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.