Thursday, 26 January 2012

Ultra Training 101

So I'm doing this little small ultra in March, a mere 33 miles, just a jog around the block really *cough* Actually, being very local, it kind of *is* a jog around the block and back for me, except that "the block" goes on for 16.5 miles...

Anyway I have put together a wee training programme, cobbled together from various others and drawing heavily on the 50k one in Bryon Powell’s book “Relentless Forward Progress” (a useful read even if the author can’t spell Brian ;) ). It basically involves 5 runs a week, building up to a longest single run of 26 miles *eek* and some back to back days.

Yesterday I ran 20 miles, which is the furthest I’ve run since the Edinburgh Marathon last May. Knowing a run/walk strategy will be needed during the race, I’ve decided to practise this in training as well and for my last two long runs, have adopted a run 30 mins/ walk 5 mins technique, which seems to work well. The 5 minute walk break is long enough to eat, drink, readjust my clothing, check my phone for messages, etc, and breaking a long run up into 30 minute segments feels psychologically very helpful. I set my watch to show elapsed time only rather than distance or pace, only checking distance occasionally, and with the walk breaks making every third mile slower, seemed to fall naturally into an overall average pace of 11 min/miles, with the run segments being about 10:30 pace and the walk segments about 15:00 pace, which seems OK.

The thought of adding on another 13 miles is scary though. Legs felt very tired by the end. And 30 minutes running did start to feel a lot longer than it had at the beginning! The only problem I’ve found with walk breaks is that it can feel difficult to get going again by the end of the 5 minutes as my legs can stiffen up a bit. This usually resolves very quickly, though, but I wonder if it would get worse on longer runs?

I really enjoyed this run, though, on the whole. I’d been a bit iffy about going out at all since I woke up with a sore throat and blocked up nose, and consulted the wisdom of Facebook where I was basically advised to HTFU and get on with it ;) Started with a few miles bug- and coin-collecting around the local area, then headed out up the North Deeside Road towards Peterculter. I’d been planning to divert onto the old railway line for the bulk of my run but decided not to do that and instead ran through Peterculter, out along the main road till I ran out of footpath, and then down some previously unexplored country roads for a few miles until it was time to turn back and retrace my steps, running the last few miles home from Peterculter along the railway line as initially planned.

So far so good, I think, but I'm getting scared about what I have taken on....