The specifics of my training aren’t as important as the driving principles behind it, train by heart rate and not by pace or perceived effort.
I’ve written about the 3 M’s of adventure training and this is the key part of that. Tuning the engine so that you can make the most of the calories that enter your digestive system and the calories stored on your body as fat. In short, I’ve been running around 50-70 miles per week on a 4 week cycle, making sure my heart rate stays below a magical number… 145bpm for 80% of the time. This is mixed in with a reduction in the amount of sleep I have (bed at 10-11pm and up at 4am) and some core, body weight and movement based high intensity work (around 20-30 minutes twice a week). This isn’t some mystical formula I’ve come up with but a combination of training concepts by Matt Fitzgerald and Dr Maffatone for those interested, but I seem to be pretty much injury free even though my mileage ramp up has been quite steep.
This past weekend was a test of that training, supporting a friend on a leg of the tough long distance challenge in Wales called the Paddy Buckley Round and then running the Keswick Mountain Festival 50K race a day or so later.
The PD leg was tough (Read about it here). Not only the terrain, distance or the 6000+ft of ascent, but the winter like conditions. Howling wind, visibility of around 3-4m max and constant cold rain from the start of the leg to very near the end. After just three and half hours of sleep, I woke up, drove carefully to Keswick for the Keswick Mountain Festival, in bed by 10pm, with the intention of waking up early and getting my kit ready for the 50K race the next day.
For the first time is a very long time I over slept and arrived at the race just as the runners where given the off!!
4 minutes later I crossed the start line and started to run and by mile ten, although legs felt fine and I was moving at a good pace, I needed to sleep and decided that if by mile 20 I needed to sleep still I would.
I didn’t need to sleep though. I just seemed to be able to move along, chatting to people, stopping to take pictures, admiring the view in parts and generally being amazed at how well my body was coping wit the route and with the fatigue I started with.
I ignored the food at the check point, collected water from the natural water sources around the course and relied on 800 calories and my bodies natural reserves. With the late wake up, I’d not eaten any breakfast, so the fuel I needed had to be taken form my own body. I did notice I was dehydrated at mile 35, so I supplemented the Tailwind mix with some pure water, mainly to compensate for the amount of sweating (it was a warm sunny day). 6 hours and 33 minutes later I was at the finish line, over taken 4 people in the final stages and finished 50th overall!! I actually felt ok. I wasn’t limping, I wasn’t aching and I wasn’t struggling to walk around. Today, the legs are tired and deserve a recovery day before training resumes and it’s off to the Lake District for some fun.
I loved every single minute of the weekend runs, even the Paddy Buckley round where I was genuinely freezing for a big portion of it and I was glad I decided to go with my Luna Tabu socks. It seems I’m getting more ready for the E1 run, but the doubts are still there and the fear of the unknown remains, driving me forwards with more and more momentum.
More training to come next week, starting at the weekend with a Bob Graham Round support (Legs 1 & 2, maybe 3 with a run back to Keswick afterwards), some runs with serious climb, recceing the Lake Sky Ultra race route and then heading to the first ever Ultra Festival down south so I can sit or stand in awe of the ultra running legends that will be there!