Strava Update

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

10 Weeks To Go.......

First segment of “Hard as Nails” training completed!! It was a tough 3 weeks taking in around 210 miles on road and scenic Jersey coastal and cliff paths culminating in a 3 day back to back session averaging 20 miles per day for the 3 days. Happily I completed the 3 days well, and felt good after each day, and managed to run each day at a decent pace, so all on track and looking good at the moment.

I took the opportunity over the week after the tough training to take it easy and to let my body recover and repair, scaling down the mileage to a still respectable 48 miles for the week but maintaining a lower intensity and less frequency. I visited a local masseur Samantha Wade at Tonic Body and Skincare (Click here) who massaged my legs back to normal and I even had a lie in at the weekend just gone which was much appreciated. It wasn’t all self pampering though and I was out for a nice Sunday 15 mile run the weekend just gone with my friend Simon McKenzie where the sun came out and it almost felt like spring! (Apart from the woolly hats, gloves, puddles and wet feet!)

Good Game! Good Game! :-)

So everything feels like it has now settled down, little niggles that were starting to appear have been tended to and I am now tapering for the XNRG Pilgrims Challenge Ultra Race. This takes place on Sat 3rd and Sun 4th Feb and is 33 miles on each day over the North Downs in England. This is a very popular race amongst people training for the MDS and I expect to meet quite a few people from the UK who are travelling to Morocco in April over the weekend. I think I am looking forward to this as much as the race. The forecast for the race is sunny on the Saturday with rain on the Sunday which I will take as last year it snowed on the Sunday and apparently the going was pretty tough. This will be the last race I do before the MDS so will be nice to gauge where I am and to identify any tweaks to my training regime.
Next weekend also sees us moving into single figures with the amount of time left before I go to Morocco. 9 weeks! Basically right now everything is about the MDS: Training, equipment choice, mental preparation, massages, nutrition, fund raising, thinking about MDS, writing about MDS and talking about it :-) I can imagine people who know me & who don’t run might be a little MDS’ed out to be honest. I am not particularly nervous at this point, more excited, although there have been a few reports of people getting injuries who were due to take part in 2013 which is a little unsettling. It’s the delicate balance of training and putting stress on the body to improve vs. not putting too much on the body so that it cant cope.

I got a great quote off Canadian ultra runner Jason Loutitt when I contacted him a few weeks ago which kind of sums up the balancing act of rest vs. training and also testifies to his abilities as a runner: "The more you cross that 'too tough' barrier in training, the easier the race will be and the better the result guaranteed... But to do that and not get injured is everything so you have to really know your body. If you don't have good body awareness take subtle training like Pilates. If all good and you can kill yourself in training, stay on top of recovery in all aspects – nutrition, massage etc. Give ‘em sh1t out there!" I didn’t realise this at the time but he had about 10 hours or so previously come second in a 100 mile race called the H.U.R.T. 100 miler in Hawaii so was pretty awesome of him to come back with advice at all, let alone so quickly after a race! 

As I have previously covered in this blog one of the big factors of prep for the MDS is equipment, particularly the clothes you wear, the shoes you wear and the rucksack you carry. I have pretty much decided on the clothing and recently took order of some shiny new Salomon gear courtesy of Craig Meredith at Fit 2 Function here in Jersey (click here) who is a specialist local supplier of Salomon and Inov-8 trail running shoes, accessories, clothing and hydration packs amongst other things.

I have decided on my footwear (99% anyway..!!) and have opted for the Salomon Crossmax Guidance Trail shoe which is a road to trail shoe. It has great support; great grip and is very cushioned so on the surface appears to fit the requirements I have for MDS. I tried them over the weekend on the cliff paths in very boggy, sludgy wet conditions and the grip was second to none. I found them to be very comfortable and I really felt the medial support post in them and as someone who pronates i feel that the support will come in to play quite heavily in the latter stages of a stage or a race. I will test them further this weekend at the Pilgrims and then decide more fully after this. Once I have decided on the vital shoe choice, I need to get them off to a cobbler where I need Velcro sewn around the whole shoe in order to be able to attach the sand gaiters that will keep the sand out of my shoes/socks and protect my feet from blisters (hopefully!) 

Other equipment I have been testing includes the Power Traveller Explorer Solar Power Charger, which was kindly provided to me by the guys at An amazing bit of kit which is a battery that can be charged by a solar panel, which is handy as I hear there is a lot of sun in the Sahara! I am in the process of testing this to see how many charges I can get out of the battery, how quickly the solar panel charges the battery and general reliability of the item. 

Once the Pilgrims is done, it looks like another 3 weeks of intensive training is on the cards within which I hope to introduce some weight to replicate running with a more heavily laden rucksack, a bit of running on sand and also a bit of Bikram yoga to get used to heat and also maintain flexibility. On Feb 16th a few of us are going to run round the island of Jersey (48 miles) as there are a number of us taking part in long distance events over the coming months (Simon McKenzie – Thames Path 100 and South Downs 100, Phil Taylor – Endurancelife CTS Ultra Sussex, Leanne Rive – Connemara Road Ultra, Matt Cuthbert South Downs 100) So alot of races for Jersey runners coming up in the next few months with alot more on the horizon in 2013 for those of us hoping for UTMB qualification for next year. But that is another story.... Happy training! 

I will be running in aid of Jersey Hospice care and in memory of my friend Natalie Moss - if you would like to donate please visit my just giving page here

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Training and Recovery....

Since the start of January I have embarked on my specific MDS training proper. My plan, which was set by Rory Coleman back in November sees a massive ramp up in mileage and intensity for me, so the last few weeks have been tough going. The first week was tough and I think after the xmas and new year indulgences my body didnt really know what had hit it the first few days!

My plan basically means that I am training every day of the week, running 5 times a week and weight training for the other 2 days, so at the moment it is go go go every day with no real rest. I am operating on a 3 tougher weeks then a slightly easier week to avoid burnout and injury. My workouts have looked a little like this for the past week:

Mon - Weights session (legs, core and upper body
Tues - Spartans speed session (track 9 miles on avg)
Weds - Half Marathon (8 miles at lunch and the rest in the evening
Thurs - Spartans Hill session (avg 9 miles)
Fri - Weights session (Core and upper body)
Sat - Long run one (17 miles - cliff paths)
Sun - Long run two (17 miles - road)

As you can imagine it has been pretty intense, but I have been loving the training and the challenge of pushing myself. The track nights have helped and I have also been doing some of the longer runs with friends such as Phil Taylor and Lee De St Croix so the craic has been good..

One of the biggest things I have been contending with is recovery. As I am training every day, I have been trying to ensure that as soon as one session ends, my recovery for the next one begins. This has meant stretching thoroughly, taking in food/recovery shake within 45 minutes of session end and foam rollering the hell out of every part of my body. This strategy has been working out well and so far I have been coping well with the higher intensity track sessions, and then recovering well enough for the long runs at the weekend. I think this for me is one of the biggest considerations for the MDS as the main challenge (apart from the heat!!!) is getting up and running after having run a large distance the previous day and doing this for six days. This weekend is a big one for me I will be running 19 miles on Sat, 19 mile on Sun and then 19 miles on Monday so should be a big test. I will be employing all that I have learnt about recovery and hoping I get through it well!

After the big miles this weekend I have a relatively easy week of training next week followed by the Southern Cross Country championships next Saturday in London. Its a 15km course and I along with 16 others will be representing Jersey Spartans in the race. Should be a good event, apparently its 800 people storming up a hill at the beginning so should be quite the atmosphere! Check this vid to get an idea:

After this the following weekend (First weekend in February) I have signed up for the XNRG Extreme Energy Pilgrims Challenge - a 2 day ultra marathon on the North Downs in England. Day one is 33 miles, we sleep over night in a school hall, then 33 miles back to the start the following day! Alot of people taking part in the MDS will be taking part in this also, so I hope to make contact with a few over the two days. This should be another great test and upon successful completion I would hope it would indicate the training is heading in the right direction.

So in-between training, entering other races and working, I have been slowly picking my way through all the decisions that have to be made as far as the equipment I need to take, the food I need to eat, the clothes I need to wear and the shoes I need to wear in the desert. I never contemplated how complex this part of the planning would be, with a lot of advice being bandied around - a lot of it conflicting! I am 85% of the way there with a lot of the decisions although I imagine I may U-turn on a few of these before April.. I can imagine I will be selling a lot of surplus equipment on Ebay so watch this space for a bargain :-)

I will be running in aid of Jersey Hospice care and in memory of my friend Natalie Moss - if you would like to donate please visit my just giving page here

Snow forecast this weekend here in sunny Jersey which should prove to be interesting for the weekends running!

More to follow as and when it happens!