Having recently returned from a 4 hour training run of just under 30 kilometres I have to make a confession....I am knackered, actually thats not true, I am utterly exhausted much, much, more than after my mountain marathon of last month. I felt tired and miserable before, during and afterwards....often people will say they feel crap and then go and run and then they feel much better, true enough.....but not today. So what is going on. I literally had to haul myself out of the house, it was about 28 degrees which didn't help and it just got worse as I climbed up into the hills. Mentally and physically I knew I had to do it for preparation for my next race and that created an added pressure......but it wasn't fun and I had a searing pain in my left foot to add to the discomfort.
Having pushed myself that hard in the belief that it would improve my fitness I slowly began to consider the alternative. As you are probably aware I do an awful lot of research into the whole ultra thing and quite simply I was exhibiting signs of overtraining. Now I run about 60 kilometres a week which is not a huge amount in ultra terms but then again I am much older than the vast majority of endurance runners so I have to try and get the balance right all on my ownsome. I have decided to have 2 rest days, ie. do nothing and then see how I feel next time out. I suppose I would rather feel crap now, than in the middle of a race, which brings me onto the subject of my next race. Yes folks, the madness is just about to get a whole lot worse.
The 60 kilometre 'Haut de Clunysois' staged in the rolling countryside of the Burgundy wine region is the next challenge and its in 2 weeks time! This is a proper Ultra as the elevation gain is the same as my last one 7,550 feet (2500metres) except its spread over a much greater distance. The main problem I have, apart from the distance, is that I do not know any of the course at all. This normally is a recipe for disaster as its always advisable to get a feel for the terrain that you will be running on but its a 5 hour drive away and so thats not going to happen. The amount of times I have hit Google Earth to check out the area I should have shares in the company. I even read a race report in French of last years event......not sure what he was saying but it sounded bloody awful.. ....last year only 19 people finished it. Of course Sue, in her starring support role, is very happy because she can sit in a cafe all day and sample the delights of the local winery.
After this event, should I manage to finish, I will then be officially an ultra endurance athlete however, a lot can happen between now and a race that could take 8 or 9 hours so we shall see.
I have been trying different foods in training to see what works and what I can digest whilst running, but apart from gels and isotonic drinks its a bit of an inexact science. The main problem seems to be that you have to eat during the race, yet often you get serious stomach issues as a result of eating and therefore don't feel like eating......its a catch 22. There are a myriad of stories concerning this part of ultra running and most of them I don't wish to repeat........save for saying that wild bears in the woods often make a habit of it.
I have worked out that I will need a minimum of 8 litres of water and 2 litres of isotonic drinks plus food, gels etc. There are water/food stops along the way but I like to be in control and so despite the extra weight I prefer to carry my own stuff. Sue will hopefully be on hand at the 30k mark with other concoctions designed to get me through but these things are full of suprises so its best to keep to the Boy Scout motto......Dib Dib Dib and all that.
Of course if after 2 days rest my foot still hurts and I feel like I am well and truly over the hill and can never run again then forget all of the above and I'll see you in the bar...........