I am sitting at my desk and my good leg is really sore. Sore like I hurt it, not sore like a ran too far on it.
If I was normal this level of soreness would see me take the next month of running but not this fool. No, not this fool.
I’m supposed to be running (although that bit of the event is now in jeopardy!) a 100km road race from Florence to Faenza in Italy in just over 2 weeks time and as I sit here yesterday’s 22 miles is all too obvious in my legs.
Sore quads, achy hips, swollen knees; these are all normal and can be tolerated but I have sore calves and tight Achilles and the 3rd or 4th metatarsal on each foot is now starting to ache (it just means my feet hurt).
I suspect that the shoes are to blame (it wouldn’t even enter my head that it might be running too far) as they are showing a bit too much heel wear for a shoe that has an 8mm heel drop (that’s the technical bit). My last ditch effort to solve the problem is to revert to a pair of 1,000 mile old shoes that caused little or no pain last year.
The training from an endurance point of view has gone well. I am now in a mental and physical position where 20 miles is no problem. This is what I would consider the warm-up phase of one one these races. I have stripped out all the speed stuff and have focused on hills, long runs and slow runs where nutrition (runner speak for food) is minimised. My long runs topped out just under 28 miles with a feeling of tired satisfaction as opposed to the evisceration that comes with marathon long runs.
I skipped all the build up marathons that went with my training last year as the pinning of a number to your chest turns a long run into a race and races mean that you give 5 or 10% more than you should (as a minimum) and this can have an impact on recovery.
Now, assuming I can get my legs to work as a means of conveyance over the 100km of the race (known as 100km Del Passatore – a passatore is a smuggler I’m told) I have to review my strategy for the race. As is normal I am ignoring all the things within my control (food, fitness, injury) and fretting away my time on the things I can’t control (weather, distance, ascent). The list goes something like this:
The weather: Can’t control. It’ll be hot and I will melt at 27C. this will just have to be sucked up. Walk, water on and in the body and pacing. Slow in the heat, fast in the cool (at night on the descent).
The distance: Can’t control. Doesn’t worry me (but it should – it’s 9 miles further than my longest race). Segmentation of the race and a pacing strategy should help with visualisation and fear (I’ll be running solo with no support).
The food: Can control. My current boast is that I can run 27 miles on a sip of water and a mouthful of jellies. I doubt I could do 35 more miles on this strategy so I need to focus (and fast).
My body: Can control. Giving up the booze for lent lead to the loss of about a half kilo. The engine seems to be fine (heart and lungs) but the transmission (legs) are in poor shape. I suspect that this will lead to problems on the day. My strategy is to focus on hydration if hot (reduce the risk of cramps), protection of the legs (walk the up-hills or run-walk them – this allows for food absorption as well as the blood flow to the legs is reduced) and I might possibly consider using those “ultra marathon” socks favoured by some people.
Running through the night: Can’t control. I’m not that worried by this as I’ve noticed that for all the long races I’ve done time stops being a factor. You just exist in the race.
The race itself starts at 15:00hrs on the 24th May in Florence and climbs about 500m over the first 10 -15km and then drops down until the 30 – 35km where a climb of 900m takes you to the halfway point. From here it is a quad crushing 50km to the finish down to Faenza. A great finish with good eating, weather, pacing, no injury and so forth would be 10 – 11 hours. Acceptable would be 11 -13 hours. Missing in action after that.