Martin Slack

Training towards the Centurion Autumn 100 mile race. Aiming for a 22-24 hour finish.

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17 weeks, 70 miles and a reminder about the importance of persistence

I continued on from last week with completing the 5.4 mile loop several times during the week. I did one lap on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday followed by 2 laps on Friday, one before and one after work.

I had mentioned to my brother Ben during the week that I was planning another attempt at 18 laps of Post Hill Woods next weekend. I found looking forward to this during most of my training this week helped a lot in terms of my focus. I did another lap of 5.4 miles first thing yesterday morning and then 11 laps of Wythenshawe Park later on in the morning. These were fuelled purely by water and considering it was quite warm, I was pleased to be able to keep ‘locked in’ on the training for the around 4 hours that took since I didn’t have any sweet or savoury treats to look forward to!

I finished the week with 2 laps of the 7.5 mile route this afternoon. I had some crumpets with coconut...

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18 weeks, 72 miles and a return to higher mid week mileage

I had Thursday and Friday off work this week and managed to fit in slightly more miles than usual for Monday to Friday. During that timevI did 6 laps of 7.5 miles in total and was happy with how I settled into doing 2 of these at a time on my days off.

My brother Ben joined me for 5 laps in Post Hill Woods yesterday and continued on for another 4 laps without me which I was particularly impressed by. I had committed to going out for breakfast and this would be one of those weekends where getting back from my morning run at 1pm may be frowned upon!

I finished the week with 8 more laps of Post Hill Woods at 11am after work. These were quite fun as I had promised to get back by 2:30pm so gave myself a slight time pressure. The plan initially for breaks was to do 3 laps then another 3 then 2 but I pushed on and only took one break at 4 laps. I had some fruit cake and chugged more water...

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19 weeks, 32 miles and my first Sky Running finish

I spent most of my midweek running imagining myself finishing yesterday’s race. I did 2 loops of 5.4 miles, once each on Tuesday and Thursday. I knew there would be uneven rock, very steep ascents and descents as well as some difficult weather due to it being in the Lakes! Most of my visualisation was about confidence over those parts rather than me flying down a hill to the finish (that one never happens!)

The weather was far from ideal on Friday night and I had a bit of an adventure setting up my tent in pouring rain. Luckily some children staying at the campsite with their parents offered assistance in pegging it out so I managed this a bit faster. Apart from the noise of the rain being a bit distracting in trying to get to sleep, the waterproof outer section of the tent held up well and kept everything dry. I had a warm shower in the morning which was great and put away the tent far...

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20 weeks, 45 miles and a massive helping of Imposter Syndrome

I had planned to run on Monday and a few shorter runs this week followed by a new record for number of laps of Post Hill Woods today. Unfortunately only one of those things ended up happening!

I ran 5.4 miles on road on Monday and following a combination of not enough sleep and having overcommited in terms of socialising, didn’t run again until Saturday morning which was 3 laps of Post Hill Woods. This involved a 4:45am start to finish in time to drop my wife in Manchester before working in Harrogate from 10am. I then did a very quick 3 laps that evening compared to my usual pace and came in under an hour. My legs felt full of energy and I thought it would get the inclination to go faster tomorrow out of my system. I was aiming to do 18 laps so speed would not be my friend in that situation.

My plan for today was to be in the woods for 6am, have a steady 5 hour window to do 10 laps in...

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21 weeks, 5 full days of volunteering at Dragon’s Back Race and 16 laps of Wythenshawe Park

I had first found out about this race several years ago and thought the concept of Dragon Mail was really cool. Because some of the campsites where the runners stayed overnight did not have phone signal, runners are able to have their ‘post’ of supportive messages given to them by the race organisers, presumably by email printouts.

This week really gave me an insight into what the environment for the runners in between the racing is like. We had a very early start at Conwy Castle on Monday morning and I helped with setting up the Berghaus feather signs/hanging banners from railings etc. We then drove to the Day 1 finish and I got to put up my measly 1 man backpackers tent before helping with setting up 55 Berghaus 8 man tents with the rest of the camp team


We had lunch and then I learnt the structure for the rest of the days that would be the same until Friday evening. The vans...

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22 weeks, 13 miles and onto my 2nd day of volunteering at the Dragon’s Back Race

I knew last week’s back to back ultra distance training runs would have taken a lot out of me but didn’t expect it to be as much as it was! I did 3 laps of Post Hill Woods on Wednesday and ran up the motorcycle track on lap 2, mainly just to prove to myself I could still run up it after last week’s walking efforts. This was a great feeling having my legs power up the last section where it is steepest.

I didn’t run Thursday or Friday as I had to travel to Darlington with work during the day on Thursday then finished later than expected on Friday so prioritised packing everything for the 8 day spell where I would be away from home

The Dragon’s Back Race is a 5 day race covering 315km with 15,500m of climb. This runs from Monday to Friday but with registrations, team building and volunteer briefings it was 9am on Saturday until around 10am Saturday morning as an overall commitment and I...

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23 weeks, 42 laps of Post Hill Woods and my much coveted 3500m of climb

This week was tough. I had initially aimed for 45 laps of Post Hill consisting of 3 laps from Tue-Fri and doing one day where I ran twice to reach 15 midweek laps then back to back 15 laps on Saturday and Sunday. Unfortunately I never got an opportunity to do my 2nd run on any of the midweek days.

It’s one thing setting my alarm and then deciding to snooze it but it somehow seems worse to not set it in the first place.
I ran on Tuesday night and wasn’t remotely interested in setting my alarm for the next morning. Luckily after my Wednesday evening run I was able to get up at 5am on Thursday and Friday to get in 4 days of 3 laps. My week was always going to be judged on the back to back 15 laps and I was contemplating doing a few reps up the main climb on the motorcycle track in Post Hill to make sure I got 3500m of elevation for the week but this was secondary to actually finishing...

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24 weeks, 87 miles and a different mindset around focus

I seem to be making a habit of chickening out of my morning run at the start of each week. I set my alarm to go out before work on Tuesday but my legs were still aching from last Sunday so I hit snooze. I made up for it on Wednesday with two runs of 3 laps in Post Hill Woods and then repeated this again on Thursday. I finished my weekday running with another 3 laps on Friday evening.

There was a good reference to “ ‘Draymond’s law’ on The Jump podcast this week about not wanting 82 game players and wanting 16 game players. It boils down to the idea that there are NBA players who play really well in the 82 game regular season but don’t have the same success in best of 7 playoff series, winning 16 games in the playoffs is enough for a championship. The 16 game players are the best players who are capable of having an extra gear when there are higher stakes and can still win when coaches...

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25 weeks, 79 miles and a new friend (Calamine lotion!)

I had planned to do back to back 12 laps on Saturday and Sunday of the Post Hill Woods 2 mile loop on Saturday and Sunday with a total of 12 midweek laps as well to reach 36 which would have been the same as my longest week in the woods from last year.

The midweek stuff went to plan and I could head out to run for 3 laps in just over an hour after dropping my wife home from work most nights. I had managed a slightly faster effort on Tuesday night but this evened itself out later in the week!

Yesterday I had agreed with my brother Ben that I would do 5 laps with him at 10am and fit 7 in beforehand. I got to the woods earlier than planned so ended up doing 8 laps before meeting him. This was good for my weekly total but bad for my ability to keep up with little brother! On the uphill sections he was faster than me and not really forcing his pace at all. I could just about keep his pace...

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26 weeks, 65 miles and my first training run with one of the Autumn 100 Pacers

I started the week with 5.4 miles on Tuesday but then chickened out of running on Wednesday morning which had a big impact on the rest of my training. My initial plan was to have a similar week to last and do 4-5 shorter runs with one long effort.

I ended up covering 48 miles over Thursday and Friday entirely in Post Hill Woods. Thursday’s 10 laps of my 2 mile loop were difficult at first because I had got up at 4:45am and it was still dark for the first one. I had an enforced break from 1-3 to 4-10 as I had to drive my wife into work. By 8am I was back in the woods and managed my last 7 far easier because it was light and slightly warmer. This caught up with me later in the day and I had 5-6 fizzy drinks to get me through my 1-9 shift at work.

My 13 laps on Friday were frustrating as my plan to mitigate the risk of burnout worked but not as well as I had hoped. Because each loop has...

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