Apologies for the lack of posting recently but it’s seemed recently as if we’ve been running a B and B with the number of visitors we’ve had. Anyway, in between the guests, I’ve managed to fit in some good solid training. First up was a pacing exercise consisting of four times round a five-mile lap, with each lap having just under 1000ft of ascent. The goal was to average over 5 mph (4 hours) for the run, consistency through the four laps with the final being the fastest and to be feeling strong and able to continue at the end. I managed to tick all of the boxes finishing the run in 3:40, with lap splits of 58/56/56/50 and feeling really good at the end.
I spent the next weekend on a Natural Running Course in the Lake District www.naturalrunning.co.uk . This basically involved applying Alexander Technique to running, a lot of video analysis and an exploration of barefoot/minimal footwear. I learnt an awful lot and felt by the end of the course that I had a few cues that’d allow me to run more efficiently and economically.
Next, I wanted to tackle a tough 30 miler as preparation for the High Peak 40 (Sept 19th) and then the Longmynd 50 (Oct 3rd) www.runfurther.com . At the Longmynd, you’re grouped when it gets dark so, in order to get a good time, you need to get as far as possible in the six hours of daylight available. Covering 30-35 miles before grouping and still having enough gas in the tank for the final 15 miles is my target. I therefore decided to run twice round the Kinder Trog fell race route that’d equate to 30.5 miles and just over 7000ft of ascent. I reckoned if I could manage that in under 6 hours and not feel trashed at the end then, considering the total ascent for Longmynd is 8000ft, I’d be on target. I was joined for the first lap by my dog Moses (too hot for two laps), my friend and neighbour Jim and his two dogs Mustard and Scoots, our friend Mark visiting from Yorkshire and my club mate Brian. Jim was keen to try and beat his Trog time from the previous year of 3:09 and a pace of three-ish hours for the first lap would suit me just fine. I was keen to try out a new liquid/gel only fuelling strategy using Hammer Nutrition Perpetuem Ultra-Endurance www.hammernut.co.uk and my tried and trusted Torq gels www.torq.ltd.uk .
Setting off on the first lap, I felt strong but was aware of not pushing too hard. Brian seemed to want to push on up the climb of Lantern Pike but fortunately Jim and Mark set a much more sensible pace. Chatting and running made the miles pass quickly and I barely noticed the long drag up Burnt and Mill Hill. Brian and I had pulled ahead on the flag-stones and took advantage of the gap to walk up the steep climb of Ashop Head. We then waited for the others at the top and, once we’d all come together, set off along the Pennine Way hopping nimbly from rock to rock. Reaching Edale Cross we then dropped steeply before climbing the horrendous slog up to the Brown Knoll-South Head Path. This is a full-on hands on knees job and although it didn’t feel too bad now, I knew second time round it’d be a shocker. Aside from a bit of bog jumping, the long gentle downhill run to the A624 was pleasant and a good opportunity to turn the legs over. The final climb of the lap up to Big Stone was good and, noting our time, we encouraged Jim to push on as, with just 3 miles of downhill left, beating his previous time was do-able. Mark was starting to suffer a bit, but we crossed the line in 3:05 and ticked the first box of beating Jim’s best by four minutes.
After a quick re-fuel and a change of socks I handed Moses to Jim, said my goodbyes and set off solo for my second lap. To beat 6 hours I had to run 2:55 which I was pretty confident about but I wanted to finish feeling fresh so was aware I couldn’t simply put the hammer down. My nutritional strategy was working well and I was soon well up on the pace from the first lap and feeling good. Although I had a bit of a rough patch from Kinder Downfall to Edale Cross, as my legs weren’t quite so springy for the rock hopping, on smoother ground I remembered what I’d learned in the Lakes and was moving comfortably and easily. The steep climb onto the Brown Knoll-South Head path was as bad as I thought it’d be but I managed to get my legs firing again after it and was confident now of comfortably going under six hours. I paced the second haul up to Big Stone, running the whole climb, and then, despite a hint of cramp in my hamstrings, felt easy on the long final descent. I crossed the line in 5:44 giving me a second lap split of 2:39 and I did genuinely feel as if I could have carried on going.