Training for: CTS Dorset Ultra (53k)
Runs: 6, Total Distance: 81.2km, Total Time: 6:56
The breakdown for this week is a bit different: 3 road runs (?!), 1 trail run that was basically cross country because of the watery mud, 1 trail run on canal path and 1 cross country race to finish the week!
The first road run of the week was my first run of the week and it was a hard one to get out for! For some reason I felt drained and very tired after work and dreaded facing a run by headtorch on the trails. However, I still put on my headtorch and went out truly thinking I’d be hitting the trail. Five hundred metres in and I really considered just turning around and walking home though! I’d had a day where everything irritated me and then my heart rate monitor wouldn’t settle which drove me to breaking point. I was running along muttering and swearing under my breathe and at the point where I could have turned for the trail I went the other way, vowed to run a lap of my block and then go home and sulk.
Fortunately, about ten minutes later I had settled into a rhythm and my HRM had settled into its job so I decided to run an extended loop of my area. I wasn’t exactly enjoying myself though – I hate running on the road with a head torch as it’s superfluous and to add to that I had my trail jacket on because it’s colder on trail than road usually. Consequently I was feeling quite hot and bothered and still very irritable! The 8km mark came around 500m from my front door but as of 6km I’d actually started to enjoy myself (as usual!) so, to change my mentally self flagellating run to some more self transcendental I ran 5km worth of 700m loops – down my street, up the neighbouring street, along back to my street, down again, along to the neighbouring street…and on, and on – I finished with a smile on my face and was pretty pleased to turn a bad run into a good one with some pretty mindless, short, steady and consistent road laps.
Wednesday, as ever, is speedwork day. I decided to head out onto the roads of my neighbourhood again for a 5km time trial. I won’t write much about this one though because when I finished what my watch said was 5km in 17:33 I was astounded, over the moon and happy. I had pushed hard and it had paid off. My training over the past 12 weeks was showing results. Until I plugged in my Garmin to find that a satellite error meant 500m had not been recorded. I cursed the heavens because I felt so good running so fast – I could have run the next 500m and still come in under my PR of 18:47. Next week I’ll either be going out for a group run with my club or I’ll run the same course this time trial was on and aim for my 5km PR again…we’ll see.
In the early hours of Wednesday morning it rained, and rained, and rained and continued throughout most of the day on Thursday. So, for some reason, I thought it would be a good idea to get back out on my local trails with the headtorch. I laced up my Scott Kinabalu Supertrac (pretty much made for bulldozing through thick and watery mud) and head off. I didn’t know it at the time (obviously) but this was the toughest run of the week for me. Even with my earthmovers on I still slipped around a fair amount and found it very difficult to get into a rhythm that would allow my heart rate to climb – it was a pure slog from start to finish and the Supertrac didn’t help – they’re weighty enough when dry and free of mud but after a couple of kilometres wading through burst streams and deep mud they weigh so much more!
Friday is what I call super easy day. Others call it the shuffle. Either way I generally enjoy Friday runs as I can slow down and think through my week and maybe even do a bit of planning for my weekend or my long run. This super easy effort again saw me back on the roads of my neighbourhood and again running loops, 3 laps of a 2.2km loop and then just under 3 laps of a 2.3km loop. I don’t know what it is about road loops but I actually love them – short or long they tend to focus my mind and depending on my pace that can be focused on the run itself or, as I mentioned, on the week past or the weekend ahead. It was cold running slowly which added an extra mental challenge to deal with but I do like a challenge and like most endurance addicts I don’t tend to mind pain and discomfort as long as I’m achieving something along with it!
My long run day, as usual, came on Saturday and much like last week I opted for a fairly flat route along the Grand Union Canal but this time I ran solo and instead of south I decided to head north. If consistency is King then long live consistency – that was my mantra on this run and it was a delightful effort. I covered 33.6km in 2:47 with a smile on my face the whole way and a feeling in my heart, mind and body that I could carry on all day long at the heart rate I was at. It was a pretty perfect run and definitely the best one I’ve done during this training block which has so far consisted of 54 training runs, 2 cross country races and a trail marathon! The run itself marked my final long run before CTS Dorset Ultra in 2 weeks too becasue next Saturday I will likely run between 20-25km depending on how I’m feeling. Another positive arising from this one is that it was the first time I used Tailwind – 1 sachet in a 500ml soft flask which I finished off at the 30km mark and I can safely say it’s brilliant stuff because I didn’t feel in the least bit depleted or even slightly nauseous during the whole run. I’m looking forward to using it at CTS Dorset alongside Shot Bloks and maybe the occasional graze at checkpoints while I’m refilling bottles.
To round out the week I headed over to Trent Park with Watford Joggers to run Round 2 of the Hertfordshire Sunday Cross Country League. I went in with a plan to start conservatively and ramp it over the distance and I largely succeeded in that plan! I was foiled by a long, muddy hill from finishing fast and strong though which put a bit of a downer on an otherwise well executed strategy. I lost a few spots on the 600m hill and gained one over the final 200m so it wasn’t all bad – after all who doesn’t like taking people over the last few metres of a race?! The course itself was really great being mainly through a wood and with some grassy areas to contend with too and I found it much easier to stay focused and motivated than during Round 1 in Cheshunt which was over 4 laps of boring parkland. I again managed to finish in 104th place but in a larger and more competitive field than Round 1 and off the back of a pretty long run so I’m not complaining – I enjoyed every step and chatting with my team mates afterwards over coffee made for a decent Sunday morning! I’m sadly going to miss Round 3 as I’ll be racing CTS Dorset the day before but I’m looking forward to Rounds 4 and 5 – I’ll be hoping for top 100 in Round 4 for and pushing for top 75 in Round 5. Then it’s onwards to County Championships in January and I will finally get to run the Nationals in February!
And so we reach the end of another week! Next week I’ll be starting to taper down in preparation for CTS Dorset so I will likely run between 40 and 50km. Until next week dear reader I hope the roads, trails and treadmills treat you will in the week ahead.
Peace & Blessings