Ultra training: week 6

Scoping out the Surrey Half route ahead of next week – can we have this sunshine on race day please?

Week 6. How did we get here so fast!? I managed another 3 runs, though I didn’t get the fourth one in as I was away on a work trip for 2 days. It’ll happen eventually! The weather was still cold and breezy, but I was able to run in the sunshine this weekend which was SO NICE. More of this please!

Looking forward to my first race of the year, Surrey Half next Sunday. Feeling confident for a PB (my current PB is 2:14, and I reckon that I can nip in under 2:10 if the weather gives me a chance), but I’m definitely not near a sub-2 yet. I’d love to tick that off sometime this year though – can anyone recommend a decent half marathon either in Surrey or up Nottingham way? I’ve had this goal on the back burner for sooo long!

Tuesday: As usual, I was indoors for this one. I did 5 miles and managed pretty decent negative splits of 9:15, 9:06, 8:57, 8:47, and 8:25. (I think I’m going to try some faster intervals next week, as I’ve got my eye on a sub-26:00 5k. Not sure if I can keep up that sort of pace right now, but it’s worth a go…?) Unfortunately my regular treadmill (can’t believe I even said that, who am I?) was taken, so this time I had a lovely brick wall to look at 😀
5m, 8:54 average

Saturday: I switched things up a bit this week and went out in the evening for 5 miles. I managed to get to the top of St Marthas for the sunset, which was gorgeous. And I actually ran it this time (with 1 short breather on the way up). Baby steps! I went a bit slower though as it was super muddy underfoot, and I wanted to enjoy the views. Pretty good run actually, but extremely chilly.
5m, 9:51 average

Sunday: The long run! I had 11 miles on the plan, and did an out-and-back along part of the Surrey Half route ahead of next week. I slowed down and tried to focus on keeping my pace consistent, and it went really well for the first half. It was sunny, the countryside was lovely, there was a bit of a breeze and on the country lanes all of the drivers were considerate, pulling out to give me space as they passed me (which never happens on a bike!). But then I reached the turnaround point and the wind hit me right in the face, and kept it up all the way back. I ended up ditching the last mile, stopping at 10 before walking the last little bit home. Still pretty happy with my pace, given that the wind completely sapped my energy. Fingers crossed for calmer weather next Sunday!
10m, 9:35 average

Anyone else signed up for Surrey Half?

Ultra training: week 5

St Martha’s nearly broke me this week. I’ve challenged myself to run the whole thing next time 😁

Well this week was a bit of a challenge! I was supposed to do my first run on Tuesday, but our local water supply was completely cut off for the day due to a couple of leaks so I wasn’t able to work out at all (or shower, or flush the toilet, or anything – nightmare!) But I got back on it on Wednesday. I skipped Thursday’s run though, as I didn’t fancy running on the treadmill 2 days in a row. If anyone has any good treadmill workouts I can try to mix things up a bit, please share!

Wednesday: As usual, it was into the gym for a treadmill run. I managed negative splits of 9:25, 9:18 and 9:16. It was pretty uneventful, but the treadmills either side stayed empty (YAY) and the pace felt pretty comfy. Maybe I’m finally getting used to running indoors?
3m, 9:20 average

Saturday: This was the long one, and I really struggled. I picked a really lovely scenic route along the Pilgrims Way, through the Chantries woods, up St Marthas and onto the North Downs Way across to Newlands Corner, where I added on a 3m out-and-back towards West Hanger to make it up to 12 miles. It was drizzly and windy (20mph) and for some reason I felt really low on energy for the first couple of miles; I couldn’t settle into a rhythm and it just felt like a much bigger effort than it should have done. It definitely wasn’t boring though 😅 First, one of the paths I wanted to use was flooded so I had to make an impromptu diversion; then I was beaten by St Martha’s hill (seriously, it’s a flipping mountain) so was walking by mile 3. Then I found myself wading through ankle-deep mud for the best part of that 3 mile out-and-back (to be fair, I knew it was bad when the mountain bikers coming from that direction laughed and wished me luck 😂) and in West Hanger I had to clamber over a big tree that had been blown down across the path (twice). By this point I just had to laugh, and it was quite funny passing other runners and sharing that look of ‘this mud is ridiculous but we’ll keep going anyway cos we haven’t lost our trainers in it yet…’. Then the rain and wind really picked up, and in mile 11 I had to deep-squat to get under another tree that had been blown across the path. All in all, it was a bit of a shambles – but despite feeling really demoralised at the start, I was genuinely enjoying myself by the end. I really don’t get how people can run up those hills though.
12m, 10:35 average

Sunday: I was back into my road shoes for this one. I’ve never really run the day after a long run before, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. My quads were nackered from Saturday’s hills, but I picked a familiar route with a few lumpy bits to keep it interesting and the miles flew by. The sun even came out for a minute or two! Still windy though, but it’s all good training.
6m, 9:21 average

I was pleased with today’s 6 miler after the hilly, muddy adventure I had yesterday – but I’m starting to wonder whether I’m really fit enough to manage these hills as the distance picks up. I found the 12 miler really difficult, and I can’t imagine being able to run all of those inclines. I think I’m going to add another leg day to my week, and focus on building muscle – especially around the calves, ankles and glutes. I’m starting to realise just how hard you have to work to maintain stability on uneven ground! It’s a challenge, but it’s fun to learn a new sort of running technique and I really hope I start to see some progress over the next few weeks. Fingers crossed!

Ultra training: week 3

Farnham – Guildford on the North Downs Way. The prettiest bit was right at the end (of course) 😀

This week had a bit of a rocky start. I was meant to do my first run on Tuesday, but a gnarly strength workout nackered my legs and the DOMS were going strong well into Wednesday (highlights included 100 wall balls, 90 burpees and 90 kettle bell thrusters… With some other ‘fun’ bits thrown in).

On top of that I’m a bit stuck during the week at the moment as it gets dark so early, so I’m still resorting to the dreaded treadmill Monday to Friday. It gets the job done but it’s really uninspiring and makes it difficult to find the motivation to run!

I’ve also been looking into heart-rate zones for running, and it turns out that I’m in the threshold/tempo bracket for pretty much every run. Ooops. Is this an issue? I didn’t think I was pushing that hard every time. Maybe I’m just really bad at judging my effort levels. Anyone out there run to heart-rate zones? I’d love some insight!

Thursday: 4 miles on the treadmill. I started at a steady pace and then increased it each mile; it felt tough towards the end but not too bad. My splits were 9:35, 9:16, 8:58 and 8:36, which I was happy with. The only downer was the guy that appeared 2 minutes into my run and out of 5 (FIVE!!!) free treadmills, picked the one right next to me. Why is this a thing!? Gym etiquette is to leave a gap, right? I’m not just being anti-social!?
4 miles, 9:06 average

Saturday: The long one. I set myself the challenge of navigating the first 11 miles of the North Downs Way, and got an early train to Farnham in order to run back to Guildford. The start was a bit bleak, next to a busy A road with a grey sky and chilly mist to really set the mood. But it soon led into the countryside, the mist cleared and the sky brightened up a little (it was still grey and cloudy right up until the end though). Loads of people said hi as they passed, and I even had a little chat with another runner who was out for a 17 miler (rather him than me). I walked a couple of the steeper hills, but the legs felt fairly good throughout. I’m mostly happy that I made it home in one piece and didn’t end up miles off course! Thank goodness for the OS maps app…
11 miles, 10:04 average

Sunday: This was meant to be a nice relaxed jaunt through local woodland, but the weather had other ideas – I chickened out when I saw the wind speeds (60mph, no thanks) and went to the gym instead. I really don’t want to rely too much on treadmills because they suck I need to make the most of the daylight at the weekend and get out on the trails, but it is what it is. I stuck to a relaxed pace (which felt like 6 minute miles, not going to lie) and managed to resist hitting the ‘stop’ button 23468735343233465 times.
5 miles, 9:42 average

The main goals for next week are to tick off all 4 runs, and to actually plan a goal pace for each – once I work out the difference between tempo, threshold and the rest. This ultra training is definitely a bit of a learning curve. I’ll get my head around it all eventually!