Audrey McIntosh has a goal – to run an extreme 100k on every continent. The runner from Glasgow is part way through her Global Odyssey 100 challenge.
Audrey, now 55, started running in her mid 30s and took part in her first 10k to raise funds for her local hospital. She was 40 when ran her my first marathon, in her mid-40s when she ran her first ultra distance race and then, when she turned 50, she stepped up to extreme adventure races.
Audrey says: “I am, and have always been, slow but I can keep a steady pace going for a long time, which is ideal for adventure racing.”
While Audrey has found that with focus and appropriate training she can reach whatever level of fitness she has required to do a race, in the last couple of years she has had to adapt a bit.
She says: “For example, it takes longer to recover and I need more rest after events. My hill and speed work seems to be less effective, although someone pointed out that it probably is still effective but it is tempered by the drop in performance that comes with ageing.
“In addition, I am carrying a bit more fat these days and it is harder to shift, although I find that adopting the 5:2 fast does help with that.
“However, my strength and stamina are still good and I have no problem coping with lack of sleep over long ultras.”
Audrey believes it is important to cross train as you age. She says: “I do strength training, core sessions and use a spin bike. I tend to run fewer but better quality miles. I think that consistency is key.”
Audrey’s Global Odyssey 100 challenge
The Global Odyssey 100 challenge is to run an extreme 100k on every continent. So far, Audrey has completed 100k in Antarctica, Europe and Asia, and has had two failed attempts in Africa.
She says: “The Africa 100ks were tough. The first, in Namibia, I got heat exhaustion and had to be withdrawn. The second was in in Tunisia, where I chose to withdraw due to the heat and underfoot conditions. I did not want a repeat of Namibia.”
Read about Audrey’s 100k in Tunisia.
She explains: “Anyone can have issues with heat. It is not specifically age-related. I cope with high temperatures in the Gobi when I ran the Asia stage of the Global Odyssey.
“There were just six weeks between that and the Tunisian 100k and it may be that was not enough time to recover and peak again. I was tired after the Gobi and had to take an extra week of rest before getting back into training. I also had slight anaemia.
“My plans now are to attempt Africa again in January 2019, then South and North America back-to-back at the end of April 2019, with Oceania in November 2019. I might also go back to Tunisia for a second attempt at the 100k, just to prove to myself that I can do it.”
With a nagging question in her head about her fitness this year and with an ambitious plan for next year, Audrey has decided to overhaul her training.
She says: “The plan is to tweak my diet and ensure that it is as healthy as I can make it, ensuring it is more plant based. I hope this will shift some of the extra fat.
“I am going to persist with my hill and speed intervals and I am going to start trying to do two training sessions some days. For example, strength work when I get up and then a run after work.
“With my shorter runs, I am going to try to focus on speed and make sure that instead of lots of steady runs I make sure that I am doing some faster tempo runs.”
Audrey’s fit over 50 tips
- Keep an eye on body composition and watch the fat as the weight goes on more easily as you age.
- Keep your diet healthy and try to swap out some meat for more vegetarian plant- based meals.
- Keep focused on the hill and speed intervals and don’t get dejected if they seem less effective. The fact is they will help.
- Cross train and keep on training consistently.
- Accept that you need more rest and take it.
- Accept that your performance/speed will drop but that your strength and stamina will increase.
- Enjoy the your fitness and the fact that you are able to run.
- Always have a goal to aim for and always learn when things do not go well.