VLM2016 – Training Summary Week 8 (including Back to Back long runs)

Mon – 6 miles (7:00m/m)
Tue – AM 10 miles (6:18m/m) PM 6 miles (6:04m/m)
Wed – AM 6 miles (6:48m/m) PM 18.25 miles (5:47m/m) incl sash 25min/5x4min/25min
Thu – AM 6 miles (6:17m/m) PM 10 miles (6:08m/m)
Fri – 5 miles (6:47m/m)
Sat – AM Treadmill 20 miles (6:03m/m) PM Treadmill 6.2 miles (5:56m/m)
Sun – AM 26.22 miles (6:47m/m) PM 4.17 miles (7:09m/m)

Total Mileage – 124 miles (6:21m/m)

Not the easiest of weeks, anyone would think I did something strenuous last Sunday 😉

A couple of really easy days this week on Monday and Thursday but most of the focus was on Wednesday night’s session and the weekend’s long running.
The weather for the BAC marathon session on the prom was okay but there was a noticeable westerly wind which slowed down the efforts a little. Excuses aside (did I mention I ran 40 miles last Sunday in under 4hrs 😉 ) I was reasonably happy with the pace with the 25min efforts averaging 5:20m/m and the 4min efforts at 5:07m/m. Slower than I have previously done this session at this stage in a marathon build up but again going in the right direction compared to previous weeks. See Garmin link above for full details.
A small amount of “excitement” was had during the last 4min interval when I got chased by a dog who was attempting to bite my arm, not pleasant and the owner did a runner before I could make them aware of my “disapproval”.
A tenuous link to a picture of me and Obi our Ridgeback puppy, anyone would think I didn’t do anything exciting this week and I was struggling to come up with a relevant photo 😉

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The plan for the weekend was to do a decent double long run effort but unfortunately fatigue levels meant I had to dial back my plans a little. Due to the shocking weather I decided I’d mix things up a bit by doing Saturday’s run on the treadmill. What originally was planned as a full distance marathon in the morning ended up being split into two with a 20 miler and then a 10km in the evening all at around 6m/m pace.

Again on Sunday I had to adjust things a bit as it became obvious very early into my run that my body wasn’t up for doing a hilly 30+ mile run and so I compromised with a hilly marathon instead. The hills and the wind were a real struggle to be honest and I even had to take my “emergency gel” at 22 miles to get me through but I ground it out and then did a short recovery jog in the evening. Thanks also to Sharkey and Matt for some most welcome company on most of the run.

So the weekend didn’t go exactly to plan but I’m still generally happy with the week’s effort when taking into account Wednesday’s session and my general pace for the steady runs.
Following the previous pattern of two high mileage weeks and then a cutback week I will now ease off this coming week ahead of the Reading Half on Sunday (around 90 miles again like Bath). Time to find out if my recent ultra antics have improved my speed!

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VLM2016 – Training Summary Week 7 (including Barry 40 mile track race)

Mon – AM 6 miles (7:03m/m) PM 6 miles (6:52m/m)
Tue – AM 10 miles (6:18m/m) PM 6 miles (6:03m/m)
Wed – AM 5.79 miles (7:32m/m) PM 17 miles (5:54m/m) incl session 4x16min
Thu – AM 10 miles (6:39m/m) PM 6 miles (5:59m/m)
Fri – AM 10 miles (6:16m/m) PM 6 miles (6:44m/m)
Sat – 6 miles (6:41m/m)
Sun – Barry 40 Mile Track race (1st – 3:54:52) PM 3.1 miles (6:29m/m)

Total Mileage – 133.16 miles (6:14m/m)

A small confession to make, even though the title of these weekly blogs have started with “VLM2016….” , I’m not just training for my annual blast around the capital. 2 weeks after London is the Redbull “Wings For Life” race which I have also entered. For those that aren’t aware its a unique race that doesn’t involve a finish line but instead has a chaser car (driven by David Coulthard) that aims to knock everyone out of the race… not literally! You can check out all about the race HERE
The long and the short of it is that if I want to be fighting for the overall win (its run in 34 countries around the world at the same time) based on the results of the last 2 races then I need to be able to run somewhere around the 50 mile mark at a pace of 6:00m/m.
My training in this build up hasn’t quite yielded the top end speed yet to show me I’m going to get back in marathon PB shape in time for London so my shift to some more ultra focused training at the weekend was for two reasons, partly because in the past it has actually made me a faster marathon runner but also because I wanted to start testing out the kind of pace I would need to be hitting to be in the running for the Wings for Life race.

As some of you will know, when I’ve previously done a 40 mile training run I have quite often run laps around my local village green but on this occasion the timing of the race meant that I had an opportunity to be a part of British Ultra running tradition and line up on the start line of the Barry 40 mile track race instead.
This may be a small race with a niche appeal due to it being 161 laps of an athletics track in Barry but in my opinion you won’t find a finer example of the best bits about the sport of Ultra running. Thats probably why it’s the longest running Ultra race in the UK.
Race Director Mick McGeoch’s attention to detail is fantastic…from the individual bios in the race programme, the support crews getting a bagged packed lunch to see them through the day and the continuous race updates over the loud speaker system to name just a few!
The support crew and lap counters from the Les Croupiers running club also do a fantastic job and make the whole day a pleasure……apart from the small issue of running 161 laps!

The Barry 40 line up….a mighty fine bunch of friendly ultra runners!
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My plan was to kick off at 89 second laps which if I could maintain throughout the whole race would dip me just under the world V40 best time of 3:59:24. I actually set a time alert on my Garmin so that it would buzz at me every 89 seconds and I could then try and make sure I was around the start/finish line every time it went off.
I felt good from the start and after a few laps I couldn’t help but find myself a little bit further up the track every time my 630 buzzed at me!
Nutrition wise I stuck to a very simple plan of having a SIS gel every 30min and I managed that for the first 3hrs before “locking in” for the final hour. Due to the cool weather I didn’t real feel the need for any water and so after taking a couple of sips after my first gel I then didn’t bother with any more for the rest of the race.
Going in to the race I guessed that after about 50km I might start to slow as I haven’t done any real long distances at this pace so I was really pleased to find I was able to maintain pace all the way through the 40 miles and actually do a negative split! (will post official 5 mile splits when they are up but see Garmin link below for the mile splits)
I had to really focus for the last 10 miles but felt stronger than I’ve done at any point since the summer of 2014 which was a great feeling and when I crossed the line in 3:54:52 to take the v40 best time I gave Sarah a cuddle and the first words that came out where “I’M BACK!”

Job done….Monkey arm pose engaged
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So back to business then, don’t worry I haven’t given up on that marathon speed just yet and will be working hard to find it but I’ve definitely got my Ultra running mojo back and will hopefully be putting it to good use at the Wings for Life race which is also being heavily supported by my sponsors Garmin this year which is an added bonus 😉

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VLM2016 – Training Summary Week 6 (including Bath Half)

Mon – AM 6 miles (7:04m/m) PM 6 miles (6:34m/m)
Tue – AM 8 miles (6:16m/m) PM 6 miles (6:13m/m)
Wed – AM 4 miles (7:00m/m) PM 16.45 miles (5:53m/m) incl session 24min/18/12/6/3
Thu – AM 8 miles (6:47m/m) PM 6 miles (6:30m/m)
Fri – 6 miles (6:39m/m)
Sat – 5 miles (6:08m/m)
Sun – VERY AM 12min jog AM 16.2 miles incl Bath 1/2 (70:01) PM 6 miles (6:18m/m)

Total Mileage – 95.41 miles (6:18m/m)

So the cut-back of mileage this week from 130 to just under a hundred has definitely helped with my fatigue levels to a certain degree but maybe not quite as much as I hoped, if previous campaigns are anything to go by I’ll probably start feeling the benefits of it next week!
In summary, there was not a lot going on this week apart from my two main runs on Wednesday night and the race this morning with all my other runs being a maximum of 8 miles rather than my standard 12.
Both the session on Wednesday and todays race at the Bath Half showed progress on previous weeks but neither of them were quite as impressive as I hoped. For Wednesdays session I was pleased that after starting with 5:21m/m pace for the first long 24min effort I was able to gradually speed up as the efforts got shorter but I was a little disappointed that I still had no real speed at the top end and my fatigue kicked in during the 2nd half of the session.(See Garmin link above for details)
Today’s race was very similar with a promising start where I managed to get my HR into my threshold zone but then by the time the second half came I wasn’t able to sustain the correct heart rate and my pace dropped a little. (See link above or below for details)

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What was really frustrating was realising a little too late that I was going to just miss sub 70 and not having the legs to sprint for the line…… the result was a 70:01 chip time……DOH!!!

Full results for the race can be found HERE ,a small consolation being I managed first Vet this week!

Special thanks to Holly Rush for putting me up for the night on Saturday and supporting on the course this morning, I apologise for being a minute slower than I promised :-)

So in general I guess i should be pleased that things are still going in the right direction with definite progress since Wokingham, I just wish it would come a little faster.
In order to try and give my body what it wants and a little extra training stimulus I’m going to give it exactly what it has responded well to in the past, the standard marathon training run – a steady 40 miler 😉
And what better way to do it than to grab myself a late entry to the historic Barry 40 Track Ultra
Thanks Mick McGeoch for the late entry, looking forward to 161 laps of fun!

The all-time results of the Barry 40 can be found HERE and make for some great reading with some big names in Ultra running all over the the “charts”.
My plan for Sunday will be to go out at 6:00m/m pace and see how long I last. Best case scenario I will dip under 4hrs and nick the World Age best for V40 which is 3:59:24 (held since 1989). Worst case scenario I’ll be in a world of pain from about 30 miles and who knows what time I’ll end up with. Check out next weeks blog to find out!

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