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.
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. Continue reading →
November saw my first block of training for the Lakeland 50 get off to a great start, with what can only be described as the perfect long run in the Peak District. It cemented my decision to return to ultra running, after spending the last couple of years running on the roads. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking and talking to people with varying degrees of experience when it comes to completing ultra races about the changes I need to make to my current training if I’m going to be ready to take on the Lakeland 50 in July next year. It’s been really interesting to learn about other peoples training and to see what they think works for them.
The training plan I have in mind will start in the New Year and be based around my heart rate training zones that were set after having a Lactate Threshold Test done last year. I have four training zones but I will mainly be using two of them. Zone 1 (recovery) will be used for my long runs in the Peak District to try and replicate race conditions and become more efficient at running though the mountains. Zone 2 (threshold) which most of my mid week training will be focused around. This is the heart rate zone I would run a marathon in and can hold for around three hours. When running on the trails or in the mountains I know the pace will be completely different but by using my heart rate as a guide I will be able to monitor my effort levels. Most weeks I will typically run around 75 – 80 miles per week and plan to peak with around 90 miles per week. Continue reading →
I’ve done a few fell and trail races over the years but my main focus has been road running. I never thought there would be much difference between the two, other than the obvious difference of trail races being on a marked route that you have to follow and fell races being totally the opposite. There is no set route, you chose the route you take, providing that you visit all of the check points. The actual terrain on the races I have done has been very similar, uneven, rocky tracks but still on mostly runnable ground or it may be that I have just entered the wrong or right races depending how you look at it. To finish the year off I said I would enter some long trail and fell races to try and regain my hill fitness before starting my plan for the Fellsman and Lakeland 50 next year. Last week I decide to enter Grin ‘N’ Bear it, a fell race in the Peak District starting from the Langsett Reservoir, a CL category fell race, 16 mile long with 1939 feet of ascent. The weather conditions on the morning of the race were perfect for racing but boy was I in for a shock, this was like no race other race I’ve ever experienced. The race started along the top path of Langsett Reservoir on a good runnable track, before we started the relentless climb to the top of the Cut Gate Path. I was working hard on the climb to keep in touch with a small group in front of me, probably too hard at this early stage as my heart rate was around 180 bpm. I’m currently trying to get better at running up hills as this is an area that I need to improve on. My legs were on fire by the time we reached the first check point at the top of Cut Gate . From the picture below, you can see the pain on my face. Continue reading →
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 →
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 →