Thursday 16 February 2012

Sur les Traces des Ducs de Savoie (TDS) - I'm in!

This is great news for me and I'm lucky not to have opted for the CCC or UTMB, what with the massive oversubscription and massive number of british runners I know not getting a place. While it's still over 7 months away I'm getting organised and have a plan for mileage and long runs each week until then, which means I'm also pretty certain what events I'm doing in the meantime. The main prep-event - a mini-monster in itself will be the Lakeland 50 - I entered ages ok last year as there is no ballot for that yet, but it's started to fill up in no time. Maybe ultra trail running isn't as uncommon a pastime as I at one time thought, or maybe its the dedication of the few that do it?

But, I am starting to think I've got too many runnable events as part of my plan. I heard somebody refer to Lakeland 50/100, UTMB, and other such mountainous events as really being more like "very long power walks". So I'm thinking I need to work on my walking, but I also need the hills to make this worthwhile. So I've been looking at the FRA diary and hope to be slipping a few of the more hilly and lengthy events into my plan.

The way I see it an AL Fell race, especially in the Lake District, is ideal prep in two ways. Firstly it forces me to walk over rough terrain - my understanding is that TDS is rougher than the UTMB trails - and up the steep long climbs. Secondly, I get downtime.... not sleep, descending. I'm sure a major key to these things and perhaps my greatest weakness is being able to tackle massive descents as efficiently and without injury as possible. I can move quite well and at reasonable speed downhill, but speed doesn't necessarily mean endurance.

Time on feet is something I'm better planned at, as per usual it will be gained in other upcoming long trail events. Hardmoors 55, Calderdale Hike (37) and Woldsman (50) are the definates. I'll also do a good mix and mileage of runs midweek. My weekly plan will be something like the below:

Monday - Easy short flat/undulating run (road, trail as nights get lighter)
Tuesday - Mid-length run (6-15m), road at pace and more hilly trails as nights get lighter.
Wednesday - Shorter run, maybe uphill or downhill reps on trail as light improves

Thursday - Club run (7-12m), tempo/intervals/fartlek run at hard effort, incorporating hilly trail sessions from mid-March
Friday - Rest
Saturday - Long run, various length and terrain type
Sunday - Alternate (sometimes additional) long run day, or easy run, or rest
= Usually, 30-80 mpw

I've been enjoying some good short and mid-length hilly runs the last few months. Running in Sicily was great, hills everywhere! Since I've tried to get out to hillier local trails during the week, in light and dark, mud and snow and also the odd event. A steady effort at the Rombalds Stride still equalled my best course time - in quite good moor top conditions I'll admit, but it was barely breaking sweat most the way. I also beat my personal course previous best time in a league XC last Sunday by nearly two minutes. In similar conditions to the last run too: snow, ice, slush - must be winning :¬)

Can't wait to be back in Chamonix!

....well I suppose I can, as I need the training time.

(BTW - The hardest run on the legs so far was the day I opted to run 12.5m from Hull over mostly agricultural land to the coastal town of Hornsea on the Trans-pennine Trail (trial?) - this section was formerly a railway line - and back. 25m of nearly flat and very straight, scenically bland, mostly hard, trail was tough on body and mind. I take a bow to those out there doing ultra-flat events like the Grand Union Canal race.)