Posted: 28/07/2014 at 21:37
Right, I've had a nap and a massive curry so here goes:
Prep: after last year's Outlaw (11:28) I decided that I needed a bit more strength and speed on the bike and, coupled with kinder temperatures on the run I could dip under 11 hours. So I ticked over on the bike at the back end of last year and signed up for the Fred Whitton sportive (brutal hills) and a 50mile trail race just cos I wanted to do one. I thought these would give me a strength boost and keep me off the tarmac. I'd been suffering with leg and groin pain since about August and thought I needed a change in my training to get any real volume in. Basically, more bike, more off- road, less speed.
So, a 40week programme was cobbled together, 10 weeks base building then the 30week Don Fink intermediate programme with a couple of shifts in emphasis to accommodate my Paris and Fred adventures.
First test was in Feb with a 10th place hilly and rough trail marathon finish in lashing rain which gave some confidence that my running was benefitting from the long fell runs at the weekend. Switch to bike straight after and I started hitting the hills in March as part of my overlapping run taper and build for the Fred.
Paris came and went and I thoroughly enjoyed the depths of suffering that ultras can serve up and I was feeling surprisingly intact afterwards (not counting the mangled feet obviously). The bike volume stepped up significantly now and before long I found myself on the Fred Whitton course and received an education in how brutal a bike ride can be. Equivalent to a very hard marathon effort (at least it is the way I ride a bike anyway).
Started to shift focus again now and lifted the swim volume and tried (in vain) to improve my technique, along with switching to long fast bike rides on flatter terrain over the next 6 weeks. A couple of sprint tris and an open water swim event later (none of which went very well) and it was taper time!