Ultramarathon strategy: A long picnic

This morning while doing the post-shower MOT I noticed the first real sign of aging on my body (besides the droopy moobs and ‘loose’ muscle tone)……..

A grey chest hair.

Trivial I hear you laugh. But I am the next model of human with very little body hair so one grey hair is the equivalent of being a silverback gorilla.

Now, if I was a silver back gorilla I’d be covered in muscles and beating the ladies off with a shitty stick.

But I’m not and my overriding concern now is that after about 5 minutes of chest compressions the paramedics will give up on me based on the grey chest hair. Their internal monologue will go along the lines of “Grey chest hair. He probably thought he was still young, the stupid fucker, running these ultra marathons. At his age? Still, he had a good innings. Time of death?…….”

You get the picture.

So off to Scotland I go on Thursday to run the Highland Fling. 53 miles of human-powered tourism.

I have normal abilities so you won’t find me “gritting it out” over the last 10 miles. Oh no, I’ll be crying and calling for my mum and wondering what terrible illness I have that makes me undertake these events.

The best description I had of this event was over on Facebook yesterday where someone said it was a long picnic with a bit of running with friends. The problem I have with picnics is they’re normally egg sandwiches, sand and car sickness.

Still, time to start buying the banana milk.

In terms of running strategy I have two options:

Go out fast (by ultra terms) and hold on until the walking kicks in


Go out slow and postpone the walking for as long as possible.

The logic on the second strategy was highlighted by another blogger called Andy who argued that if you ran every mile slower by 1 minute and by the time you were exhausted you could still pull out trotting miles that were 3 minutes faster than a walking mile you’d be ahead by 2 minutes. So 10 trotting miles would make you 20 mins faster overall.

I like this second strategy except I’m likely to go out slow and still walk (the worst of both of the above).

If I was an American I’d say that my training after the Wicklow Way Ultra was a short recovery, a few long runs and some hills to refresh myself and then a short taper.

But I’m not American. So it’s more like a wing and a prayer.


2 responses to “Ultramarathon strategy: A long picnic

  1. All the best in the Fling Richard. Enjoy! You might want to test out your trotting pace versus your walking pace and see if it would give you 3 extra minutes per mile.

  2. Richard, well done yesterday. Looking forward to the report, there should be lots to write about!

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