Four Munros and a Marathon: week 3

This September and October, I’ll be running two tough races, three weeks apart: the inaugural Ring of Steall Skyrace and the Plusnet Yorkshire Marathon. Every week, I’ll be reflecting on my training – what worked, what didn’t, changes made, fueling, diet, sleep, etc.

What I learned this week:

  • One of the reasons the Ring of Steall has a huge elevation gain (8200 feet or 2500 m) in so little distance (16 miles or 25km) is that it starts, and finishes, at sea level. There is a sea loch at Kinlochleven, the site of the race start/finish. This means, that rather than the usual inland ascent of say 2000 feet (which is still a lot but doable), we’re climbing from the very bottom to the very top of a munro, immediately. That’s over 3000 feet. Good thing I’m still in the early phases of training.
  • Take more clothes on long trail runs because you never know what Mother Nature will throw at you!
  • My fitness is much better than it was a few months ago. This training is paying off big time.
  • Never drink alcohol, even a small amount, the day of a long trail run. You’ll find out why!

week 3 3 (2)

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Four Munros and a Marathon: week 1

In September and October, I’ll be running two tough races, three weeks apart: the inaugural Ring of Steall Skyrace and the Plusnet Yorkshire Marathon. Every week, I’ll be reflecting on my training – what worked, what didn’t, changes made, fueling, diet, sleep, etc.

week 1 2 (2)

Going into week 1, there were a few things I learned and therefore needed to incorporate into my training:

  • Because The Ring of Steall has such a massive elevation gain, all of my runs need to have vertical: there needs to be substantial, preferably repetitive, massive hill climbing every session.
  • I was still 18 weeks away from the marathon so I didn’t need to do a 4th run of the week, being the longer road run with some miles at tempo pace.
  • After reading Scott Jurek’s Eat and Run – a definite must-read for running tips, persevering, and a few paleo-friendly recipes – I learned a new running technique for uphill: take smaller steps, to the point that it doesn’t feel as though you’re actually running, but you’re still moving efficiently and quickly uphill.
  • Until the 9th of October, I’ll be working my ass off each week.

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Personal Bests don’t just happen

Prior to my primal switch, I was just a 10km runner that didn’t really have any aspirations other than beat my current 10km time. I started running in 2010, and between then and summer 2014, I’ve set a few new 10km personal bests by chunks of seconds. My 10km time was always above 57 minutes, and secretly, I had always wanted a faster race time, but no matter what I did, how hard I ran or how long I ran, that never happened.

Looking back to my pre-primal running days, I didn’t really do much at all to get the personal best I wanted. I thought PB’s just happened as a result of frequent and regular running, or were a result of running to maximum effort, which for me, during a race, would fizzle at about mile 4.

When I went primal, things dramatically changed. Not only did I get that sub-57 minute 10km time at the River Ness 10km last September, but I crushed my previous 57:xx PB by over three minutes. I also ran my way to two 5km personal bests that race, beating previous PB’s by a minute.

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