It is over one week since I completed my quest to run an Ultra, on Saturday last week I had just gone through the halfway point and was feeling pretty exhausted. It is still a blur because of the relentless nature of the event.......but.... I have this niggling suspicion that my performance was below par and therefore in the future could be improved dramatically. The only question is how?.........and here I have a problem.
I am 56 years old and in only 5 months went from a basic one hour, three times a week runner, to 60k's in 9hrs 15 mins in one go.This is is fairly unusual and so it becomes slightly difficult to find any advice on the best way to move forward. Everything I looked at involved runners much younger than me and all the advice and technical detail was again aimed at people in their mid 30's. So I did my best under the circumstances and achieved my goal however I come back to the same problem, other than personal tried and tested research how can I find ways to improve.........Where's the manual?
I guess I have to go outside the box.......maybe at my age, as someone suggested, you are the manual. Maybe but in reality I don't believe that. Sure I can contribute my analysis but I suspect there's many others with much better advice to offer. So what IS the problem?
Simply put I was shattered at the 30k mark. There are several possible reasons for this;
1. Went off to fast.......No, I didn't.
2. Didn't do enough long runs/speed/strength training..........Possibly but not all three.
3. It was only 6 weeks since your mountain marathon and my endocrine system had not fully recovered......... Possibly but difficult to measure and I lead a pretty healthy lifestyle anyway.
4. Overtrained.........Unlikely at 60k per week.
5. Age.......Maybe but don't like to admit it.
6. Hydration/salt balance........Unlikey. ( I was very well prepared)
So it could, in part, be some of these or something else..........I am basically in the dark on this. If I want to do longer runs or do the same better I have got to feel good for much longer than 30 k. In the mountain event I ran all the way to the finish at 40 k and felt tired but okay and could have gone on further; Why did I feel better for longer in this one? Everyone running an Ultra will eventually feel terrible, even the elite runners admit to this therefore its a question of discovering how to extend the 'feeling good' stage for as long as possible before the misery arrives.......and they call this a sport!!
This week I have been very chilled with a bit of cycling, a few easy 5k runs and a couple of fast paced one hour walks with the accent on rest and recovery being the main goal. I feel great but must admit to being slightly more tired than usual. My goal now is to ramp up my training again and see how I my body reacts. I still have this lingering pain in my foot and will monitor this as I go.
I really do feel a bit non plussed by it all, which again is very common in Ultra running after a long event, its a sense of anti-climax.....a sort of what to do next? Its still very hot here and after many months of running in the heat it gets quite exhausting so hopefully I will be fine when things cool down a bit. A new challenge and another goal is probably the answer, a chance to improve on the 60k, either in distance or speed.
In two weeks time there is a 20k night run in the local hills and mountains called the 'Trail des Illuminati', (I know, very Da Vinci code). Although the distance and elevation gain is fairly easy, running on rough terrain by torchlight will be a new experience. I'm not really sure how it effects speed other than it being obviously slower. Again I will work up to this and see if my recovery is okay before jumping in.........atleast it will be different.......I mean last time I ran in the dark I didn't even have a torch!
I leave you with a quote which I read last week by ultra runner,Nick Marshall :-
'Ultra marathons reveal our strength by reducing us to a state of weakness and seeing what happens........You'd be suprised.'.............