My training focus has undergone somewhat of a shift in this past week. Heralded by a win at the 17 mile Cousin Jack Coastal Classic, I am now focused on the extended days on my feet. Weekends are back-to-back long runs, whilst mid-week sessions involve strength and conditioning work in the gym and fast interval running at the local athletics track. The goal of this program is two-fold: firstly, to improve my pure endurance; and secondly, to facilitate these longer endurance miles with mobility and strength work.
I aim to complete anything upwards of 50 miles each week (the goal is to get up to around 90 miles a week) and the majority of this will be from weekend long-coastal runs. This is ideal as it directly replicates the terrain the ultra run will be on and it also allows for the opportunity to recce certain sections.
After this weekend’s 30 miles, I’ve felt positive in where I’m starting from. I was strong throughout Saturday’s race and didn’t fatigue as much as I anticipated. I also felt surprisingly fresh on the Sunday run after. All this, and I could have gone quicker.
Alongside this, the mid-week sessions now need to focus on conditioning and movement – effectively injury prevention. In order to consistently complete the kinds of weekend mileage I’m aiming for, I need to have a strong base to work from. I’ve discovered already the kinds of stresses such a weekend of mileage inflicts, and whilst I’ve felt that I’ve recovered quickly and strongly, I’m conscious that doing this week in, week out will begin to take its toll unless I do the required conditioning work.
I’ve spoken in the past to ultra runners who have all impressed upon me the importance of speed work. Whilst ultra running is not the definition of pacey, taking the speed that cross-country and track running develops and coupling that with pure endurance can bring real benefit. When stretched out over a prolonged period of time, speed can provide a phenomenal amount of power and strength as well as resistance to fatigue.
This training focus also allows me to develop an element that is still somewhat new to me: fuelling myself for 16 hours. Physically, I am in a good place and confident in my ability to continually and sustainably improve. What I am still experimenting with is nutrition, how to best support myself with what I am consuming.