Monday, 28 May 2012

just a quick update

Good to find my normal self again hiding in the sunshine.  With less than four weeks to go before my next ultra all my usual enthusiasm for training seems to have returned.  Looking forward now to a good race.

Yesterday's training run was hill reps in the afternoon.  Ten times up a short steep hill (250m) to the north of Otley.  All in all I was out of the house less than 45 minutes and lost over 2 kg in weight (3.5 lb).

Fay says:  "If you find it can you give it back please ?"

The temperature in the shade was apparently 25.8 C (78.4 F).  There wasn't much shade where I was running though ...

I've just recently come across a blog written by A Big Horse and the entry for 24 May describes what a 24 hour race is all about.  I'd say that is one of the best descriptions I've ever read, especially the following ...

"The time after 100 miles is all about making peace with pain and finding your most efficient stride at effort level you can continue to the end of the race.  Will there be pain - Yes.  What kind of pain - Unknown.  Nausea, knee, hip, ankle, shoulders, feet, blisters, chaffing, fatigue, dizziness, hamstrings, quads, calves, headache ... Who know which combination you will face - Only that there will be pain.  This is where you find out how serious you are about the race.  There will be multiple, reasonable reasons to stop or at least back down and only 1 reason to continue at max effort ... because you will it.

All plans of 24 hour racers are limited by 4 things:  1)  Actual fitness level for race, 2)  What your body decides to give you that day (Much more variable than marathon or even 50 mile races), 3)  Weather and 4)  You ability to problem solve the issue that yo will face - There will be things that go wrong, how well do you problem solve to minimize those issues."

Great stuff by a member of the US team.  They will be very difficult to beat in Poland come September.

Off to do lift some weights now.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

felling better ...

After a few days of 'no pressure running' I'm beginning to feel better already.  Of course the recent change in the weather has helped ... and so too has my decision to also do a bit less strength work and cycling for a week or so.

Monday afternoon was a gentle 23 miles (37 km) up the valley and back, and Tuesday morning was another gentle run, 25 miles this time (40 km) in the heat.  I believe the temperature was 15 C (59 F) on Monday afternoon and 16 C (60 F) on Tuesday morning.  Sunny on both days too - and that is due to continue until next week (and beyond, hopefully).

So, there's been a definite improvement in my general mood and I'm beginning to look forward to training again and in particular a long run next week.  Maybe from York to Otley via Tadcaster, Scarcroft and Bramhope on Wednesday.  Any takers ...

Sunday, 20 May 2012

mentally tired

Just had a few very heavy training weeks and I'm feeling a little tired:

since Easter an average week has been ... about twelve hours of running and two hours on the bike and over five hours strength work finishing off with almost two hours of stretching.  And there's been a couple of races too.

And now, although the body has coped remarkably well, the mind needs a break.  So this week I've decided not to do quite so much and the plan is ... no cycling and no steady running.  In essence I'm just keeping the essential stuff for seven to ten days.

That's the long runs, hill reps, tempo runs, speedwork, strength work and stretching ONLY which will free up a good few hours for mental recovery.

The strange thing is that I'll begin tapering anyway in less than two weeks from now.  But sometimes, recently, when it's been time to go for a run I've been in two minds about whether to actually get my kit on or not.  Perhaps it's the very early stages of overtraining syndrome, or maybe a virus, or maybe the worst Yorkshire springtime on record is just getting me down ... but whatever it is I need to get it sorted.  Now.

So, a relatively easy week or so and hopefully I'll come bouncing back in time for a hard three weeks tapering.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

flapjack and racing

That flapjack ... well, it wasn't unpleasant and it was very slightly salty.  No problems at all on a 24.5 mile run (39.5 km) through Airedale and Wharfedale.  In fact I don't envisage any problems for a long ultra too and it seems to me to be a convenient way of taking on board the necessary electrolytes.

I found the basic recipe on the BBC website to which I suppose you could add almost anything you would want.

Anyway that trial happened on Tuesday morning and later that same day I took part in race two of the Harrogate District Summer Race League -  a fantastic series of six races between early May and late July.  This race was in Thirsk over a course described as 'a little under 10k'.  Last year I ran that in 37:28 but wasn't expecting to get too close to that time this year because of the morning's long run.

So my 37:01 came as a complete shock.  I started conservatively and seemed to get progressively faster with each passing mile.  Although in reality I guess that everyone else was slowing down at a far greater rate than me.  Still, I've got to be happy with Tuesday's training:  over 24 miles in the morning, 9.5 km (?) in 37 mins in the evening.

This morning I went for a run in the rain again and felt myself perversely enjoying it.  Perhaps I'm getting used to it ... or perhaps it's a different type of rain.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

from 5k to 24 hours

Apologies for not posting for a while but I've been a bit busy recently ... and Fay was ill at the start of last week which didn't help (but she seems OK now though).

Yesterday I ran in my first open race of the year.  It was only a local 5k but it was good for speedwork and after running to and from the venue provided another 20 miles or so (32 km) to my weekly total of over 90 (145 km).  I was very pleased to complete the three lap 5k in 9th position with a time of  19:58, especially as the 373 other runners caused a bit of blockage on the second and third laps.

Also pleased with that run because on 28 May last year I did the same race (and also ran to the start) with a time of 20:59 ... so that's an improvement of over a minute in twelve months which bodes well for the ULTRArace 100 which is less than 6 weeks away now.

I've also been experimenting with flapjack.  I've been using homemade flapjack to fuel my long runs for a few months now.  Recently I had a thought that perhaps I could fortify it with added electrolytes and/or extra vitamins and minerals, especially for long ultra races where electrolytes are very important.

Well, I made a batch yesterday afternoon and to the 1000g flapjack mixture I added 16g salt and also some extra B vitamins, vitamin C, iron, zinc, selenium, calcium and magnesium.  I added the quantities needed for my next ultra race after taking into account all the other stuff I plan to eat and drink.  I've had a small piece of the finished product to see if it is palatable ... and it's not too bad (very slightly salty) but I'll have more of an idea about whether it may be suitable after Tuesday's long run when it gets it's first road test.  More details later.

I'll have to get myself a digital camera.

On Friday Fay managed to find some coffee from Thailand.  I've never actually come across any Thailand coffee for sale so that was a big surprise - it's quite good too if a little mild for my taste.

And it's Keir's 18th birthday at the end of this month so that's something he's looking forward too.  Today we booked his accommodation in Belfast for when he starts university there in September.  Yes, I know he hasn't even taken his A levels yet but apparently they want accommodation to be booked first - and a £300 bond paid too !!!

This weekend has also seen the annual Basel 24 hr race in Switzerland in which several UK athletes were attempting to get World Championship qualifying distances before the end of May.  I'm not sure of any distances or results other than John Pares finished first.  Congratulations to him ... it's practically a home town race for John though   :)

Monday, 7 May 2012

long run today

Today I expected to get wet.  The weather forecast was for rain beginning at about lunchtime and getting progressively heavier throughout the afternoon.  Regular readers will know that I do my long fartlek runs in the afternoon so ...

Anyway, I woke up this morning and, on the spur of the moment, decided to run the 22 hilly miles (35 km) immediately after breakfast.  Just to make it a bit more difficult.

Two and a half to three hours interspersing 5 mins at 10k pace with 3.5 mins recovery is never going to be easy but after lunch, when the blood sugar has risen a bit, it isn't usually quite so daunting.

So ... long fartlek completed before lunch and home before the rain.  Which happened to be almost non existent.  Typical of the British weather to be so unpredictable.

My knee doesn't ache now either.  Very good.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

bits and pieces

Well, today is the first day of my next 4 week training block.  As usual my last block ended with an 'easy week' in which I reduced everything by one third.  My three runs last week were a 6 mile (9.6 km) tempo run, a long run of almost 44 miles (71 km) and some hill reps (10 x Farnley Lane in Otley).

Some of the strength work I had planned wasn't completed but that was due mainly to wedding anniversary celebrations (24 years) and not injury.  Having said that, my left knee does seem to be aching a bit today.

I've also been home alone all weekend as Fay and Keir have been camping in Harrogate with hundreds of scouts from all over Yorkshire.  I'm sure they're having lots of fun but it's been very cold at night ... too cold for me to be under canvas.

Like lots of others I've been following the trials and tribulations of the eleven runners who left John O'Groats 16 days ago heading for Land's End.  It's been a fascinating journey and one which I have found immensely inspiring.  I know I'll be thinking about what they achieved as I complete another long run in the rain tomorrow  :(

Many congratulations to Rainer Koch on winning the event.  It has been a privilege to follow his progress day after day through the rain.

Much like my training last month really.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

very long run completed

As most of you will know I spent much of yesterday running a hilly 43.8 miles (70.5 km) in the Yorkshire Dales with Hugh Pearson crewing for me for the first time.

It went exceptionally well and I'm very pleased at how things worked out.  I think Hugh learned a lot about how this crewing thing works but he was also very happy about how it all went.  He did a fair bit of running himself too  :)

The new nutrition strategy worked wonders too - giving me plenty of energy for running up a few big hills such as the one south of Bewerley which took me past Yorke's Folly [OS 1:25000 map - Explorer26 - ref 157643 to 156634].

Overall the route took us from the car park just north of Timble to Fewston, Wydra then via Penny Pot Lane to Hampsthwaite where Hugh managed to squeeze a 7' 6" wide vehicle (2.29m) across a bridge which was just 6' 6" in width (1.98m).  Don't know how he did that  :)

From there we went via Clint, Shaw Mills and Bishop Thornton to Markington where we turned north towards Fountains Abbey.  Here Hugh performed his second miracle of the day by getting his heavy motor home across a bridge with a weight restriction of 3 tonnes and then around a few sharp twists and turns in the road while avoiding two cars and a lorry coming in the opposite direction.

From there we continued north through Winksley to Laverton and shortly after this we encountered another problem - the road over the moors towards Pateley Bridge was closed to traffic because of re-surfacing works.  I knew I could manage for well over an hour without the need for more food and drink but at this point I half expected Hugh's inexperience to show ... there was none of that, and with no more than a 30 second conversation we decided I should continue and he should just take the suggested detour and meet me further along our planned route.

From there it was down to Blazefield and Bewerley followed by the large hill mentioned earlier.  Then south to Thruscross Reservoir and back to Otley via Blubberhouses (and a couple more large hills).

So, a very good 7 hours out on the roads in which we both learned a lot which will be good for the ULTRArace 100 which is now less than eight weeks away.  Really looking forward to that.

And so to today ... woke at 4.00am this morning as Keir was going on a school trip to Auschwitz - for the day !!!  He had to be at the airport for 5.00am and we're glad it's only 3 miles away (5 km).  His flight home arrives at 10.30pm so today will be a long one with not much sleep  :(

Already feeling a bit sleepy ...