Thursday, February 23, 2012


     Well it took me 24 hours to mentally regroup after the last calf strain debacle. Clearly I will have to re-adjust my goals and expectations. I was planning on 3 hard months of training followed by a fast and fulfilling race. I guess its time to take stock of the situation as the past 3 months of training have been little short of a disaster. As a result of 6 calf strains I have had many weeks with no running at all and a few with some decent 20k+ runs. The positives are that I have at least done some running and my strength training has been uninterupted. I have also had to crosstrain more, doing cycling, tabata cycling sprints, rowing, weights and lots of calisthenic type exercises. I have increased muscle strength whilst losing excess fat making me much leaner. This would be great if I had done the miles but I haven't. The most important thing in ultra running is what they call 'time on feet'. It doesn't matter how far you've run as long as you have spent many hours actually running because it is this training that enables you to :-
  1) Burn fat efficiently therefore providing energy.
  2) Maintain your level of fitness.
  2) Learn how to balance your electrolytes, fluid and food.
  3) Teach your body physically to deal with the 'stress' of running along way.
  4) Train your mind to withstand the negative mental fatigue that comes with spending many hours on your feet.
      And it is these issues that are causing me the most worry. By the time I get to California I will be lucky if I've done a third of what is, what to do ?
       I have to now rest for at least a week and then try and do some running in the last two weeks. There is little point in tapering because I haven't done enough to need a taper. I have decided to do my own version of 'wave training'. Instead of building up to a crescendo of activity over 3 months and then tapering down to conserve energy before the race (which is the normal way to do it), I  will build up the miles again slowly ( as I've done about 4 times now)  and as I approach race day turn the race itself into a massive training run. Its a little unorthodox but some very fit people do it this way. I, of course, don't have a choice and I could still get hit with another injury but this seems to be my only option. Again, any advice on this will be gratefully received.
      I was talking to a friend of mine the other day about 'Aid stations'. He seemed to be under the impression that you run a bit, then sit down at a bar for 10-15 mins, have a few drinks and a chat and toddle of to the next one. I think he thought ultra running was an enourmous pub crawl, in fact he seemed quite shocked when I told him that I usually stop for about 10 seconds, 'Do you mean you run the whole way ?'.....'well yes thats the general idea.' If I told you my friends name was Nick Davies then a few of my local readers will not be suprised in the least.....
      So what are my expectations for the 'Way to Cool 50k'. I guess the goal is quite simply to get to the start line in at least a semi-fit state and 7 or 8 hours later get to the finish line, in whatever state! There are so many reasons why this might not be possible but I 'll just have to get on with it and as Jamie would say 'suck it up'. With the bad luck I've had in my race preparation I fully expect to get food poisoning on the plane, lose my bag of running gear at the airport, have no hotel or car booked, get attacked by a bear, fall asleep in a bush due to jet lag....and worst of all for my pride,......come last ! Still, the way I'm thinking now, coming last and finishing may just count as an achievement.
       Helen, my physio, has now gone 'nuclear' with creams, special tape, leg warmers and my own machine to plug into 3 times a day. This basically means attaching electrodes to myself and sending currents up and down my leg, I can actually see the leg muscles throbbing, a very bizarre experience. 'Don't turn it up too much or you'll hit the ceiling!'......'Whats this button here for ? I said whilst pressing it......
'Don't touch that !' she screamed..... I nearly took off like a rocket !!........'Well you won't do that again will you?'........ I shook my head like a naughty shoolboy......Mind you the thought instantly crossed my mind that if I could strap one of these to each leg  I could run the 50k in about 10 minutes....and probably be in New York by 10:30 the next morning......they'd have to rename me 'Fed Ex Phil.

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