wannabe ultra runner?

share your ambitions/goals/training here on a 'newbie ultra' thread........

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14/09/2015 at 21:32

Hampshire runner- you are much faster runner than me, but I'm guessing that this strategy might work for you- rather than faffing around at checkpoints, I would suggest a run walk strategy- run at a sensible "long slow run" pace for about 25 minutes, then walk for 5 minutes wwhilst eating something- it will allow you to keep going much better than trying to just keep going at normal pace until you crumble.

Of course, if the route is sufficiently "undulating", simply walking any significant hills would have much the same effect, but if your route is flattish, then a timed strategy is probably better. You'll need to try out various ratios in practice, but it will prbably be better than trying to run at an awkwardly slow pace, and will also avoid fuleeling problems, but making you eat well.

Well done SP13- rest up for at least 1 week, then maybe start doing some very gentle recovery runs. No hard running, just slow runs.

15/09/2015 at 13:30

Hampshire runner - I totally agree with tricialitt. Absolutely no point hanging about in checkpoints. What strategy did you use for Greensand marathon? If you did that in about 4 hours then I am guessing you were not running the whole time...? (I should add that I mean that based on the paces you are talking about, which is much faster than me - I have never run a 4 hour marathon so not meaning it in a derogatory way!)

15/09/2015 at 19:39

10Peaks Brecon Beacons - Long course (55 miles)   5 Sep 2015

Undertaken during the period when I am only meant to be doing 'light stretches'.

I love this event.  In my favourite mountains,  competently organised, and with a relaxing race venue near Taly-y-bont with two nights' camping included in the entry and subsidised high quality meals at the YH.

Fri 4 Sep

About 1600 - arrive.  Early!  I have time to put my tent up before dark.

1900 - 3-course meal

2130 - race briefing

2200 - lights out

2400 - a disturbed two hours - late arrivals and cess pit lorry has got stuck in the field.  A land rover with about eight headlamps arrives to tow it out but after much noise, fails.  Toilets out of bounds except four portaloos.

Sat 5 Sep

0345 - alarm goes off.  It's raining. Plenty of time to get porridge on in the porch and get race ready.

0500 - start

0800 - the first three hours challenging.  Clag above 2000' and driving rain. Successful navigation of boggy Waun Rydd summit plateau.  All paths that we use are very waterlogged, never mind the non-paths that we also have to use.

0909 - Fan Fawr 2408', first peak.

1006 - Fan Llia 2073'

About 1100 - fall in with T-, a hardy fellrunner type about my age, and we have great conversation on and off for most of the rest of the race.  He is much faster than me but takes his own 'unofficial' routes which rarely prove to be quicker and we keep meeting up again.

1215 - 'half way' CP 3 with hot pasta and black tea, a change of shoes and socks from my drop bag and re-organise pack.  Ah, dry feet!

1216 - feet soaking again 

1406 - Fan Brycheiniog  2631'

1449 - Picws Du 2457'.  The sun now coming out and the rest of the day is spent amid glorious scenery, often completely on my own, until T- arrives again after another unsuccessful experimental route.

1737 - Fan Gyhirych 2379'.  This is a 1130' climb in 0.7 mile .  

1833  Fan Nedd  2175'

2019  Fan Frynych 2064', arrived at after a successful short cut of my own.

About 2030  - getting dark, headtorch out.  Not much further ahead than 2014, or 2013. Chances of 21-hour finish seem unlikely.  As usual find the top of the path leading down to Storey Arms very hard to find but once on it, OK.

2137 - Storey Arms, CP5.  Another black tea and fried egg in a bap from the burger van. I was going to change my socks but shoes too vile and feet too sore to mess with.  I can feel a whole menagerie of hot spots and blisters forming.

2307  Corn Du  2864'

2322  Pen y Fan  2907'  Fine views with assorted headtorches ahead and behind. Quite beguiling.  Turning out to be very cold.  On go leggings, L/S top, jacket, and hat.

Sun 6 Sep

0004  Cribyn  2608'   A period of painful walking.

0051  Fan y Big (that's Van uh Beeg) 2359'.  Somewhere between here and Cribyn I manage to lose my compass.  This is a bad thing to lose in this darkness.  Fan y Big has precipitous slopes on three sides, so it is a good idea to find the fourth side if possible. I decide to buddy up with G- who is moving at about my speed.  

His compass work does not inspire confidence, though.  He is also staggering about and occasionally vomiting. I tell him he's exhausted and decide I need to stick with this fellow until we are off the hill, if he makes it.

0159  Bwlch y Ddwyallt  2474'  Making very slow progress now with G- following. Fair play to him, he doesn't moan and seems to be keeping going. 

Edited: 15/09/2015 at 19:40
15/09/2015 at 19:42

[Cont.] Says he is 'on autopilot'.

0200+  The dreaded bog area of Waun Rydd summit plateau.  A difficult time here without a compass, or someone who can use one.  A part of the race I would like to forget.

About 0300  descent off Waun Rydd, but not sure if going in the right direction.  I yell at G- 'What is the bearing of our direction of travel AT THE MOMENT??'  'Just south of east' is the reply ...

An orange waning crescent moon has not long risen which I knew had risen in the NE and was probably now about due E.  I decide to follow the moon instead since we needed to go exactly due E.

I turn around and see G- has dropped back alarmingly, but I leave him to it.  We are off the high ground where it was so cold and other headtorches are coming up behind him.

I push on hard downhill, finding energy from somewhere.  A group of three headtorches who are ahead go through a gate on the right for some reason and blunder around in a farm, so I manage to overtake these.  Down to the road, across the Talybont reservoir dam wall, and ..

0359 - finish!  22:59:48 and 58/75 finishers.

0530 - after chilling out a bit and showering, head down in the tent.

0800 - alarm.  Don't want to miss my pre-ordered cooked breakfast.

0830 - excellent breakfast with accompaniments - cerials, fruit, fruit salad, toast, coffee all available for coming back to again and again.  Very good post-race camaraderie and chat in a relaxed setting.

During Saturday another cess pit lorry had arrived to pull the first one out but that had also got stuck.  Not sure how that saga was resolved since there were no cess pit lorries in the field when I got back.

1100  Mrs T Rex picks me up.

1200  Home.  Collapse.

15/09/2015 at 20:33

T Rex looks like you had a great time!  and I can relate to all of those hills you mention.

Was just not up to it this year my focus was elsewhere . Not sure if I will do the 10 peaks again, but it was good to read your summary 

15/09/2015 at 22:25

Thanks all - for the Greensand marathon I walked up the worst of the hills but ran/jogged the rest.  It was absolutely torrential rain the night before and all through the race and at one point we were wading through thigh deep puddles made by 4x4s.

The discomfort I find with the slower pace is physical.  I just don't like going slower than a certain pace.  And then I lose concentration and speed up!

I'm going to try a 25 / 5 strategy on my next long run and see how that goes.

16/09/2015 at 08:55

T Rex, that sounds awesome. Hard but great.

16/09/2015 at 08:56

T-Rex - great race report. Sounds like a tough route but you kept focused and concentrated all the way round. A race plan well executed. Well done !

16/09/2015 at 10:58

Enjoyed reading that T-Rex. Well done.

Just getting back into my training properly now after a few weeks of bimbling following the UTPD. I am just doing what I feel like until the end of the month and then will be getting back into a structured plan. Main focus for the next couple of months will be my orienteering though, which I absolutely love!

16/09/2015 at 15:28

Cheers.  That was a report in note form which I don't normally do.  Also have done MCN Black Mountains 40 last Saturday.  With a field of only 32, most of whom disappearing over the horizon after a few miles, it was a very lonely event. I enjoyed it though, especially the massive views and good running along the western ridge from Pen Cerrig-calch to Waun Fach.  Extremely wet underfoot.

16/09/2015 at 15:47

Nutrition in ultras is very personal and something you have to fine tune all the time.

I've done quite a few ultras and long training runs and general advice on this I might offer is:

Unlike in marathons where you might take your first gel about mile 14-15, in ultras you should start eating right from the outset, in races from CP1 onwards.  The secret is never to let your stomach empty.

Only take on sweet things such as gels, commercial energy drinks, or cakes, etc in the early stages.  If you're relying on these sorts of foods longer then marathon distance you will almost certainly start feeling nauseous.  You'll need to take on board 'normal' food of a type that you will only know by experimenting.  I find dried fruit and nuts, especially salted peanuts, very helpful, along with malt loaf and sometimes actual filled rolls or sandwiches.

Feed stations often have a large variety of foods available.  It is a very good idea to take only one or two types of food items from each CP, and vary what you take at each different one.  If you take a bit of everything from every station it all gets a bit unpalatable and you get an indigestible lump in your stomach.

If you don't want to stuff yourself whilst at the feed station carry some small bags - such as the small black doggy bags  - and put food in them for consuming over the next mile or two.

I'm vegetarian and have never had 'runner's trots' or anything similar in 16 years of racing. I would get nauseous if I had too many gels or sickly drinks, so I limit myself to two gels max and make my own energy drink.  I find Go-Bars good but again would limit myself to a max of two per race.

16/09/2015 at 15:55

If you do get nauseous so that you can't eat any more it is not a showstopper immediately but it is hard to recover from.  You would have to take a long walking break of an hour or two, take only small sips of water, and gradually introduce the plainest food.  You should find your energy coming back.

If you don't eat again there would probably be a point where you couldn't go on, and you would also risk getting chilled and hypoglycaemic, and, if you don't drink either, dehydrated!  Not a good combination.

16/09/2015 at 17:29
That's really good advice, trex. I will certainly take that on board if (when) I run another long run.
16/09/2015 at 21:18
I'm a total newbie at this ultra lark and will remain so for a good while. About a year to be exact, since that's when I'm due to run the 50miker I just signed up for. I'll be lurking here looking to pick up some knowledge if that's ok.
16/09/2015 at 22:44

Hi, Nayan.  What's the event?

Keep up the marathon running in the meanwhile ...

17/09/2015 at 05:14
Hi T rex. 'Chiltern Wonderland 50' it's called.
17/09/2015 at 07:51

T Rex - in my one and only ultra, the St Cuthberts Way (47 miles), I ate the following - 1 jaffa cake, 1 chocolate biscuit, a handful of jelly babies and 4 gels. At the last CP it took me 10 minutes to eat half a penguin bar and I couldn't finish it. By rights, I shouldn't have been able to make it that far on such little fuel. Any tips on me getting food inside me or is it just a case of  forcing it in ?

17/09/2015 at 12:11

More experimenting carterusm! I often have similar issues - for me the things that I am starting to find work are custard, rice pudding, fresh fruit, sweets, biscuits, cake, plus the manna from heaven that is flat coke! It can obviously be tricky depending on what is available at checkpoints. Anything that requires chewing tends to become an impossibility for me! Personally I think I would just be sick if I tried to force feed myself, but I just try to keep nibbling little bits and take the approach that anything that looks vaguely appetising is probably what my body needs at that point!

17/09/2015 at 12:12

Welcome Nayan. Many on here rave about Centurion events, so should be a great first one to do.

17/09/2015 at 14:13
Hi. What reading I did do suggested that might be a well run event. Now I just need to figure out how to turn marathon training cycles into something bigger.
And to run more trails of course.
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