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Project Ultra Marathon

Over the last 12 months I’ve been thinking more and more about going back to my roots and therefore I have started to focus on trail and ultra racing again and for the last six months I have started to run a little more on the trails and I’ve entered a couple of races which I have done pretty well in . In 2012 I started walking in the Peak District with my two boxer dogs and completed a few walking challenges like the Lyke Wake Walk and the National 3 Peaks. It was while doing these challenges I came across the Lakeland 100 which coincided with my father in law getting diagnosed the cancer. I was instantly hooked on this event and I really wanted to challenge myself and see how far I could push myself which led me to think it would be a great idea to enter this race and try to raise some money for Cancer Research UK along the way. In 2013 I completed my first ultra race which was The Fellsman which is a high level traverse covering more than 60 miles over very hard rugged moorland. The event climbs over 11,000 feet in its path from Ingleton to Threshfield in the Yorkshire Dales. Followed by the Lakeland 100 ‘Ultra Tour of the Lake District’ which is one of the most spectacular long distance trail race which has ever taken place within the UK. The circular route encompasses the whole of the Lakeland Fells and includes in the region of 6300m of ascent. I managed to raise over £3,000 for Cancer Research UK. Continue reading

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The Ladybower Trail Marathon

I would never recommend starting your marathon training plan by running a marathon, especially a trail marathon with over 2,500 feet of ascent and to be honest it’s not something I would normally do especially when I haven’t been training for a marathon. My normal training load is pretty high with a weekly volume of around eighty miles per week which is what I would normally do when training for a marathon. The difference is my weekly mileage has been made up of running twice a day most days and has been missing the key elements of a marathon training plan which are a mid week medium to long run of around ninety minutes and a weekly long run of two hours. I have only ran four training runs over sixteen miles this year and I was just about to start my marathon training plan for an Autumn marathon. I was confident I could handle the distance but there’s a big difference between running 26.2 miles and racing over this distance There’s not many races I see and instantly think I would like to do, especially when I haven’t been training for that distance. This race really caught my attention as I know the area well and it’s in a beautiful part of the Peak District. I messaged the race organiser asking for more details on the race route and really liked the look of the route. The route mainly followed the path around the Ladybower Reservoir but with the added challenge of a two mile climb from mile fourteen to take you away from the main paths and the chance to see some amazing views before a quick technical decent taking you back down to the tourist path. The lack of long runs in my current training was putting me off entering and there wasn’t much time to start upping my distance. I decided to keep tabs on how the race was progressing and who was entering. As the weeks passed the race was getting more and more interest and I noticed one name get added to the start list that I knew would make it an interesting race and would be a great way to test my fitness on the trails. Continue reading

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North Lincolnshire Half Marathon – Week 15 & 16

This is my  final blog update before I run the North Lincolnshire Half Marathon on the 15th May, this race has been my main focus for the past sixteen weeks with all of my training been structured and planned around this race. I have been using Lactate Threshold training to get me into the best shape possible and hopefully reach peak fitness come race day. My current PB is 73:34 and my aim is to run a new PB over the half marathon distance, anything under this time I will be happy with. If I’m able to get my taper right over the next two weeks and I’m able to juggle the balancing act of not doing too much while still doing just enough to keep my legs turning over, then hopefully it will get me to the start line feeling fresh and I will be able to find them valuable seconds to help me run a sub 73 minute half marathon. 5:34/mi pace is what I will need to run and is the pace I plan to set off at and see what happens. My training has gone really well and to be honest I couldn’t have asked for a better build up, for the last sixteen weeks. I’ve managed to hit all of my weekly mileage targets which has been an average of eighty miles per week. In this I have included four key work outs, three threshold runs and one speed session per week. The biggest advantage of using heart rate training is the clear reference points it gives to your current level of fitness. I have been using the same routes for the majority of my threshold runs which has enabled me to easily track my progress over the last sixteen weeks. My training zones have stayed exactly the same but as I got fitter the faster I have been able to run at the same heart rate. The lower my heart rate at a given speed means the less energy I have to use up and the longer I’m able to maintain that given speed for. I like to track my resting heart rate as it can be used as a good indicator to becoming run down or unwell and the need for a rest day. The signs from my heart rate are really encouraging as my resting heart rate is currently 45 bpm which is the the lowest it has ever been. Continue reading

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North Lincolnshire Half Marathon – Week 13 & Week 14 Lincoln 10k

With only one week until the Lincoln 10k, which will be my first road race of 2016. I wanted to make the most of this week and get some quality training sessions in before I started my taper. I had planned to run seventy five miles this week by reducing the distance of my recovery runs which allowed me to run my threshold runs towards the top of my heart rate zone between 165 bpm and 170 bpm.  This is where I get the maximum training benefits from my threshold training, but maintaining this kind of effort level is mentally tough and feels more like racing instead of a training run. When I first started training by heart rate I couldn’t maintain a sixty minute threshold run. I had to slowly build up the time I spent in my threshold zone and over time I got stronger and started to be able to spend more time in this zone as I got fitter. With marathon season in full swing our Thursday training group has dwindled down due to the Manchester and London marathons being imminent. This week  I had planned out biggest track session to date, 1x4min, 10x2min, 1×4 min all with 60 seconds recovery which is a long track session when you add in a three mile warm up and a two mile cool down making a total of eleven miles. The recovery time was kept short which made for a tough but very enjoyable track session which quickly passed by as we aimed for 5k pace for the entire session.  Saturday’s nine mile threshold was mentally tough as my legs felt heavy from Thursdays tough track session and I nearly decided to do a recovery run. I managed to get it done by telling myself it was the last one for eight days and was really pleased to run at the bottom of my threshold zone averaging 6:08/mi @ 164 bpm.  Sunday I reduced the distance again just to try and freshen my legs up with an easy 75 min recovery run before I started my taper for the Lincoln 10k. Continue reading

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North Lincolnshire Half Marathon – Week 12

Last week I decided to reduce my training volume and have an easy week to allow my body recover and adapt after eleven weeks of hard training. Most of my runs were kept to thirty minutes as I don’t think it’s worth putting my trainers on for a shorter period of time and anything longer than thirty five minutes isn’t a true recovery run in my opinion. The biggest sign that I’m starting to feel rested is that my heart rate drops and my pace starts to increase, which makes me have to work harder to get it to my training zones. I included a couple of short hard training sessions to keep my legs turning over. Wednesday’s threshold run was a perfect example of this as I ran a very quick threshold run averaging 5:43/mi @165 bpm which felt very comfortable. I had to swap my rest day around this week from Thursday to Friday as I had to be observed coaching a session to add to my evidence folder which is going towards getting my coaching qualifications. The biggest change that I have made to my training is starting to run to and from work, as it only takes me ten minutes longer than driving. This way I can get a thirty minute recovery run done in the same time it takes me to drive to and from work or I can just add the extra miles on I need to. Saturday saw the running of the first Poolsbrook Park Run which is only a mile down the road from where I live and will be a perfect training venue for me. I ran it as a 5k time trail to see where I was at with my fitness and was pleased with my run of 16:40, 5:17/mi @ 175bpm. Continue reading

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