. The out leg being on new trails. I thought this would be a good way to distract me from the early start and high mileage, but then forgot the route back was along the Ridgeway and full of hills Doh! Anyway, at times I could have stopped as it was hard going. I could have parked my effort at 20 miles but I knew this was one of those examples where the brain was saying, you’re tired. So stop and rest. Find a cosy patch of leaves and have a nap. Anyone that has done long trail runs will have know that feeling (especially at the end of a long week). But thats a natural recovery response of the body. I have found that adjusting the pace, having some food/water allows you to just check in on the legs. All good? Yep – so lets carry on. I’ll rest when I’m done. This is one of the real benefits of this training plan. Lots of tired miles. A real way of getting used to fighting that urge in the mid to rest and stop. Usually, in my. experience, my body has more to offer than the brain sometimes assumes. I’m hoping that. this training plan will help build physical strength as well as mental toughness. I pushed through the 30 miles, ground out the distance and was all the happier for achieving it at the end of a week with over 80 miles.

Recovery week in Week 20. I think it’s well deserved!

Week 20

Recovery week came as a welcome break. Last week was a biggie and the calmness of Week 20 was a nice bit of respite. I focussed on decent slow mileage. Sleep as well, by moving most runs to the evening was a good choice.

I also spent the week thinking about my 100 miler, finalising thoughts on race day prep. I also go myself a new race vest on order and some new socks – woohoo !

March has some serious mileage to get through with at east 2 marathon plus distances to cover.

March

Click here for the start of this blog!

Click here to know more about the Robin Hood 100.

Finding my first 100 miler – Nutrition

Right, this is the bit that fills me with most fear when trying to plan how I am going to get through my first 100 mile event. It seems that nutrition is one of the Ultrarunners biggest challenges. its the single biggest reason why people DNF in 100 mile races. So trying to get this right is important. But its kinda complex, I think. But at the same time it is also pretty simple.

I’ve read quite a bit and a lot of it scoots high above my head and passes by as quickly as I read it but there’s a few things that seem to stick.

These are just my thoughts, what I’m doing to get through to my 100 mile starting line and beyond. I’ve got a lot to do between now and then. A lot of lessons and lot of mistakes to make. I might update this over time as I learn more and gain a bit more understanding of the sort of things I feel work and feel don’t.

Whilst the principles of nutrition are universal (certainly the biology and biochemistry is a given), the solutions are individual and have to be determined, trialled and developed for everyone on their own. What my go to foods are, will equally be no use to another runner.

Calorie Burn

So how much to eat. In a sense of calories i burn roughly 100 calories per mile, give or take. So i can plan my hourly calorific burn based on my intended pace. In an ultra a 9 min/mile pace might well be my target (I’ve not really decided on my 100 mile pace yet) but given this there’s a speed of around 5.5 miles/hour. For me thats about 550 calories an hour.

The general guidance varies a bit from here on in. A reasonable rule of thumb would appear to be that you should aim to recover 30-40 percent of these calories when running at this sort of intensity from carbohydrates. In this example it equates to 165-220 calories and when you convert to carbohydrate thats about 41-55 g of carbohydrate. Thats the hourly consumption when working at this intensity over extended periods of time.

Now maybe that right maybe not. But if you are anything like me, you. want to try and have some basis for determining your consumption over such a long run. And the importance is that when going for that long, getting it wrong can lead to some real gut distress. 70 miles into 100 with your guts fighting against you is not a place I want to be. So anything I can do to try and avoid it is fine with me.

What to eat

For me my routine is chia charge flapjacks and stroopwaffels – both about 250Cals and 20g carbs.

These are items I can eat on the move, comfortably. I often eat these on longer runs and have started trying to consume at a rate equivalent to the above. These just work well and really are easy to get used to eating whilst moving.

Trying new things

One thing I need to try is put some savoury food into the mix. I’ve really enjoyed Jason Koop’s Rice Balls (Bacon and Egg with parmesan cheese rice balls) – google it!

Over the coming months I need to put some savoury food into my longer runs just to see how they sit in the middle of a run. Chicken wraps, noodles. Something for the aid station points.

Gels

I like the Kendal mint Cake KMCNRG gels. Refreshing and easily digested. These are about 100 Cals and 20g Carbs. The thing about gels is to not forget to have plenty of fluids with gels.

Plan

What works on 20 mile runs won’t necessarily work after 80 miles of a 100 miler. The food I really enjoy after 30 miles in training might be the last thing I want to eat after 65.

It’s important to have some variety. You can plan to consume your favourites throughout the event, but having some backups is key. Being left high and dry with food you cannot stomach and still 40 odd miles of an ultra to go is something to avoid. Im going to follow the idea from the Ultramarathon training book by Jason Koop and set some Bullseye foods. Key foods are at the centre, the ones you rely on most. A mix of off the shelf food (bars/gels) and home made food (like the rice balls). Other foods you go to next in the outer rings of your bullseye and then beyond the target rings are the fall back foods. The ones you keep in reserve in case things go wrong on the reliable food. Of course it is just as important that all these food stuffs are tried on training runs and not just taken along for the ride.

Hydration

I’e touched on hydration in another post, but there’s an important balance between hydration and nutrition to get right,. If you don’t, your gut simply isn’t going to stay happy, you aren’t going to process food properly and things are going to go bad, quickly. The reason being that to digest food in your small intestine, there needs to be enough fluid. If there isn’t things hang around until the fluid becomes sufficient. If you drink enough, then the fluid will not be far behind. If you are falling short of your hydration needs your gut will try to draw water into the intestine from the body. The problem here is that the body will prioritise thermoregulation over digestion. In other words, your body would rather sweat and lose fluids, than use them to aid digestion. So when you exercise you have to take the fluids needed for digestion onboard manually.

So you can see, that whilst you might be eating the right foods, and the right amounts at the right frequency. But not taking on enough fluid is going to compromise the ability of your body to handle that. That only ends one way …

Getting to the race

So there’s time until my race runs. I’ve got my basis foods and some ideas on the wider food plan. I’ve tried to test out some of my food so far and have a few more to try. I’ll try to have some options for the day when it comes that I believe will work. I’ll try and balance food with hydration. I’ll try to mix things up if some items start losing their interest – after a dozen hours of running nothing would be surprising. But most of all I’ll try to get to the finish line and I will absolutely try to enjoy myself.

How to run 100 miles

This is a great video. Anyone wanting to think about running 100 miles the. This is well worth a watch

youtube.com/watch

Finding my first 100 Miler – January Update

So this is where we really get started. Race day is in 8 months. It’s 100 miles non stop and I’m, to put it simply, bricking it a bit. I know I’m hardly in it to win, and frankly just surviving without crossing the finish line dead is my goal. But the stubborn person in me wants to run as much of those 100 miles as I can, wants to finish sub 24 hours and wants to be proud of more than just completing the distance in the cut off time.

January Training

The Training plan for January consisted of Weeks 13-16 pf the Krissy Moehl 100 miles training program from the book Running Your First ultra. I think it’s a great book and worth a look if you want guidance and training plan advice for 50Km to 100 mile ultras.

Weeks 13-15 are speed training. Weekly speed sessions based on 5 minute intervals at 80% effort with 1 minute recovery. Thats then pairs with a midweek long run of 10-14 miles and back-to-back weekend long runs up to 30 miles.

Week 16 is a recovery week before the next training block starts in Feb.

Week 13

Building good sessions with the speed session throwing up 7 x 5 min intervals. Overall this session gave me the big surprise I wasn’t;t expecting a new 10K PB and my first sub 40 minute 10K. Absolutely stoked. These session are not about PB’s they are about fundamental fitness and strength, so getting a good session in and finding I had broken one of those real barrier times was just brilliant.

Week ended with 3 long runs 12, 20, 12 miles on consecutive days. The first time the miles have piled on like this.

My fitness level is such that this was OK. 12 is a comfortable distance (as long as I’m not trying to hammer it home!) and 20 is a good endurance day.

These are the runs I really feel are building my strength, as much as I love the speed sessions, training for a 100 mile race was always, for me, about the build up of the long runs and the back-to-back training.

Week 14

This was a big week. Step up in mileage and a second week with three long runs at the end of the week. Life meant I had to shuffle the runs a little so I planned 14 then 13 then 25 miles in back to back to back sessions.

The weeks speed session was as Week 13, with an extra rep. Not great weather conditions and so the speed was not so good. But every workout can’t be better than the last, especially when doing outdoor winter training.

My 14 miler this week was a time constrained run so I had to motor that more than I would like. Was expecting to pay for that in my next 2 runs, but felt good. I think the strength is really starting to build. 14 then 12 then 25 is not a walk in the park but I felt good Sunday afternoon. Like properly bouncy!

Week 15

Recovery after the weekends runs was key. A lot of miles in the past 3 days so effective recovery is key for what is my biggest week yet. Rest day was good. No aches from the weekend. Good hydration and refuelling done and some light stretches to ease the week in.

This weeks speed session is going to win no prizes. Weather was awful so jumped on the dreaded treadmill. Worked it hard, with 8 reps of 5 min at 6:10 min/mile. But given the non-smart nature of my treadmill the strata data is just a pile of rubbish. But I know I pushed hard.

Highlight of the week was my Sunday Long Run. 30 miles is in itself great, but the added bonus of 3 inches of snow falling from miles 16 to 30. Great fun.

That wasn’t the goal though. 30 solid miles with my focus on eating well. I am building up my focus on eating on long runs (>10 miles). Roughly speaking 40% of calories burnt should be consumed during the run. This time I burnt approximately 2500 Calories and consumed 2 x Chia Flapjacks, 2 x Stroopwaffel 1 x KMCNRG energy gel and around 300mL of tailwind. So I got in about 1200 calories which is pretty close. Pretty happy with that, and the fact that I didn’t stop moving to eat. A skill I’ve been working on. These foods are great for this, but I need to try more to give me a variety for my longest of runs – and especially my 100 miles!

Overall the week was good. Fitness based on my Strava data shows continued improvement.

Week 16 – Recovery Week

Well, recovery week is the week I dread. Simply because my mind tells me that progress only comes from effort. Recovery week is not in that category. That said everything you read indicates this is wise, especially to the ultra newbie! I think the challenge really lies in knowing what effort really is recovery, what is not enough and what is simply not easy enough. Following the training plan meant this time that the whole week my Garmin told me I was in recovery effort. Yes, it’s not scientifically accurate I’m sure, but it must mean that the effort was a pretty good approximation of a recovery effort.

In review

January was great. Really pleased with progress. Got some great mileage in. Challenged by some tough conditions and not to mention the challenge of a national lockdown. Sticking to local routes and not venturing 10’s of miles into the countryside.

February

Training block this month is endurance. back-to-back long runs at the weekend with 2 workouts mid week. This will be a tough month, but hopefully I’ve built a great foundation in January to move on from.

Back to the December Update

Back to the Start of my journey

Hydration Focus

Nutrition Focus

Finding my first 100 miler – Hydration

We all need to drink. There I said it. Though I think we already might have worked this out. When you’re a runner you need to make sure you maintain hydration. Now this isn’t any special news to anyone, but I think we often underestimate the importance. I for sure haven’t really though enough about it. I need to correct to get me through a 100 mile event this year. Otherwise I’m going to fall short far from the finish line.

I recently started reading the Jason Koop book ‘Training Essentials for Ultrarunning’.

It was reading this that really got my brain working and made me realise that this is something I need to address before tackling my 100 mile race.

Its true that you need fuel and you need hydration to run endurance events. Eating gives you the fuel (though obviously you can get limited carbohydrate fuel from some drinks) and drinks/gels give you the fluid/hydration. What I ignored was the rate of impact these two types of intake have on your body. In the case of fuel, eating something gets sugar/carbs into your blood stream and fuelling your body pretty quickly. Therefore whilst you want to avoid a calorie deficit if you can (or as minimally as you can in an endurance event) you can take fuel in at aid stations/crew stops and the process of recovery begins pretty quickly. It’s not the same for hydration. Once you reach a point of dehydration, even if it is not severe, recovery is much slower. if dehydration starts affecting you during an event you will be hard pushed to recover during the event. You will continue to be dehydrated and if you continue there’s a good chance it will get worse. Severe dehydration can be a serious problem and ultimately can be fatal. Now I’m not suggesting that every runner risks death every time they put their shoes on, of course not. But I for sure need to take hydration more seriously.

Signs and symptoms of dehydration

Symptoms of dehydration include:

  • feeling thirsty
  • dark yellow and strong-smelling pee
  • feeling dizzy or lightheaded
  • feeling tired
  • a dry mouth, lips and eyes
  • peeing little, and fewer than 4 times a day

Dehydration can happen more easily if you have:

  • diabetes
  • vomiting or diarrhoea
  • been in the sun too long (heatstroke)
  • drunk too much alcohol
  • sweated too much after exercising
  • a high temperature of 38C or more
  • been taking medicines that make you pee more (diuretics)

So what to do.

We are all different and a long run for me is far too far for some and just a quick potter around the park for others. What works for you and the points at which you do it are yours to determine. So the below outlines my plans, others will need to baseline on their own level of running.

My approach now is that as a minimum I take fluid on runs of greater than 10 miles. My body doesn’t reach a point of thirst in that time, but thirst is the sign you need fluid and are already at risk of dehydration. And it’s too late. Drink BEFORE your body starts asking you for fluid!! So my aim here is to ensure that even on modest distance training runs I keep good hydration levels and avoid extending my recovery by having to battle post run dehydration.

Any runs of the 20 mile distance up I aim to monitor my hydration in the very basic way of weight pre and post run. It’s a rough estimate but it gives an idea of water loss. You then the the change in weight, add the approximate volume of fluids taken in (1ml = 1g) and the total is your fluid loss. You ideally want to be net zero with no weight loss during the run. But for sure you want to keep that number low. If I feel that the weight loos overall is high and I sense some of those symptoms of dehydration I have to push myself to take on more fluid. If I’m running 100 miles and getting partially dehydrated on a 20-30 mile run, I am making the challenge of 100 miles much greater. My aim is to finish these long runs in good shape.

I also aim to drink little and often during my runs, not waiting until I’ve done 5 miles to down half a bottle. Keep the fluid intake steady.

What to drink

Millian dollar question, and one that has no right answer. Plenty of wrong ones, but not one perfect answer that works for all.

My choice currently is Precision Hydration electrolyte tablets, Tailwind, Active Root and I’ve used SIS and Hi5 successfully. I tolerate all of these and quite enjoy most of the flavours.

I currently prefer Precision Hydration as I am a pretty big sweater and they offer different strength options, so I use the PH1000 and PH1500 tablets. Taste fine and do a good job of maintaining hydration, or speedily rehydrating when I do slip into a dehydrated state.

I will continue to use these products and vary them so as to not stick with one particular drink. I often take two on a long run. I think that over extended long runs 40/50 miles for example that intake of the same drink might risk upsetting the gut a bit, so I want to rely on a blend of drinks, giving me the electrolytes I need, varying flavour to avoid me getting sick of the same taste. To avoid a nausea risk I also like Active Root, that contains ginger which is good at settling the stomach, and a taste I really enjoy. So Active Root features on the later parts of my long run hydration plans.

How much to drink

Like the ‘What to drink’ question , this is personal. It’s important you drink enough to avoid being thirsty and avoid the symptoms and signs of dehydration (see above). Its also important you keep intake below the level that you get stomach slosh as I like to call it as this can be unpleasant and lead to GI problems that can totally derail your event. Training runs are really key to trying the strategy for what, how much and how often.

How to drink

No I’m not asking a stupid question. We all know how to drink, but how we carry fluids on our runs and how we actually take them onboard can affect our experience of our run.

For me I run with a hydration vest.

For 10-15-ish miles I take 500mLs (at the moment) in a single soft flask and drink whilst running.

For 20 + mile I take 1L plus (depends on time of year). If I can I stick with soft flasks front mounted on a running vest.

The benefit of flasks is it is easy during your run to judge how much you have run, A bladder is helpful for larger volumes and if I am running far without the option to top-up on the way I will use one. But you can’t judge consumption rate. So flasks win out for me. I used 2 x 500mL flasks on my longest 100Km ultra so far and never felt I was struggling for liquid – though an aid station every 8-12Km does help!!

Again it’s personal preference.

Hydration is something we all need, but how we go about it is one to try out on the way. Its easy to get wrong, but with a little bit of thought and preparation it is also easy to get right, and remove one of the issues that can really take an event and make it a disaster for you, no matter how much you might feel prepared for it.

Motivated?

Really! It’s wet and it’s cold and it’s windy and and and …

Oh blimey. I think of myself as a motivated person but at 5:15 when my alarm starts it’s infernal beeping I really question it. What am I actually trying to prove to anyone, including myself! I’ve proven I know how to walk fast or run – whatever you wish to call it. I’ve proven I’m able to be quite speedy or run a long way. Is there anything else I need to actually do? Like really do?

Winter is always a time when the motivation is tested to its greatest. Dark mornings, dark evenings, cold, windy, wet, snow. Every form of weather to dissuade you. That along with an inviting warm home, and a cosy warm bed – why would you ever step outside.

Sometimes you just need to think about it and remind yourself why.

Running keeps me fit and well. It keeps my mind clear and fresh, resetting things from the stresses and challenges of life – and god knows right now we all have more than our fair share!! It challenges me every time and there’s always a positive feeling afterwards – even if the run didn’t meet with my hopes, expectations and plans. Ultimately running makes things better in many ways, and it makes me a better person. Physically and mentally.

And there can still be goals and targets to achieve and to succeed at. Sometimes they are small, sometimes large but every hurdle you set gives a feeling of achievement when you go past it and turn around to see it still standing. Yes!!

So when I cannot find the way out of the house to start a run early on a winters morning, sometimes I just need to remember these things.

Motivation is all in the mind, but I get over it on the roads and trails.

Keep motivated.

Finding my first 100 miler – December Update

OK, so this might be a little late, but lets gloss over that and think about where we are at.

December started in lockdown (due to COVID-19) but quickly saw restrictions lifted, random tier systems in place, and Christmas looming on the horizon.

December from a training perspective mostly looked like speed work. Weekly workout sessions focussing on the 5 minute workout sessions. Krissy Moehl (whose training plan I am following) has the 5 minute workout plan as a key speed session component. Running at 80% ash of maximum ability for 5 minutes with recovery. In December this was mostly 1 minute recoveries, and replication was 5 reps, 6 reps and then 7 reps. The month ended with a recovery week. Now with Christmas in the month and the things that go with it – even with COVID – I knew that I would probably drop a few sessions and so it worked out. Im a frustrated runner when I don’t run, I know I’m also bad at hiding that – I must work on it!! So missing a few sessions tugs at this and annoys me. But it was only a couple and a few sessions don’t destroy a training program that last bet part of a year!

What did December bring. Well it took me just over 200 miles (by a smidge).

So happy with that.

Speed session info:

Session 1 – Pyramid session 1,2,3,4,3,2,1 minute with recoveries. Good session and achieved some good sub 6 min.mile pace on the downward number.

Session 2 – 5 minute reps – 6 reps 6:10 – 6:25 min/mile pace range

Session 3 – 5 minute reps – 7 reps 6:10 – 6:33 min/mile pace range

Overall I also achieved my 3rd fastest 10 Km time and this was a nice surprise.

Not everyone thinks speed sessions are worthwhile when training for Ultras. For me I think speed sessions are about fitness, cardiac ability and recovery. These all work for Ultra training. I’m not looking to be a sprinter or fast runner, im looking to achieve the finest I can be for an endurance run. Challenging my body using pace sessions helps to developmthe strongest, fitest version of. myself that I can be. Then mixing these sessions into a training program that includes hills and endurance workouts builds the body and mind up to be ready to take on endurance events. Yes, I know everyone is individual and for some speed sessions won’t feature in their ultra training, and thats great for them, and I hope it works – I’m sure it does. However, for me these sessions give me a feeling of achievement and I have seen the improvement on things like my general ability to carry longer runs, at higher pace, and my VO2Max (via my Garmin watch) shows things improving too. Now, before anybody makes the obvious comment that there is only so much point to the VO2Max on a Garmin, I know that. But it’s an approximation that is the best many of us will get. I use a chest Heart Rate monitor so I’m doing what is reasonable to get good data.

December also had 2 races inline for me.

Mapledurham 10 – a great 10 mile trail race in hilly muddy trails local to me. A great race, but also a great trails training session.

GutBuster 10 mile – this fell foul of the COVID pandemic. Hoping to get a rescheduled February date but things don’t look great. We will see.

Planning

Im beginning to think about my race day planning. Im looking to take a support person to the race. Not decided who, but that’s a part of Q1 planning. I really want a friendly face at some approved crew stops, and know that having somebody ready with pre-planned fuel/kit/support is going to really help me through this race. I know the Robin Hood 100 is hardly the Western States, but as bigger and tougher races hopefully feature on the horizon, getting used to having support is also something I want to build up.

Hydration

Another area of thought for January. Im read the Jason Koop Ultra training manual and he has made me really think about the importance of Hydration. Being short of food in a race, low on fuel, can be quickly rectified by eating something. A pause, some food and in a few minutes the sugar/carbs start to have an impact. With hydration the recovery is slower. If you hit a point of dehydration you can take on water/electrolytes of course but the recovery is slower and it can quickly derail the event. I’ve not really thought much about this. I drink sports drink (currently Tailwind and Precision Hydration) but I’ve not thought seriously about it. I know I need to.

The key starting point is to drink often in the race and I need to train this into my habits. So all runs over 10 miles I aim to take fluids with me and drink them through the run. In reality my body doesn’t start telling me I need to. I run regularly 10-15 miles (especially this time of year) and need little if any fluid. But the reality is that if I reflect on this after I run, I am in a point of mild dehydration. It doesn’t derail a 10.15 mile run, but that habit is not good when I think 100 miles.

So training my habits to consume fluids routinely is a key objective in January.

Im also doing more research into hydration overall to see what I can do to ensure I am doing the best I can to balance fluid intake and effort, without taking onboard too much and feeling uncomfortable in a run.

Fuel

I need to eat. I’ve been more structured over the training so far to eat on long runs. Before I need to, I eat. Ive got used to eating whilst moving – mostly stroopwaffel, but this is an improvement. I like the idea that ti can eat on the go, eat whilst carrying on decent travelling speed. What I now need to do is broaden the range of food I eat on the run, and think of pitstop food. Im not sure savoury will work for me on the go, but I know I need to add some in to provide the fuel I’ll need.

2021

The new year promises to challenge me more than any other year since I started running. I know im up for the challenge, I know I can face everything the training will throw at me and I know I will do my best. I can ask no more.

Challenge yourself. you don’t know your limits until you meet them head on.

See the January 2021 Update

See the nutrition blog post

See the hydration blog post