Ultra training: week 4 (cutback week)

What my run might’ve looked like, if I’d actually got out for one this weekend 😂

Oh man, I don’t know what happened this week. I had 5 runs on the plan: 3m, 4m, 3m, 5m and 10m. Intensity-wise it was a cutback week so I was going to mix up my routes a bit, take my time and just enjoy myself, with the option of cutting out 1 of the shorter sessions if life got in the way.

To be fair I managed run number one on Tuesday, and thought I was off to a well solid start by ticking it off so early in the week. It was a 3 miler on the treadmill, with negative splits of 9:55, 9:23, and 8:43 – slower than my max 5k effort, but really didn’t feel very comfortable. Still, it was a decent run.

Then I had a couple of gnarly strength workouts on Wednesday and Thursday and the DOMS kicked in hard, lasting well into the weekend (there were many burpees, lunges, squats and medicine balls involved…). Normally, a run would loosen my legs up a bit, but I just wasn’t feeling it. The following day I was invited out for dinner, and it really didn’t take much convincing (literally “cheeky carvery this eve?” and I was sold…) for me to scrap that evening’s treadmill run for a plate of food the size of my head (and then some).

I was full of good intentions for the weekend. I was going to head out early doors on Saturday for the 10 miler to beat the weather, and figured I could either nip out for my 5 miler during a lull in the wind on Sunday, or just gym it. But for the first weekend in over a month I had absolutely no motivation. None. And I didn’t even feel thaaat bad for bailing. I mean I feel guilty now, because what’s the point in writing a training plan if I’m just going to sack off the sessions? But I just couldn’t get my head in the game this week.

We all have these weeks, right!?

I’d forgotten how much of a mental game it is when you’re building towards an event for such a long time. 16+ weeks on paper doesn’t seem that long, but keeping the motivation going to get you out the door day after day is TOUGH. I’m not sure how I used to do it.

Fingers crossed for better weather next week, and a bit more mojo after a weekend of rest and carb loading (totally strategic, honest). I’m drawing a line under this week and putting it down to a bit of a winter blip. Onwards and upwards!

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!