Ultra running tips from WHW Race women’s winner Lynne Allen
This year’s West Highland Way Race was remarkable for a number of reasons. First, Rob Sinclair set and new and very impressive record time. He was taking part in the 95-mile ultra running race for the first time. The women’s winner Lynne Allen was also a first-timer. She came home fifth overall and now takes seventh place in the all-time women’s fastest times rankings.
Lynne has written about her amazing race. I asked her for her tips on ultra running.
What to eat?
Like many ultra runners, Lynne is a Tailwind Nutrition fan. She says: “I find it really replaces salts and, of course, it’s my hydration as well.”
Lynne eats solid foods as well and has followed a trial and error process to find out what she can stomach.
She sys: “I tend to start off with slower release carbs. Jam sandwiches seem to work well and salted nuts got a high calorie fix. I also swear by malt loaf.”
Later in a race she will move to cans of coke and ready made custard. She says: “I know a lot of people don’t like the fizz of the coke, but I love it and it’s never caused me any trouble. I also find I enjoy custard later in a race.”
Lynne says that she drinks according to her thirst in events but does monitor body signs, too, such as keeping an eye on her pee colour. If pee gets too dark it means you are becoming dehydrated.
She adds: “As well as checking my pee, I often lick my skin to see how salty it tastes. I know it seems odd! If I’m feeling I’m losing a lot of water via sweat, which I didn’t on the WHW race day thankfully, I eat salted nuts to induce thirst. “
Lynne properly recced the route of the WHW Race including two long runs that each extended to half of the full route.
However, for motivation for the long runs she likes to explore. She says: “I get out a map, mark on a route and just run it. I don’t worry about pace, I just enjoy seeing our countryside. I run with my soul and heart.
“Recceing the WHW route was important to me but I also needed to feel like I was not just ticking off the miles, but having an adventure. Getting off road was important as well.”
When there’s a rub
Lynne admits she is lucky because she doesn’t often have an issue with chaffing but if it’s really wet out she swears by Vaseline. She says: “It’s cheap and it does the job.”
Lynne loves the Hoka One One Speedgoat trainers because she likes how they “mask all the wee rocks etc”.
Lynne swears by her Salomon s-lab vest, 5l, but when it coms to other clothing she usually chooses “whatever is cheapest”.
Setting a pace
Lynne uses a Garmin for pacing but she hardly looked at it during the WHW Race, She explains: “In longer training runs and on race day, I prefer to go by feel rather than checking my pace. I want to feel it’s easy, so I think about a scale of 1-10, were 1 is strolling and 10 is going flat out.
“I want to be running at 5-6 on the scale so if an uphill feels like a 7 or 8 when running, that’s a sign for me to hike.
“In my other sessions, such as tempo runs and intervals, I do use my Garmin for pace because that is when it is more important to me.
“But I do think that people get hung up on pace, when there are so many variables, such as weather, terrain and how well you’ve slept, that can affect how, for example, a nine-minute mile feels.”
Many thanks to Lynne for her tips and a huge congratulations on her women’s West Highland Way Race win.