If all goes to plan a new milestone will be reached before the end of the year. Although specific training for it hasn’t actually started, I have started trying to work out how it’s going to work – especially as I would like my wife and kids to still recognise me when it’s all done.
Back tracking slightly. Last year was my first soiree into the somewhat daunting world of ultra-marathons. It started with a 24 hour race a few months after running Boston (UK) Marathon, and rounded my racing year out with the Gower Ultra 50. This year I hope to go a bit bigger – and it’s bloody terrifying just writing it – but hopefully a 100 mile ultra will be ticked off. ‘Ticked off’ makes it sound so easy; not a 30 hour sleep deprived, quad destroying grind.
I don’t have – nor do I plan to get – a coach, and you can’t seem to get generic training plans in the same way you can for a marathon; so it’s time to research. My Christmas book haul was comprised entirely of running books ranging from autobiographical (Scott Jurek’s Eat and Run, and Finding Gobi by Dion Leonard (which, while not entirely a running book it is well worth a read)) to more ultra-running manual type books (Byron Powell’s Relentless Forward Progress and Jason Robillard’s Never Wipe Your Ass With A Squirrel). I am hoping that I can use these books to freelance my way into shape to run a 100 mile ultra.
In addition to being inspirational, Scott Jurek’s book offered up a few pearls of training advice, but more importantly he offers a huge amount of nutritional advice including a whole host of recipes for trail food which I am looking forward to trying while the training ramps up. To be honest you would hope to gleam some tips from the best ultra-runner of his (or any) generation.
Relentless forward progress has a training plan for a 100 mile ultra in it which will be great to use as a template – one thing I have learnt from using generic marathon plans is that if you don’t tailor them to the race you’re training for you will suffer for it. On top of this there is also a load of bits on things that I hadn’t even considered. One of the things I noticed while thumbing though was the section on aid stations, and specifically how not to lose a bucket load of time at them. I have no concrete way of knowing – as I didn’t pause my Garmin – but I think Tom and I probably lost over an hour and a half at the checkpoints and aid stations on the Gower Ultra 50 (and there were only 7 of them), at that rate we could lose over 10% of the time limit stood around at aid stations.
Never Wipe Your Ass With A Squirrel also covers aspects of ultra-running that I hadn’t considered, such as whether to shave my balls or not – I really didn’t think that needed consideration. As well as how to get rid of an annoying training partner – which I don’t think I will need, but it’s always good to have a game plan. While this book seams a little more tongue in cheek at times, I still think it will offer a myriad of helpful advice and its format – almost like a reference book – means I can use it to supplement anything I read elsewhere.
So, I hopefully have all the information I need at my fingertips. All I need to do now is do a little reading, take a few notes, and do some running. When I say some running, I mean a lot of running.