Ultra check-list

Last weekend I volunteered at the TP100 and saw an amazing effort by all the runners having a good crack at a different section of the Thames Path, in what was another very well organised event by Centurion Running, and it got me all fired up ready for T60 this weekend.

It also got me thinking of a simple check-list of what needs to be done during the race (and any ultra/endurance event for that matter…) for it to go well:

1. Run. Just run fast from start to finish, simples.

Really this is about pacing. A negative split would be ideal; not sure how much of a proponent I’ll be of that at mile 50, but the key part is I need to make sure I don’t try and zoom off at the start then blow up horribly.

With no running ‘training’ done since January, I really need to make sure I am in good enough shape to go the distance, and not screw myself by hammering it at the beginning. Feeling pretty sluggish and the thought of the long night ahead should keep me from doing that!

Ultimately, whoever maintains the highest average pace will win the race, and will likely set a new course record in doing so. Finding that high average pace is a bit of a black art…

2. Eat. 60 miles is a reasonably long way, and I’ll do some serious suffering if I get my eating wrong. Sticking with what is tried and tested, and what I know works in races, this shouldn’t be too much of an issue. But this is what came unstuck last year for T60, leaving an unsightly mess in a few bushes en route. I’ve been doing a bit of ‘gut training’ on the bike recently, but nothing beats race-conditions specificity, so hopefully I’ll be well enough practiced.

After all, ultras are just long-distance picnics right?

3. Don’t get lost. Seems straightforward, its the Thames Path after all…follow the big river? Sadly its not quite the case as the path does leave the river quite a lot, and there will be no extra marking out on the course, just the official Thames Path signs, a map and compass.

I always try to get out on a trail before the race so I can memorise it and leave no room for error, but that hasn’t been an option this time round. I’ve done the route before so should be able to remember it… at 2 am…after 6 hours of racing… fingers crossed…

And by ‘path’, I mean flood plain. This section of the path isn’t quite the same as the London bit and gave me a nasty surprise when I tried to cycle it!

Overall I know I’m not particularly fit going into this race, but I am reasonably healthy. I’ve just started using the InDurance kits to try and quantify ‘healthy’ (very useful, + I love it as I’m a geek), so I know whats in working order and what needs work.

My vitamin D was low thanks to the great British Winter, so we gave it a boost; my B12 (keeping cells and nerves in check) and magnesium (turning stuff into energy) are up at good levels, proof I’ve been eating well and don’t need to change anything there; my testosterone was borderline low, especially for a red-blooded 24yr old male doing S&C 3 times a week! This is a can of worms, and probably down to some chronic stresses going on, but more on that another time.

So, I’m in good shape. As long as I don’t have to spar with anyone half way through the race, I should be ok.

Run, eat, don’t get lost. Simple?

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