Three months to go until my hundred-mile race. It’s been a topsy turvy few months of training but so far 2021 has brought good things – long may that continue. Here’s my take on where I’m up to…

Training

My persistent run of niggling injuries has disrupted my training again this quarter, but the last 5 weeks or so have gone well so I’m feeling much more confident about progress at the moment.

The cold and wet conditions put me off road cycling and my labrum tear has led me to cut out my indoor rowing so it’s basically running and weights at the moment.

Reflecting on my report at the end of the Q2 I’ve been much more disciplined at sticking to a plan this time around, and not squeezing in extra sessions. Overall I feel a bit better rested, but I still think I’m not taking a good enough break in my “recovery weeks” so that’s going to be key for this final phase as I continue to up my distance.

Key achievements from the past quarter:

  • I’ve extended my longest running day to 40km (split across three sessions on 26th January).
  • I’ve completed six consecutive weeks of over 60km in running and now close to 80km. This is more than I’ve ever run in training in the past, largely because I’ve always taken a multi-disciplined approach to running and I’m less able to do that now.

My aim, before the race, is to have a 24-hour period each week where I’m running 40km+, split over several runs to aid recovery. I also want to get a double-marathon under my belt to make sure I’m testing out eating / nutrition strategies.

My focus must remain on being able to train consistently over time – not pushing myself into the red and leaving myself drained for days.

Strength

I continue to owe a great deal to Arran at the Drummond clinic who has been instrumental in my recovery and growing strength. I’m pleased overall with how my strength has progressed alongside running mileage, though I think it was overdoing the weights on one-legged exercises that ultimately worsened my labrum tear.

My upper body strength and core has stagnated over the past three months – I’ve developed some bad knots in my neck / upper back muscles which has impeded movement and strength. I CAN’T WAIT for lockdown restrictions to be lifted so I can see one of my usual helpers. My wife has stepped in a couple of times with a crafty elbow which has worked in the short term, but it needs a pro.

Active recovery

The complete opposite of Q2 – the resurgence of lockdown restrictions has prevented my usual deep tissue massages. However, my regular foam rolling / massage ball work combined with some yoga have maintained my legs pretty well.

I’ve also resumed cold showers after workouts – this has to be done straight after a workout I find (before stretching and food / drink). If not, I find my body temperature has risen sufficiently (due to being indoors) that it is no longer palatable to have a cold shower!

The most successful aspect, though, has been my introduction of two rest days a week, usually a Monday and a Friday. All I do on those days is walk around the block (trying to reach the arbitrary 10,000 steps) and / or yoga. This is helping my body and mind to recovery between sessions. I may end up starting to introduce some turbo training over the next few months on one of the days, not least because my postponed duathlon is now in April, but will take it very light.

Nutrition

Not much has changed since last time. My weekly food intake is generally fine I think, though I haven’t shaken the extra weight I put on at Christmas.

I’m still struggling with digestive issues on longer runs so I need to work out how to diagnose and solve those. I’ve seen a homeopath and tried various remedies which have helped to an extent but not sufficiently to banish the issue.

My experimentation is needed and quickly!

Race preparation

I’ve gotten so far as looking at the route map online and checked out the kit list. I also think that by getting used to running both early in the morning and at night will help me. But the main aspects now, I think, are:

  • Fuelling for the race
  • Water consumption for the race – I’m hoping I can last with 1l of water between aid stations
  • Psychology – self-talk for when I go through dark times on the course

Kit

I’ve now started taking my full kit (aside from lots of food) on my long / easy runs to get used to the weight and also to practice accessing pockets on the move. I have to say that my vest not the best ergonomically designed vest as you have to be double-jointed to access rear pockets while you’re wearing it. But at £19.99 it’s a bargain, and I can’t justify spending >£100 on something from Ultimate Direction or Salomon.

I have finally invested in a new headtorch (Silva Trail runner Free Ultra 400) and am eagerly awaiting delivery before my next run in darkness.

My next and most important thing to sort out is shoes. I really want to be able to go to my local running store (Runners Retreat in Marlow) for some advice as they were the ones who introduced me to Altra shoes, for which I owe them a debt of gratitude. I may be forced to just order online, though, as it could be leaving it a bit to late to wait until lockdown finally is lifted.