Ultra training: week 1 (sort of)

Lost on the Greensand Ridge – at least the weather was nice!

Techncially, I’m following a 16-week ultra training plan, which doesn’t start until March – I’ve actually got about 21 weeks until race day. But I’ve added a few extra weeks in for base-building, as I haven’t consistently run more than twice a week for nearly a year! (Ooops). Plus, I’ve been avoiding hills and trails like the plague until recently, so I didn’t want to jump straight into a high-mileage, high-intensity plan from where I am now. For the next few weeks I’m aiming to run 4x/week, possibly building up to 5 (as the plan suggests) but I might swap the 5th one for a cross-training session if my legs kick up too much of a fuss. Which they probably will. Cross your fingers for me.

Tuesday: 5 miles on the plan. I finished work early (very rare treat) so I actually managed to get out and run in the daylight! I planned a route in advance – a 5 mile out-and-back along the Greensand Ridge, starting from Ampthill park. This is a 40-mile-long, fairly major trail, so I figured it would be pretty straight forward. Erm, it wasn’t. I ended up losing the trail within a mile or so, ran through some fields and some (very steep) woodland, and ended up at the main road by Woburn Safari Park. Faced with closed gates every direction I went, I headed back to Ampthill Park and made up the last mile or so by looping back round towards the car. It was sunny, quiet, and beautiful – there are definitely worse places to get lost!
5 miles, 9:30 average

Wednesday: This was a 3-miler, and luckily our work PT session was intervals (I say luckily – it hurt and I wanted to vom). 4x 1km (approx) repeats round a hilly loop. I managed each loop around the 5-minute mark (4:51-5:06).Β 
2.5 miles, ~8:00 average

Thursday: I was meant to do 1.5m, but my friend invited me to a spin session she was leading, so I did that instead. 45 sweaty, quad-burning minutes of hill climbs and sprints and my legs were absolutely done. At least the music was good…

Saturday: I switched my runs around this weekend and did the longer one first, as the weather was forecast to be abysmal on the Sunday. 8 comfortable miles total; 5 miles solo, and then a cheeky parkrun to finish. Not sure I’ll be able to handle parkrun at the end of my long runs once I’m into double digits, but for now it’s a good motivator and helps me to pick up some speed in the last couple miles.Β 
8 miles, 9:17 average

Sunday: I used this run to stretch out my legs. It was grey and damp and I stuck to main roads, but the run felt ok and I managed a faster pace than I expected after Saturday’s hills!
5 miles, 9:10 average

Total mileage: ~21m

Honestly, I’m surprised I managed to run 4 times in a week. When marathon training previously, I’ve never done more than 3, so adding a 4th (and potentially a 5th) is quite a jump. But I’m focusing on cross training and strength work, and from next week I’ll be setting target paces for each session – I definitely need to run the shorter efforts faster and the longer ones slower.

But hey, it’s all a learning curve – and getting miles in the legs (whilst avoiding injury!) is my main goal for now.Β I can see a LOT of foam rolling in my future…

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