Martin Slack

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

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48 weeks, 10 laps of 5.4 miles and a 30 mile run

This week has given me back something I haven’t had since August. On back to back weekends I had ran the Beer Ultra again and was a sweep for all 26 miles at the Whitworth Trail Marathon. Despite my knee not having fully healed at that point, the mental resilience was still there and I had a sense of certainty about being able to finish both.

I think what my running has missed since then has been a long training run that I know will be a battle. While I have maintained a reasonably high weekly mileage recently, I have dodged the sort of effort where you know something is going to hurt and you’ll have to use both arms to peel yourself in and out of the car after the event!

I stuck to laps of the 5.4 mile route with one lap on Monday and two on the other weekdays. These were largely comfortable and I was particularly proud of a parkour type move on one of them, where I managed to swerve...

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49 weeks, 10 training runs and my second time above 80 miles on a training week

I like to think of the time I spend running on my own as being purposeful from a mental health point of view as I can allow my mind to wander and often come up with solutions or make decisions I am unable to reach without the endorphin release.

For the 6 days of running I did this week, that hasn’t been working. Admittedly there were some sessions where I was immersed in listening to a podcast and more interested in the lives involved in those than my own. What I have gained from this week is a better understanding of where the line is for me with over-training and the difference between running to gain a good mood versus only being in a good mood whilst running.

I covered 15 miles a day on Monday and Tuesday, this was then followed by a 7.5 mile run on Wednesday and a running specific pilates class that evening (every caricature about someone my size doing pilates is true based on...

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50 weeks, 78 miles and a renewed appreciation for running little and often.

This week I tried to have a narrow focus on the day to day running without taking into account the planned total as a whole. I did the same 3 a day on Tuesday and enjoyed having 2 beers on the last out and back 7.5 mile legs. There is something far more refreshing about cold beer in cold weather than when it is hot.

I did another 7.5 miles on Wednesday and twice more on Thursday. I had real difficulty sleeping on Wednesday night and was wide awake from about 3am so waited until 5am for the streetlights to come on and headed out for the first run. Ironically the second in the early evening was at a far better pace and I found I used less energy to keep warm.

I then did 10.4 miles on trails with my brother Ben on Friday and one of his friends Malcolm. Malcolm is a far faster runner than both of us but luckily he was happy going along at Ben’s pace. I joked at the end that we didn’t...

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51 weeks, 67.5 miles and my first 3-a-day in months.

I started the week with 7.5 miles on Monday morning and then three more 7.5 mile runs on Tuesday. I quite liked that the last 2 were out and back as I couldn’t chicken out of the last leg being 7.5 miles away from home!

I continued with 7.5 miles per day from Wednesday to Friday and finished the week with 15 miles today. While I am happy with adding 7.5 miles to last week’s total, it is quite concerning that I’m not doing the longer Sunday runs yet that I had built up to in preparation for the Great Glen Ultra.

I reached a point where it was routine that these were at least 20 miles and I think the reason behind this falling behind is more psychosomatic than to do with the pulled knee ligaments from nearly 4 months ago.

With the bulk of my longer mileage needing to be in the next 7 weeks for the Paris by Night race in January, I am going to have to find a way to force myself to...

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52 weeks, 60 miles and a harsh lesson in holding my nerve

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I volunteered at the East Isley checkpoint at the Autumn 100 mile race last Saturday night into Sunday morning. I had asked to be given a night volunteer slot so I could gain a first hand experience of what to expect during that time in October next year. The resilience that runners showed while passing us until 5:15am was incredible and although a few chose to drop out at that point, the overwhelming majority didn’t even consider it. I was seeing them out at 56.3 miles then returning at 68.7 miles, there was a sense of the amount of effort they had put into training for this in how they communicated with us as marshalls. Everything was geared towards getting to the next checkpoint and although it was shivering cold with 5 top layers and 2 bottom layers on for parts of the night for me, I wasn’t about to shy away from helping and spoil someone’s race. It was easy for me to have a...

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Post race thoughts

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I had spent most of the last 2 months saying to everyone who would listen that I was finishing this race if it killed me. After having DNF’d both the Paris by Night race in January and the St I'lltyd 100km at tee start of May, I had gone through more than my share of writing a plucky ‘gave my best but just fell short’ blog entries!

The coach journey to the start was nearly 2 hours and I spent quite a bit of this getting an idea of where the Great Glen route was entering or leaving each town. At registration I collected my timing dobber and race number. I then divided up my 6 drop bags into the correct IKEA bags for my race number. It was great to be there in plenty of time and I listened to podcasts for most of this until the race briefing before the 1am start. For the middle of the night it was brighter than I expected.

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I enjoyed my steady plod to CP1 and chugged both of my...

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2 weeks, 21 miles, over 4000 feet of climb and a reflection on 10 years running long distances

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I first started training for the Yorkshireman marathon in the summer of 2009. This was to pass the time during my transition between graduating from university and the rather feeble attempt I made at postgraduate study. My longest training run was 15 miles on road which left me woefully under prepared for 26 miles of hilly trail. Despite realising I was way out of my depth about 3 hours into a 4hr 50 marathon, I managed to make friends who were comfortable finishing the route at my pace and eventually got back to the cobbled roads in Haworth where I got a t shirt and a bowl of soup for my efforts.

This run was like a badge of honour I had in the back of my mind at every marathon I did afterwards, at races which I flew off way too fast at the start or were far hillier, I had a hint of arrogance that nothing would be as bad as the last part of that race. I am glad I chose this...

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3 weeks, 38 miles and an acknowledgement of the darker side of training for ultramarathons

I hate taper weeks with a passion, usually for the start of a new week I will feel horrific from the previous long training run and find I get some energy back during my first recovery run of that week. Because I was planning to half my weekly mileage this week and then again next week, I had a choice between lots of shorter training runs and no long run, or 2 shorter runs and keep the reasonably long run. I chose the latter and managed to procrastinate away until Thursday evening for my next run.

I was quite comfortable throughout the 4 laps of Post Hill Woods and enjoyed being able to switch off while listening to music, my run on Saturday afternoon passed by almost identically. The only difference was that Saturday’s killed off my only pair of trail running shoes. What had started as a slight separation at the front of the toe section on my right shoe had opened up so large tree...

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4 weeks, 75 miles and my first complete night run

This week I had one main goal that my hopes of finishing the Great Glen Ultra hinged on it going to plan. I knew since the race has a 1am start time I would have to replicate this at some point in my training but had avoided it for weeks on end! This was the last week before my taper so I would have to face it this time.

My earlier running in the week involved 4 laps of Post Hill Woods each day from Tuesday to Friday. The early morning starts of getting up at 4:15am, and in the woods for 4:45am, didn’t seem anywhere near as bad knowing what I had waiting for me in the early hours of Saturday.

I had bought 12 cans of Monster Ultra energy drink in with the weekly household shop on Monday. For supplies to last the 15 laps on Saturday morning, I took 4 of these, one regular Monster drink and my 5 litre water bottle filled with lemon and lime flavoured still water. I also added some dark...

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5 weeks, 60 miles and a reminder that stubbornness is a positive personality trait

I found this week by far the most difficult out of the 30 weeks I have done in this plan. My recovery run at 4:45am on Tuesday morning was horrible and I barely got round the 8.4 miles in time to be back to take my wife into work. Luckily when I headed back out that evening I had something resembling freshness and my legs were able to maintain a lot faster pace far more effortlessly.

I managed another 2 outings of 8.4 miles on Thursday and Friday mornings at 4:45am. These were not as fluid as Tuesday evening but nowhere near as catastrophic as the start of the week had been.

The plan was to do another 13 laps today. I had a later start than I would have liked but I was far too invested in my plan for this week and next week to accept any other outcome.

I had listened to a Talking Comics review of a comic book called I Kill Giants twice on Monday which has definitely been the...

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