Running 100+ miles in training a week, ultra runner and ASICS ambassador Holly Rush was the ideal candidate to talk to Bootcampers back in November about distance running, staying motivated and racing. Here Holly shares her advice on how to tackle a marathon.
What does an average training week look like for you?
I tend to average 100 miles a week for most of the year apart from after big races when I take at least a week or two off. This consists of two speedier sessions, one long run and one medium long run, then the rest of my miles are easy runs. I also include hills within one of my sessions in the week. I also do two Body Pump classes per week.
What races do you have in the calendar for 2015?
My key race for the first half of the year is the Two Oceans ultra in South Africa (56k in April). I also hope to do some mountain ultras in the Alps later in the year. I will still be racing lots of other lower key races too, but for now this is my focus.
How do you prepare for races?
Each race is different, especially now I am racing ultras. The terrain can vary, so I like to train specifically for the course I’ll be running – if there are lots of hills or technical terrain for example, I’ll structure my runs around these. My pre-race routine stays the same before each race – in my eyes, if it’s not broken, don’t fix it!
Tim, our sub 3.30 runner, struggles with the final 6 miles in a marathon. How do you handle tough parts in a race – do you have any mantras you say or things you focus on?
I like to divide races up into sections, so I never focus on say 26.2 miles in one go. I always think of the last six miles (which are the toughest) as the morning run I do with my dog. I remind myself that it’s really not that far and once I am at the finish I can rest and enjoy myself. I also dedicate each 10k to someone important in my life. My grandad was my number one supporter - sadly I lost him last year and so I think of him when it gets tough.
You talked at Bootcamp about focusing on “controlling the controllables” ahead of a race – what did you mean by this?
If you wake up on the morning of a race and the conditions are not what you expected – if it’s wet and windy, for example - there’s absolutely nothing you can do about it and everyone is in the same boat. Keep in mind what you are in control of: tying your shoe laces properly, eating your usual breakfast and running with a smile!
Do you have any general tips for staying motivated as the mileage builds?
The first few weeks can be tough and you should find that running gets easier as time goes on. In the early stages you won’t be as fit and you won’t be used to running with such frequency. Provided you keep your training progressive and factor in rest and recovery, the more miles you run, the fitter you’ll become and the easier it will get. Staying motivated during the first 4 - 6 weeks is the key to enjoying the final phase of your training before the race. Sticking to a routine and getting family and friends to support you will help as well as teaming up with a training partner.
As a sports massage therapist yourself, do you have regular sports massage, and if so, how important is it in your overall training preparation?
I am lucky enough to work alongside a great hands-on physio so I get to see her every week for a check up and massage. Getting a regular massage can definitely keep your body refreshed and it’s a good time to assimilate your training.
How do you fuel your runs?
I don’t tend to fuel on my long runs unless they are over three hours, then I will take real food such as pork pies, Chai bars or bananas in almond butter. In races less than six hours I will use Accel Gels and S Caps (electrolyte) and just water - anything over that distance I eat real food.
You almost made #porkpies trend on Twitter during the campaigning stage of #asics262 back in December. Why pork pies?
Pork pies are a perfect balance of fat, salt, protein and carbs. The mini ones are also perfectly portable. After running for more than six hours I crave salty food and I love pork pies... they’re not for everyone but I have trained myself to eat them whilst running – which is no mean feat!
Any other training tips you’d like to add?
Find some races to break the routine and give you some short-term focus. As you’ll be training during the winter, if you have the time and finances, try and get away for some warm weather training or just a change of scenery. You’ll be surprised how much a week away can revitalise you. Perhaps look at finding a half marathon or 10k further afield. Keep a log of how many miles you’ve done in your trainers too and make sure you get new ones plenty of time before the big race.