I’ve had time to do some really important reflection since completing the Serpent Trail 50k Ultra, and it has been important, as it has given me that opportunity to look at what went well with the training and the event, as well as what I can do differently next time. Yes, that is right, next time. I’m going back next year to do the event again, but more about that in a moment.
My main objective on the day was to get to the finish line. I didn’t really have a ‘set in stone’ time that I wanted to finish it in. In terms of meeting that objective, I did it, but there is something niggling away at me that says I could have gone quicker.
I felt my training for the event was consistent and pretty much spot on. I just need to refine it a bit. I did no other events or races in the build up, and it was the first event I’d done for quite a few years.
I’ve got two events coming up before the end of the year that I am now focusing on – the Great South Run and the Portsmouth Coastal Marathon. I’m back into training again having taken a few days off and have been doing those runs at a slightly quicker pace. I need to start adding in some focused tempo runs and some speed work now.
The plan for next year, in terms of events, is to complete the Jubilee 70k in June and then a month later return to the Serpent Trail 50k. Initially I thought it was a total no-go and that I wouldn’t recover in time. I gave it a lot of thought and came to the conclusion that I have around a year to train for both events, I have a good base endurance already, I know I can complete a 50k course, and I want to use both events as a fundraiser for a couple of local charities. It is ambitious, but more than achievable.
I’m taking the learning from this year's event and really refining my training and plan for the event.
I felt I took far too much nutrition and fluid with me, so will make sure next year I’m taking enough to get me to the checkpoints/aid-stations and top up at each. Obviously, focusing on some speed work will hopefully lead to running at a faster pace and will help get me around quicker. I’m also planning on doing some training runs on parts of the route for the Serpent Trail, so I am covering some of the hillier parts of the course quicker – I feel I lost a lot of time on those sections this year. I also need to move through the checkpoints quicker.
I believe that I can knock an hour off my finishing time and will have that in mind now with each and every training session. I’ve got around a year to really fine-tune everything and get back to the start line fired up and ready to go again.
I’m currently looking at some early season events as well, and I am toying with the idea of some trail half-marathons in the build up. I’ll use those events as fast training sessions and an opportunity to work on some of the more technical aspects of trail running.
By the end of this month, I would have run over 700 miles so far this year, which is amazing. By the end of the year, I should be close to 1,200 miles – I would never have imagined that at the start of the year. I’m still planning on doing the longer runs still, I’ll need to for the marathon at the end of this year and I want to maintain that high endurance work rather than having to start that build up at the start of next year. In training over the last few months, 20 miles runs became the norm and I actually enjoy them, so I’ll be doing plenty more before the end of the year. I actually find I’m much more motivated with the longer distance runs than the shorter ones.
So one ultra under my belt already and time to start training for the next two – bring it on 😊
Richard Guy, 47 years of age, born and grew up in London and have lived in Portsmouth since 2017.