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 chocolate digestive biscuits for purposes of morale.

Staying up until 12:30am was quite easy and I had a strong coffee about 11:30pm to help keep me awake. I had loaded my phone with over 7 hours of podcasts so was optimistic about being able to distract myself for the majority of this run.

I enjoyed having the woods to myself setting off at 1am and my headtorch was sufficiently bright that I could see 15-20m ahead so knew where my turn offs were on the route. My plan was to do 3 laps, have some drinks and biscuits, then repeat with the intention that my pacing would be 2 breaks before it got light and then I’d have my other 3 sets of 3 laps in near daylight/daylight.

My first 3 laps were fine and I really enjoyed having the first Monster drunk about 2:15am. I then found the last 2 laps of 4-6 really difficult as it didn’t appear to be getting any lighter. I finished lap 6 about 3:40am and there was a hint of it getting light which I definitely needed.

I’m not sure whether to attribute this to sleep deprivation or caffeine but I had a really bad headache during laps 7-9. I knew I had got through the hardest bit as it was light now and I only had 6-9 laps left. The voice in your head that tells you to quit was there but I knew if I drove home early, any hopes I had of finishing the Great Glen race would have died on that 15 minute car journey!

My discomfort subsided for the next few laps and I managed to immerse myself in a ‘ears edition’ of the Daily Show with Trevor Noah. The sketch writers have a emphatic delivery of most of the humour and it really hammers it’s jokes home! I like the conviction with which the cast communicate this. It is a similar energy that I get from the Pardon The Interruption sports podcast.

I found the ‘been here before’ element of lap 13 quite pleasant and although I was moving at a much slower pace to last weekend, I knew when setting off on this lap that I would finish all 15 laps. I got round the last 3 laps in about 1:25 which worked out at just over 7 hours for the full distance.

I finished the week with 5 laps this morning which I found quite easy to navigate. My pace was settled and I could listen to a Talking Comics podcast for the whole outing. This brought my total climb for this week to just under 10,000ft (9760 according to Strava).

I’m very proud to have persevered through the night yesterday and confident about getting out of the night section unscathed in 3 weeks time. I found the poem below from Robert Service great motivation for this week.

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