Question about my training for Lakeland 100

This morning I was up and out by 6.10am for my latest easy run. I cut down the route by a couple of miles from Tuesday’s run which included missing a big climb at the start. It all felt so much easier. I ran with the same average HR of 123 but my average pace was 40secs per minute faster.  It didn’t feel quite so hot today so maybe that helped too. 

 Yesterday I received this message from Mike Churchyard who is also running the Lakeland 100:-

Morning John, I’m Interested to know if you’ve done anything different for your training for this years L100 compared to your 2012 race. I know you’ve focused on HR with great success. Pics from Indonesia look fabulous by the way. Safe journey back and see you at Coniston

I thought instead of answering personally I would answer on this blog post.  Btw Mike was happy with that! 

As I was running this morning I thought about my answer and came up with 6 things.  

1. Weight

I can’t remember what I weighed in 2012 but I do remember my good friend Dave Troman looking at the scale and wincing!!  I must have been well over 12st maybe closer to 13st. Over the past few years I’ve made a real effort to get my weight down.  I’ve not got access to a scale here in Indonesia but I was 11st 5lbs before we left. Hopefully I’ll be around that weight for race day. I have found that it has made a tremendous difference to my running. One full water bottle weighs just over a pound so losing over a stone is like having 12 full water bottles less to carry.  It must make a difference!! 

2. Hill runs

Dave had a great Lakeland 100 race in 2012 finishing under 26 hrs. One of the things Dave identified before the race was that if you can run the downhills on the second half of the race then you will make up a lot of time and places on the field. A key part of Dave’s preparation was his weekly runs up and down Skiddaw which is right on his door step.

After the 2012 race I have been running up and down Ben Lomond weekly. It has become a key part of my training and preparation for ultra races. I basically walk/run up the Ptarmigsn ridge then run down the tourist path. The 40mins or so it takes me to run down is great for thrashing the quads. The idea is they repair stronger and doing it week by week will strengthen them. I even do a double one fairly close to the race to make sure they are well and truly thrashed. 

I’m hoping that it will have a big positive effect this year. So if you see me running down the hills after Mardale head you know the weekly Ben Lomond runs have paid off!! 

3. Speed work

I’ve always done speed work in the winter but this year I have carried it on once my ultra season has started. I’ve been doing tempo runs and going along to our club Fartlek sessions on a Monday night when I can.  I feel this has helped me get fitter and keep my fitness. The idea is that if I can run at 7min per mile then when I run at 10min per mile or slower in an ultra it will feel easy! 

4.  Heart Rate runs

After my tough races in 2011 (West Highland Way) and 2012 (Lakeland 100) I decided I needed to have a different strategy.  I didn’t want to put myself through a death march just to finish. I wanted to be able to enjoy these challenges and be able to finish with a smile on my face. I realised to do that I needed to start more conservatively. To do that I felt running by HR would keep my intensity level more even.

Over the last couple of years with help from Robert Osfield I’ve been able to work out what my optimum HR should be for races ranging from 3 hrs to 30 hrs.  Last year when I did the Hardmoors Grand Slam including the 110 I experimented with running to HR and I found it really helped me to be able to finish well with a smile on my face.

For the Hardmoors 55 in March this year I took it to another level and ran a very disciplined race with a HR of 135 and keeping it 5 beats either side of that. It worked really well and I ran 35 mins faster than last year. The thing that really encouraged me was at half way I was the same time as 2014 which meant I ran the second half 35 mins faster! 

I have found that it takes a lot of discipline to run to HR so I have been practising both in races and training runs. I’m feeling more confident with it now and take the fact that I will be further down the field early on as a positive thing. If all goes to plan then I’ll be working my way through the field as the race progresses which is a very uplifting!! 

6. Socks/feet

Besides being a bit heavy and not doing enough training for my quads in 2012 the other major factor in my struggle getting to the finish was my feet. Here is a photo of them at the end of the race.  Not a pretty sight!!

 Over the years before the 2012 race I had worked on a pattern of covering my feet in Sudocrem, then wearing a thin pair of ankle cotton socks and a cheap pair of sports socks. They worked well for me in several ultras without any major feet problems. But those races were in the dry. 
The problem I had in 2012 was that my feet (and everyone elses) got soaked in the leg from Boot to Wasdale. Mine didn’t recover and by the time I changed my socks and shoes at Dalemain it was too late. From Kentmere onwards they were soooo sore. I could just about run if the ground was even but on the Lakeland course it rarely is! 

Since 2012 I have been using Drymax socks to great effect. I love the fact that I can get my feet wet and within a few minutes they feel dry again.  I don’t know how the technology works but I’m glad it does. 

I will have a spare pair of Drymax socks at Dalemain and will change my socks if I feel I need to. I’m hoping that my feet won’t let me down this year.

6. Confidence

I’m going into the race this year with a lot more confidence than 2012. I’ve finished the race then so I know I can do it. I’m not cocky. I fully respect the distance, the course and what it takes to finish but I have a confidence that I’m in good shape, have trained hard and I can do this!! 

I have reccied the whole course again over 2 weekends. I’ve tried and tested all my kit and food. I’m being sensible on my two week taper.  I feel I’ve prepared as best as I could. 

As I type the race is just over a week away. I leave Indonesia on Saturday arriving home on Sunday afternoon. I’ll have 5 days to get over any jet lag and hopefully be as ready as I can be at 6pm on Friday 24th July. I can’t wait! 

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5 Responses to Question about my training for Lakeland 100

  1. Sarah says:

    This is a great post, thanks John. I mean, we already know how much physical training you put in for your races, but some of the other types of preparation you mention in here are really important. You say at the end you have confidence from knowing you’ve trained hard – I would change that; you’re an example of training *smarter*, not necessarily harder. Safe travels home, best of luck for race day, and thanks for the awesome pics of your gorgeous grandchild too! x

  2. Robbie says:

    Interesting post John. Best of luck next week. Robbie

  3. phil tipping says:

    HI John. Good luck for next weekend. Really interested to see you are running to HR. I tried it recently and completely failed. I was using Maffetone’s method which had me at 130 or less but that meant I was running 11 min miles. Any advice?

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