It’s been so long since I wrote here that I didn’t even get around to doing a 2017 recap. The headline story of 2017 was being able to race all year after doing sod-all running in 2017 due to injury, and races of note were
- D33 (March)
- Stirling Marathon (May)
- Midnight Sun Marathon (June)
- St Cuthbert’s Way 100k (July)
- Ochils Ultra 50M (September)
- Tweed Valley Ultra 65k (November)
All went pretty well, St Cuthbert’s Way and Ochils Ultra I didn’t quite have the legs all the way to the finish line but went ok for 2nd in each, Tweed Valley I’ve not written about here but was great course, particularly the first half over the Southern Upland Way, bit of a slog over tarmac on the way back after I’d moved into 1st, did manage to race to the end.
The big target for 2018 is the UGB Race Across Scotland - 214 miles (345km) across Scotland following the Southern Upland Way from end to end (W-E). That’s as a continuous race, 100 hours limit, not a stage race. So far this year I’ve raced XC (fairly full season), Road Relays and the Tom Scott 10M, and the current race plan is this:
- Highland Fling - 53M (28th April - tomorrow!)
- Cateran 55 (19th May)
- EMF half (27th May)
- Race Across Scotland (18th-22nd August)
I raced 6 times between Marathon-100k in 2017, and I think had a good level of fitness, but largely based on racing as training; there were a couple of decent training blocks, one running up to the D33 (and I guess to an extent Stirling, probably peak fitness of the year) and then a good block of longer/hilly stuff between St Cuthbert’s Way and Ochils as specific hill training was lacking (which seemed to work).
So I’ve been thinking of 2018 as a set of training blocks leading up to the Race Across Scotland, largely because it’s so far into the year that there needs to be some structure to avoid burn-out/injury. Broad strokes are starting off getting the mileage up, get some races in, and some specific training. I’ve not really sat down to plan how this will pan out - which as we’ll see may be just as well.
Block 1 - W1-W5 - mileage base and consistent long runs
As always I got a boost from running over the Christmas break, visiting my mum’s and running around the Ochil’s. I took Hogmanay off specifically to start a clean running streak on the 1st, something that’s often done the trick of keeping me consistent.
The aim of this training block was to get my weekly mileage up to allow for better training later in the year, so I was hoping to build up to a consistent 140km/week, a number that’s worked well for me in the past. Looking at my Strava I recall that I jumped up a bit quick, and then decided to hold it around there for a few weeks until my body gets used to it. I find that stepping up distance/intensity for 2 weeks can seem fine, it’s the 3rd week that any issues start to tell with injury warning signs. Weekly distances:
- 136km (35km long, 2 parkruns, 1 session)
- 132km (28km long, 2 sessions)
- 130km (38km long, XC race)
- 138km (39km long)
Break 1 - W5-W6
After a couple of London trips in consecutive weeks, I started coming down with a chesty cough, there was some general head-cold symptoms (not fun when flying) but ultimately the cough kept me off running for the tail of W5, most of W6, and I still had the cough to an extent when I started back - super hard to shake.
Block 2 - W7-W8 - thought I was back
A good week back after illness culminated in a 50k run from Edinburgh-Polmont via the John Muir Way, which was really enjoyable, there are some great sections on that path. Along the coast, but also up the riverside path to the canal.
- 134km (51km long)
- 107km (National XC)
Break 2 - W9-W10 - cold & cold
On Monday I felt so fine that I allowed myself to be persuaded to run triple after being asked if I fancied popping out at lunch. Tuesday, I was smashed with the worst cold I can recall, or has been suggested to me probably came down with the Flu. This coincided with the Beast from the East, but the cold and snow outside didn’t bother me so much as I barely made it out of bed for days, literally spent an hour putting off getting up to visit the toilet 5 paces away as it seemed too much work. By the Friday I felt up to working from home, which is not to say human, and normal life resumed the next week - but not running, as again I had a lingering chesty cough.
Block 3 - W11-15 - Races and back to backs
Week 1 - post the second break and I was back at it, I jumped straight back up to decent mileage, and as expected was super tired by this all week (but physically didn’t seem to be a risk). This culminated in my first back-to-back reccy run on the Southern Upland Way, and what I thought of as marathon+50k turned out as 59k+56k, with 1500m+ ascent each day. I can’t overemphasise how cold this was, this was the so called “Mini Beast from the East”. On the Saturday the snow had yet to move in, but the wind was cold and in my face the whole way, and the route is quite exposed (Sanquhar to Beattock/Moffat). I find I end up screaming at the cold when it gets sufficiently intense, I guess a warcry in the fight against the elements. Miscalculated my nutrition this day, and ended up completely spent at the end, with blurred vision due to the cold, really enjoying those bonus miles I didn’t count upon.
On the Sunday I learned from my experience and wore 2 base layers (plus jacket, gloves, buff, of course), expecting to have to remove one at some point, but it was never an issue. I so rarely run with a hat on (I overheat) that it amused me that when I “stripped down” because I was warmer, I didn’t even notice I was still wearing one.
Week 2 - The National Road Relays intervened (tough 9.5k but felt good on the 2nd half), and Tom Scott 10m (59:10 beating the obvious hour target, but slower than my previous HM pace) which I combined with a long run along the Clyde walkway.
Week 3 - Hit 100 miles with 1 day off and 2 light days by virtue of another recce back-to-back, from Tweedbank to Cockburnspath on the SUW and continued on to Dunbar along the coast. Couldn’t be more different weatherwise as it was warm enough to run in a t-shirt in the rain on the Saturday, and genuinely sunny+warm on the Sunday.
Week 4 - Set out to run a steady 100 mile week, that is without just doing a ridiculous amount on some long weekend runs, but consistent daily mileage. I did it, including a couple of sessions, and a decent (but not overlong) long run.
- 175km (49km+56km long)
- 67km (RR)
- 152km (47km long inc 10M race, 1 good session)
- 163km (43km+46km long)
- 164km (37km long, 2 sessions)
- 87km (1 session)
- 37km to Friday (race week)
From that point I’m tapering for the Highland Fling, which is tomorrow starting at 06:00. I’m travelling over to Glasgow today, wish me luck! Tracking here.