Less than 6 months to go until the ultra-marathon.
I know in that time I am going to have to put a lot of training in. Having started my new role in work as well I am going to have to train smart as work is going to be very busy.
I’ve put in a very good weeks training last week and am pleased with the progress I am making – I’ve added some more strength work into the programme as this is going to be important. I’ve started to think more critically about my nutrition plan for the event as well – there are no feed stations along the event so I need to be fully self-sufficient during the day. I’ve already purchased a rather smart race vest/pack which has a drinks bladder in it, pockets for gels, bars and additional drinks bottles and thankfully space for my trusty MP3 player.
The new MP3 was also a recent purchase – 4GB of space and 17 hours battery life – ideal for those long training runs and the event itself. I’ve currently uploaded 470 tracks onto it and it is a real mixed bag – Killing Joke, Tool, The Prodigy, Jah Wobble, Fleetwood Mac, Motorhead, Black Flag, Fugazi, Public Enemy, Pink Floyd, The Fall, Iron Maiden, Bad Brains, Johnny Cash, The Cult, Cockney Rejects, and a ton of other stuff.
I’d actually be lost without running with the MP3 on. It just helps me to switch off and keeps me focused. Keeping focused on those longer runs is going to be really important – especially on those 3 hour runs which can turn into a bit of a slog and a bit of a mind-games battle.
I know from past experience in events that there are going to be those mental dips or lows – when you start to question whether you need to stop, need to slow down, worrying that a very slight niggle might be that dreaded injury that you just don’t need. It is really important to be able to shut those thoughts away and focus on moving forwards. It is important to be able to focus on those next couple of steps, the next mile, getting to the next lamp-post – rather than thinking of the enormity of it just breaking it down into much smaller chunks.
My strategy for the actual event is going to be getting to each bridge on the event – not thinking solely on the finish line but breaking it down into much smaller, more achievable targets.
There are around 20 bridges to pass (and go over) during the event – so 20 smaller, more achievable targets. That also works out well when planning my nutrition strategy – I will have a much better idea of when I need to be getting those essential fluids into me, needing to be taking on board energy gels and energy bars as well.
The kit I use and wear on the day of the event is going to be important and I have a very good idea of what I will be using already on the day. I have the kit already – a few trips to Decathlon has sorted that out and no doubt a few more between now and the event will be made (mainly for additional pairs of running socks). The plan is to wear the kit I will be wearing on the day on my longer runs – not only does that pre-planning help with any potential mistakes but it will also help with that focus as well. It will really home in on the target.
The weather on the day is going to be a major factor. If it is hot will I use an energy drink mix or an electrolyte mix? Headwear – running cap or visor?
if it is raining do I need to take spare socks to change into at some point? (it may be that one small thing I do that could reduce blisters perhaps).
So very much some of the training in the lead up to the event just isn’t about putting the miles in but getting the nutrition correct and using the correct kit for both the event and conditions. On the day this fine detailed planning could be the difference between a well-executed race and one that leaves many questions around preparation.
Richard Guy, 47 years of age, born and grew up in London and have lived in Portsmouth since 2017.