20 miles and my first back to back long runs

I’ve been so busy with work over the last couple of weeks that I simply didn’t have time to write a blog last week. I was so desperate to aswell as I had such a good long run! So, I’m putting the last two weeks of training into one blog.

My last blog was about recovery week, I really needed it and I love that my training plan has regular recovery weeks. The week after this brought a real step up in mileage… 47 miles in a week!

My Tuesday run stepped up from 7 miles, to 10 miles. Having worked all morning, I had to run mid-afternoon. I had told myself it was going to be a hard week, and as a result it was really hard to get myself out of the door to do this run. I set off with half an idea of my route but purposely hadn’t fully planned it so I had something to think about while I was running. As always, I didn’t make it easy for myself, putting lots of hills into the route and spent a lot of time giving myself and internal talking to, to get the job done.

With the first run of the week done, and at a good pace, I was now a bit more relaxed. Wednesday was a 5 mile recovery run and as I’d be doing my long run on Thursday it was all the more important that I really take it easy. I took myself up to Greenham Common after work and had a lovely relaxed plod.

Thursday was a day off work and my only opportunity to get my 20 mile long run done. I had figured it might take me around 4 hours and again only roughly planned a route. Having managed 15 miles without fuel or hydration during the run a couple of weeks earlier, I wanted to see if I could manage to do the same over 20 miles. I made use of pretty much every hill Andover has to offer on my route, making the total elevation over 1,400 ft. Aside from one hill, I ran the whole 20 miles with no food or water, and did it in just over 3.5 hours!! I was absolutely ecstatic, and also pleased the next day was a rest day.

Saturday, Parkrun day, brought the 7 miles that I would otherwise have done on Thursday. I decided I’d run 3 miles as a warm-up, do Parkrun and then use the remaining mile as a cool down. The first 3 miles were nice and hilly, so a bit of a testing warm-up. When it came time for Parkrun I thought I’d just see what I could do, no pressure, after all I had run 20 miles just two days before. I finished much quicker than expected, helped along by a bit of friendly competition with another Parkrunner. The mile cool-down was then more than welcome!

The week finished off with a nice sunrise 5 mile run, on my usual route from home. The last run of the week left me feeling refreshed and energised ready for the week to come.

Having worked the entire weekend and both Monday and Tuesday I was exhausted. I’d spent the majority of my working hours on my feet and had done well over 10,000 steps even on my rest day. I wanted a rest when I got home from work on Tuesday evening, so that’s what I did. Tuesday should have been a 10 mile run, with a 5 mile recovery run on Wednesday. Ultra training is so much about time spent on your feet that I decided I would sacrifice the 5 miles, rather than the 10 miles.

So, on Christmas day I got up and ran 3.5 miles to Parkrun. When I arrived I started chatting to my friend Jane, who said she had a particular time in mind to finish within. I offered to run with her to help her along the way, so we ran together and chatted most of the way around. And Jane achieved a new Parkrun PB! Then I ran the 3.5 miles home to complete my 10 miles for the day. Days like this are part of what makes me love running so much. People helping each other to achieve their goals. I would never have got where I have without the support of other runners.

Boxing day is the day my family all get together to celebrate Christmas and exchange presents. So another sunrise run it was, this time 7 miles. In theory, having run 10 miles the day before, this should have been a recovery run. It didn’t work out that way though. Somehow my body is managing to pull off tempo runs without them feeling awful. With things being all over the place (and me barely knowing what day it is) I’ve become less conscious about the pace I should be running at and have been just running. This is something I need to get back under control before I cause myself injury.

Parkrun day again and 12 miles were called for, so I decided to run to and from Parkrun again. I ran 3 miles to get there, taking it reasonably steady. I then completed Parkrun trying to keep in mind that I needed to run 6 miles home. While Parkrun isn’t a race, I find it hard to hold myself back when running alone in this environment. I waited for friends to finish, also allowing myself some recovery time, then headed home with some detours to make the 6 miles. 12 miles complete, I’m sure faster than I would have if I’d have run it in one go, but it was done and I felt good. This was the first part of my first set of back to back long runs.

The next day brought second part of my back to back long runs, with 10 miles to complete. I did this in the form of a race called Gut Buster, a 10 mile (very muddy) trail run. Having mostly run on road since beginning training I wasn’t sure how I’d fare being back on proper trails. I set myself a target of 2 hours, because of how much rain we’ve had. I met up with my friend Erwan before the start, it’s always good to have some time chatting before a race to keep the nerves at bay. We crossed the start line together but had agreed we would each run our own race so we soon went our separate ways. It was great to be back on the trails and in the mud… great until around the 8 mile point that is, where I seemed to be putting more effort into staying upright than moving forward. Getting frustrated I walked several times but managed to finish in 1 hour 39, much faster than I anticipated!

Another week done, the week ahead brings my week day mileage down a little but my long run will be 22 miles. This one I will need to fuel for, so it’s an opportunity for testing what strategy I’ll use on race day.

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