Ultra planning progress

Focus. Belief. Blind optimism. What ever it’s called I’ve got it. The injury setback (again) has been tough but since starting out again on my journey to the Ultra marathon I’ve turned a corner. The tentative first runs have morphed into a confident increase in mileage. Still with the injury ever present in my mind, the training has been more about reducing risk and hoping for the best than anything else. 

With my current distance being 20kms I’ve a long way to go with only 5 weeks remaining. But my confidence has changed. No longer am I thinking “will I do this” but I’ve started to believe I will. I’ve started to imagine it, reading the race brief, studying the maps, buying hydration packs, gels, fuel, and sorting out the accommodation. 

This confidence can quite easily be dashed if the risky approach to increasing mileage falls foul and I’m injured further. 

The Physio is now clued up on my plan, he recorded me running and saw I’m slightly landing toward the centre of my body meaning my foot ankle knee and hip are not vertically aligned. This could have something to do with the injury. It makes sense, so I’m attempting to change my gait on my shorter runs but will need to forget that on the longer runs. My other half is naturally worried as he’s seen me do this before and is trying to avoid living with a grumpy runner who can’t run. 

My strategy though is to do a long walk on Saturdays and Long run on Sundays. The run will eventually turn into a run walk. I’m resigned to the fact my ultra won’t be as i expected it to be back at the start. I’m not going to be fast. I’m not going to be pain free. But I’m going to enjoy it. This will involve many photo stops and eating lots. 

Last weekend training went well. This gave me the confidence to start believing. And I think for me that is half the battle. It was the same as Ironman when I turned the corner after the knee injury as I went out and rode 100km after being out for 4 weeks. That turned out to be the longest I’d rode but was the turning point to me believing that finishing it could be done. 

The weekend consisted of a 16km hike up a hill and back down in a circular route from Dollar Glen, to Kings Seat and Tillicoutry. The Glen is beautiful, mystical and steep. The air of rain and damp ground made it even more exciting. Leaving the Glen the ascent was steep but views magnificent with the Forth valley laid out in front with the Pentlands in the distance some 40miles away being the next high barrier. 

 The descent into Tillicoutry was easy and the return along the railway was pleasantly flat. A good days hike. My plan for the run was to get dropped off and run home. I’ve always fancied traversing the Pentlands and then dropping down back to my house, the latter part is on road but could be extended to be more off road as I prefer trail. 

The route was 20km. Probably 2km more than I wanted but it was largely downhill. The air was still, a nice change from the breeze on top of Kings Seat. Though with no breeze comes midge and fly heaven and nothing to blow the sweat off my head and brow. I stopped to take photos and immediately surrounded by a swarm which proceeded to follow me as I jogged along. Looking back and upwards I saw a hundred flies dancing around looking for a landing spot in my sweaty hair. Thankfully they got bored of me squatting, looking like a mad man waving by hands above my head and left me alone to pester a cow or horse shit. 

 The run finished and although my knees were grumbling due to the downhill I was in a good mood after a good 36km training weekend. 

With only 5 weeks to increase to 50 and next weekend I’ve a race being a 22.6km run (Race the train Wales) I don’t have much time in the way of increasing distance. 

I think I’ll probably get to 30km run/ walk maybe 35. But this is far better than having no time or distance! 

Wish me luck! 

I’m running the Tiree Ultra as my first Ultramarathon on 6th September 2016. 

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