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!