No rest for the wicked! With my first 100 miler looming in June (Mohican 100) and Race to the Stones 100km in July I knew I had to get back into training pretty quick after finishing Marathon Des Sables (MdS). Luckily I did not pick up any issues during MdS (blisters/injuries) so after 2 weeks off training it was time to get back into it, and what better way to do it than a weekend running in the trails of Helvellyn in the Lakes District with #TrailTeam2014 with Trail Running Magazine & Berghaus. I was fortunate enough to be selected, with 99 other runners to take part in a trail running weekend hosted by Berghaus, Torq Fitness and Led Lenser (we were split between 2 weekends, one London based and one in The Lakes). They are going to be selecting 4 of us in total to join the Team for 2014 and reap some of the benefits of a professional running team (including a 3 day training camp in the Alps), so fingers crossed I am one of those four! Even if I am not selected, I have had the most amazing experience and feel so lucky to be able to take part.
What a weekend it was! I had forgotten how absolutely stunning The Lakes are, and we were blessed with a bit of sunshine making an appearance for Saturday at least, and a dry day Sunday. The guys and gals from Freestak had organised a superb weekend, along with the brilliant support from Berghuas, Torq Fitness, LED Lenser, running legends Steve Birkinshaw and Helene Whitaker. I learnt loads. Not only from the talks during the day that were put on for us, but also from chatting to the other runners. It was great to learn about the products Berghaus do for running (and adventure sports in general), I might just be tempted to buy their new waterproof Vapourlight jacket, it only weighs 86g! Perfect for those ultra races that require mandatory kit! I am probably not the only one who had a light bulb moment when Ben from Torq was giving us the science on nutrition. Perhaps the reason I can sometimes struggle during races is the fact I am taking on the wrong fuel. I am going to try the 90g carbohydrates every hour (including the first hour) as prescribed and see how this goes. With my goody bag of Torq gels, bars & fuelling powder I have got plenty to work with. People weren’t wrong when they said their Rhubarb & Custard gel is to die for! So tasty, let’s see how it tastes 4hrs into a run though! Although LED Lenser supported with a couple of prizes, this was the let down of the weekend as there weren’t any head torches to try out, I would really have appreciated the chance to try this out on Saturday evening to see if their torch is any better than the Petzl I have.
We had a 45 minute run on the Saturday to finish the day with Steve leading the charge, it was 35mins straight up hill and 10 mins back down. My quads were feeling that! The YHA Helvellyn put on a tasty dinner for us that night and we were all up for hours swapping race stories, training plans and just general running chit chat! I had to force myself to bed, or I would have been up all night talking.
Sunday morning we all set off together with Steve & Helene (and Helene’s husband and a friend joining us as well as extra guides) and we summited Helvellyn and enjoyed running around the hills, making up a total of 8.5miles with 3,000ft of ascent. It was great to be running alongside so many great & inspirational runners, with the chance to chat together and take in the gorgeous scenery.
This is exactly the type of training I have been missing. Hills & trails. I have spent too much time on the road and the flats, which has really built up my endurance, but I know I need this for my strength overall. This weekend just added more confirmation of that fact, and why not do it for the enjoyment as well, I haven’t had that much fun running for ages. I just felt so free up there, in one of the most spectacular places in the world, and I am fit & healthy enough to be running around it, what’s not to love.
I have been working on my new training plan with Gary Reynolds from Runners Paradise, and he has put together a plan for me, taking into account my goals and what I have learnt along the way in terms of what I need to focus on, which is leg and core strength whilst maintaining and growing my strong endurance and fitness. Although difficult for me to grasp mentally I am actually cutting back my mileage and focussing more on quality rather than quantity. With an added focus on strength & conditioning. Obviously the proof will be in the pudding for my upcoming events, the Mohican 100 and the Race to the Stones 100km.