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Project Ultra update #2

Training doesn’t stop just because it’s the Christmas holidays and with a few early mornings and juggling family commitments I was able to have one of the most ultra marathon specific training weeks to date. I don’t drink and very rarely go to the pub so waking up at 5.30am with a hang over in the holidays was never going to be a concern for me. Even our New Years Eve celebrations were far from rock and roll as we headed home just after at 10:30 pm and on New Years Day my wife got up early to run our local Park something I never thought would happen. Who know she may even make the Christmas Day one next year.

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All of my training runs over the past few months in the Peak District have been done in Zone 1 (recovery), as I try to build a solid endurance base in preparation for the Ultra Marathons I have got planned. I decided to test my fitness level and some of my new kit out to see how my training was coming together and did a thirteen mile run in Zone 2 (threshold) on Tuesday morning. I was pretty pleased with the results and saw the biggest improvement on the hills were my heart rate was much more stable. This allowed me to push harder as the climb went on. At the start of my training my heart rate would shoot up on the littlest of climbs and forced me to slow down or walk.

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I believe back to back long runs are a massive part of ultra marathon success and I want to try and include them in my training where possible. I haven’t felt strong enough to give them a go before last week but with the extra free time I decided to introduce a week end of back to back long runs for the first time. Saturdays run was the toughest of the two days, it was 22 miles with 4,520 feet of ascent and took in the ascents of Mam Tor, Lose Hill, Win Hill and Kinder Scout. Sunday morning I opted for a slightly easier 17 mile route following the path around the Ladybower Reservoir. I was joined by club mates Nick and Pete which helped the miles tick by nicely and to my surprise my legs felt pretty good and didn’t seem to be feeling the affects from the previous days long run.

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It has been this week that I have felt the affects of the previous weeks hard training. I realised just how much the back to back long runs had taken out of me and I would need few days rest after doing them. I did an easy run in Zone 1 (recovery) the following Tuesday and my heart rate was elevated by about ten beats per minute at the same pace. My pace in Zone 1 (149 bpm – 158 bpm) has been around 6:45/mi pace but this week my heart rate has been a lot higher than normal and at this pace my heart rate has been 165 bpm which is in the middle of Zone 2 (threshold). Which indicates to me that I’m slightly fatigued and in need of a few more days of easy running.

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On my long runs I have been playing around with my nutrition plan to see what works for me as I know I’m going to need to use real food as an energy source and not energy gels. Relaying on energy gels just isn’t going to work and isn’t the energy source I want to relay on. The core of my nutrition plans comes from Mountain Fuel and their recipes to make real food including Morning Fuel and Xtreme Energy. I have been tweaking the Banana Flapjack and On the Go Energy Gel recipes by adding ingredients I enjoy eating. My back to back long runs were fuelled on three On the Go energy gels, eight bite sized bits of flapjack and half a bottle of Xtreme Energy drink. Not only do they taste great and were very easy on the stomach but they also provided me with sustained energy to cope with the demands of ultra running.

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My On the Go Gels were made by blending one banana, an apple and adding one heaped table spoon of Morning Fuel and Xtreme Energy Fuel.

I halved the flapjack recipe to make a smaller batch as I find it makes to many and I just end up eating them with a cup of coffee. I used crushed almonds and chopped sultanas in my recipe and cut in to bite sized pieces and individual wrapped them in foil to make them easy to carry and eat.

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I’m pretty pleased with my 2016 year of running as I managed to run a total of 3,791 mile with a total of 189,402 feet of ascent and spent a total of 445hrs 31min running. Which is an improvement on 2015 when I ran a total of 3,306 miles 110,909 feet of ascent and spent a total of 381hrs 10 min training.

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