Week 12 has arrived, which means there are only four weeks to go until my attempt to conquer the Hoka Highland Fling. Holy guacamole I'm starting to get nervous. My training plan stipulated two rest days in a row (hurrah) a 50-minute easy run on Wednesday, 35 minutes easy on Thursday, some strength and conditioning work and then two 12-mile back-to-back runs on Saturday and Sunday.
This all sounded easy enough, until I stopped to consider the enormity of attempting two long runs on consecutive days. I’ve really ramped up my training since I’ve been preparing for the Fling, but I’ve always been careful regarding long runs. The day after running anything over ten miles and I tend to feel wiped out. The concept of going long two days in a row filled me with dread.
As expected I was under par on day two and took it fairly slow. I also found the hillier sections of Hampstead Heath particularly brutal and my confidence wavered. Fortunately this was also the week I got to interview Nicky Spinks. The fastest woman over Great Britain’s highest peaks, I figured Nicky was the right woman to approach for ultra training advice, and she didn’t let me down.
Fell running guru
During the interview, I subtly turned the subject around and asked her what advice she would give to budding ultra runners such as myself. ‘Pace yourself at the start, eat lots early on and if it starts to get hard, take it one checkpoint at a time,’said Nicky. ‘Break it down a bit.’
And what about tackling the hills? ‘Walk! Walk all the up hills. You might find this hard at the beginning, but make yourself walk; you’ll find towards the end you’ll be able to walk easily.’
Speaking to a fell running hero who took up running in her 30s and survived cancer in the process really inspired me. I have two consecutive 15 milers to contend with this weekend and I will definitely follow Nicky's sage advice. I will also be cheering her on as she attempts to lower her own Bob Graham time on Sunday and beat a separate men’s record in the process. Read my interview with Nicky here.
One thing I have noticed is that my recovery has sped up considerably. Running long back-to-back is still tough, but I felt absolutely fine a couple of days later. I suspect I might be invincible and capable of conquering anything I put my mind (and legs) to! Or at the very least, a 53-mile ultra marathon in the highlands.
Anyone else got a piece of sage ultra advice they would like to share? Tweet me @Rhalou, I need all the help I can get.