Route: Paisley Canal
Time Run: 40mins 30secs (average pace 7.45)
With just over a week to go to the race another easy 5mile run. It felt good and I spent most of the time thinking about what I’d be doing a week from now
I’ve had one burning question in my mind over the last few weeks, ‘Can I run under 20hrs again?‘ Last year was such a great race for me and everything fell into place. When I finished I thought, ‘that’s it …. I’ll never beat that!’ but a week later I was already thinking about how could I go faster. So here are my arguments for and against running under 20hrs again …
Yes I can go under 20hrs because ….
# The race is my no 1 priority.
Even though this year I have set myself the challenge of running 5 ultras this one is the priority for the first half of the year. All my training and planning is geared around this race. My monthly runs on the route, my choice of races, when to race, races to avoid etc are all picked with this race in mind. To put it bluntly I’ve been singleminded!! I have followed a similar training plan to last year and that worked well.
# I feel my fitness is very similar to last year.
I have run a similar mileage and most of my long runs have been the same or slightly quicker than last year. For example my 2 day run was 40secs faster than last year so very close!
# I’m a year older and a year wiser???
# My food strategy.
Just after the Fling this would have been in the against column but I changed things on the 2 day run and feel more confident that I can eat enough to keep running strongly to the end.
# I know it is possible.
It gives me a lot of confidence knowing that I did it last year. The race is a lot about your mental attitude and so knowing that I’ve done it before will help me (hopefully).
# My support team is excellent and well organised.
This is our third year and we feel everything is in place. BTW – watch out for Team Kynaston T-shirts!
# No injuries.
I’ve had a good build up since November. I can still feel my foot a little but would put it at 95% It certainly doesn’t hurt when I’m running.
# I have a very detailed race plan.
Not only the main checkpoints but lots of mini checkpoints along the way. I know that this is not everyone’s cup of tea but I like it as it means I can just concentrate on the next 3-4 miles and let the overall distance take care of itself.
# I’m now a MSV (Male Super Vet)
To be honest I’m not sure if this belongs to the yes or no column! Will it add a bigger race feel or inspire me to greater things? Being a positive sort of guy I’ll see it as a positive and hope it inspires me!
# My taper is going well.
Doing the 2 day run a week later than last year has helped as I feel I’ve needed the 3 weeks to fully recover and now I have just a week left.
And on the other side of the argument …..
No I can’t go under 20hrs again because …
# My Training.
My mileage is similar to last year but I feel it has not ben quite so consistent. Last year I didn’t miss a single planned session. This year I’ve had to change things round a bit.
# Different personal circumstances.
There have been a number of family issues that are different this year (my dad’s death, Laura’s wedding, change of job etc).
# Highland Fling.
My time was 5 mins slower than year. I’m not sure if that is a good indication or not. My food strategy was the thing that let me down but it could happen again.
Last year I was aiming for 21hrs 30mins and thought if everything went really well I might get somewhere near 20hrs 30mins but never in my wildest dreams did I think sub 20hrs was possible. In my ‘guess my time competition’ only 4 people out of 42 guessed sub 20hrs whereas this year 17 out of 31 so far have guessed sub 20hrs. Will the expectation be a hindrance?
# Danger of starting too quick.
I think last year I ran sub 20hrs because I set off aiming for sub 21.30 and was able to keep it going. My concern this year is that I start aiming for sub 20hrs I will go off too quick and then struggle over the last 20miles or so. Can I be as disciplined as last year?
Last year the weather was almost perfect (well until 10pm on Saturday anyway!). If it is really hot or very wet and windy it will make it so much harder to repeat last year’s run.
# Race Plan.
I had this down as a positive but if I start to struggle early on it may well be a mill stone around my neck! Also as I found out in the Fling – to go sub 20hrs there is not much room for error.
# Have I peaked?
I am getting older and I wonder whether I’ve reached my peak for ultra running and I’m on the way down the other side! I hope not but who knows whether my 19.59.33 will be the best I’ll ever do.
# No support runner.
This year the race is enforcing the 4hr rule which means that any runner within 4hrs of the leader can’t have a support runner. Last year I had a support runner from Kingshouse to Kinlochleven as I was 11th but not from Kinlochleven to Fort William as I was in 10th place. By the time I got to the Brave heart car park with a mile to go I was back in 11th place so had a support runner. So this year I’m planning not to have a support runner at all. Will this make any difference?
# No support team at Beinglas Farm.
The other big difference with support is that we are not allowed to use Beinglas Farm at all. So I will have a longer time without seeing my support team. I’m going to carry more food from Inversnaid to Beinglas Farm. Will that make a difference?
# Busy week until Thursday.
I have a busy week work wise until Thursday. I’ve taken Friday off to rest and prepare but will it be enough?
I believe it is possible for me to run sub 20hrs again but I would put it at 50:50 at best but more like 40:60 against. I am feeling postive but also want to be realistic. Anything under 21hrs I would be very happy with. At the beginning of the year I put sub 19hrs 30mins as my gold medal goal (silver – sub 21hrs, bronze – to finish) but I feel now that 19hrs 59mins 32secs would be my gold medal!
Anyway not too long to find out the answer. I reckon by the time I get to Beinglas Farm I will have a good idea whether it is on or not.