Plans for the Fling

I love the fact that there are so many ways to approach running ultras. Not everyone shares what they do on blogs or facebook etc but those that do give an insight into how different people train and prepare.

I was amused by one post on the Fling forum the other day which asked various basic questions about the Fling. Here is someone leaving things to the very last minute. If you’ve not seen it have a look and especially Tim’s tongue in cheek reply!

Anyone reading this blog will know that on a scale of 1-10 (with 10 being prepared) I must be in the 9-10 range. For me I love the preparation and planning as much as the race itself.

Right from my very first ultra (Fling in 2007) I have set myself targets. I’ve not always achieved them but it’s been fun trying! I’m not sure if it’s getting harder or easier to estimate finishing times.

A few friends have said to me that my Fling pb of 9.44 doesn’t really reflect my whw pb. I’m not so sure. I know how well I ran in 2008 to achieve that and while I do feel I’m in as good a shape as 3 years ago I won’t really know until about 20-30miles into the race when it starts to get tough and you ask your legs to go again. Will they be able to respond?

Anyway in my preparation for Saturday’s race there are two main things I’ve been working on. My pace and my nutrition.

Again there are lots of runners who approach these things very differently to me but for what’s worth here are my thoughts as I plan for Saturday.

I remember running with Ian B once and he told me that he often split a main section into two or three smaller ones to give him an idea of how he was getting on.

I’ve taken this idea a bit further and split up each leg into mini-sections. Basically smaller bite size pieces of between 2-5miles. For each bite sized piece I have a target time which gives me an average pace for that section.

I find this really helpful for several reasons. It makes a long run a lot easier mentally. If I look after each mini-section then the overall distance takes care of itself.

It also helps me with my pace. Hopefully encouraging me not to run too fast especially early on. It gives me a smaller focus which I find really helps especially when I’m going through a tough patch.

The key to this preparation is being realistic with my times. I have four years worth of training runs and races and have been able to work out what is realistic for each mini-section.

One of the disadvantages of this system is dealing with things if you fall behind. Last year in both the Fling and whw I did just that. I set myself unrealistic targets for my fitness level and from half way in both races I started slipping behind my targets which was hard mentally.

Both times I ditched the targets and just concentrated on finishing as best I could.

With that in mind I have set myself a challenging but realistic 9.55 target. Last year I tried to work on a 9.40 plan and I was always struggling to stay with it. I would rather aim for a realistic time and if things are going well keep ahead of it.

So here is my 9.55 plan. It is based on trying to get to Beinglas Farm with enough left in the tank to run the last 12miles in 2.30 or better. In 2008 I ran this section in 2.22. Last year 2.45. I know which one I preferred!

(The times on the left are from 2009 as a guide)

Here is a summary of my Fling times from 2008-2010….
For me two times jump out … Drymen to Balmaha and Beinglas Farm to Tyndrum.
In 2008 (pb year) I was slower (1.20 compared to 1.10 and 1.11) from Drymen to Balmaha yet a lot faster (2.22 compared to 2.35 and 2.45) from Beinglas Farm to Tyndrum.
I’ll be keeping these figures in mind when I leave Drymen on Saturday.
The other big area I’ve been working on this year is my food. Cara, a friend from Kilbarchan, has been helping me plan out what to eat on ultras. Over the past few months I’ve been more scientific in my approach weighing out what I eat and when.
So I’m going to use the Fling as a dress rehearsal for the whw. My basic aim is to consume about 250 cal per hour throughout the race. I’m told it’s difficult to absorb any more than this.
I’m trying to work on variety and eating more substantial food earlier in the race when I can still eat okay. I’ve tried all these things in training runs and have been able to eat them but this will be the biggest test yet.
So here is the plan …

I will be drinking only water and also taking a succeed tablet every 90mins.
I’m hoping this will be enough fuel to keep me running right to the end of the race! We’ll see.
So there we have it … my 2011 Highland Fling Plan.
Is is realistic? too ambitious? too cautious? only time will tell and not too long to wait to find out.
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6 Responses to Plans for the Fling

  1. John, quite an interesting methodical approach to Saturday, i agree that although this is my first race at this distance i will likewise be breaking the course down into segments because it does make it mentally easier.i know we had a chat some weeks back and touched on nutrition,i also have my supplies ready as much a much with yourself, jelly babies,tablet,milk shakes fruit and yogurt etc,only time will tell as the first one is a learning curve, wishing you all the best for Saturday.

  2. Peter Duggan says:

    Is it realistic? too ambitious? too cautious?

    Pretty cautious if you ask me, but far, far too detailed! 🙂

  3. Kenneth says:

    John, instead of a 'Guess my time' competition I think you should have a special prize for the person who runs closest to your splits.
    Perhaps the prize could be a t-shirt which reads “I am John Kynaston” – possibly accompanied by a graph on the back!

    I'm only half-joking as I may well steal your splits. Very helpful 😉

    Also, I discovered these the other day, it's surely the next step

    Good luck for the race John

  4. Anonymous says:

    “My 9:55 plan” you say , John. What you haven't yet spelled out are your gold, silver, and bronze target times. Or have I missed it? Or will that be the subject of another posting / spreadsheet-or-three? 😉


  5. Silke says:

    Good luck for Saturday John. Won't see you at the start. But I think you will arrive in Tyndrum in 9:39! Enjoy the race! Silke

  6. Billy says:

    Your prep puts me to shame! Your PB certainly doesn't reflect what you have achieved in the WHW. If the Fling was your main goal of the year then I think Stuart Mills is right – you could do a sub-9! But I think something in your central governor is pegging you back a bit, , as it knows you've bigger fish to fry in June. Anyway, you're easily capable of a PB on Saturday so have a good one and see you in Tyndrum.

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