Martin Slack

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

Read this first

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

if-your-nerve-deny-you.jpg

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...

Continue reading →


Post race thoughts

537ba61b764b4.jpg

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.

DSC_0002.JPG

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

Continue reading →


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

quote-most-people-overestimate-what-they-can-do-in-one-year-and-underestimate-what-they-can-bill-gates-42-21-46.jpg

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...

Continue reading →


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...

Continue reading →


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...

Continue reading →


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...

Continue reading →


6 weeks, 71 miles and some inspiration from when sport is prophetic.

My week began with 4 laps of Post Hill Woods on Tuesday morning. These were quite difficult and my legs still felt heavy from last week. Luckily Thursday morning’s 4 laps was a lot more comfortable and I gained some confidence from this for the longer distances I’d have to cover later in the week.

Having chickened out of a possible 3rd morning starting at 4:15am on Friday, I forced myself to head out for 4 laps at 4:30pm after work before collecting my wife from work, then another 4 laps starting again at 7:20pm. This was definitely useful for reminding myself how to grit my way through a run where my legs are shot! I had ran the first 4 in just under 1:20 and paid for it when starting again for the second 4.

Yesterday was great because I managed 7 laps in the morning and 7 in the evening without any negativity setting in about my earlier training or capability of finishing either...

Continue reading →


7 weeks, 67 miles and some incredible examples of sympathetic joy

I had earmarked this week to get a decent amount of miles in across the weekend due to not having a full day at work looming with tomorrow being a Bank Holiday. My plan was at least 24 mid week and 36 across Saturday and Sunday.

The week started off reasonably well and I managed 4 laps in Post Hill Woods on Tuesday morning and Thursday evening then a rather sluggish 6 laps on Friday morning. I had taken an interest in several friend’s races this weekend and their preparation which they shared on Facebook. Seeing how diligent and meticulous they were about having enough supplies, knowing about the route etc was great to read about. I was able to pick up some ideas I may try beforehand that I could use in July for during the race. There was an aura of confidence about the posts as well which was brilliant to have considering the distances of the races they were doing.

Yesterday I did 4...

Continue reading →


8 weeks, 61 miles and a new PB for distance covered in Post Hill Woods

My plan for this week was mainly centred around covering at least marathon distance in the woods yesterday. Everything else was always going to be secondary.

I started the week with 4 laps on Tuesday evening and repeated this on Thursday and Friday. I was pleased to maintain a relatively consistent pace throughout each session and speed up a bit for the last mile a few times.

Yesterday was the hottest I have trained in since the St I'lltyd Ultra. I set off at 11am with 2 litres of Tailwind nutrition drink in my water bladder and a 5 litre bottle in the car as a reserve. My first 4 laps were quite comfortable and I could keep a slower but measured pace for each lap. I had a Clif peanut butter bar and sat on a rock for a few minutes before setting off again.

I must have been sipping the drink far too infrequently in the first section as I was ridiculously thirsty and really struggled...

Continue reading →


9 weeks, 52 miles and a drastic change in total elevation for training

I hated waiting until Wednesday to go running but managed to hold off and allow my legs some recovery from last weekend’s efforts. Part of what I use running for is reflection on how adequate my training is for that stage in my plan, based on if I can justify that workload however close it is to a race.

Unfortunately there is a confidence you can only really get back about running when you are actually doing it. I had beaten myself up a bit about not pushing on and trying to get some pace back for the last 25km section last weekend. Because the total elevation was a lot more than I had covered in training, this may have been unrealistic.

After 4 laps of Post Hill Woods which was around 8 miles and over 1000ft of climb, I had a good feeling about being able to cover the required elevation for Great Glen Ultra over the course of the week. I’m now trying a slight variation of “if you can...

Continue reading →