As I drooped in front of the TV last night I struggled to work out why the Sunday long run had worn me out so much. I had done the same run – and longer – at least 3 times over the Christmas break. It’s the Atlantic Pond to Rochestown monastery to Monkstown Golf Club to Rafeen hill and back again. Hard but hilly enough to temper any urge to push the pace.
Then it hit me, the magical training ingredient that the pros talk about:
The Christmas break had seen me sleep like a teenager which had resulted in my spike in form.
Now that I’m back at the grindstone my mediocre running form has returned.
Still, now that Christmas is behind us I’d better set the scene for the first 6 months of 2013.
My main objective until the end of June is to be in a position to be able to line up at Milngavie (Mull-Guy) Train Station car park at 01:00 on Saturday morning, 22nd of July and feel moderately confident that I’ll be in Fort William, some 95 miles away, before Sunday afternoon. The West Highland Way Race.
To this end I need to make sure I don’t train myself into an injury. This has happened to me more than once and basically involves the little man in your head with the clip board that has your training schedule taking control from the little man in your (metaphorical) wine cellar. You end up becoming a slave to the training schedule and run yourself into an avoidable injury.
To try to control this I’m going to try to limit my weekly mileage to less than 50 miles no matter what. This has proven to be my ‘safe’ limit when it comes to training for previous marathons.
So, apart from working on my long distance food – a not insubstantial part of any long race – I need to expand my aerobic base (get the engine running at low revs) and develop my endurance.
Coupled with these simple objectives – run lots and do it slowly – I need t do some specific training and this is where my race plan comes into play:
Mid-February – Clonaklity Back2Back Marathons
This was a silly idea when I entered and it hasn’t gotten any smarter in the intervening few weeks.
The logic of this race is that it’s a good focus for the first 6 to 8 weeks of the year (get the ass in gear stuff), it’s close by so I can drive to and from each marathon (cheaper and no food/bed worries) and it will give me specific experience of dealing with latter stages of the WHW. That period where your legs are very stiff, slow to respond and you need mental focus to keep driving on.
The first of the two marathons will be a cinch – slow pace with some scheduled walking for food and hills so that I feel fresh for day 2 – but the second day will be something that will never make the front cover of runner’s weekly. It’ll be slow(er) and not an advert for ultra running. All that said, I think running them in a less than optimal state of preparedness will in a perverse way, be useful in the long run.
So, A full weekend of being in racing mode and running when tired and sore will be the objectives for this event. The finishing times and photo will be a poor second.
Late March – The Wicklow Way Ultra
I read something in one of the Sunday supplements last night that this is a race for experienced runners with specialised training. I told this to my wife who laughed and said “……..and you!”
I know in my report on this last year I compared it to childbirth and, like childbirth, the memory of the pain has gone away and as it’s such cheap race to enter and is relatively short (6 hours and only 51k) it would be foolish of me to ignore it.
The steep ascent on this race (1,960m) and the various terrains are the best match in the local ultra scene to the conditions in the WHW.
So this one will be for the terrain and weather conditions with maybe a bit of testing food types thrown in.
Late April – The northern end of the West Highland Way.
While the first two races are almost a dead cert this one only exists in my imagination.
That said, I think it will be the critical one in terms of making a success of the WHW. By the way, success = finishing
At the end of April the Highland Fling takes place, I think it’s on the last Saturday in April (the 27th this year). This is a 53 mile race over the first half (give or take a bit of change) of the WHW. This starts in Milngavie and ends in Tyndrum. There are 650 runners entered in the race this year, up from 450 last year. I did this last year as a test of whether I could complete the distance (just about) and what the course was like (beautiful).
My plan, if it comes off, would be to set out from Tyndrum on the morning of the Fling and to do a recce run to Fort William (about 42 miles). This should take between 8 – 9 hours depending on conditions, effort and motivation. Then, when this is over, to head back to Tyndrum for the beers after the Fling. The post run beers would be the ideal time to meet my support crew (as yet unasked) and to chat to previous WHW veterans about what happens and when over the duration of the event.
I suspect that the train service, the bus timetable and the start of the beer event might change this plan and may see me running from Fort William to Tyndrum but a bit of googling will tell.
Why would I travel to the wilds of West Scotland on my own to go running away from 650 like-minded souls?
As a politician would say “I’m glad you asked me that question” and then proceed to ignore it.
Well, if you go way back into my childhood I’m sure you’ll find a deep fear of rejection (or failure) hiding in the darker corners of my personality. I’m guessing I’m not alone. This explains me marrying my first girlfriend (a good thing), me being a bit distant with new people and strangers (a bad thing) and me not becoming a rock star/ballet dancer/concert pianist (on balance a good thing I’d say).
So, if something matters to me I’m most likely to become a Roy Keane super-control freak rather than a smombrero-wearing-manana-manana-merchant as I’d rather you thought I was a control freak than a failure.
Of course, for this situation to take place the thing has got to really matter to me – in this case it does – the West Highland Way – and the person’s opinion has to matter as well.
And as you’ve read this far, it goes without saying that your opinion counts to me.
Here’s to success (fingers crossed).