Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Ultra training: the good, the bad, the ugly

The good:

I've managed all the scheduled long runs so far (longest to date: 24 miles. Still to come: 27 miles), and they haven't even been that painful, in fact I have largely enjoyed them. Well, to be fair, during both the 20 and the 24 my legs did start hurting towards the end, but the length of time before that happens seems to be getting longer, which I suppose is the point of training, really. The run 30/walk 5 strategy seems to be working well, my only reservation being that it can be hard to get going again after a 5-minute walk break, especially later on in the run when legs seem to stiffen up as soon as I stop running. I know I'm not going to run 33 miles without stopping, though, so walk breaks have to be had, and the consensus seems to be that taking them from the start is best.

My 24-mile run was lovely, for the most part. I ran along the North Deeside Road, out through Peterculter and onto the largely uncharted (by me) territory of the country roads near Drum Castle, until I got to 12 miles at which point I turned around to run back. Weather was lovely, and although I was running mainly on roads it was quiet and peaceful with hardly any traffic. Took it nice and easy, waving to the occasional cow, with my Garmin set to show time rather than distance or pace, but was surprised on later inspection to find a couple of sub-10 minute miles slotted in quite late in the run. It did all start going a bit pear-shaped from 20 onwards, of which more later, but an overall pace of 11 m/m was quite satisfying. If I can maintain that over 33 miles in the race, I'll be happy - but I know the last few miles (at least) are going to be a struggle.

Also to my surprise, I've suffered from hardly any post-run soreness so far. Legs were a bit achey the evening of the 20 (though not really in a bad way, more in that kind of pleasantly-tired way), but were fine the next day, and even after the 24 there was very little in the way of after-effects. So I must be doing something right.

The bad:

I've been running, which is the main thing, but I haven't really been doing anything else, though I know I should be. I planned on all sorts of cross-training and strength training and core work and all that but to be honest just finding time to fit in the runs is challenging enough. So I've done a *bit* of core stuff, but only a very tiny bit, like this video about twice (though I can't keep up the exercises for as long as you're meant to, mainly because they're murder) and I've also bought the 30 Day Shred DVD which everyone has been going on about, but I haven't actually got as far as taking it out of the wrapper, so big FAIL as far as that's concerned. I will do it, though, I will, I will...

The ugly

was my very sore and achey stomach over the past few miles of my 24 mile run... I haven't figured out a reason for this yet, although it has been suggested that inadequate hydration may have been a factor... Basically I spent the last few miles feeling like I really needed the loo, but actually going to the loo didn't alleviate the feeling at all. Rather worryingly, the symptoms persisted for the rest of the day even when I wasn't running any more. I'm a bit concerned in case this happens in the race... however, I have one more long run planned, a 27 with Rhona , so I'll be able to see how that goes.

27 sounds alarming, being further than I've ever run before and venturing for the first time into ultra territory, but I figure if we've done 24 we can do 27. Will just have to take it slowly and not think too much about the distance!