I received this message from Adrian Leigh on Facebook yesterday. I decided to answer it here and post the link on Facebook.
Hi John you passed me at Dalemain on the 100 and I ended up finishing in 31.22 after failing last year and doing the 50 in 11.33 the year before. Assuming I get in on Sept 1st I want to try and beat 30 hours as I am 60 2 weeks before the race so any advice would be gratefully received please. You did a great time this year.
I wrote about some of these things in my ‘Lessons learnt’ post after the Lakeland 100 but I’ve thought about Adrian’s question about how to target and beat 30 hrs.
I’m sure lots of people could give lots of different answers but since Adrian asked me here are my thoughts for what they are worth.
I have divided them into two areas. Firstly training and secondly race day.
3 key things that helped me ….
i. Weight loss
I think if you are serious about running sub 30hrs you can’t be carrying too much extra weight. Adrian … I don’t know your weight or build so this may not be a problem for you but it was for me. I was over a stone lighter running this year to 2012 and I believe it made a massive difference.
ii. Hill work
One of things my friend Dave Troman helped me identify was the importance of preparing the quads for the second half of the race. If you want to break 30hrs then you need to be able to run the down hills in the second half of the race. To that you must prepare your quads for the pounding. So each week in my preparation I would run and up and down Ben Lomond. I really think this made a big difference to my performance as I was running right to the end.
iii. Recce runs
If you want to break 30hrs you can’t afford too many navigational mistakes. I made one this year and it cost me at least 25mins. I got away with it but it would have been even better not to wasted that time!! So if possible make sure you know the route well especially the legs you will do in the dark.
# Race day
I had a very clear strategy of how I wanted to break 30hrs and I was very focused on that. I know this would not suit everyone but it worked for me!!
There were probably a number of factors but I’ve identified three …
i. Very Easy start
Lots of people say they are going to start easy but in my experience very few do! It takes a lot of discipline to hold back when you feel fresh and good and everyone else is pushing on. The thing that helped me was to run by Heart Rate.
I found that having an objective marker that wasn’t negotiable really helped me. I was aiming to keep my HR between 125-130 for the first 10hrs or so. Lot and lots of times I had to ease off especially walking up hill to keep it down but that meant I was able to maintain a good pace right to the end of the race.
I was 201st at the first checkpoint and finished 60th. I think that tells its own story! Darren Firth who I ran with on and off throughout the race was even more impressive. Darren was 245th at Seathwaite (Adrian was 58th) and finished 49th in 28hrs 53mins 04secs
Here is a comparison between my average pace throughout the race compared to Adrian’s.
I was able to maintain a straighter line whereas Adrian was slowing throughout the race. I really think to be able to finish under 30hrs the line needs to be as straight as possible from Braithwaite onwards.
You have to be really committed to this strategy. It won’t just happen. I practised running to HR on my training runs and was committed to running my own race.
I think it has lots of physical advantages but also psychologically it really helps as you spend the whole race catching people rather than being overtaken!
In this year’s race I spent a total of 36 mins in checkpoints including 11mins at Dalemain. For the majority of the checkpoints I was in and out within 1-2mins. I only sat down at Dalemain.
Again you have to practise and be really disciplined with this. Before the race I worked out from the published menu on the web site what I was going to take.
So for example at Braithwaite I knew there was rice pudding so I entered the hall, dibbed in, gave my water bottle (with energy powder already in the bottle) to a volunteer to fill, went to the table, took my rice pudding and jam, ate it in a few mouthfuls, took my water bottle thanking the volunteer and was out again! It took me 1min 45secs. I must have passed about 20 runners who were all sat at the tables eating.
In my opinion if you want to break 30hrs you can’t afford to waste time in checkpoints. My good friend Any Cole once pointed out if you stop for 5mins longer than someone else you have to run 1min per faster than him for 5 miles to catch up!
Adrian … it would be interesting to find out how long you stopped for in total for this year’s race. It may be that you can save a lot of time and get closer to your sub 30 goal within actually running any faster!!
I found that I had to focus for the whole race. My friend Jonny who also ran this year made the comment after watching my race diary video that I was always taking about my time and how many minutes in hand I had etc whereas he hardly thought about time. It was just making sure he finished.
If you capable of sub 26 hrs then you can take your time to achieve sub 30hrs but for those of us that sub 30hrs is a challenge we have to stay focused and make sure we don’t waste too much time. I even kept walking while I took a wee to save a few precious minutes!! (btw I didn’t do that through Ambleside high street!!)
Anyway I hope that helps Adrian and I look forward to seeing how you get on next year.