Oridnary Best

Ultra marathon training up-date (skip to the funny photo at the end if you don’t like running).

When I was a little by my father used to say to me: Do your ordinary best.

What he meant, in army speak, is: You can only piss with the cock you’ve got.

Well, in the check-list of things you need to do in order to run an ultra marathon I can check off the following:

Running really really slowly – check – I’m cruising around at 9:00/mile.

Back on the pasta diet – check.

Running really really long slow runs – check – last Sunday was a casual 24 miler.

Now, the other things you need to develop – a good, injury free running style, a nutrition strategy that will last until the end of the race, a low resting heart rate and an ability to run all day at 135bpm – no, none of them can be checked off yet.

I’m also starting to get worried that there is something very obvious that I’m missing. Every time I see photographs of ultra runners they have ruck sacks, compression tights and long sleeve tops with a gilet. I run in a vest and shorts.

Am I supposed to go out and get kitted up in loads of gear?

The one thing I will start experimenting with over the next 3 weeks is one of those bottle carriers for around the back of your ass. After the 24 miler my shoulders were killing me – mainly from dragging a 500ml bottle around with me most of the time.

The other thing I’m going to have to think about a bit more is the whole running/walking thing. The fact that I know I’ll be walking should show you that I (a) know my own abilities or (b) have no ambition. When I run a big distance in training I always stop for a piss, a drink or if my HR is rising a bit too much so I think I’m going to have to build these stops into a bit of a walking break. This should help me try out the whole nutrition thing as well. Any suggestions? Salt ‘n Vinegar crisps are the only suggestion so far. I’m on the banana milk (twice the calories of lucozade) and it’s working well.

My training base for this race, sorry,not race, more of a long jog, has been truncated by my complete lack of motivation for June and July so I’m aware of my own limitations  and have no major aspirations except to get my head into the right space and enjoy it as much as possible.

On that front I have been able to click into the head space zone on runs much quicker in recent weeks. In a marathon training cycle it might take 6 or 7 miles of a long run for me to cast off from the shore of thoughts and just drift. At the moment I am zoned out after just 2 or 3 miles. That makes shorter runs much more enjoyable.

The other thing I’ve been doing is reading blog reports of ultras so I can see how people are managing the pain in the later stages. The problem with this is that most of these accounts are by athletes way way better than me so when they say: I had to get my head down and just grind out the last 13 miles I hear I was nailed to the cross and I kept saying – My name is Brian!

I know that for ultras you’re supposed to build up the ability to do back to back long runs. This just isn’t my bag. Mainly it’s because after anything over about 16 miles my knee is a bit sore the next day.After a day it’s gone and we’re all fine.  So I think I’ll have to make do with just increasing the long runs to about 30 or 32 miles and then tapering. The only benefit of the crazy long runs is that people give your wife the ‘he needs help’ look. That and you can relax the portion control element of your diet.

So, a few more weeks of getting up at stupid hours to run ridiculous distances and then I can go and try and piss with the cock I’ve got.

And to sign off –

An advert I spotted on the Italian Riviera in July when we were on holidays. It takes all sorts.

Isn't all this stuff self-service anyway?


9 responses to “Oridnary Best

  1. I’m liking your blog. Very funny.
    Which ultra are you training for?
    I find chocolate raisins and tablet pretty good for eating on long, slow runs and on my last long slow run I had some Lipton’s mango flavoured iced tea and it was absolutely delicious. Obviously you need to be running past shops for this. And it might not go well with banana milk.

    • The ultra is the River Ayr Way Challenge and training for it might be strtching the knicker elastic of the definition of the term ‘training’. Still, I’m running a lot.
      I might try the raisins. One food that is easy to digest is kinder bueno bars. They are mainly some sort of sugary goo.

      I expect I’ll have to visit the local supermarket and buy loads of junk and start experimenting next weekend.

      thanks for puttin me on your blog roll. I’ll return the compliment.

  2. Keith Hughes, who you may well meet in September, has the answer to all your questions, Rich. It’s TTFU (toughen the fuck up) and get on with it. Let me know about travel arrangements when you know. I’ve arranged accommodation for you with the skirt wearers.

    • I’ll grow a pair closer to the event. At the moment I am enjoying wallowing around in my fear and self-pity – like a toddler in a shitty nappy –

      I’m meeting a friend (From Cork) who lives in Edinburgh this afternoon and I’m going to see if I can rope him into helping some how (picture him standing on a road side for 3 hours so that he can give me a mars bar). But Edinburgh is a bit from Ayr so it may all be a bit too much.

      Cheers for everything else.

      Do I have to start drining Iron Bru anytime soon?

  3. The picture of ultra runners you see are most likely the kind where they cross mountain passes and such. You need some extra kit for those. Are there any compulsory kit requirements for your race? If so, think how you can carry them. If not, shorts and shirt are entirely sufficient.

    As for walking, if you need to do so do it early on and in planned segments. If you decide to walk only when you really have to you’ll be knackered by the time you start walking and might not find the energy to start running again. It may be a long walk to the finish.

    Make sure there is no chafing.

    The pain is no worse than in a marathon. You could bring some ibuprofen or paracetamol with you, but personally I’d advice against that.

    Finally, you’re well able to finish the RAW in decent shape and in a decent time. Your marathon times put you way ahead of the average runner in that field and it’s really just a long marathon.

    • ‘…………really just a long marathon’.

      That is the sort of understatement that makes me smile. Like saying Jaws is just a really angry, really big fish.

      Still, I get your message and I am going to start formulating a plan for walking and eating so I can see how long it takes to eat my experimental foods. That is about as scientific as I’ll be getting on this one.

      I agree on the chaffing but there is something sordid about greasing up your warrior and then starting a race. Not so much for your toes.

  4. The only kit you need is a race number and a viagra. You can piss with the cock you want then!

  5. Richard, your shorts and vest will do fine, unless it’s pissing down in which case you may as well take the vest off coz skin is waterproof.

    Any sort of milkshake is good works for a lot of ultra runners, not mine though, he’s lactose intolerant (wiffy) Flat coke is a bit of a legend; loads of folk go in for that.
    Someone’s already mentioned it, but tablet is also very popular.

    The fireman tends to go for rolls and roast beef. With some strong sugary coffee (no milk) and some Percy pigs.

    Seriously though, don’t get to caught up about nutrition. Make up drop bags with stuff you know you like and mix it up, water/sports drink is provided every 5 miles or so and if I miss yous at a checkpoint there are always other backup crews around who will take care of you.

    You are about to enter a very different world, a really nice one full of genuinely nice people who look out for each other and totally take the piss when it’s required. When someone tells you to TTFU! You know you’re in there J

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