Ultra marathon training – the last week

With two weeks to go until my first ultra marathon,  last week was the start of the taper. That’s all relative though as my plan still involved three runs and 23 miles over the weekend!! It was also an incredibly busy week at work which gave me an extra layer of stress…


Run 1: after a huge weekend running almost 40 miles I had no idea how Tuesday’s run would feel. I hadn’t felt too stiff or sore but I knew my legs would really tired. I headed out from the office early evening – these light evenings are so lovely! I knew it would be a late one at work so it was good to get out for some fresh air at 6pm. I jogged along slowly but felt good, joining the hordes of people leaving Canary Wharf for a run along the Thames Path. I felt particularly good whenever I overtook anybody – not that I was aiming to but in my head a little voice was saying “I ran 40 miles at the weekend and I’m not the slowest!!
Run 2: 9 miles on the way into work with 4 tempo miles at sub-8mm pace. It was a grey,  cold morning and it came on rain in my last mile or so but otherwise this run was great. As always, the first two miles were tough as my body warmed up and my mind woke up, but once I got going I felt great and was able to run 4 miles at 7.55mm pace – less than a year ago that was my top speed for a hard parkrun!

Run 3: was meant to happen on Thursday, but after being in the office past 11pm on Wednesday and an early start Thursday morning, I didn’t manage to run until Friday evening. I therefore missed Friday’s easy run as I figured my hills workout was more important. A quick warm-up on the treadmill, then 40 minutes of continuous work – 5 mins uphill, 5 min flat but faster. It was tough! I have decided I do not at all enjoy running uphill on a treadmill. There is nothing fun about it, it’s just tiring and crap. But never mind – I did it! And then joined a friend in the bar for a drink before home for a takeaway and bed.

Run 4: 15 miles across the North Downs. I decided it would be a good idea to re-run the first section of the route so it would be familiar on race day, so I got the train down to Farnham on Saturday morning. The sun broke through the clouds shortly after I started running and it got increasingly hotter which was not ideal but at least good practice for next week! 

The first hour was tough, my head was struggling. My legs felt heavy and I kept thinking about my pace, wondering how long I could sustain it for and what time I could finish the ultra in, given the pace I was running. I also got lost twice which was annoying! 

But, like last week, eventually my mindset changed and I stopped thinking about pace or time and just started to think about how much I was enjoying being out in the countryside and how lucky I am that my body is able to do those sorts of things – to run 15 miles without it ever being actually physically hard. 

In the end, I ran 15 miles in just under 2 hours 25, walking up all the hills and stopping to take photos whenever I fancied (it took me almost half an hour longer in actual time rather than running time!). And I had a fantastic time.

Run 5: 8 miles around sunny south London on Sunday evening – a loop of Brockwell Park and then a loop of Tooting Common. It took me well over half an hour to warm up into it but once I did I had a great run!

Cross-training: some weights sessions (I love strength work these days), one day of cycling to and from work and a little meander to my friend’s house for breakfast and back via the butchers on Sunday morning! I am planning a summer holiday cycling so I definately need to get back on the bike…

Something fun that was nothing to do with running: I had a lovely weekend. Obviously a large part of that was running – but aside from that I went out for an amazing dinner at Kiln on Saturday night and then over to my friend’s for breakfast on Sunday. We used to live together and I hadn’t really seen her for months so it was so good to catch up properly and spend hours chatting over a mug of tea. And by the time I left, the sun had come out! Perfect.


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