After looking at various ultra-training plans and guides I've decided that as I've taken part in regular marathons and races up to around 30 miles that training for 40-50 shouldn't be that different (notice I never said EASY!)
I've also covered 100km in the Trailwalker event previously which I ran/walked but more walked and also covered long distances in the Army even carrying weight and in boots, so I knew that it would probably be painful, mental and slow!
Due to the above I decided to base training around the marathon training format of short runs in the week with long runs at the weekend. For the last marathon though I'd not done any long runs and still did it ok but the key for me is getting the balance right and not over committing. Be realistic and only plan what is achievable.
So the result is at weekends I'm going to try and fit in a 20m plus off-road run and another shorter run back-to-back. This I've heard is the key to ultra-running as you can't do 50m training runs (well I can't), so instead you get the body used to operating when it's already tired.
Anyway, this weekend just gone....
Well I'd decided that I'd run the Chelmsford Centenary Circle which runs around the outside of the city approx.. 20 miles. I'd run most parts of this many times but there were a few legs that I'd never covered and a few places where I'd end up a little confused.
The run started well, I'd opted to carry some kit in my Inov-8 backpack but not use a bladder as I now preferred the hand bottle (strange as I used to hate anything in my hands). I packed a back-up 500ml bottle in the pack just in case. I used this run to test a few minor things with nutrition though.
The main change was the drink. Normally I'd use an Army issue drinks powered which contains lots of carbs and sugar. I used to suffer from minor cramping though and decided to try something different so this time used water with Nuun hydration tablets (Tri-berry flavour). The tablets have no calories so only provide the minerals needed when running and all the carbs come via gels. (think I might try the next run with no gels and just these to see the real effect).
I'd already tested them in the office in my normal drinking water so I knew I could stomach them but I packed some tissues just in case! Also emptied my energy gels into a single Salomon bottle which is a little like a collapsible "babies bottle". At my last race I fell whilst trying to take on some gel smashing my knee and I though this could reduce time opening packs. (Notice I didn't use the hand carrier).
2 miles into the run and I was feeling a few tweaks with my feet etc. (wearing trail gloves) but then something went click in my back and my back instantly locked like a trapped nerve. I'd woke a week again with the same pain but it had gone but now it had returned instantly?
I couldn't turn my head very well and even breathing was a little painful. I seriously thought I'd have to walk home but jogged a little and noticed that running caused no more extra pain than walking or standing still so thought I'd carry on for a while as I could be in pain at home feeling guilty or feel in pain at home after the run. Was it uncomfortable? YES but it actually took the focus off some other niggles so I carried on.
One of these niggles was some minor discomfort in my right foot in the main tendon down the front. I’d first had this from breaking in the new Walsh’s but now it seemed to return when wearing the Merrill’s also my toe joint started to hurt on the same foot where I’d had my op. These were not that bad and I could live with them but I need to remember that it’s the minor things that can develop into something serious when probably running longer 30-40m as its hard to put up with things for that amount of time.
Well the drink went down well with me only drinking 500ml which I think is too little for a 20m run and would normally drink a little more. I noticed later I’d get headaches even though I’d drank lots when home. The gel bottle also worked ok but I’m still not sure as the last bit was difficult to get out of the bottle so will keep looking at that.
Last point on the topic of Merrill grip in mud. I’ve spoken about this a number of times and again in heavy mud the shoes slipped BUT I tried to run through these sections as flat footed as possible using all the grip they had to offer and this did make a difference so will push on.