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Training For 100km Trail Race: 16 Week Overview

16 weeks training for a 100km trail race. How do we structure running to be race ready? What does it take to prepare for a 100km running race?

This is a simple guiding structure to training.

There are pros and cons to the different ways of training. The approach presented here works well. It takes you beyond completing the distance. We want to run 100km fast.

What You Need To Train For 100km

To get the most from this program we need to have some base fitness. At least a year of running, preferably two.

My background spans many years, but over the last year, I’ve hardly run further than 25km in single a run. My weekly volume has varied between 20-80km. It has been fairly inconsistent.

The recommended running prerequisites:

  • 2+ years running
  • Able to run 25-30km long run
  • Averaging 50km/week over last 6 weeks
  • Injury free

More important than physical prerequisites come the mental traits. We need:

  • Discipline
  • Patience
  • Consistency

16 Week Overview

The 16 weeks is broken into 3 distinct phases:

  1. Base (8 weeks)
  2. Peak (4 weeks)
  3. Taper (4 weeks)

Each week will have 3 key workouts supported by easy runs and strength training. The key workouts will vary according to the phase of training.

Base Phase

This is the most important phase of training.

It sets up the ability to cover the distance. A proper base phase will have a direct effect on the Peak phase. We are better off to continue the base phase up to the Taper if we skimped on base training.

Base training is to develop a well balanced athlete capable of optimally responding to the stress of competition specific training.

The most important trait needed is patience. We keep most runs at easy paces. It is more important to cover the distance. Better to run further each week than to smash out some fast runs.

A Tempo run is listed once a week. This should be over one or two set courses. Begin with a pace just a little bit faster than your usual running pace. Aim to be a little faster each week. This should never be a lung searing, leg destroying effort.

Base running is supported by a good dose of strength training. Using the weight room to build improve the connective tissue, and give some stimulus to fast twitch muscle fibres. This should spare the body some of the impact that faster running brings.

The 3 key runs:

  1. Long run of 30-42km
  2. 3 hour run on technical and steep terrain
  3. Tempo

Peak Phase

4 weeks of hard training. We need to be fit, healthy and injury free.

This is where we push the envelope. Where our performance will go up and down. The training will challenge our ability not to quit.

The distance of the long runs will be pushed further. Combined with a few intervals of moderately faster running towards the end. Some fast intervals will also be introduced.

The 3 key runs:

  1. Long run of 46-50km with some intervals 10-20 minutes
  2. 4 hours run on technical and steep terrain
  3. VO2 intervals 4-6 x 1000m

Taper Phase

Time to absorb all the hard work.

The Taper phase has 3 objectives:

  1. Adapt to the previous training
  2. Eliminate fatigue
  3. Dial in race pace

To achieve this we will reduce the volume of the most runs by 75% each week. Intervals will be pushed hard up to 3 weeks out from the race. Fatigue will gradually lift. It is normal to feel sluggish as the body adapt throughout the taper.

Resist the urge to push out a long, hard test of fitness. Save this for race day.

16 Week Training For 100km Example

The following table outlines my progression of the key runs week by week. Which day each runs falls on will vary due to my changing roster and life commitments. In between all running should be easy and the will typically vary between 40-90 minutes.

Remember the following is a personal example and a guideline only. Everyone is different. My own circumstances may vary this plan.

This is my plan for the Surf Coast Century.

WeekPhaseLong RunTerrain RunSpeed
1Base30km3hrTempo 8km
2Base32km3hrTempo 14km
3Base34km3hrTempo 14km
4Base36km3hrTempo 14km
5Base36km3hrTempo 14km
6Base38km3hrTempo 14km
7Base40km3hrTempo 14km
8Base42km3hrTempo 14km
9Peak46-50km4hr4x1000m
10Peak46-50km4hr5x1000m
11Peak46-50km4hr6x1000m
12Peak46-50km4hr6x1000m
13Taper38km3hr7x1000m
14Taper29km2hr15m8x1000m
15Taper22km1hr40m6x1000m
16Taper17km-6-10x200m

Over To You

What do you think about this plan?

Do you have any questions?

Let me know

Recovery Week After An Ultra Marathon: Training Log

Some races you pull up in better condition than others. My body was the most spent it has ever been after the Hard Core 100 mile. My recovery week after an ultra marathon is a 3 step process:

  1. Sleep
  2. Rest
  3. Eat

 

1. Sleep

 

For the first 2 days my priority was to get as much sleep as possible.

Early to bed. I think I passed out rather than sleeping. Only waking to get the kids to school the next morning. Then it was straight back to bed. Sleeping until I had to pick them back up.

It may sound excessive, but I had night shift to do that night. So I had to make sure I was capable of working. 15 hours of sleep achieve exactly that. Then sleep all the next day. Up for a few hours in the afternoon and evening before going back to bed.

 

 

2. Rest

 

Running would only get in the way of sleeping. Plus my mind definitely needed a break. A complete reset. No structure. No pressure.

I know where my thoughts can go. Combining legs that really aren’t working properly with post DNF wouldn’t work well with trying to run this week. As a result I gave myself the full week off running. The rest aspect is predominantly about giving the mind a break.

 

 

3. Eat

 

No concern for food. I ate whatever I felt like and lots of it. An over sized burger didn’t stand a chance on my birthday.

Hunger and pleasure was my guide. The repair process churns up a lot of calories. I’d prefer to come out of recovery week a bit up on weight. Better than delaying muscle and tendon repair.

 

recovery week after an ultra marathon

Different Styles

 

A complete week off won’t suit everybody. It definitely isn’t my usual after a race. In this case the race was my main focus and my body was smashed to higher level. I required a bigger swing towards the rest and recover side of the pendulum.

Hard Core 100 Mile: Anatomy Of A DNF

What does it take to DNF at a 100 mile race and still be happy?

My first 100 mile race didn’t go to plan. It was cut short at 110km. In the hours and days following I’ve gone through a mix of emotions. Mainly flipping between disappointment and happiness.

Let’s break it down and put it back together.

In choosing the Hard Core 100 Mile Race I was aiming for something on the edge of my ability.

 

Preparation

 

This called for some solid training. I wrote out an amazing training plan. It was pretty impressive. Problem was I overestimated how much training I could fit into life. Instead of the plan, I did what I could. Some of the best training I’ve ever done, but one important element was still missing.

 

The really, really long run.

 

I never got over 40km for any of my training runs. Still a long way, but there is a big gap between 40km and 160km. I incorporated some work arounds to bridge the gap. Would it be enough?

 

Let’s Do This

 

Race morning felt good. Coffee, breakfast and my “race ready” tunes accompanied me on the drive down. Set up was simple and there was time to relax around the fire to chat. I felt nervous about not feeling nervous.

 

The 100 miles is broken up into 8 x 20km laps. The start of each lap takes us straight up Flinders Peak. About 300m elevation gain in only 1.5km. Just walking up can put your heart rate through the roof. Travelling back down with gravity is a technical descent that can beat up your legs if you make it too much fun on the way down. The remainder of the each lap is mainly runnable, with a moderate climb back to start / finish line.

 

Of utmost importance is not to go out too fast in an ultra marathon.

 

I went out too fast.

 

For the first 20km lap I was 30 minutes faster than planned. It felt ridiculously easy. Fresh from a taper. Excited with the race. Distraction of some good conversation with fellow runners. Caught up in the beauty of the You Yangs. All combined to for a fast start.

 

Better fix that.

 

I dropped back the pace and came in off of the second lap on pace. A good 30 minutes slower. This seemed right. My legs were hurting. That’s okay, I’d just run 40km.

 

What does it take to DNF at a 100 mile race and still be happy? My first 100 mile race didn't go to plan. It was cut short at 110km. In the hours and days following I've gone through a mix of emotions. Mainly flipping between disappointment and happiness. Let's break it down and put it back together.

 

Thinking?

 

What goes through your head when running so far?

 

Over the first two laps it was just enjoyment. There is a rhythm to the running that the mind follows. Relax, run, absorb the down hill softly, eat, drink, look around, relax…

 

During this opening time there isn’t much conscious thought. The process has been trained and I am just absorbed by it.

 

Beyond Training

 

Past 40km and I beyond anything I have done in training. What will happen from now?

 

Still in day light and moving well. Keep on doing what you are doing.

 

Simple. I had a patch where my body felt generally flat between around the 45km mark for a few kilometres. It soon passed. I was aware I had slowed a little bit, which wasn’t a concern. My legs weren’t hurting as much as they were back closer to 40km.

 

Another lap. This time a bit slower, but not deliberately. Still well in front of any time goals I had considered. Surely I couldn’t keep this up… oops… a little bit of doubt snuck in for a second. Better just climb Flinder’s Peak again.

 

Off the Peak and it’s time to pick up my headlamps for later in the lap. As the sun goes down so does my ability to run. My quads and calves are locked up. Not cramping. More like they are beaten and swollen so they just don’t very well. This is where I ignore my body’s pleas to stop.

 

Food Is Balance

 

If there is one thing I got right on the day it was my nutrition and fluid. Averaging 220 calories each hour made up of a mix of Hammer Perpetuem and Hammer Gel. Plus a Hammer Bar after every 2 laps. This worked a treat.

 

Only one slight issue was around 9 hours my stomach clearly wasn’t emptying. I had a mild slump in energy as I wasn’t absorbing what I had been taking in. The main contributor seemed to be I’d be a bit heavier on consuming the Perpetuem and Gel mix over the previous hour and was down on the water. Easy fix. Drink more water and back off on the Perpetuem and Gels for a while.

 

Knowing that fine, moving line of what the body can absorb and adjusting as needed makes a difference.

 

100 mile nutrition #howihammer

 

Shut Up Legs

 

It wasn’t reduced effort that had me travelling slower. My intensity was definitely up. I could feel my heart beating faster. My breathing rate increased and my legs went slower.

 

Up the Big Rock climb towards the end of lap I checked my dashboard:

  • Headspace: good, a few negative thoughts, but none taking hold
  • General energy: surprisingly high
  • Nutrition: on track
  • Upper body: tending to tighten up, fixed with conscious relaxation
  • Middle body: back is getting lazy, need to make sure I hold posture
  • Legs: locking more and more, left leg is very tight laterally and pulling my kneecap across, should be able control with some taping
  • Pace: slower and slower

80km completed. A restock of food and water. Tape around my knee. Back up and down Flinder’s Peak. Out for another lap.

 

Pain in the legs was irrelevant. It was getting worse, but that was always going to happen. My legs were having moments where they would just fail. Loss of power and coordination made for some questionable footing over rocks. It was a stretch to describe my movement as running.

 

Past 90km and I could hardly force my legs to move. It was slow.

 

Decisions

 

Make the right decision.

 

I told myself this on the climb up to Big Rock. At this point I couldn’t see how I could keep going. My legs had almost completely shut down. I kept doing the maths and the numbers weren’t good. A lot was telling me I couldn’t keep going. If I went with the flow, then I was going to pull at 100km.

 

Instead I made a decision.

 

Take your time at the aid station. Change into warmer clothes. Sit down and eat some real food. Some pasta found it’s way into my hands because this race has the most amazing volunteers. Give your body a chance to recuperate. Then go out easy and keep moving.

 

This decision was extremely important. With the value of hindsight if I pulled out at that 100km mark I definitely would have had regret. It would have been giving up.

 

On my feet. Up Flinder’s Peak again. Going up was slow. I keep knocking my feet on the rocks as I failed to lift them enough. There was a disconnect between what I was trying to do and what my body would do. The descent was ridiculous. It was constant problem solving on how not to fall on steps and rocks. I stayed upright, but it wasn’t pretty.

 

Onto the relatively flatter portion I forced myself along. Running was no longer possible. My left ankle and leg was giving me problems. I thought I’d gotten past those injury issues, but I guess this is the sort of race that will show up your weak links. I got out the tape and added more to my mix.

 

It didn’t help much.

 

Other’s came past me. No longer were they just asking how I was going or having a chat. There were genuine offers of help. My struggle was that obvious.

 

Eventually I made it to the Sandy Point aid station at the 110km mark. I would have described myself as stumbling in, but I was moving too slow to stumble. The body had gone past it’s limit. I had passed the point of mind over body. My mind still was trying to move, but my body had finally failed.

 

 

Summary

 

Writing this report up helped me work through how I feel about the event. I’ve settled on a small dose of disappointment wrapped up in happiness and pride on achieving my further distance so far.

 

Could I have finished the race?

 

In the state I had reached I know I couldn’t finish the full distance. However, I got myself into that state by missing out on some important training then going out way too fast in the first part of the race.

 

Even without changing the training, if I had of raced smarter and slower over the first 40km I definitely would be in a different state. I would likely have been able to finish. I was stripped down to my absolute basic and found my current limit. Next up is working to push that limit out further.

 

Thank You

 

Thank you to everyone who was ever involved in any way in this event. The volunteers are unbelievable in their commitment. I cannot thank them enough. The race organisers, especially Brett who put on this race and even drove me back to the start after I failed. My family are amazing. Your support for my craziness makes life awesome. My friends who are just so cool. Plus all you others who inspire me through your own running and achievements. The online running community is something to be proud of.

 

Ultra Marathon Training: Block 4 Weeks 13-16

Welcome to the business end of training. Time to move beyond just getting fit, to getting race ready.

The four weeks of Block 3 went really well. Not every run was I hoped, but I had plenty of great runs. Better yet, I hit a new level of volume and consistency. I don’t aim for a target weekly mileage. Instead I focus on the individual runs and how they fit amongst the days before and after. The totals are a byproduct of that. I’m happy to say I covered at least 100km in each of those 4 weeks.

Focus

 

Following the Training Plan Overview the focus is:

  1. Emergency Services Games
  2. Increase Wings For Life race pace

 

Emergency Services Games

 

This has become an annual event for me. It is a collection of events to compete for the Victorian emergency services, police, fire, ambulance and the other services that make up trying to keep be people safe and well. It is a great to time to mix it up with work colleagues and not talk about work.

 

Instead we compete. The range of abilities varies a beginner in any chosen to sport all the way up to elite at times. I absolutely love it. Some friendly rivalry has developed over the years.

 

The first 2 weekends of this training block I’ll be racing. In the first week I’ll back off the volume. Let the legs absorb the previous 4 weeks of training. It won’t be a taper. Just part of the normal training cycle. Hopefully that eliminates the tightness and niggles starting to sneak in.

 

Between the 10km cross country and half marathon I throw in a long run. Likely 30km early in the week. The remainder will be dependant on how I pull up from the cross country.

 

Increase Wings For Life Race Pace

 

Racing over 10km and 21.1km in the first 2 weeks will contribute to this goal. In the last 2 weeks of this 4 week block I’ll get more specific.

 

I’ll extend the long run back out to 40km and try to hold the faster pace with a focus on trying to lift over the final kilometres.

 

The fast runs will now be targeting my race pace. These will be interval sessions, but quite different to the VO2max and anaerobic threshold intervals I performed over previous blocks. Time to move beyond just the feel and general intent of the run. It’s time to target specific paces over similar terrain to the race. This session becomes intense.

 

Intense Race Pace Intervals

 

On paper it looks easier than it is.

  • Warm up as usual.
  • Pick a speed 3% faster than race pace for the fast interval.
  • Pick a speed 3% slower than race pace for the slower interval.
  • Perform 8-10 repeats of 1km fast, with 1km slow.
  • On the last repeat end with the fast 1km and eliminate the slow.
  • Cool down as usual.

If targeting 4:25/km, a run with 8 repeats would look like this:

  • Warm up for about 20min.
  • 7 repeats of: 1km @ 4:17 / 1km @ 4:33.
  • On the 8th time, only run 1km @ 4:17.
  • Cool down for about 20min.

That would give a total of about 22km for the session with 15km at around race pace.

 

This session aims to develop the efficiency and feel for race pace. Importantly it will develop a better combination of fat and carbohydrate use. Running faster will stop that effect.

 

A Week In Block 4

 

  1. Long 40km
  2. Easy (40-60min)
  3. Easy (70-90min)
  4. Intense Race Pace Intervals
  5. Easy (70-90min)
  6. Intense Race Pace Intervals
  7. Easy (70-90min)

 

What’s your training plan at the moment?

 

 

 

Ultra Marathon Training: Block 1 Weeks 1-4

It has felt like years since I really trained fast. With ultra marathon training I’d become pretty good at shuffling my way over long distances. I get a lot out of this, but miss the faster running of my earlier years. So I’ve set a goal that should help me find some of that speed again. Some extra detail is in 2018 Running Goals.

 

Different and bigger goals require a change in approach. The main difference is a regular inclusion of faster running. The fast running won’t work on it’s own. It is only part of a bigger picture. Let’s break it down.

 

Block 1 is the first of 5 blocks, each of 4 weeks in my lead up to the Wings For Life World Run. An overview can be found in Training Plan Overview 2018: 7 Steps To Setup Your Running.

 

There are main 2 points in Block 1:

  1. Increase VO2max
  2. Increase distance of long run

Both these points will extend into Block 2. They should set the base for more specific training in the remaining 3 blocks.

keep on running ultra marathon training

1. Increase VO2max

 

This is the gold standard of aerobic fitness. A higher VO2max means you can do more work or run faster while using oxygen. It filters down to all intensities below it. Heavily determined by which parents you chose, there is still a substantial influence training can make.

 

There are a multitude of different ways to train to increase your VO2max. These have different effects on other areas of fitness. I will stick to what has been well supported in research and has worked for me in the past. It is a throwback to my university days when I was a lab rat in many exercise studies.

 

My go to VO2max training session is 4-8 repeats of 3-5 minutes with 3-5 minutes of easy recovery in between each repeat. The intensity of each repeat should be very close to my VO2 max, which will be about 3000m race pace.

 

 

2. Increase Distance Of Long Run

 

To make the Wings For Life World Run an ultra marathon I need to be able to handle running a long way. That calls for some long runs.

 

I know I can shuffle out some very long distances. However, the pace won’t get me anywhere near my goal. There is a big difference between 7:00/km and under 4:27/km. This means my long run needs to shift up a gear or two.

The struggle will be to find that balance in going faster versus adding distance.

 

Training Plan

 

Over the 4 weeks I was working in 8 training cycles. I know this doesn’t fit neatly, but it works for me. My work roster has a lot to do with it. The planned training for each of the 8 days is:Ultra marathon trining week 1 to 4

  1. Easy – likely a run commute to and from work. Anywhere between 4-10km each run at a pace that is comfortable.
  2. Easy – run commute. As per yesterday, but if feeling okay I’ll throw in some short hill repeats in the morning run.
  3. Easy – again likely a run commute between 4-10km. These first three days are about regeneration from the previous week/cycle of training. I want to come out of these three days feeling ready for some hard sessions.
  4. VO2max Intervals – this is my key “get faster” run. Starting with 3 x 1000m repeats with an easy 600m jog in between, I’ll add a repeat each week. The rest of may day is lazy as I will be following up with a night shift at work.
  5. Regeneration – this day is mostly written off as a nothing day. I’ll be sleeping for most of it after a 14 hour night shift. I hope to force myself to get in a few very easy kilometres of running. Sleep is definitely the priority.
  6. Long Run – Starting with 30km I want to add 2km each week. I expect to carry over some fatigue from the VO2max intervals, but I hope I can get this right.
  7. Easy – just a simple 6-14km to keep the legs moving.
  8. Hill Repeats – I will pick hills that take 2-3 minutes to run at a bit below VO2max pace, with a very easy jog back down. It is a mixture of specific strength and support for VO2max development.

The total kilometres in each period are not a goal. That total will take care of itself if I focus on getting each session right

 

2018 Running Goals

Big goals have you do more than just go through the motions. I need to make my running come alive.

 

It has been too long since I’ve run something that feels big. Big doesn’t have to be distance. It is bigger than that. By big, I mean something that really excites me. Something that pushes me.  Goals need to feel just outside my reach.

 

I’ve brought my health and fitness back up to a level I’m happy with. It is a level from which I can direct my training towards bigger goals. It has taken more time to get here than I thought it would.

 

Over the last couple of months I’ve looked through race calendars. There are so many races now. Spoilt for choice. It doesn’t make it easier for me. The races tend to blur into each other. Nothing immediately stood out as a must do event above all the others.

 

I kept searching. Reading all I could. Reading blogs. Followed discussions in running groups. Eventually I kept coming back to the same events. These events put some extra fuel on my fire. They are the races that make me want to push my limits.

 

The Races

 

Two key races are in my sights for next year. They are:

 

Wings For Life World Run

 

There is a uniqueness to this event. Being chased by the finish line is an awesome concept.

 

I want to make this event an ultra marathon. Running further than 42.195km is a big ask for me.  It will require getting back to speeds I haven’t hit for years. I’ll need to be around my marathon PR shape and then hold it for longer.

 

Right now I’m at 19:13 for a flat 5km. A long of way off the marathon 2:58:44 I set 8 years ago. Am I a marathon has been? Living in the past? Only one way to find out.

 

 

Hardcore 100 Mile

 

This will be my first 100 mile ultra marathon. Further than I have run before. Finishing will be a massive challenge in itself. I want to do more than finish. I want to find push it out to as fast as I can go.

This is an ultra marathon that is likely to teach me new lessons. I want to be a student.

It is set up as 20km loop in the You Yangs. That’s 8 laps to bring up the full race distance. On each loop you go up and down Flinders Peak. Apparently it is a very runnable course. Nothing crazy technical. That doesn’t make it easier than an ultra marathon with big mountains. It is a different challenge when you can potentially run it all. I may be looking for an excuse to walk.

 

 

 

 

Both these races scare me. They are in a setting that makes it impossible to hide. There is no faking these races. They give me a fear of failure, and I like it.

 

The Wings For Life World Run should be a good lead in to the Hardcore 100. There are other races I’ll throw into the mix. They won’t be my training priority which means I won’t be peaking for them. In the races I won’t be holding back either.

 

Stay tuned and I’ll take you through my training program. That’s for another post. Make sure you keep up and subscribe:

Ultra Marathon Races: Lessons Learnt

Why run an ultra marathon?

 

There is more to ultra marathon races than just completing the distance. More than just the finish line. Ultra marathons take you on a journey of discovery. You can learn a lot about yourself. Both good and bad.

 

This post isn’t the usual short tips and tricks on how to race an ultra marathon. These races can break us down to our core. The extras get stripped away. You can find out if you have what it takes… whatever that really means.

 

I have taken 3 key lessons from my ultra marathons

  1. Pain is information
  2. You can do more than you realise
  3. The body does have limits

 

Surf Coast Century rock scrambling

Pain Is Information

If anything is guaranteed, it is you will experience pain during an 100km ultra marathon.

 

Pain is powerful. It can wear us down or bring us to an abrupt stop. It can weaken our resolve, change our emotions or snatch away our goals. We don’t have to let pain have this influence on us. It may not be easy, but it is possible to change our response to pain.

 

I’ve learnt pain can be an amazing source of information. Assessing pain as it happens in an objective way, rather than responding in a subjective manner can make pain a useful tool.

 

Pain is a defence mechanism. It is designed to protect us from harm. The obvious example is if we place our hand on a hot stove top we will feel an intense burning pain. We’ll pull our hand away to protect ourselves from being burnt. When we push our limits in an ultra marathon it gets a little more complex.

 

If you listen properly pain can tell you a lot of things. We all know the burning pain from running fast, above our anaerobic threshold. If we experience this in the early stages of an 100km race it is telling us we are going too fast. Other times it’s not that simple.

 

Once past the 40km mark in my first 100km race (the Surf Coast Century) I developed a deep ache in my muscles. It was cross between the feeling of burning and bruising. This was the same pain I usually experienced in the late stages of a marathon. Just not quite as intense. What to do with this pain? I didn’t know. So I took note of it, tried to accept it and kept racing. Over the next 20km it didn’t change and didn’t seem to slow me down. When I had trouble later the pain changed. I discovered some pain may just be a reflection of effort and it is the trend or the way the pain changes that is more important.

 

Making the effort to understand the different pain experienced can be a useful tool. It can also be a way of handling the pain itself.

 

 

You Can Do More Than You Realise

Going into big races I have had some lofty goals. Do I truly believe I can hit those goals? To be honest  I’ve always had significant doubts. It is easier to write something down on paper than to actually do it. The doubts are a blessing and a curse. The fear of failure can be a powerful force. We often don’t know what it really takes to reach these goals until we have achieved them. Ultra marathons are really good at feeding those doubts as they reveal what it takes during the race.

Ultra marathons tear away your perceptions of how good you are. Each race has revealed the reality of what is required to reach my goals. Almost always it is harder than I hope. Every big event requires digging deep into my abilities. It is different each time. What has worked in the past doesn’t seem to be enough next time. This creates massive doubts before and during races.

 

Once the crutches and comforts are stripped away, you are left with the reality and doubt. Responding to these moments is what defines your races. It is a large part of why I race. In these moments I have discovered I am capable of more than I knew I was.

 

At the 55km check point of the Great Ocean Walk 100km in 2016 I felt destroyed. A combination of the brutality of the course, less than adequate training and going out too hard early didn’t get me to this point in good shape. My support team asked “How are you feeling?”

“Worse than I ‘ve ever felt in a 100km race,” was my answer. I still had 45km to go. The next 25km were considered the toughest section. How was I going to get through that? It didn’t seem possible. Yet I did. Better than just surviving this section, it was the closest I got to any goal times all day. I was able to do more than I realised.

 

 

Surf Coast Century 2012 Leg 3

The Body Has Limits

Ultra marathons are meant to test us. Many times our minds keep us in check or stop us from achieving more. Sometimes we discover our body’s limits. To truly know your limit you have to exceed them.

 

After discovering I could do more than I thought in the third quarter of the Great Ocean Walk, I found some limits in the closing kilometres of the race. My mind was strong. The pain was intense, but I had come to terms with it. As the kilometres ticked over, my muscles began to progressively fail. No matter how much I wanted to keep running. No matter how hard I tried. I couldn’t make my body do what I wanted. It had reached the point it was physically failing me. Running became impossible. Walking no longer resembled what it should. This race  brought me to and past my physical limits. I finished, but hours beyond my goal times.

 

The above is a safe example of finding those limits. A big part of racing successfully is we override our body’s defence mechanisms. Pain is now information. We find tricks and techniques to keep going. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it gets us in trouble. For this exact reason I have been taken off a course in ambulance. It is worth thinking about those limits. Having good support around you can keep you out of long term trouble if you exceed your body’s current capabilities.

 

 

Keep your running alive.