Thames Trot 50 Training

too soon?

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13/01/2013 at 20:27

Lemony: glad my update was useful; yours sound like it would be also. I don't see myself getting near the path again before the race: the train tickets cost a fortune, for one thing, and I've got Winter Tanners next weekend

Sounds like you're doing some great running. My legs were a bit tired today, but I had run a 5+ mile cross-country race yesterday and a speed technique session on Thursday. I could have kept going today, but not quickly. I'm intending to fit in 10 miles tomorrow morning before work, so I'll see how that goes.

14/01/2013 at 06:58
My main worry at the moment is my lack of off-road running lately due to all the flooding. But I'm going to try to get in a bit more over the next three weeks and just see how it goes.
15/01/2013 at 23:24

thanks for the update Debra. very useful

Anyone doing Hebden Bridge this weekend? Gets my trail running practice in and 3500-4000 ft hills, plus test kit out, also likely 0 degrees or colder plus snow...

Half marathon at steady pace the next day.

16/01/2013 at 08:55

Fit-Running-Cat. You're welcome. No, I've got Winter Tanners this weekend - 30 miles, following directions, so it won't be fast, but should be good for time-on-feet. Good luck at Hebden Bridge.

Edited: 16/01/2013 at 13:00
16/01/2013 at 21:03

Another vote of thanks Debra, esp for the navigation tips too.  I saw on a previous thread that they sometimes pair runners towards dusk.  May be good!!

Am umming and aahing re softshell vs active goretex for windproof trousers.

Have long miserable weekend at work coming up, but looking forward to 28/12 or 30/15 Monday/Tues, although slightly concerned that it's too close, and that I should be tapering already.  The plan I downloaded from ultrarunningladies suggests tapering from 14th.  Oh dear, oh dear.......

17/01/2013 at 07:11
I'm tapering already, off the back of 13.5/30 last weekend. But I tend to need a three week taper and I reckon everyone should do what feels best for them. So if you feel the need for another long run Larny, go ahead. You could always cut out/shorten the medium length run if you're worried about tired legs.
18/01/2013 at 12:26

Route report - Oxford to Culham

I ran this part of the route in reverse order as the snow was starting to fall first thing this morning. The ground was semi-frozen, meaning that those places where it was reasonably dry to start with were generally easy to run on, although some sections with uneven ground were quite difficult. In a number of places there were still muddy patches, not all of them obvious as they were covered with a thin layer of ice and snow. This meant that I broke through the ice into a muddy muddle on a fairly frequent basis. This was only a problem on the odd occassion where there was a particularly large puddle and I suspect that these will become pretty obvious once the lead runners have gone through (assuming it is still snowy). However, I would stress that much of this part of the route is still very muddy, with no-where for the water currently falling as snow to go. Most of it will be OK to run if the weather stays freezing for the next couple of weeks. But if it warms up for a few days before the race, it will be very muddy and slippy. Either way, I would recommend off-road shoes with some grip. I fell over twice this morning: once on a muddy slope where I was trying to avoid a deep puddle; and a second time on some uneven frozen ground. I also ended up running a total of 13.4 miles at an average 10:15 min/mile pace, despite around 4 miles of this being on road or hard towpath (a bit each at the beginning and end, mostly off the course). My usual easy off-road running pace is around 8:45 min/mile so I'm going to revise my expectations for this race accordingly.

A few detailed points to note:

1) Iffley Lock (right at the start) is undergoing construction work and there's a narrow temporary bridge across it with no overtaking room. If you're planning to be one of the faster runners, you'll need to get yourself at the front from the start or expect a bit of a queue to get across.

2) Once off the cycle path (about 1.5 miles from the race start) is now easier to run than when I last tried in November (when it was flooded before the rest of the Thames Path). But there is still a lot of standing water and if heavy snow melts over it just before race day, you will get wet feet here.

3) The path from then on until about 1 mile after the Radley Boathouse is relatively OK (subject, as noted above, to muddy patches and some sections with uneven ground).

4) From that point up to Abingdon Lock, the path gradually gets muddier and wetter, even in these frozen conditions. There is a windy part just before the industrial estate comes into view which is still semi-flooded. You can get through and it is away from the main river a little so not dangerous, but it will slow you down (at best) and wet feet are likely. After this short section you go over a wooden bridge and then it is about half a mile to Abingdon Lock. Again this section is semi-flooded and passable but not runnable. There is an alternative route here along the cycle path which runs parallel to the Thames Path, but higher up the field next to the industrial estate. I might ask the organisers whether it would be permissible to take this alternative route (which is marginally further, but a lot drier).

5) Once over Abingdon Lock the route is basically OK again, though there is another field at one point which is still very wet and could get completely waterlogged if the weather gets wetter and warmer again.

In all, it was a long hard slog, and this was less than a quarter of the course. I was wearing Saloman shoes with climalite (ie basically waterproof) which kept my feet mostly warm and dry (though water got over the top on a couple of occassions). I'm planning to meet a friend with a change of shoes at Culham which I'm pretty sure I'll need. (I'll probably need them at every CP, but th

18/01/2013 at 12:35

It cut me off! I was just goinig to say that I won't get a change of shoes at each CP.

I hope the above was useful and hasn't put anyone off! On the plus side, everything looked really pretty in the snow.

And if anyone's wondering what I mean by semi-flooded: I'd say that the two sections I mentioned were around 70-80% underwater, albeit generally shallow. It was possible, but difficult, to avoid going straight through any deep water by means of clinging onto trees etc and walking at the edges.

18/01/2013 at 12:49

Great report, Lemony, that's really useful. And good run!

18/01/2013 at 12:53

Lemony: Thanks for the update, and for your pace info. - makes me feel a bit less bad about how slowly I was running the Streatley to Henley section last weekend (my moving pace averaged a minute slower than yours, which is considerably slower that I was on the much-hillier NDW50 last summer).

Sounds like the section you did was wetter than the section I did. Likelihood of wet feet noted.

Have you sent this description through to the organisers? They asked for mine after I'd said I was going to run Streatley to Henley, and I'm sure they'd appreciate getting this.

18/01/2013 at 13:02

Sending this to the organisers is a good idea. I'm not sure where they're based, but I guess it can't do any harm.

I should stress that because of the freezing conditions, most of the course was dry, but there were significant wet sections and there will be more of these if the weather warms up.

19/01/2013 at 11:13
Organisers have told me that they're monitoring conditions and will leave any decisions until the few days beforehand.
On my specific query about using the cycle path leading to Abjngdon as an alternative route, I was told that as long as we reach the checkpoints, we can use our initiative.
19/01/2013 at 12:27

Winter tanners tomorrow has been CANCELLED "due to difficult weather conditions" - was probably going to be a problem to get the marshals in place.

Must work out an alternative run for tomorrow, although without the encouragement of an actual event, I doubt I'll make it to 30 miles...

19/01/2013 at 13:56

Thanks for the up dates Lemony.

Debra - shame about the Tanners but the right decision, I will be attempting 30 miles tomorrow as well but with the current conditions it looks like I will be doing loops around Greenham Common. See you in 2 weeks.

19/01/2013 at 17:59

Hi all,

I posted a while training has been fairly steady at 55 miles each week.....with some longish runs but nothing very different from marathon training.  I am super excited but also very scared (my first ultra!).  


How well do you need to know the route?  Is navigation a problem?  I've ran bits and pieces of it but not the whole thing....


Do runners tend to run together?  What pace is everyone aiming for?  I think avergaing 8.30/9 min miles will be my plan with a few minutes to digest at aid stations.



19/01/2013 at 18:22

Karla: I suggest you go read my long post on page 9 (regarding the second half of the course, CP3 to the end) from last weekend and Lemony's long post further up this page. They give info. on places-you-can-go-wrong-and-how-to-avoid-that and on the present ground conditions. You may need to revise your expected pace...

As for running together, that tends to depend on whether you happen on another runner travelling at the same pace as you.

19/01/2013 at 21:59
Karla. Really depends what your speed & maybe marathon time is - taking it very steady, especially for your first ultra. Setting off too fast will make for a really painful second half.

I'm aiming for sub 3:15 in April VLM, but won't be aiming for much more than 9-9.30 mm for a comfortable sub 9hr finish, probably with some walk breaks even for a minute or two if needed every 25-30 minutes. First aim for me is finish, after that, will see how I feel and press on.

I use my Garmin for backup navigation, load up someone elses course.

Oh, Hebden Bridge 22 miler was on today, did it with my Missus so at her pace but good test of kit, base layers, soft shell jacket, waterproofs and also lots of time on feet. Fab checkpoint food too, and a meal at the end for ??9-10.

Very tough underfoot with packed snow, treacherous in places, slippy. Tons of hills. Was doing a half marathon tomorrow but that's been canceled. Legs feeling good though.
Edited: 19/01/2013 at 22:03
19/01/2013 at 22:48

Thanks - those posts are really useful.

I know the Reading to Henley part well but before that not so much.  I remember having trouble with a church yard earlier on the route....I've made little notes on my map so hopefully won't get too lost!

I ran a 3.16.34 in Amsterdam in October and will be hoping for sub 3.15 at Manchester in April so I think 9 min miles will hopefully be manageable but very much expecting to walk/run.  Its so hard to know how my body will cope with the increased distance.  Doing my last back-2-back runs this weekend....looking forward to the taper and carbo-loading!

Fit-Running-Cat I used to live in Ripponden.....Hebden bridge 22 sounds like fun.  Assuming you were supposed to be doing the Brass Monkey....sad it's cancelled.  All is snowy with me in Edinburgh....pavements are quite treacherous and taxi drivers get annoyed when you run on the road.


19/01/2013 at 23:29
was Helsby half/ 4 villages, near Chester not the BM, pretty much every race cancelled tomorrow it seems.

Hebden was nice. Very picturesque. Most my wife has run was 14-15 ish miles, or an 11 at Moel Famau so jumping to 22 with big hills, must've felt like a huge ultra type jump for her. Was interesting watching her energy levels jump, kept her going with blok shots, plus emergency nuerofen when quads started tightening up half way.

Ultra wise, I'm not hung up on time, my 10k & half times according to some sites suggest low 7hrs and under but not planning anywhere near that, would be mad to even try. Completing, and finishing strong the last 8-10 miles would be fine.
20/01/2013 at 18:06

Hi Karla,

I ran 3:09 at the Loch Ness Marathon in October, and my endurance (though not my speed) is slightly better after running up to 70 miles per week for the last few months. Even so, given conditions, I'll be aiming for no better than 10 min/mile for the Thames Trot (including time taken for stop breaks); and if it continues to snow I wouldn't be surprised if I were somewhat slower. This is also my first ultra and my aim is really just to get to the finish.

On finding your way, most of the route is well sign-posted (look out for wooden signs as well as the more common green ones), but there are places where it won't be entirely obvious. Given that we'll be following a river, my top tip is to make a note of every point at which you need to cross the river so you always know whether it is supposed to be on your left or right (and you don't get stuck on the wrong side). There are points where the Path leaves the river, but in relation to the parts of the course I am familiar with, these tend to be reasonably well sign-posted. Also, study the notes relating to the CPs. I realised on Friday that the car park at Culham isn't quite on the Path and whilst I assume that there will be marshals etc making its existence fairly obvious, it would be possible to run straight past (and you do need to 'check in' at each CP). I don't know the other CP areas, so I'm going to have to study the descriptions well.

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