So it turns out that despite obsessing religiously over my D33 training plan the last few weeks, I had completely the wrong mid-week running distances in my head and have really jumbled up this week. As noted here I ought to have covered the following:
However I seemed to think it was a good idea to hop from 6 and 9, to 8 and 10? I ran a fairly speedy (in the context of this training) 8 on Wednesday in 1hr 15m but last night began suffering some shin pain and stomach complaints and only completed 5.5. This is the second mid-week mid-distance run I’ve cut short in as many weeks so I’m a bit annoyed about that. It didn’t seem worth it to push through pain when I’ve got so much to do at the weekend though. I know in the bigger picture 4.5miles lost isn’t going to affect my performance in the race in five weeks but these mid-week mid-distance runs are pretty important mentally for me to complete and to miss two in a row is bad behaviour.
Next week will get a little shake up as well as some miles will be redistributed, on Tuesday I’m doing an Open Graded track session with some friends from Fetch where there will be timed Mile, 100m, 200m and 400m events, and on Wednesday I’m journeying to Stonehaven for a 10kish run around the town with Kynon. I WILL complete that 10 miles on Thursday though – no excuses!
I’ve also decided to not run the RAF Kinloss – Lossiemouth Half on Sunday the 19th. Much as I’m gagging to do a race right now, I’ve deduced that I can’t justify the entry fee and petrol money for a race just for fun. My car is due its MOT this month which never fails to completely clean out both my current account and credit card every year so I need every penny I can keep a hold of. However that means I can take part in the latest official Aberdeen Fetch Mile on the Sunday before heading out to cover the remaining balance of miles to make up my 13/13 back to back. It will be interesting to compare how my legs peform in a mile on Tuesday night when fresh, and Sunday morning when fatigued.
I had canvassed readers on my last post and Facebook for requests for topics to talk about regarding my experiences as a beginner ultra-runner and got no response, however there a few notable differences between this and marathon training which have interested me enough to write about them on here. Back at the end of July I wrote that which remains my most popular post to date – 10 Things No-one Tells You About Marathon Training. It contains nothing groundbreaking to experienced runners and marathoners but I’m sure the picture of my gnarly feet will always remain shock-worthy to all. In the eight weeks of training which followed that post and the 26.2 miles they culminated in I learned a whole lot more; about myself, myself as a runner, what it means to hit rock bottom in a race, and learning the hard way that despite all the training, positive thinking and encouragement in the world; the only thing that will make you a better distance runner is experience.
I read a post earlier this week by a blogger who I recently discovered who has become a fast favourite – Eat, Drink, and Run. It’s an incredibly well-written and balanced response to a somewhat inflammatory blog article about running called “Why Jogging is terrible“. I’m not going in to my own thoughts on the blog as I can’t be arsed wading into the argument (by his standards I am a jogger and I am terrible so there’s little point) and besides anything I could try and say has already been covered far more succinctly by Shelby. One of her own points jumped out at me:
“But then I read the paragraph again, and it actually kind of speaks to something that’s been a concern of mine in the running community for several years, especially as the popularity of 13.1 and 26.2 has skyrocketed: namely, the bucket list would-be marathoner who gets off the couch and decides to become a distance runner and – surprise! – gets injured.
Again: everyone has their goals and their reasons. But distance running is no joke. It requires a great deal of work to properly build up to, and a great deal of training and commitment to execute safely. And even then, experienced runners who do everything right get injured all the time.”
I suppose I am 100% guilty of this – 10 months ago I decided I wanted to run a marathon and went and signed up for it, put the work in and promptly got injured on D-Day. I was surprised at the bumpy road to recovery (although in comparison to some friends I’ve had an easy ride) and frustrated that my body didn’t bounce back like many other runners I know.
Now please note; I’m not claiming that 3 months down the line I’m anything further than an ants footstep along the proverbial runners road of experience, but in training for this ultramarathon I am already noticing huge differences in the way I feel and recover before, during and after my runs. My body has already gone through these lo-o-o-ng runs and hours on the road before and muscle memory seems to be serving its purpose. Perhaps it’s also the confidence in knowing that I’ve covered these distances before and that running 18 miles is not going to kill me, and in fact with the right fuel and weather it can actually be quite pleasant.
What has surprised me the most is my recovery times. During marathon training I would run, say, 17 miles on a Sunday and then be rendered incapable of walking due to stiffness the following day. A fortnight ago when I ran 21.5 miles however, even sleeping on a friends floor that night the next day I was up and about with no pain at all. Sure I could feel in my muscles that I’d had a hard effort the day before, but I could have easily gone for a recovery run that day had the weather not been 100% awful and I was a bit hungover and surviving on 4 hours sleep. This increased recovery speed has allowed me to execute successful back-to-back runs each weekend and has given me so much more confidence that I am ready to tackle the ultra distance safely.
I’m sure that by some more experienced runners standards I’m not ready for it – Hell, I’m sure some people are giving me the side-eye for signing up for an ultra so soon after a somewhat shoddy first marathon. On the other hand I trust my experienced friends; Mike, for example, is about as no nonsense as they come and I’m confident that if he thought I was not capable of this he’d let me know. Just like after the marathon, I’m sure in the months to come I will have some marvellous 20/20 hindsight on how I could have done things a bit better or differently with regards to this race but that’s what a learning curve is all about.
Now, for posterities’ sake I’ll do a brief comparison of the things I was thinking about in that July post and how things are going now…
1 – Your feet are toast
No more surprises here. I’ll spare you a picture for comparison as well, but since my feet have been taking a battering for the last 6 months they are a lot tougher than they were last July. Instead of blistering and falling off, toenails (where present) are thick and warped. I have lovely callouses protecting areas which are more prone to rubbing and the ends of my toes are like rubber. Toenail count: Four!
I have also switched from wearing compression socks to compression calf sleeves, which I think has reduced impact on my toenails as there’s more room in my shoes. I now swear by my 2XU Compression Calf Sleeves – I love them and wear them for hours after each long run for recovery.
2 – Hunger
I’m not as hungry as I expected, or maybe I’m just used to it and fuel without thinking about it now. The day after a long run I always need a big breakfast (porridge with peanut butter usually), but in general hunger is a lot less of an issue. I eat smartly and often, and still swear by pizzageddon the night before a long run.
3 – Pain
See lengthly statement above on recovery. Sure it’s not all unicorns and rainbows but I’m certainly doing a lot less complaining…maybe I’m just tougher now, or maybe my muscles are stronger. There will always be that first movement of getting yourself out of bed on a morning and moving your joints for the first time; I doubt that ever gets easier.
4 – Weight Gain
I think I’m actually losing weight this time around. I am certainly becoming leaner in some places but I’m not seeing the increase on the scales that I did last summer. Again I think this is down to experience – I know what my body needs to keep ticking over during this training and high-mileage is no excuse for eating whatever you want.
5 – GI issues
What issues? Knowledge is power and as long as you retain what your learned the first time you trained for an endurance event you should be A-OK. I’ll leave this here.
6 – I have a husband/wife/girlfriend/boyfriend/best friend???
Well being a single girl these days, this is no longer an issue for me – right now running is my boyfriend. To be fair I’m pretty much all running all the time right now which works just fine for me, although I have to be honest and say I’ve been guilty of neglecting my non-running friends in 2012. I get home from work and my run/the gym around 7.30/8pm most nights and all I want to do is put on my PJs, put my feet up and turn on the TV. If I can muster the energy to make more than a protein shake for dinner that’s a good day! My flatmate Scott is used to me turning down offers of going to the pub over some quality recovery time on the couch, although we are planning an epic flat warming party for the weekend after the D33 – hopefully I’ll have some friends left to invite
7 – You will want to sleep all the time
In my own experiences this only seems to occur when you increase weekly mileage initially. After your body adjusts to what’s going on it starts to adapt but there was definitely a 10 day period in January when you could not keep me awake for love nor money.
8 – Once upon a time, you had a social life
Addendum – I went out with some friends for the first time this year last Friday to a nice bar. I was freaking out as I had nothing nice to wear as I haven’t bought any new ‘going out’ clothes for months. I was annoyed at the prospect of wearing heels and constricting clothing all night instead of lycra and trainers (or pyjamas and slippers…). My dressing table was littered with tubes of deep heat, ibuprofen, empty GU sachets, and body glide instead of nail polish, lipstick, hairspray and necklaces. I moved house in December and I had to rummage around in the back of my wardrobe in my stack of as-yet-unpacked-because-deemed-unnecessary boxes to find a nice matching handbag to go with my outfit. Somehow I managed to pull myself together to make it out in a dress and heels to celebrate Claire’s birthday:
…and then was up to do the first 13 miles of a back-to-back weekender 6 hours after getting home. There’s a balance to be found here somewhere but I guess I’ll address that after the race.
9 – Learn to do your own washing
Well I don’t think my flatmate has any interest in washing my sweaty kit so that says it all. I have bought some nice new shiney, girly kit though which I’m looking forward to racing in at the Arbroath Footers Smokies Ladies 10 Mile Race in March (after appropriate test runs of course) including this cute Nike Skirt:
10. You WILL find out what you are made of… and you might not like it
I found that out last October in the Loch Ness Marathon of Pain. I know after that, I can do anything. 33 miles will be a breeze