Posts Tagged ‘Ultra marathon’

3 days and counting…

October 14, 2009

Well there are now just 3 days until the race.

I have confirmed my pace chart which, although ambitious, is I hope realistic.  I have also done some work on a quick checklist for my support crew to keep tabs on what I’ve eaten, drunk and how fast/slow I’m running.

Running this week has been short and sharp, my legs have felt ready to rock and I’ve been feeling frustrated that I can’t go and blast out a fast 15 miler.  I’ll probably only run about 15 miles this week prior to the race.

All that remains is to do a bit more mental preparation, to remain well hydrated over the coming days and to eat a slightly higher proportion of carbs than usual.  (There won’t be any massive pasta binges!)

The Sri Chinmoy website is promising some “live” or “nearly live” updates, it can be found

This is what the Tooting track looks like (viewed from the start of the back straight, where the support crews are camped).

Id better get used to seeing this track

I'd better get used to seeing this track

In other news, Chris Carver…..
…. has published his report on the Commonwealth 24hr Championships.  It makes very good reading – you can find it

Sri Chinmoy Self Transcendence 24hr race

October 8, 2009

How are the preparations going?


My mileage has dropped from an average of 100 miles per week to around 80 – 85 for the past month.  This has been mainly due to external pressures… you know… things other than running (!).  I’m not worried about this at all – it should mean that arrive on the starting line fresh and “slightly under-cooked” as opposed to “a bit burnt”.

I’m into my taper now,  this means that mileage will drop considerably for the remaining 10 days before the race.  I won’t be running it slowly though – the aim is to increase the tempo a bit, so that the pace I’m aiming for at Tooting will seem ridiculously slow.  For example, this morning I ran a nice little 4 mile tempo at close to 6:00 pace, this afternoon I may attempt a sub-6 pace. 

In between these tempo sessions I will be jogging a few miles very slowly.  I will probably try to run every day until the race as I find that my legs complain when I’m not running – they tend to “turn off”.

I’ve just recieved the list of competitors from the lovely Shankara (Race Director).  I must admit that I’m a bit daunted by the depth of the field and amazed by the international flavour.  There will be runners from Sweden, Norway, Australia, Germany, The Netherlands and Belgium amongst others.  A total of 45 have entered.

There is lots remaining for me to organise.  I still need to get on-line and order my gels, Nuun and protein bars.  I need to check tentage and camping stove arrangements with Nick and get my blasted iPod Shuffle replaced for the nth time! 

I have been working on my pace chart for a few weeks now – and I’m finally fairly confident that I’ve got it right.  My crew, and I, will know (to the second) what pace I need to run each lap in.  I have broken the race into 4 x 6hr sections with a pace and distance goal for each section.  This takes into account a controlled slowing and walking breaks.

Most of my training from now until race day will be mental.  By that, I mean that it will be psychological – I don’t mean that I will be running crazy mileage!

I will copy a post I made on RunningAhead about mental preparation in another post.

Have had contact with a few others who will be running in Tooting – Lee Chamberlain (who has just broken the World Record for 7 days on a treadmill – you need to get out more Lee), Anth Courtney and a few others.  I also recognise many other names: Ken Fancett (of course), Robin Gardner (who was just behind me at Crawley), Reima Hartikainen (Swedish international who performed well at the World Championships), Stefan Lindvall (another Swede who consistently performs well), Smiler Sid, Geoff Oliver (multiple world record holder at aged 76!!!), Richard Quennell (won the Draycote 35 and was 2nd at Faversham), Carl Sommer (33 min 10k man with 3 24hr races under his belt).

The competition will be tough.

But I will achieve my goals.

Happy running to you all.

Leadville 100

August 25, 2009

Amongst many others… my favourite  US ultra runner, Anton Krupicka, dropped out after leading for most of the race at sub record pace.

In his blog Krupicka tells a very, very good story of how tough it was out there. I recommend that you read it – it is an inspiring story of failure. He writes almost as well as he runs.

His blog is here:

Just before Fish Hatchery, where he was to DNF

Just before Fish Hatchery, where he was to DNF

A few excerpts: “On a good day, running 100 miles is fucking hard. Period. On a bad day, it’s borderline impossible.” [note to self: remember this.]

“I roughly stuck to my pre-race plan of tritely Going Big Or Going Home and I came down on the rather more tarnished, grimy side of that coin-flip gamble.”

Hagerman Pass Road, mile 16

Hagerman Pass Road, mile 16

“The quads began cramping regularly. Which sounds so simple and almost trivial written in an English sentence like that, but in the felt reality of life it was devastating on a physical, emotional, molecular level. The sun beat down. Life was more than a little desperate.”

Sumitting Hope Pass the first time

Sumitting Hope Pass the first time

 For what it’s worth… my analysis of Anton’s problems is that he didn’t replace enough electrolytes. He only mentions Nuun once. He drank mainly water. Given the unexpected high temps I would have been aiming for 75% Nuun and 25% water. This may explain his cramping.

Al Andalus Ultra Trail

July 31, 2009

I am giving serious consideration to entering the Al Andalus Ultra Trail,  July 12 – 16 2010.  It is a 5 day stage race covering about 250km, so the distance isn’t enormous.  It will be hot, probably around 40 – 45 degrees and very, very hilly.  I kind of like the sound of this.

The itinerary will be something like this:

Stage 1 : Loja to Alhama de Granada, 56km.

Stage 2 : Alhama de Granada to Jatar, 47km.

Stage 3 : Jatar to Jayena, 48km

Stage 4 : Jayena to Santa Cruz del Comercio, 50km.

Stage 5 : Santa Cruz del Comercio to Loja, 37km

Faversham disappointment

July 27, 2009


Well Saturday was very disappointing.  I was feeling very strong and very fit.  The hill was steeper than I was expecting, but it was short and sharp.  This actually suited me fine as I have the strength to power up short hills with no bother.  Some of the bean pole marathoners were struggling with it from the outset.

The first couple of hours saw me knocking out 7:45 miles, a bit quicker than planned but very comfortable indeed.  I slowly moved up through the field from 7th to 4th and was looking forward to achieving 45 miles plus.


However, from about 16 miles onwards it became apparent that the hill was starting to hurt my achilles.  The pain eased off during the remainder of each lap, but came back again with every hill climb.  I started to think about how I was going to recover quickly enough to train properly and realised that I only have 12 weeks left until the 24hr race – of which 3 should be taper weeks.


I decided to retire at the 3hr mark, having run just over 23 miles.  It was the hardest decision I have had to make in my running history.  But it was the right decision.

The winner ran an excellent 50 miles or so.  Had I continued I would have placed in the top 3, maybe 2nd.

The disappointment is weighing very heavily on my mind at the moment.  I need to banish the demons, and banish them quickly.

To that end, I will be a) rehabilitating my achilles as best I can and b) running some miles.

On the plus side… I will be very surprised if there are any hills on the track at Tooting in October.

Faversham 6hr race – preview

July 22, 2009

The Faversham 6hr race takes place around a 1044m circuit of rolling parkland.  The course record is 39 miles.  I think the record is a little on the low side due to the slight hill on each loop – a “slight hill” which will become a mountain after it has been climbed 60 times.

My goals are:

  • > 42 miles
  • place in top 3
  • beat existing course record

I don’t think I can win this as the list of competitors has a 2:20 marathoner who has run in a GB vest competing.  I’m not sure he has run an ultra yet – but that sort of pedigree will be hard to beat.  (Reckon I could have him over 12 – 24 hours though! 😉 )

In order to achieve this I am going to aim for 8 min miles with no walking breaks.  If this were another 12hr race, or longer, I would of course take walking breaks.  However, I’m going to take this as a bit of a test to see if I can hold 8:00 pace for 6hrs with no breaks.  If I can’t…. nothing has been lost.  I don’t need to win this.  It will just be treated as a great long run in the bank.

My fantastic brother, Nick, will be coming along to support and as a volunteer lap counter.  His presence will hopefully help me as much as it did in my last two ultras.

In order to maintain 8:00 pace I reckon I need to run each lap in about 5:13.

(8 min miles = 5 min km.  5 x 1.044 = 5.22.  60 secs x 0.22 = 13.2 seconds.)

In reality I expect my lap times to vary between about 5:05 to 5:30 – but hopefully the average will give me 8:00 pace overall.

And yes… I realise that 8 min miles will give me more than 42 miles.  In fact, if I maintain it… it will give me 45 miles which would be amazing.

60/8 x 6hrs = 45.


July 22, 2009

Tapering is the pits.  I have managed to get in 100 miles per week for the last three weeks – probably the most consistent 3 weeks of running I have ever managed.  That said, it was all easy, gentle, running with no speed work and just a couple of marathon paced faster sessions.

This week’s schedule looks a bit like this:

Mon: 6m easy

Tue: 5m easy am, 3m easy pm

Wed: 4m easy

Thu: 3m tempo (about 6:00 pace I think – this just to keep the legs turning over)

Fri: 3m easy

Sat: 6hr race

Sun: REST or 5m recovery jog (depending on legs).

Normally I would like a two week taper, but for this event (Faversham 6hr race on Sat 25 Jul) felt that due to the achilles problem I didn’t have enough miles in the legs to warrant the extra week off.  This tactic may pay off… or it may prove to have been stupid.

Anyway, I hate tapering.  Several things happen:

  • You feel sluggish, lethargic and a slob.
  • Phantom niggles and pains appear for no reason.
  • You spend too much time worrying about the race.

But, deep down, you know that your body is repairing itself and re-building to a stronger state following the hard training.  It is not the training that makes you stronger but the REST.

I know that, come Saturday, my legs should feel fresh (er) and I will be ready to race.  I hope.

I am also trying to get in as much sleep as possible.  When training hard I can usually only get about 6 hours per night due to early starts and erratic sleeping patterns from the children. Well, one of them anyway.  I feel that, whilst running 100mpw, I should really be trying to get 8 – 10 hrs per night – so this week is catch up time.

Next post will discuss my goals and race plan for Faversham.

Poll – the hardest ultra in the world?

July 1, 2009

Well?  Whaddya think? 

The Badwater Ultra Marathon describes itself as “the world’s toughest foot race”. It is a 135 mile (215 km) course starting at 282 feet (85 m) below sea level in the Badwater Basin, in California’s Death Valley, and ending at an elevation of 8360 feet (2548 m) at Whitney Portal, the trailhead to Mount Whitney. It usually happens in July, when the weather conditions are most extreme and temperatures over 120 F (49 C) in the shade are not uncommon. Consequently, very few people — even among ultramarathoners—are capable of finishing this race.

The Marathon des Sables  is a six-day, 254 km (156 mile) ultra, which is the equivalent to five and 1/2 regular marathons. The longest single stage (2009) is 91 km (55 miles) long.  The event is held every year in the southern Moroccan desert.  Competitors must carry all personal belongings and food for the entire event in their backpack. During the 1994 race, Italian police officer Mauro Prosperi lost his way during a sand storm and wandered lost for more than 9 days, losing over 13 kg (30 lb) of body weight.

The Sri Chinmoy 3100 Mile Race is the world’s longest certified race. Competitors seek to negotiate 5649 laps of a .5488 of a mile course (883 meters) in New York,  in the timespan of 51 days; this requires an average of over 60 miles a day.

The Barkley Marathons is a 100 mile race essentially composed of five 20-mile laps. With almost 53,000 feet of climbing and descent, all on what can only be marginally called a trail.   Since the race started in 1986, only 6 out of over 600 runners have ever finished the course.

Very interested to hear the views of other ultra runners, particularly those who have completed some or all of the above.  Also interested to hear the views of those who have not run one, and maybe don’t run at all – to understand what peoples’ perceptions are!

I’m sure I have left out some tough races – so click “other” if you think there is one which tops the list!


June 30, 2009

Decision 1 – I have decided to try to run through my achilles rehabilitation.  Why?  Because I only have 4 weeks left until the Faversham 6hr race and I need to know if I’m going to be fit to compete.  If I am fit (ie the achilles is going to hold up) then I need some miles in the bank.  If I put in some significant miles now then I will know either way.  Therefore this week will hopefully see 100 miles +.  I know I am taking a big risk.

Decision 2 – The Ridgeway Challenge (incorporating the UK Ultra Distance Trail Running Champs). 

I have decided to drop out of this race – it is only 7 weeks before the 24hr race which is my primary goal this year.  I don’t think that 7 weeks is enough time for my body to recover from a very tough 85 miler sufficiently to race a 24hr and achieve 140 miles.  This was a hard decision but I know that it is the right one.  Instead I will either race a 1/2 marathon

Ipswich Half Marathon

Ipswich Half Marathon

(I know there is one in Ipswich which I fancy) or just do a steady 25 – 30 miler.

In other news, I managed 12 miles this morning with v little achilles pain whilst running.  Fantastic.  It has become a bit sore this morning, particularly after sitting for a while, but I’m still hoping to get out at lunch time to put a few more in the bank.  Today I should pass 1500 miles run so far this year – I’m currently on 1497.  A nice milestone.

Keep running.

I need to see this

June 18, 2009

This looks great.

Now… just need to find out if they ship to the UK, or if there is a UK distributor.