For my 3 marathons so far, ‘run all the way’ has been target No3, just behind ‘get round safely’ and ‘try to enjoy it’. Having now signed up for an off-road ultra, early research suggests I need a rethink.
Although I’m sure there are many great athletes who run ultra marathons from start to finish, it seems that, for a mere mortal like me, a run/walk approach is recommended. I’ve seen claims that incorporating, say, a minute of walking for every 10 minutes of running can perhaps double an individual’s effective range.
Instinctively, i’m the sort of person who would prefer to run until I could run no more, and then walk the rest. Apparently, that doesn’t work well for an ultra as the walking miles are likely to be something of a death march – the benefit of recovery while walking needs to be taken regularly and before it is too late.
I’ll need to practice the run/walk to see how it works for me but perhaps the walk bit could be used for the steeper uphill sections?
I don’t mean to underestimate the challenge but I can’t help but think that as my ultra is ‘only’ another 8km (5 miles) more than a marathon, I could keep with ‘run all the way’ and just do normal marathon training (plus a bit). However, my occasional lucid moments tell me that those who have completed ultras know much better than me, and I’ll find that ‘just’ those 5 miles, the hills and the absence of a good road surface will make a huge difference.
So, being too far away to start any specific training i’ve been doing the next best thing – researching on the internet. Recognising that internet research is a dangerous thing if I have not been able to separate the wheat from the chaff, more key learning from my reading so far:
- losing weight is a good idea (well, how did they think that one up)
- hydration and nutrition are vital (ditto)
- don’t get injured – who, me?
- there are 4 feed stations on the route – only 10 km between them so it looks like carrying one bottle will be enough, unless it is very hot
- that might mean just a running belt to hold the bottle and some snacks?
- I need to run on the Ridgeway in training – partly for familiarisation, partly for the training benefit and partly it will help decide on appropriate footwear (will running shoes be enough?)
- I can keep cycling (good cardio exercise and easier on the body than running)
- I can keep up with the gym (especially good for the core)
- the 16 week training schedule I found that started with a 31 mile week is not by any means out of the ordinary! Damn
- back to back long runs seem to be a vital part of the training. Double damn.
It’s just possible that next year could be a bit tough. The training now won’t help with the cardio aspects but I can carry on because I enjoy it – and any strengthening of my core and legs will be a bonus if taken through into the early spring.
How hard can it be …