Last night I wrapped up a successful Spring training season during which I bounced back from the dismay of not finishing Country to Capital and the sorrow of not being able to start TransGranCanaria.
Coming back from these set backs was a gradual process and I began building up whilst I was in Gran Canaria – I started undertaking daily yoga practice again and my mileage slowly began to increase in the weeks following. I entered 3 races in a bid to get back into the racing mindset and to face my anxiety that I might be losing my edge!
Those three races were pretty successful and distances I don’t normally run. The first was the Ashridge Boundary Trail – a local trail race with a friendly atmosphere and plenty of hills. I finished the 16.5 miles in 2:12 in 25th position which came as quite a surprise because I felt unprepared to say the least! A month later I visited Cornwall with Sarah and found Cornwall’s only fell race (Category C) – The Five Tors on Bodmin Moor is an 8 mile race with a loosely marked course and some fast descening. The race was tougher than I expected but I finished in 1:07 in 33rd place, I’m not sure what I found so difficult but I had a bit of a mental wobble over the final few kilometres and I just couldn’t get my pace to pick up to anything approaching competitive. The main thing for me was to get it done though and I eventually finished happy and smiling!
Finally, the culmination of my training over Spring – the Hertfordshire Amateur Athletic Association’s 5 Mile Championship road race at Pednor. I ran hard off the gun and felt good all the way! My legs were heavy early on but that didn’t stop a sub-6 minute first mile and then into the first climb at 3 miles my legs warmed up and started turning over nicely. My aim was to run under 31:00 so I’m really pleased, considering it’s not a flat course, to have registered a 30:58 for 24th place at the meet and 8th in the County!
I was the 5th Watford Jogger to cross the line – our first 4 won the County Team Championship and our second four were 4th in the County and 6th at the meet. We also swept up so many awards across the board! A brilliant night for the club and I’m proud to have been part of it. The race probably marked the end of my really fast stuff until after Lakeland 50 but I suspect I’ll be back on the roads training for a road marathon before the end of the year.
Lakeland 50 training this year will be pretty similar to last year as I still believe it to be the best race I’ve ever run in terms of strategy and pacing! I think the lead up really helped.
The training kicks of fully with two race weekends back to back – first up the North Downs Way 50 followed the weekend after with a local 10km trail race. I’ll be focusing on just finishing the NDW50 as I haven’t actually finished an ultra race since Lakeland last year! At the Wheathampstead 10km the weekend after I will be aiming to push hard from the gun and see what happens – much in the same way as I raced at Pednor.
I’ll train for two weeks after this and then it’s the St. Albans Half Marathon. This is another local race and run on road. It is also the first half marathon I ever ran five years ago and I haven’t raced one since! I ran 1:38 the first time out and I’d only been running for about 8 months so I didn’t really know what I was doing. The course is undulating [tough] and I’m hoping to push on again and see what happens – I would absolutely love to run under 1:30. Two weeks after this it’s the North Devon trail marathon.
I’ll be racing the North Devon Trail Marathon and focusing more on trail running speed as opposed to fast hiking speed as I did at Mont Blanc Marathon last year and I’m hoping to run a competitive race.
Two weeks before the race last year I ran the Chiltern Hills 50km Ultra but this year I’ve decided not to race and instead I will be traversing the Rhinogydd range with my friend Matt on the Saturday – it’s about a 20 mile route with 1800m of acscent. On the Sunday it’ll be a further 10 miles before beginning my taper into Lakeland.
The main staple of my training, alongside the racing, will be a weekly progression incline run on the treadmill. I did this sporadically last year and I wish I’d done more of it! I have been building this up over the last three weeks of my Spring training season and I’m seeing the benefits.
I’ve put a lot of thought and time into planning this year’s Lakeland 50 training and I am confident that it will produce a decent showing on the day – hopefully it will translate to a 10 hour if the conditions are anything like last year!