Monday, 18 April 2011

How to train for a 145 mile race?

If you are reading this thinking you are going to get or a training plan detailing how to train for an ultra then I am sorry to disappoint.
The blog title was me asking the question….

I have read lots of articles and blogs detailing how to train for a long ultra and to be fair how to train for any race length over the years. I have come to the conclusion that while the content of the articles are informative most are based on personal experience, which is great but what works for one person may not work for another.

I have spent years following various training plans and wearing HR monitors and GPS watches measuring this stat and that stat and then spending hours analysing the data collected. Did this make me a better runner? For me the answer is probably not, as I got so wrapped up in trying to beat the clock and getting faster that I ignored the fundamental part of training, my body. It quite frequently said enough was enough you have pushed to far and decided to break down usually at the crucial stage of the training plan.

So for the last 2years my training has generally been done without any technology strapped to me, just me and the open road so to speak. This has seemed to work fine for me and last year I managed to complete a 100mile Ultra using this strategy.

So this year with a few Ultras planned I  decided to change my approach and start wearing a watch whilst training. I guess my thought was to try and be more structured towards my training.

So armed with my training plan I set out after my Ultra 90 in mid Jan to follow it to the letter up to the GUCR at the end of May....... I lasted a week….


Well I ripped up the plan and decided to listen to my body and train as much as I could when I could. i listened to my body and trained at a pace which was comfortable but still pushed me. 

This went well through Feb and I clocked up over 200miles in training.

So I started into March feeling good about my running. 

I ran the first day of the Grantham Ultra 29.3miles in a sub 4hr time, this was a gauge on how my training was progressing and I must say I was pleased with the results.

For the rest of march I fell into what I can only put down to a state of lethargy, I really struggled to get up in the mornings for my planned long runs.
As I have said before in order to get my long runs in I have to get up fairly early, the longer the run the earlier I have to get up. This is a decision that I have made as I don't want my chosen sport to impact time wise to much on my family life. So if I miss the window of opportunity in the mornings to run, then it becomes very difficult to fit the long run in and it ends up being a shorter but faster run in the evening once the children are in bed...

This seemed to be the theme for the whole of march and I only managed 2 long runs (if you can call them long) of around 22 miles. These were done at a fair pace though, as was most of my runs, I even managed a couple of 10milers at sub 7 minute pace.

All this was well and good but I was supposed to be training for the longest annual single stage race held in Great Britain. So I needed to get the long runs in no excuses....

Having come to the end of March I had only completed 150miles total for the month which was very disappointing.....

So taking stock I started April running (no pun intended well only a little one) and banged out a great 50k which was full of hills to test my endurance to the limit. I felt great afterwards, and know that I still have the training in the legs.

To date I have got over 100miles in so far this month, over Easter I have got several long runs planned which should take my total for the month to around 250miles.

One positive I can take is that my total running to date is increased by 25% at this time last year. So I am better trained than I was for the Ultra race 100 that I ran last year.

So what can I say about my training, I guess by now you realise that although there is some structure to it, it becomes very haphazard and very much dependant on family life coming first.

It is a very fine balance in which I am finding increasingly difficult to juggle, so I have come to the decision that after these to Ultras I have planned:- the GUCR 145mile race & Ultra100 I am not going to enter any Ultra over 50miles as this will be much easier to manage the long runs required to keep the fitness levels required to compete. I might be persuaded to stretch to a 100k run if it had the wow factor.

Any way must get ready for a 12 miler tomorrow to work......