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The Epic Marsden to Edale Fell Race – The Trigger

The Trigger is a 24 mile fell race with 4,500 feet of ascent. It starts in Marsden, entrants have to navigate their way over Black Hill, Bleaklow and Kinder Scout, visiting seven check points on route and finally finishing in Edale.

This year was the sixth time the race had been run and I’m sure its one that everyone who has ever taken part in it will remember. The Trigger is renowned for being one of the toughest races in the Peak District but this year it was made even more difficult by the heavy snow fall in the week prior to the race and the heavy rain through the night before. I thought about what the conditions might be like and what kit I would need and more importantly what I was going to start the race in. The biggest challenge of the day and the one that played the biggest part in 25% of the starting field dropping out came from something I didn’t even take in to consideration and that was that the streams that had risen due to the snow melting and heavy rain fall would become fast flowing icy river crossings. Continue reading

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It’s safe to say Project Ultra is under way

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.

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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

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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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North Lincolnshire Half Marathon – Week 11

I can’t think of a better way to end this block of high mileage training then to spend the week end training in the Peak District. I started running three years ago after entering the Ultra Tour of the Lake District, a one hundred mile ultra-run in the Lake District. This is where my love for running started or obsession if you speak to my wife, but back then I would do anything to avoid running on the roads, only running on the fells and trails. It was great to be back on the fells and reminded me just how much I love running in the hills. The last eleven weeks of training were spilt into two blocks of five weeks averaging 80 miles per week with an easy week in-between. I’ve been able to complete every session I had planned and more importantly stayed injury free. My training has been very consistent and has been pretty much the same week on week apart from this weeks Peak District trip. Where I still ran the same heart rate zones as I would have done on the road but it was just at a slower pace. To give you an example of how effective training by heart rate can be, week one of my training I ran a seven mile threshold run @ 6:31/mi 163 bpm and this week I ran a eight mile Recovery run @ 6:37 149 bpm. A big part of my training that I haven’t spoken about yet and I think has made a massive difference to my running is doing three or four conditioning and flexibility sessions per week, which I do in the evening while watching television. I did some test to see how strong my core was and to see how flexible I was when I first started running. The results weren’t great to say the least, one of the test I did was the sit and reach test to test my flexibility. I couldn’t even touch the slider to push it along the scale but now I can achieve I score of +15. Which is a massive improvement if you consider the scale start at -15. Continue reading

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