Ultra Training Month Two – March 2021

Month two of ultra training, and I have so much to share I can’t wait until the end of the month. I feel like I’ve achieved a lot in the past three weeks, and I’m getting more confident about the prospect of running over 30 miles with more than 4000ft elevation in one go.

I still have a lot to learn though, and these next few months are going to be full of experimentation – what fuel works for me, what the best way for me to rest is, and whether I can get more aggressive trail shoes to fit my ridiculous feet.

Elevation

I’ve never really shied away from hills, but getting up them without feeling like I need to puke is still work in progress. I’m definitely a lot better at it than I was, and this month I’ve focused on getting hilly miles in my legs.

This means that Caerphilly mountain is becoming a semi-regular route, with Rhiwbina hill even more so. When I ran up there with Katy a couple of weeks ago, it was the first time in I can’t remember how long that it was clear enough to see the view properly. Looking out to the horizon when reaching the peak of any hill or mountain makes any tough bits worthwhile.

Katy is a great person to go trail running with. She makes descents look easy (though she would disagree) and reminds me constantly to slow down when going up. I’m starting to learn this lesson, and have been paying it forward by telling Hayley that she’s going too fast at every opportunity I can.

Greatest elevation in a single run, however, was today’s 1,772ft over ten miles on the Ridgeway with Hayley. This activity meant that I finally got the Strava monthly run climbing challenge badge (a total of 2,000m over the month, which is 6561.68ft). So far I’ve done 6,765ft of elevation across my runs for the month, and I still have a week to go. I wonder if I can hit 7,000ft!

Today’s run was hard, particularly for Hayley who had very little sleep last night, but we did really well, and I’m really proud of our achievement. I took some video footage along the way if you fancy watching it.

Or if photos are more your thing, here’s a few stills from today.

Virtual Challenges

The first Cardiff Checkpoint Challenge had to be made virtual due to COVID restrictions making the race impossible to hold. I ran up Caerphilly mountain for this, so both went further and did a more difficult route than the actual event. I did enjoy it though, but hope that the next one can be live. When you’ve done all of them, the medals fit together to make a circle, which I think is pretty cool.

I also completed the Virtual Welsh Coastal Path Challenge (2). 870 miles logged since July 2020, and a pretty cool medal to show for it. Unfortunately, the t-shirt is too big because I’ve lost quite a lot of weight since I signed up to it, but it’s still cool. It’s also a good problem to have!

Cross Training

I’m really not great at sticking at cross training. I know it’s something I should be doing, but I often find it quite boring, and it doesn’t satisfy my instant gratification monkey in the same way that running does.

Yoga seems to be the exception. Though I don’t practice as often as I should, I do roll my mat out a few times a month, following along with Adriene while wondering how on earth she can do what she does.

I’ve also been semi-good at a balance challenge set by Myfanwy from She Runs: Cardiff. The idea is you balance on your weaker leg first (my right) for as long as possible, then match it on your stronger side. You should also try to beat the previous day’s total.

I said to myself I could buy a new GoPro if I managed to make it to four minutes on each leg. Considering I started the month barely making it to 1min 30secs on each leg, I have exceeded my expectations by hitting this target on 15th! I’m really struggling to extend it now though, reaching 4mins 15secs on each leg. I haven’t done it yet today, and I’m certainly not expecting much after running up the Ridgeway. I am getting stronger though, and it’s probably helping my proprioception, so it can only be a good thing.

March Stats So Far

So, while I have another week and a bit of March, I thought I’d end with a stat update:

  • 81.4 miles so far this month, 160.7 miles in training to date
  • 15h 47m running time so far this month, 31h 10m running in training to date
  • 6,765 feet of elevation so far this month, 11,346 feet of elevation in training to date

Next week has a distance increase again, with the Sunday long run being 14 miles. I’m still below my longest ever run, but it won’t be long before I go past that and embark on completely unknown territory. Fingers crossed I’m up for it!

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