Saturday, May 29, 2010

Run for the hills!

I have been running in Ultra marathons for 2 years now, having “retired” from road marathons because of the boredom factor and the perpetual obligation to monitor my watch. At the time I announced that a marathon is just too far to run, and have since had to eat my words!  By converting to the Ultra distance events, which are predominantly ran on trails, my enthusiasm for running has been rekindled.

During the transition period I found information on training for endurance events to be very limited, which is why I wanted to create this blog.

The key concept with Ultrarunning, and indeed running of any distance, is that there are no hard and fast rules for how you will perform. We are very much individuals in how we respond to different circumstances from a physiological and psychological point of view. I have heard the phrase “we are an experiment of one” and this for me sums things up very well.

We are all governed by generic limitation dictated by the laws of physic, biochemistry, genetics, etc, and the real art is to maximise your output in each area to optimise your performance. This is very much individual, and the only way to find out is by trial and error.

So I will share with you my trials and errors, as well as what I have learnt personally and through others in the hope that it will help you with your own endeavours in the running world.

I have recently completed my 3rd Ultramarathon, The North Face 100, a tough 100km trail race up and down the trails (and stairs!)of the Blue Mountains outside Sydney, Australia.  Dean Karnazes ran it last year and described it as the toughest 100km race he’d ever done. Check out the event website www.thenorthface.com.au/100/ 

I made a 90 minute improvement on my time from last year’s event, and this made me question what I had done differently to get this improvement. More excitingly, I want to know what I can do differently to improve further in future events.

As with any distance event, be it 5kms or 5000kms, training is very time consuming and requires a high degree of personal discipline and often sacrifice. For ultra events, these pressures increase geometrically.

So I have decided to share my “experiment of one”, which will consist of a rigid training program, based on my learnings of many years of running. My training plan is somewhat different to that which you will read in any text book, and one I believe will give me better results in upcoming events.

There will be daily updates on training activities, as well as discussions and observations on all manner of topics related to running, with special attention paid to long distance and trail running.

So please follow me on my journey and contribute in what, with your help, will become the most complete source of information for the aspiring and experienced ultra runner alike.

I will be kicking off tomorrow with my review of the North Face 100, and my recovery since the event, before putting the new training program into action.

Happy Running
Andy