Training Update – Weeks 3 & 4

The first road race of the year at Canterbury and a lot of mud and water on a fun Sunday morning long run!

I realised one day last week it was 99 days until my ultra debut. That’s still more than 3 months of course, but seeing the number of days in double digits was just a reminder that those 3 months will probably fly by before I know it. 

Since my last post I’ve got in another solid fortnight of training. After the Benfleet 15 my legs were still feeling it a couple of days later so I passed on a planned trip to the track and threw in some easy miles instead, opting to push the pace a little harder at the club run the following evening. Week 3 was a recovery week in my schedule after two weeks of getting back into training regularly, and it ended with a trip down the A2 for the Canterbury 10 miles.

This is always the first big road race of the year in Kent and so always attracts a big field, including a decent contingent of Maidstone Harriers. 10 miles is probably my favourite distance but I only raced it once in 2019 at the Great South Run so I was eager to see how I would get on and see what sort of speed I had in my legs. Something sub 1:20 was the target and conditions seemed favourable, not always a given at the end of January. 

I can normally tell how I’m feeling and how it’s likely to go quite early on so it was encouraging to feel quite strong and relaxed in the slightly uphill first couple of miles. That meant I could stretch out on the downhill section into Bridge and push on towards the tougher middle section. There’s a short sharp climb out of Patrixbourne followed by an undulating couple of miles, but I was still feeling good and in a rhythm after that so when we hit the long descent into Bekesbourne I was able to up the pace again.

Serious race face!

At this stage I knew that barring a disaster sub 1:20 was in the bag, and once I’d got up the final climb it was just a case of keeping it going for the last 2 miles, which includes a nice downhill section, and I was delighted to cross the line in 1:17:43. I was especially pleased at that’s a minute quicker than I’d managed the dead flat Great South Run back in October.

After another good pacy club run on Wednesday night it was back to the Sunday long runs. This week I joined up with the regular group of Harriers that meets up for 17 miles. The 5:35am alarm call for the 7am start was tough but it was so worth it. It had been raining all night and eased off as we started but I don’t think any of us were prepared for the amount of mud and water we ended up encountering as we slipped, slided and splashed our away around the Kent countryside!

Unlike at Benfleet I did manage to stay on my feet this time,although there were some close calls. We found some country lanes flooded calf deep and had no option but to wade in and get on with it! It made for a tough but very fun morning that everyone thoroughly enjoyed. 

Of course 17 miles is only just over half the distance I’ll be attempting in my ultra, so I’ll be looking for 19 miles this weekend as my long run. A fortnight after that is Lenham Winter Cross Marathon, which as well as being very hilly could be very muddy if yesterday is anything to go by. 

This coming week I’ll be looking to continue to build up my weekly mileage. To date it’s been 24 – 29- 23 – 33 miles so the plan this week is to get up to 35 or 36 miles. The following week is a bit of an odd one as we’re away for a few days for my partner’s 50th birthday, so it won’t be a high mileage one, maybe one to focus more on quality rather than quantity especially with another track 5K planned for the evening before we go away. Of course I will be taking my running gear, where we are staying looks like there could be some scenic routes, so I can’t pass up on that opportunity! 

So we’ve survived the first month of the year, and spring isn’t far away, I hope everyone’s training is going well and I’ll be back with another update shortly.