Wednesday, December 5, 2012


 So a few days have gone by and my recovery has been excellent, 2 days after my run I went for a 10k easy jog in the hills and felt great. Crossfit Endurance do say that recovery times are much quicker as a result of their training......its all to do with an efficient sodium potassium pump. I could explain this further but suffice to say that an efficient pump regulates the balance of sodium and potassium in the cells thereby aiding recovery......and it works.
     Helen thinks that my calf injuries were more of an over elongated stretch in training rather than a pull or a tear, (a grade 1) and this would be the reason why they held up okay despite the dull pain. 'Obviously' she said, 'they didn't like running that far and definitely didn't like the beach.....but they just had to put up with it.....and you......just like we all do'. So there you go.
      I reckon on consuming 85 grams of carbs per hour from gels and other food, plus I have my natural glycogen stores (about 450 grams) and then fat stores after that, but on 5 hours + running I probably didn't burn that much fat and two days later, voila my weight was exactly the same as before the race. I have written many times that you don't lose weight by going on lots of runs, it keeps you fit and healthy but that's not how you lose weight, if that's your goal.
     I did get a bit of cramp later on so I popped two S-Caps and was fine in minutes. ( For those of you who have never used S-Caps salt tablets, I recommend them highly). In a normal ultra I'll take one every hour and they work brilliantly.
    My Brooks Cascadia 7's running shoes managed to dispel all the water from the sea, streams and rivers very well, they call it, 'In/Out technology', or something like that. However, I do have one criticism, the laces keep coming undone and I have heard other runners mention this before, it seems bizarre that they can make such a good running shoe but can't supply laces that tie up properly! Go figure.
      So what's the suprise?

      I have to be honest, I found this race quite tough even though it wasn't an ultra. It was a fab day and a stunning place and I was very fortunate to be able to do it but the beach running wore me down over time. The comments from other runners on the sand was 'C'est dur'........'Its hard' and it was. It really slows you down and then the climbs in the hills afterwards are just much more tiring due to fatigue, nevertheless it was a great new experience and one that I wanted to try. At the end of Pampelone beach a small river enters the ocean and at one point I was up to my waist wading through it and thinking, 'this is nuts!' I felt quite forlorn when I looked back down the beach and found that I was alone.......I couldn't see anybody, I thought, I must be last, this is terrible! I'd never been in this position before, even though I'm usually the oldest kid on the block. But, I had one thing going for me, as an ultra runner you have to pace yourself and run your race , not anybody else's, and you have to trust in your ability and knowledge and most importantly you have to keep going; its relentless forward progress.
    What happens is over time you start to real people in and the longer the race goes on the more people slow down, so if you can keep up an even pace, then you eventually, over many hours, catch them up. Exactly 88 runners started the race and at the 12k stage I was, if not at the back, then not far off it......but 5 hours-19 minutes later I managed to finish in 48th place! Its a good metaphor for life, over the course of the race I'd improved my position by about 40 places, just by staying constant.
      Its the highest position, pro-rata, that I have ever come in a race, which is great but why was this? As you no, firstly, I hardly did any long runs, it was mostly high intensity crossfit type training and secondly, I saw my coach Paddy today and I have just hit 9.9% body fat, the leanest I have ever been. This  race was partially an experiment to see if this type of training works, well you can't judge things on one race alone but the evidence, if not convincing, is certainly thought provoking.
      My conclusion is that I am definitely staying with this program. Paddy and I have been discussing a new 6 week schedule to further increase my fitness levels by using more weights, high intensity exercise and sprints. However, there is one thing I will always do 3/4 weeks before a big race, I will do at least one long training run.....I still say its important to attune you to the mental fatigue.....and how to deal with it. You have to keep going, no matter how painful or tired or fed up you feel and until you've experienced it and got through it then you can't possibly know what that feels like.
      Anyway those are my thoughts.....I'd be very interested to know how others feel. You can comment here or email me at




  1. I think sprints easily take care of the mental fatigue because it's a pain that's so much intense and in your face that you have to deal with. The actual physical fatigue I have to say I find no long runs at all to be risky because of the thudding on your legs, independent of their strength. I remember my only training for a mountain marathon was to do 300 metre sprints up a hill (which is bloody hard work!)and when it came to it the legs struggled not with the pushing/steps but just the endless thudding... the cramps were not fun. It looked like I was dancing because I was trying to run and jiggle my legs at the same time to ward the cramps off.

    1. Ha,ha...Rory, the dancing ultra runner. You gotta try S-caps for that cramp, they really do work.

  2. So after a further year what do you recommend? A long run or not for distance running? And what is a long run anyway? For the 6 week training we did for the Nice-Cannes marathon team event there was one run in Week 5 that was longer than the run we would have to do.. I know it wouldn't be 90 minutes but is it the time that is important or the distance?

    1. Its the time ... always. If you run say a 4 hour marathon time then a long run would be 3+ hours which ideally you would do about 4 weeks before the event. If I do a 10 hour ultra, then a long run will be 6 hours in a practice session. Its all relative of course but the old school ultra runners say practice is time on feet whereas as your Crossfit breed believe in strength work, intervals and tempo running. My conclusion is to do a little of both.