I’ve been planning a 12 hour training run for a while, and at the end of last week – with just over 3 weeks to go until Endure 24 – I finally managed to get out and do it.
I spent quite a while beforehand thinking about a route, and settled on a loop that started at Upton Country Park, went up to the Castleman Trailway and followed the path of a disused railway track to Upton, then down and back into the country park and round pretty much the whole perimeter. The loop was 4.3 miles long.
I ran the whole course a week or so beforehand just to check that nothing had changed and all looked good to go, so on Friday of last week I got up at 6am, got myself ready and filled the boot of the car with stuff – mainly food and drink – then set off and parked in the car park of Upton Country Park. At 07:25, I started running…
Well, ya know. I just felt like it :)
I have this idea to try and cover 100 miles at Endure 24, and I figured if I tried out half the time then I could see if it was vaguely possible. I read an article somewhere a few weeks back that said it’s a good idea to have 3 goals for each event, so my goals were:
Plan A: Cover 60 miles
Plan B: Cover 50 miles
Plan C: Run for 12 hours
In that way, if things didn’t look like they were going well for Plan A, then all wasn’t lost as I had 2 other targets to aim for. I was fairly confident that I could achieve Plan C as long as nothing broke.
So what was it like?
I’m writing this on Tuesday of the following week (4 days after the run), and I’m looking back fondly thinking that it was actually quite fun!
I’m not going to do a lap-by-lap account, but try and highlight some of the key points within the run so I can look back and remember what it was all about.
First, a bit about the plan. To cover 60 miles, I’d have to keep an average of faster than 12 minutes/mile, including stops at the “aid station”. This run was completely self supported – my aid station was the boot of my car which I would pass every 4.3 miles. I took 12 litres of water, gels, flapjacks, pork pies and sausage rolls, bananas, mini pepperami, figs, pineapple chunks, 2 cans of Red Bull, a bottle of diet coke, S-tabs and electrolyte tablets, spare shoes and a few other things that I can’t remember. Because I was passing the car at intervals of less than 5 miles I didn’t bother with a race vest – I just took my handheld water bottle (0.6l UltrAspire Isomeric Magnon bottle) with a plan to top it up as I needed.
Below is a graph of my mile times for the full time – I managed 11 hours 35 minutes in the end, stopping through choice rather than running the last loop round the park (I’ll explain that later).
The First Half
I had some cornflakes, yogurt and a banana for breakfast before I headed out, and took another banana with me to eat as I started running. I figured I’d be faster and fresher at the start of the run, so try to keep to 10 minutes/mile or so for the first 20-30 miles and then let the pace drop later on.
You’ll notice in the graph above that there’s a spike about every 4 or 5 bars – that’s where I stopped at the car. I filled my water bottle at every single lap, the first few weren’t full bottles but by half way through I was emptying the whole bottle in a circuit. Overall I drank a little over 7 litres of water/coke/Red Bull throughout the run, and that still wasn’t enough as I didn’t need to pee once!
So, I was running a bit faster than I should have until mile 13 (most miles were faster than 10 minutes). At mile 13 I detoured to McDonalds and got a Sausage & Egg McMuffin which I nibbled over the next 90 minutes or so. By about 15 miles I started my familiar mental droop, finding it really quite difficult. The lowest point on the whole run was between miles 15 and 21, where it felt harder than it should have. This echoes the feelings that I’ve had in previous runs, and I just kept telling myself the feeling would pass.
Looking at the chart above I actually got faster into that period, which to me tells me that it’s a big mental issue, and it was resolved to a large extent when I started slowing a little. Reading some stuff about Central Governor Theory recently makes me convinced this is the result of a drop in blood sugar making my brain want to protect me by producing feelings of fairly severe fatigue. I did try to avoid this by making sure I had a couple of gels before 15 miles, and I had a glucose tablet and another gel in the middle of the down period too.
Anyway, I got out the end of it and although I was slowing I was enjoying myself and having a few things to look forward to. I’d told myself I could change from my road shoes (Brooks Vapor’s) to my Hokas around mile 30, so I was looking forward to that. Once I passed 50k (31-ish miles) I was then into the 3rd longest run I had ever done, and then onwards to 48.5 miles to make this the longest run ever for me – all these were things to focus on as I kept running.
I’ll just describe the run, so I can remind myself in months to come…
Leaving the car park, I crossed a road and ran on a pavement cycle path, crossing 2 more busy roads off a roundabout then down under a subway. From here, it was track. Up the path, through a gate, minding the near-invisible stump that had me flat on my face on the path a few months back! Then onto a wider but muddier path on an uphill section of the path for about half a mile. A right turn took me up a very steep but short hill up onto the disused railway track where I turned right and ran on for a mile or so through open heathland. At the end, up another short, sharp hill, over a dual carriageway then down a very narrow, windy and overgrown path for half a mile or so to a pedestrian crossing across a main road. Once at the other side of this crossing it was onwards on a gravelled path that turned progressively more muddy, and throughout the day I learned the best route to take through this mud. At the end, this re-entered the country park, and I took a circuit down and round the outside of the park – along compacted trails, through tree-lined gravel paths, past big open spaces on board-walks with a great view to Poole and finally through the leafy parts of the park and back up a slight hill for the final half a mile back to the car.
All in all, a beautiful loop, and apart from a few times getting stuck crossing the roads it was pretty uneventful.
The Second Half
I changed into my Hokas during mile 28 (hence the big spike on the chart), and they were lovely! I bounced out the park, but I was definitely slowing down now. To be honest I don’t remember much about the details of the second half of the run – just that I kept going with a combination of running and walking, trying to keep my average to around 12 minutes per mile while moving.
I found eating a lot easier as I was slowing down, and I was switching from sweet stuff to more savoury – little chunks of pork pie were going down very nicely! And the sun was definitely out now, and stayed that way to the end of the run. All in all it was a pretty hot day – I’m not usually good in the heat, but I just got on with it for this run so I’m now a lot less worried about a bit of warm weather.
By this time I knew I wasn’t going to make the 60 miles, but I also knew that having passed 32 miles at 6 hours I only had to do 20 minute miles on average to make my Plan B of 50 miles. I did a quick calculation and figured out that I should be able to manage about 56 miles all in.
And I stayed ahead of that. The miles started dragging a bit as I passed 38, 39, 40, 41 miles, but then things got more interesting. I stopped counting any miles and just concentrated on getting back round to the car, knowing each time I did it would be another 4 miles on the clock. 2 more car visits and I was at 50 miles… 1 more… and then I was there! And I still had 90 minutes or so – I can’t remember exactly when I passed 50 miles.
Just before 50 miles, my wife & kids had come along as a bit of support, and then just after they left I bumped into my friend Bob who’d come out just to say hello. It was great to see people at this time, and I knew there would be more towards the end as it was the night of one of Poole Runners Summer Series runs in Upton Country Park that evening.
At around 7pm, as I got back to my car, I decided that was enough. 11 hours and 35 minutes, and 55.5 miles. I could have run another smaller loop of the park – around 2 miles – and taken the total up to around 57.5 miles, but there was no longer a challenge. I knew I could make 12 hours if I chose to. I knew I could do 57 miles if I wanted to. And this was still a training run – there was no point in doing any more as I’d answered the question I set out to answer (as much as I could).
My friend Colin arrived with his family just as I stopped at my car, so we had a chat and I wandered around a bit dazed and watched the start of the Summer Series run.
Was it worth it?
Absolutely! If I run like that at Endure 24, then I’ll have 12 hours 25 minutes to cover 44.5 miles, which is nearly 17 minutes/mile. So there is a reasonable chance I may do 100 miles, although I was pretty shattered at the end of the 12 hours. The second 12 hours is going to be an interesting experience and one I hope I can work through.
As for the aftermath of my 12 hours – I felt pretty fine physically. Yeah, my legs ached a bit, but I mainly just felt really worn out all over for about 2 days. We had a busy weekend of watching break dance and popping competitions in Bournemouth that my son and daughter and their friends were involved in, so there was lots of walking and standing around which I actually think helped a bit.
I did my first run last night (Monday), and it was very slow and gentle but pretty fine. I’ve had an achilles niggle that appeared on Sunday morning which I think is due to tight calves, so I’ve been massaging them hard and it’s easing quite significantly now so I think tomorrow I’ll get out for a “proper” run and see how it goes.
Next up… Endure 24!
Stats and Stuff
Total Time: 11:35:36
Total Distance: 55.52 miles
Average Pace: 12:32/mile
Calories Burnt: 7,433 (apparently!)
Calories Eaten: approx 2350
Drink: 2 cans Red Bull, around 500ml diet cola, approx 6.5 litres of water
- 2 x mini Pepperami (76 cal)
- 35g Pineapple chunks (100 cal)
- 5 x malt loaf slices (460 cal)
- 5 x SIS Gels (435 cal)
- Fabulous Bakin’ Boys Flapjack (160 cal)
- Fruity 9-bar (213 cal)
- Glucotab (16 cal)
- 2 x mini pork pies (440 cal)
- Sausage & Egg McMuffin (450 cal)