Confidence Herring Road

I’ve had some doubts of late whether I’d be able to complete this 8day Ultra in May. My usual visualisation of the race that I do to mentally prepare myself has not been happening. I guess I’m not letting myself think or dream that I can do it as I’m not so sure I can. Or rather could. This weekend has changed things massively.

It started with a low on Thursday where 200m from work on my usual run commute my left foot got sore. Sore enough to stop and hobble to the office. Sore all day. This was bad and I wasn’t happy with it at all. I’d planned this long training run for weeks and was all psyched up for it.

It was in jeopardy. Could / should I run the planned 55km route? Will my foot survive?

I wasn’t sure about that at all on Thursday and come Friday I was a bit better. I plucked up the courage to test the foot on a wee jaunt around the hill. It seemed OK and the pain manageable.

I thought then that I would risk it. And risk it was. If I ran on it and made it worse it could put the ultra completely at risk. Run and it being ok then that would give me confidence.

My alarm went off at 5:30am Saturday. I was going to attempt it.

The route was a little known drovers road from Dunbar to Lauder called the Herring Road. There weren’t many escape routes but I planned to walk if the foot was bad.

I arrived in Dunbar at 0730 where I met Nick. He’d been planning to do an ultra run for years but always seemed to get injured. Today was the day though.

We set off and I kept the pace slow. My foot was a bit meh but not enough to stop.

By the time I was running over fields and bog the pain had gone. And I was totally relieved.

The run was brilliant and the sun was shining. It was good to be out. 55km was run in all over 8hours with some 1600m of ascent.

Putting this in the context of Cape Wrath Ultra. The average daily distance is 55km though it fluctuates from 37km to 72km. I have from 7am to 11pm to do the day which is 16hours. With fatigue thrown in I think that I am on course. This weekend has given me the confidence I needed.

This was not only a test of being able to run the distance but also a test of kit and nutrition, and I learned a lot…

1. I’ve Not got a big enough pack. My ultra race vest from Soloman carried all I needed yesterday but it didn’t have the emergency blanket, compass, head torch. However…

2. I had too much food maybe for 55km. I had quite a bit of sweet carbs with some jelly babies and salty biscuits. Taking less may free up pack.

3. I didn’t have any savoury and ended up getting a sore head. Have you any suggestions on non-sweet snacks that will last 8 days?

4. Chaff spots. Despite reapplying I’d forgotten two hot spots and didn’t get any lubricant. Ouch.

5. Even running in snow and in 5-8C you can get sunburnt

6. I felt quite comfortable at the pace and on some days I could afford to be slower

7. I don’t feel like running today.

8. Poles will definitely come in handy on uphill

9. I must train my upper body, arms are quite sore after 8 hours moving and especially if I use poles.

10. That I reaffirmed my love for running in Scotland and doing point to point runs.

I also learned that running in Scotland in March in sun in 8C and through snow doesn’t mean you’re immune from getting sun burnt.

What’s more is that I was able to run for an hour the next day with some niggles but my legs didn’t feel fatigued. Bonus.

Check out my running activity on Garmin Connect.

7 responses to “Confidence Herring Road

  1. What about twiglets or pretzels? Does the bulk of your kit get transported for you? If so you could take some pre cut bread rolls and a couple of jars of sandwich spread (marmite if you like it). It might not sound very appealing now but might taste great when mid run. Beef crisps (remembering the bike ride we did together). You get breakfast so it might be possible to make a couple of butties that you can take with you (take some plastic bags or cling film with you). Googling ultra running snacks I see some runners eat Beef Jerky and salted nuts too

    • You’re not allowed to take food from breakfast as it’s an unfair advantage. So what ever I take needs to last 9 days. They transport an 80l bag which has all my gear and food in for the trip. Pretzels and nuts for sure. Beef jerky is hard to eat I guess. Crisps mmm. May need to squash them down to fit in bag. The first few days I may get away with ham and cheese rolls.

  2. Pingback: The darker side of being a runner | Run Spud Run!·

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