Lessons learnt from Great Glen Ultra

I’m interested to see how long it will take me to recover from this race. I felt it took me at least 5 weeks after the Hardmoors 160 to feel I had any spring in my legs and even by the start of this race 9 weeks later I knew I wasn’t fully recovered and ready.

In the race I felt I was labouring on the long uphills certainly more than normal but I was encouraged by how strong I was on the downhills. Overall I felt I was about 80% going into the race which was certainly good enough to allow me to have a decent run.

When I finished the race on Saturday afternoon I was quite sore and stiff but by the prizegiving on Sunday morning I was walking almost normally and by Monday I was walking up and down stairs fine. I reckon I could have got for a run on Tuesday but decided to wait until Thursday.

Instead I went for a swim on Tuesday and Wednesday and also cycled to and from work on Wednesday. I felt this really helped me when I did go for my first recovery run on Thursday afternoon. I ran 5miles at 8min per mile pace and everything felt okay.

I spent the run thinking about the Great Glen race so here are some lessons I learnt from the race. So in no particular order some thoughts on things I learnt from the Great Glen Ultra.

# Training

I had one recce run on the course three weeks before the race. I ran the final 31 miles with Ryan Mackenzie and I think that really helped me. I knew what was coming which really helped me.

My training hadn’t been quite so intense as it may have been had I not run the Hardmoors 160. In the 9 weeks in between the two races I ran the following miles each week in the 8 weeks: 0, 11, 20, 25, 20, 43, 20, 19. I then ran 9 miles in the week of the race.

I think that was about right. After the recce run I decided to have three weeks of easy running getting out every other day. Normally I like a two week taper but felt I needed the three weeks.

I did feel when I got to the start line I felt refreshed but the hills definitely showed up that the effects of the Hardmoors 160 was still in my legs.

# Nutrition

For the race I ate the following:-

  • Small bag of almond nuts & raisins
  • 2 Natural bar
  • Sweet mashed potato
  • 6-7 jelly babies
  • 1 tin of baked beans (5 flavours of beans variety!)
  • 4 cubes of fudge
  • 2 x Greek style yoghurt

Drinks

  • 5 x 600ml of Herbalife Prolong
  • 2 x 500ml of Coke (2 x 250 bottles with water to dilute)

I feel I fuelled myself okay for this race. I mainly ate my food as I walked out of the checkpoint which worked well. I was constantly drinking which I felt kept topping up my energy levels. After about 8 hours I was finding it hard to eat between checkpoints so did have to rely on my energy drink.

# Pacing

In most of the ultras I have run over the last 2-3 years finishing well has been a high priority for me. I know to do that I need to start comfortably and I’ve been running to heart rate to help me achieve that.

I felt in this race it was even more important to start steadily with the three main hills coming after 30miles. I set off aiming to keep my heart rate around 134 which I was able to do. I’ve not seen all the splits but on the provisional results I was 40th at the first checkpoint and finished 23rd so I’m happy with that.

I went past a number of runners on the canal into Fort Augustus. A lot of them were mainly walking on the flat sections by then whereas I was pleased I was still running fairly strongly.

I did feel that I was starting to tire on the final leg of 10miles. There were sections were I hoped I was still running but I couldn’t or didn’t want to! At the time I did feel it was as much mental as physical. I didn’t really want to push myself hard enough.

I will be interested to see the splits for the final section to see how I got on compared to the field. I suspect that the majority of runners would be slowing down as well.

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