Martin Slack

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

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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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27 weeks, 63 miles and a mixed experience adapting to new mountain running shoes

I managed to do 47 of my 63 miles this week on trail which was around the
75% I was hoping for. This was all along the same loop of just over 2 miles. In 4 sessions from Thursday morning to Friday evening, I covered 6.3 miles in 3 loops each time. It was quite good fun lighting the way on Friday morning with my phone’s flashlight as I forgot my head torch!

My main run for the weekend was 10 loops yesterday. I had a bit of overconfidence about this having done 15 laps last summer in preparation for the Great Glen Ultra and had forgot how sodding steep the first hill feels after 5-6 laps! I also was far too preoccupied with messing around trying to skip songs on my Spotify playlist and kept taking my gloves off to be able to do this, then getting annoyed with myself because my hands would get cold!

I had a bit of a ‘storm in a teacup’ moment after leaving my gloves and hat in the car at...

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28 weeks, 60 miles and an unfortunate reminder that leg speed isn’t everything

I thought this week would be lighter since the previous 2 weekends had included longer runs than usual. My legs had no inclination to even attempt running until Wednesday. After the 40 last weekend the bottom of my hamstrings had chafed quite badly against the end of my shorts and without going into detail, it was Wednesday before this situation was resolved!

I did 7 laps of 5.4 miles from Wednesday to Saturday and was pleased to have shown something resembling commitment to manage 2 consecutive 4:45am starts to get the last couple of these in before work. I am a bit gun-shy about getting up that early at the moment but this will be easier when the mornings are lighter again.

I had commited to cheering on my friend Tom in the Manchester Marathon today when it goes through Sale so had a marginally later start (5am) to fit in my 11 laps of a 2 mile loop in Wythenshawe Park before he...

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29 weeks, 67 miles and my 2nd ultra event in 8 days

I had signed up for last week’s Cakeathon in a small window where this week’s event The Brain Tumour Charity Ultra was likely to be cancelled. This was due to only 11 of us having signed up before Christmas. Despite knowing I could not race 40 miles after last week’s effort, knowing it was relatively flat for the first half and that the cutoff was 10 hours meant I was always confident I would finish it.

I had done 4 laps of 5.4 miles earlier in the week and managed a reasonable nights sleep in a tent before the race start at 9am yesterday. I’m not great at falling asleep at the best of times so was content to have managed 6 hours of sleep. The 40 miles was virtually entirely on cycle paths. I was happy for the first hour to listen to podcasts I had missed earlier in the week. I switched to music after this and was actively trying to hold back my pace considering I was still less than...

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30 weeks, 69 miles and my first ‘podium’ finish

I managed two things this week that I definitely didn’t expect. After a very steady 7.5 miles on Tuesday, I tried running slightly faster for parts of the same route on Wednesday and got round in just under 1:04. This was good preparation for trying to get this route under an hour the next night. I’m surprised how far under the hour I got and considering I’ve lived in the area for 5 years now as well as the fact I’ve had so many efforts where I was 1-2 minutes off, it was great to finally get under it. There isn’t a massive amount of climb in this route (500ft) but it is in long enough stretches that you can’t just power up them. I think the only difference between this time and previous attempts was that my weekly base mileage is higher so I could recover quicker after the 2 climbs.

I ran a race yesterday called the Cakeathon with my brother Ben and our friends Malcolm and Andy. This...

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31 weeks, 63 miles and a healthy dose of midweek motivation

For people who have read my blogs for other races previously, my fondness for Captain Marvel and other comic books should be well known. I started my week with watching the movie adaptation on Tuesday which I thought was incredible. The 3rd act I thought was up there with the best Marvel films I’ve ever seen!

I then did the 5.4 mile loop first thing on Wednesday morning before watching Free Solo that evening. This is a documentary about Alex Honnold, the only person to have climbed the El Capitan vertical rock formation without ropes. To say this is 3000ft high at its summit feels like an understatement based on how it looks in the film.

I did the same loop twice on Thursday then once more on Friday evening. This was followed by two more on Saturday morning. I had aimed to do a minimum of 50 miles this week but didn’t want to push too much to maintain 70 considering I have races on...

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