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 branches and leaves got stuck in there on my last few laps. The 4 laps has become virtually my default training run so I was quite happy just stopping, removing the item then pursuing on.

Whilst my taste in running shoes is really functional and quite understated, my other footwear is horrendously garish. Probably top of this scale but closest I had to running shoes was a pair of Reebok Classics with a ‘unicorn’ style reflective strip on the heel and logo to both sides.

My 21.4 miles in them this morning was surprisingly comfortable and I settled into a 4.5 hour block of podcasts that was more than enough. I had 2 litres of Lucozade Sport in my backpack and stopped at 10.7 miles to eat a rather large bar of chocolate. Say what you want about delayed gratification but knowing that was coming definitely helped for the first half!

Having so many mornings and evenings this week that didn’t involve running has had a detrimental effect on my overall well-being and mood, maybe this is as a reaction to the last 7 weeks of hard training but I felt way more exhausted than during any of those weeks. I have been told the difference between whether somebody sees something someone else does as an obsession or something they are just passionate about is based on whether that person likes the thing or not. I think I have sort of viewed the Great Glen Ultra from an obsession point of view since the St I'lltyd Ultra and struggled this week to pass time without thinking about it. Not being able to train the usual amount has probably contributed towards this. Whilst I do have a large confidence built up since October about this attempt going well, I think I am in a better place to deal with it if it doesn’t now. I came across this quote midweek which sort of hammered that point home.

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