I can't remember the last time that I felt this good on my runs.....and I mean good before, during......and positively energized after. My legs are not tired and I am totally at one with myself, time and the Universe!!!..........This is all very odd as normally I feel dreadful on at least 3 out of every 10 runs . What am I doing differently? Its now over 4 weeks since my 60k ultra and maybe my Endocrine system has finally got its act together......or maybe I am just not pushing it as much. Okay, I haven't done a very long run ( the longest was a few days ago at 24 k's), so maybe thats helping but yesterday I did 13 k's and included 10 x 50 metre sprint repeats in the middle of it and felt great. I am aware that the danger may be that on my next really big run I'll blow up because I'm not 'match fit' but, as the guy who jumped off a 50 storey building was heard saying half way down .....' so far so good! '
There is another ultra in 10 days time in the Alps (again) and therefore more mountains with steep climbs and scary descents. The elevation gain is slightly higher than before, 7500 feet ( 2300 metres or 6+ Empire States) and at 44 k's its even longer and its a UTMB qualifier, but the question is should I or shouldn't I ? I haven't exactly done text book training recently but if I feel good then that must surely give me a decent chance of doing okay. I have read many times of runners who have done only light training and then done well in a race......AND....I have also read exactly the opposite. Its a challenging prospect because I believe that I may have overtrained for last months 60k race and this could be an interesting experiment. Of course sitting on my patio in the sunshine, typing away, it all sounds terribly easy but I suspect this may not be the case when climbing straight up a 47% incline at mile 28 with the wind and sun beating down on me.........but you know what I mean.
Talking of climbing, (See picture of Killian Jornet giving a perfect example of euro humping) there has been much analysis and discussion on what the elevation gain in a trail run is compared to the equivalent on flat ground. Generally, between 700 to 1000 feet of climb equals an extra mile on the flat. If we take an average of 850 feet to a mile (or 1.6 kilometres), this would mean that a trail run of 44k with 7500 feet of climb would be the equivalent on the flat of 53 kilometres (ie about 9k extra)..........All interesting stuff but in reality its even longer because of the uneven surface compared to roads which affects your cadence and therefore the energy needed is even greater. But, I still prefer trails because of all the other benefits of the mountains, trees, rivers, fresh air, birds, calm........okay, okay I'll stop there as I can see I am beginning to sound like some tree hugging, Hare krishna, sixties hippy.........peace baby! Actually I've always fancied the Navajo type life, hanging out in a tepee on the edge of a canyon and chanting all day before chasing down the odd bison. At this suggestion Sue always has the same response.........Bye, bye.......clearly she's not the Indian squaw type. (Its probably the walking 5 yards behind bit she doesn't like.).
Anyway I digress. Having just done another 2+ hrs tempo run of 20k, I again felt energized and I averaged 8.6 k per hour whilst climbing 4000 feet (1200 metres). I have no lactic acid stiffness because I didn't go anearobic for too long, even during the sprints, thereby continuing to use oxygen to convert my glycogen and fat. This sounds a bit complicated but its extremely important so stay with me. If one is to run ultras the body has to learn to convert fat efficiently for as you all know by now after 90 minutes all your glycogen stores are exhausted.(which is when some people start hitting the wall). Even though I consume carbohydrates via gels, power bars and isotonic drinks during a run its not enough to sustain you, hence the fat stores. What I am trying to do is make my system more efficient so that it will combine both sources of energy smoothly and therefore enable me to go further and faster. So far......(I repeat, so far)...... I have never hit the wall because well before the glycogen runs out my body has already begun to convert the fat stores. If you are interested in looking at this in more detail then click the enclosed link ;- http://www.marathonguide.com/training/articles/MandBFuelOnFat.cfm .
My current training, as you know, is to put all this together so that it works on race day.......if it doesn't well.......just forget the above.
The final point is Nutrition and I find getting this balance quite difficult. Its not just what you eat but when and the amounts. Sue is brilliant at this and provides just the right amounts but little adjustments can make a big difference. Months ago I would consume all manner of food, gels, water, etc, just before a race ......now I have nothing for atleast 2 to 3 hours before. The difference in performance is startling. I use to always complain of being sluggish in the first 30 minutes.....now I feel great. Why?....well put simply, there's no digestion going on to confuse the system and much more important, no insulin spikes. Insulin inhibits fat conversion. Whats an insulin spike? Remember when you were a kid and you'd eat a packet of Skittles.........you'd be running around like a headless chicken for about 15 minutes and then Bang!......spent, exausted, finished......well you don't want that when running an Ultra,.........Stay Healthy:)