South Downs Way 50, 2019

The last time I ran the South Downs Way 50 (heretofore; SDW50) was in 2015. At that point I had completed 2 ultras of 40 miles and 45 miles. I ran a personal best of 9:02:55 and it has stood since then.

When I lined up for the race I had no plan in mind, I didn’t pay much attention to pacing and I didn’t have any real idea of how to fuel myself through an ultra. Now, four years later, I have 11 ultra finishes along with three ultra DNFs and 7 marathons (3 road, 4 trail). Alongside the long stuff, I’ve also ran plenty of shorter races too. Along the way I have learned a lot about running ultras, racing at lots of distances, and about myself. I feel in a good place to put in another attempt at my 50 mile personal best.

Tomorrow, January 8th 2019, I start Week 1 of my 13 week SDW50 training plan and I am raring to go and looking forward to putting the work in. My training plan isn’t high mileage because I’ve found that doesn’t really work for me. What does work is consistency and frequent racing. Below is my running plan, which will also be supplemented by mountain biking and three swims per week:

Another thing I have learned over the years, and particularly last year, is that I seem to do better (and feel happier) when I don’t hold myself rigidly to a weekly distance. The plan above is a guide and I won’t really mind if I run +/- 10km on any given week. Any more and I will probably burn out, and any less is too little for the goal.

The basics of my plan, as it sits on Training Peaks and in my head:

  • Monday: Rest
  • Tuesday: Speed (I plan to train with my club)
  • Wednesday: Easy Run (AM) / Swim Workout (PM)
  • Thursday: Tempo Run (AM) / Weights Session (PM)
  • Friday: MTB to work, pool and then home (c.32km) / Swim Workout (PM)
  • Saturday: Race or Long Run
  • Sunday: Easy Run (AM) / Swim Workout (PM)

The AM sessions are a new thing and something I have struggled to commit to and maintain with consistency over the years. I have set my alarm 30 minutes earlier each morning, so I will now be getting up at 0530hrs with a view to being out on the run by 0600hrs. I find it much easier to get going with 30 minutes of open eye time as opposed to rolling straight out. The reality is that I have to make this work and I have to commit to it if I want to maintain my swimming and weight training. The weight training will benefit my running and I am off to the European Aquathlon Championship (Age Group) in July so the swimming is absolutely vital.

There we have it. Call it public accountability, or call it motivational self-talk (or both), but it’s out there now so I am going to do my best to achieve the goal of improving my 50 mile PR. Will that improvement be 30 minutes, 15 minutes, an hour (or more), or just mere minutes?! Only time will tell and I have decided to keep my target to myself for now.

I will be posting a training update at the end of Week 4, 8 and 12 with a race report at the end of the endeavour.

I hope you enjoy the read and take some inspiration where you can!

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