I’ve been reading quite a bit about ultra running recently. What started a few months ago as a mad plan to take part in Endure 24 has now turned into an even madder realisation that (a) I like running, (b) I like running a long way and (c) maybe… just maybe… with lots of consistent training I could plan to do more than one ultra event.
My wife laughs at me now – I’m occasionally sitting around the house or in bed reading a book on running, and she tells me that I have to actually run in order to get better at it, not just read about it! Crazy nonsense 🙂
Ultrarunners are a mad bunch. They do insane runs of 50 miles, 100 miles and more. So how the hell do you train for that? Well, it seems that there is a general opinion that you can’t really run 100 mile training runs, which makes sense. However, it also appears that running a long distance split over a number of consecutive days has a similar benefit to running the full distance in one go while reducing the injury risk. So, running something like 30 miles one day, 25 the next and 20 the day after will give you similar benefits to running 75 miles in one go but with a chance that your legs might not drop off.
So, my plan: There’s a “trailway” – a long distance path that runs mainly on the bed of an old railway – from close to my house all the way to Ringwood about 13 miles away. The run along here is almost all off-road (mostly on well-made trails) which is much nicer than running on the road. I decided to drive over to Ringwood on a Sunday evening, and run home. Then the next day I’d run back over to Ringwood to pick the car up.
I was ready to start running in Ringwood around 1745 – I’d checked the sunset time and knew I’d have about 20-30 minutes at the end in relative darkness on the trail, so I made sure I had my headtorch. I also packed a couple of energy gels, my phone and a spare jacket in my Camelbak (with the bladder removed) and ran with 2 handheld bottles, one with electrolyte mix and the other just water.
The run back was lovely. I kept the pace slow – this was about covering the distance not any kind of speed, and besides I knew I’d be doing it again tomorrow!
Near to Canford School, there’s a small suspension bridge over the River Stour, and I spent a couple of minutes here taking a photo and digging my headtorch out as it was starting to get quite dark out.
The final section of the run was dark and wet, but having only run with a headtorch once before I was enjoying the new experience. I got back home after 13.5 miles at an average pace of 9:28/mile, which I was happy with.
I ached a bit when I got out of bed on the Monday morning, but with a little walking around and stretching I felt pretty fine. I had originally intended to run back over to Ringwood in the afternoon, but I had an opportunity in the morning and decided to go around 0930.
I expected this run back to be hard work, but it wasn’t. It felt easier than the day before. There were times when I felt strong and the running was easy and that I could just go on forever. It really was a great run, and I only started feeling a bit tired about 2 miles from the end. I got back to the car at an average pace of 9:14/mile, knocking a bit over 4 minutes off the time from the day before.
The car was still there too, which was a bonus 🙂
I really enjoyed this back-to-back running, and it’s something I’m planning on doing a lot more of. When I finished the second run, I didn’t ache as if I’d run 27 miles – things felt a lot better than expected.
I’m writing this a week or so after doing the run, and on that week I managed to cover 50 miles which is my longest ever weekly mileage. I’m taking it easy this week (as I write), with a plan to doing another set of consecutive runs next week – either around 2×15 miles or maybe 3×10 miles. I’ll let you know how I get on.