The ups and downs of ultra training are frustrating but, I guess, inevitable. Taking on a new distance and a new race is always going to throw up challenges. In the past few weeks, I have struggled to find the time for longer runs, for example. I started well in week one…
Week three: One step forward, one step back
Week 4: Bad running, good running
When work gets in the way
I love my job most of the time and I do have a lot of freedom but sometimes there are projects that require more siting at a desk and less running. I don’t mind at all when the work is interesting, as it has been, but it has affected my training programme.
I was looking after the media coverage for the Skyline Scotland festival of Skyrunning in Glencoe and then had a day of filming at Loch Lomond for Caravan Times. During five days of Skyline Scotland, I managed only one 10k run, despite being surrounded by many inspiring athletes and a landscape of fabulous trails.
The work was intense and the weather unfavourable, so I had to let go of my training expectations.
When the Munros are calling
Amid all these, I also headed off for a planned Munro bagging break. Hubby G and I had promised ourselves some time away together. There are times during a training programme when you need to devote some attention to your nearest and dearest.
Again, the weather was not in our favour in the Cairngorms but we did squeeze in two days of hiking three Munros. (If you’re interested they were Carn a’Mhaim, Monadh Mor and Beinn Bhrotain and they involved a long bike-hike to reach.)
While Munro bagging is not ultra training, I did benefit from a lot of ascending and descending plus a fair bit of biking and hiking into a strong headwind. I think this will be good for my hilly race goal of the Ochil Ultra 50k.
Short course recce
Before heading off to the Cairngorms I did a 17.5-mile out-and-back recce run of the Ochil Ultra short course. I started at Glendevon and ran out for eight or so miles, before returning.
I was accompanied by my friend Iain Todd and it was good to have company because when you are chatting the miles do not seem so long.
It was also great to see what some of the route will be like on the day. It will be hilly! The recce was good but it has thrown up some doubts about whether I have done enough hill running and whether I’ll make it to the finish line.
The run was mean to be 24 miles so the next day I did an eight-mile run with friends in a bid to make myself feel better about missing out my longest training run. Oh dear, as I write this down I start to feel even worse than I did before.
My mind is getting me down
I confess the doubts are creeping in and growling at me. In recent weeks I have missed quite a few training runs. Most annoyingly, I missed out on an 18-mile run. This is playing on my mind.
I have also missed a shorter hilly run and a couple of speed sets. I am starting to worry about what I haven’t done, rather than what I have.
I wished I’d started my training sooner. By the time I’d decided on my race goal, I had only eight weeks of training time. I have missed sessions and I wished I’d someone found the energy and time to do those.
But I can’t turn back time and somehow I need to accept what I haven’t done and focus on what I have. But I am not good at that.
My coach John Hampshire has some good advice. He said: “It is understandable to worry about your training but, as you say, missing training was unavoidable and from your description, you have handled it well and made good decisions.
“Sadly the ‘real’ world, whatever that may be, doesn’t usually give us as much time as we want and even full-time athletes have to make compromises.
“Over the remaining time, you won’t be able to develop your endurance base significantly so it is a case of consolidating what you have done and making sure you are rested and that all your logistics, food, etc are well prepared. I think it is best to stick with the plan as I have outlined in the training schedule.
“In summary, you are now maximising your potential to use the fitness you have and if you do too much you will compromise your chances significantly. Doing too little won’t compromise your fitness significantly, so caution is the key here.
“Maybe also try some visualisation: Think about what to do if things aren’t quite to plan and visualise a successful outcome. This is often called a Winning Image.
“I think you will surprise yourself in a good way.”
These are wise words and so, as I head into the final week before the Ochil Ultra 50k, I am focusing on my WINNING IMAGE! (I think it will be me falling across the finish line utterly knackered but smiling broadly!).