Last updated: 10-May-19
By Tom Haynes
RunUltra Introduction: We’ve been following Tom’s progress for a few months now and his training has been going really well. He’s been doing some big weekly miles and just needs to stay focused now for the final couple of months before race day, getting the build-up just right, planning the taper and keeping mentally strong for the big day. Here’s part 4.
Dan Stinton, Interim Editor
My training plan in April started with low mileage but this all changed at the end of the week with 50km of agony – it was time for the Manchester Marathon. The race fitted well with my training plan with a 4km warm-up run from the car park to the start, the marathon itself and a 4km walk back after the race ensured I met my planned 50km.
It was fantastic to run the Manchester Marathon again however, I ended up running way too quick. With all that wonderful support, how can you not aim to please by running faster and harder?
The support from the locals and general spectators was phenomenal and I really appreciated the dedication of so many people standing on the side of the road clapping and cheering for five hours.
Last year I nearly broke down after 16 miles and had to push through to the end but this year I managed much better. Either I was a lot more conditioned for the run or I’ve developed my ability to handle the pain.
Overall the marathon went well, and I felt a lot better the next day compared to last year. I was soon back into my training with back-to-back half marathons on Tuesday and Wednesday and I felt great! I was running well and able to continue pushing through day after day.
However, this was short lived… thankfully, due to my schedule and not my physical performance because that weekend we were off to Paris to see my brother and sister-in-law that meant no running on Friday or a long run on Sunday.
I tried to rearrange my plan but ended up walking 17km on the Saturday and 8km on the Sunday. Many articles on ultra running training advocate time on your feet as well as running specific distances to train your body to keep moving over long periods of time, so I decided to leave my plan showing 13km even though I didn’t run – after all it was over eight hours on my feet.
Also, we saw the Paris Marathon, so that surely that counts for something!
The week following Paris became quite difficult to complete. I tried to add the mileage I hadn’t completed on top of the already lengthy plan and this started to take its toll. I even skipped a rest day in order to complete the required distances prior to my brother turning up at our place the following Saturday.
RunUltra Comment: It’s not a good idea to try and “catch-up” if you’ve ended up doing lower mileage than planned, it’s best to stick to your schedule so you don’t overload yourself
Even with the extra mileage, I worked through the week quite successfully and because it was Easter weekend I could run on Friday and leave myself more time to recover before Saturday’s effort. Easter weekend in Southport was uninterrupted sunshine and no less than 25 degrees C from Friday to Monday that made for an amazing and warm weekend.
Finally, something remotely like home (Australia) but after three months training in the cold, I found the heat really difficult but still completed the distances on my training plan prior to lunch on Saturday.
I wish the same could be said for the week after – the final week of April. I missed a couple of the planned training sessions. One to spend time with my brother and another because I felt I couldn’t get up and move. I have had this issue before, so didn’t think twice about skipping the session and regrouping tomorrow.
Previously when I’ve skipped a run, I could make up for it the next day. But now the distances are greater, the efforts harder. Missing one run can take a whole week, if not more, to catch up. Surprisingly, I was more affected mentally, than physically.
RunUltra Comment: We may be labouring a point here, mileage isn’t everything and trying to add “missed” miles to already big weeks is a recipe for disaster, be careful Tom!
I am driven to complete this goal of 100 miles but unfortunately, this same drive is also tormenting me when I fail to stick to my training plan. Now, if I miss any training, my first thoughts are drawn towards the notion that missing distance will be my undoing.
Usually the thoughts don’t last too long, but as the distances get longer, so does the time alone. Is it my body failing? Is it my mind failing? Am I just not strong enough to complete this challenge?! Lucky for me, I have some great support around me and so far enough grit to get me through!
Even with some control on my mental stability while running, I still need to manage my nutrition and physical condition. Some of my running has resulted in very sore muscles and tired joints lately so I begin to question if I am managing my diet correctly.
On reflection I can see that my diet has changed whether by volume or content, I wasn’t sure. All I knew is that I was becoming very hungry throughout the day, so need work out why.
With April out of the way, I need to prepare myself for the weeks ahead. Throughout May and into June, I am busy on several weekends due to family visits and holidays but I have already worked this into my schedule.
As long as I manage my diet better, I should be able to keep myself in check. Only two months to go now, building up to training crescendo at the end of May and tapering off during June.
Follow Tom at his blog here.
Photo credits: Tom Hayes.