Monday, 13 July 2009

a bad day at the office ...

Well, here's what happened ...

Arrived the night before with a tent and two crew members (Fay and Keir).  Everything was fine ... runners and the organiser, doctor and other officials were chatting away and eagerly anticipating the weekend's race.

Just before going to sleep I stubbed my toe and a toenail came off.  I know it had been loose since the Run To London but I didn't realise it had been so bad.  An omen perhaps.

Woke up in the night with cramp in my left calf ... things were not going well at all.

Before an ultra distance race I usually snack on high carbohydrate foods right up until the race starts.  This time I decided to just have a large breakfast about two to three hours before the race.  The idea behind this change is that food eaten within one hour of a race stimulates the release of insulin, which increases the amount of carbohydrate used during the race.

About an hour before the race I ambled down to see the woman from the Northern Institute of Massage to see if she could help with the cramp problem I had about six hours earlier.  After about ten minutes on her table I felt much better ...

The race began and I felt strong, it went like this:

plan - to run at 7:47 per mile (1:56 per lap)
actual - ran at 7:47 per mile (1:56 per lap)

plan - to walk for 7:30 then run at 7:51 per mile (1:57 per lap)
actual - walked for 7:30 then ran at 7:41 per mile (1:55 per lap)

plan - to walk for 7:30 then run at 7:59 per mile (1:59 per lap)
actual - walked for 7:30 then ran at 7:59 per mile (1:59 per lap)

plan - to walk for 7:30 then run at 8:03 per mile (2:00 per lap)
actual - walked for 7:30 then ran at 8:03 (2:00 per lap)

plan - to walk for 7:30 then run at 8:07 per mile (2:01 per lap)
actual - walked for 7:30 then ran at 8:07 per mile (2:01 per lap)

plan - to walk for 7:30 then run at 8:15 per mile (2:03 per lap)
actual - walked for 8:45 then ran for 8:55 per mile (2:13 per lap)

plan - to walk for 7:30 then run for 8:19 per mile (2:04 per lap)
actual - walked for 10:00 and later for 5:00. Ran at 9:03 per mile (2:15 per lap)

During the seventh hour, when I was beginning to try and understand why I was struggling, it suddenly occurred to me that the 218 mile Run To London was only seven weeks ago and it was obvious that I hadn't recovered enough to be able to run a quick 100 miles.

What came to mind next was a section from Tim Noakes' book Lore Of Running (fourth edition, page 662):

"Continuous running during marathon and ultramarathon races produces a specific form of fatigue due to eccentric-induced muscle damage with associated changes in neuromuscular function."

"Once this fatigue develops, it is irreversible, causing the runner to slow precipitously, or even be reduced to walking.  Complete recovery may take weeks to months."

I then decided it would be wise to stop as I didn't want anything getting in the way of a good build up to the Commonwealth Championships which are only nine and a half weeks away.

Another thing I was trying for the first time was a different length of walking break.  I usually walk for ten minutes every hour but this time I thought I'd try seven and a half minutes in a slightly shorter race.  It worked well for the first five hours but then I needed more time walking ... I had been running faster than usual though. This needs to be tried again when I'm fresh.

Some of the new food and drink choices weren't due until a few hours after I stopped running so I still don't know whether or not they would have had any benefit.  The Shot Bloks electrolyte chews were very good:  a useful way of taking on board sodium, etc and easier to chew and swallow than expected.

The REGO Rapid (protein drink) tasted much better without the addition of a Shotz electrolyte tablet.

After I retired I spent much of the remaining 17 hours enjoying the race and talking to people such as Alan Young, Adrian Stott, Eleanor Robinson, Mike Blamires, etc. I'm always willing to listen and learn from what others have to say about training, racing, nutrition, etc.

- Seven weeks recovery after 218 miles is not enough for me.
- Alan and Adrian very kindly pointed out that two bad races [by my own standards] from nine ultras is quite a good ratio.
- passed the marathon distance in 3h 38:39 and 60k in 5h 16:17 (the latter a pb by over 20 minutes).

Many thanks to Dave Annandale for organising a fantastic event and thanks also to all the lap counters too (especially Emma Annandale who was mine [sorry for not collapsing at the end though !!!]).

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