Martin Slack

Training towards the “Last One Standing” ultramarathon race in Belfast on 21/2/16. Aiming for sub 12hrs for 50.4 miles.

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11 weeks, 56 miles and a healthy amount of nerves for next week

I was pleased to manage a steady 5.4 miles on Monday evening after only taking Sunday as a rest day after the Beer Ultra. This was then repeated on Tuesday and Thursday which I found quite comfortable each time. I had a small knot in my left calf muscle on the first 2 outings but it was more of a inconvenience than anything I would struggle to run on.

Yesterday I did 8 laps of a 2 mile route in Wythenshawe Park. This was great as the weather was warm but not overly bright, I managed to settle into a rhythm for most of it and listen to a Talking Comics podcast for 90% of it. The passion what the hosts have for the comics they have read recently and how they can transport you into the world of that comic really held my attention. I had a bottle of coke after 4 laps and again at the end.

I decided to do 24 miles instead of 20 this morning so I could divide up my rest breaks easier...

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12 weeks, 55 miles and my 2nd Beer Ultra

I had planned to have another week where I would finish with around 70 miles but must have underestimated how much last week’s long training run in the woods took out of me.

After a few rest days, I managed to fit in 3 laps of the 7.5 mile route midweek, once on Wednesday and twice on Thursday. The weather was noticeably hotter for the evening runs but my Thursday morning effort was considerably more comfortable.

I decided to have Friday as an extra rest day taking into account both the weather and the total elevation the Beer Ultra prides itself on having.

Technical trail routes are usually far more enjoyable than even trail in my experience and the first loop of the course had a few points where I had to plan out where my feet should land. Whilst it does add to the challenge, I do like that you have to pay more attention than routes where you can just push forwards.

The second...

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13 weeks, 71 miles and some intrinsic motivation from suffering

This week I have really focused on just completing my running for each day and not thinking about what is coming for later in the week.

I was able to do this for 7 loops of the 7.5 mile route between Tuesday and Saturday. This was one a day during the week with the remaining 3 yesterday. My legs were quite fresh compared to the cement like feeling I had to start last week with following the King of The Hill race. I enjoyed listening to several podcasts and was confident of returning to running in woods this morning without much trouble.

Post Hill Woods has a sentimental value for me as I mainly used these in training for the Beauty and the Beast marathon in 2013 (4800ft of elevation) and both times when I was training for Grand Tour of Skiddaw (7000ft of elevation) in 2015 and 2017.

I got up at 4:30am and was starting my first lap of the woods by 5:05am. This was my first time...

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14 weeks, 74 miles and 5 consecutive 10+ mile days.

The King of the Hill race last weekend had tired me out more than I was anticipating. I did an immensely sluggish 5,4 miles before and after work on Wednesday which was tortuous. I couldn’t generate any momentum on either outing.

Luckily Thursday morning was a bit easier, it was brighter as I set off at 8am rather than the 5am start of the day before. I was able to listen to podcasts and music without having to constantly focus on maintaining forward progress.

I continued on with another 5.4 mile loop after work that evening and then a 10 mile effort on the treadmill at lunchtime on Friday.

This left me with 42 miles to cover across this weekend to reach my target of 74 for the week. Apart from a bit of indecision around whether to do 21 each day or 27 then 15, I was pretty confident I could manage this.

Taking my wife into work is never going to make my favourite activities of...

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15 weeks, 57 miles and my first King of the Hill attempt.

This week’s motivation has been split very clearly between trying to maintain a 72-75 miles per week average for the month of March, and being well rested enough to run the 6 hours today taking into account the level of elevation for each 10k.

I did 2 laps of the 5.4 mile route on Wednesday and then just one loop of the 7.5 mile route on Thursday and Friday. Apart from being appalled at how cold I was on the last of these, the rest of it was pretty uneventful.

This balancing act paid off based on today’s race, I had set out aiming for 5 laps of the 10km route which averaged out to 1hr 12 minds per lap. I was able to start at a fast pace and finished the first lap in just over an hour. Since the first 5k felt virtually all uphill, I was happy with this. I was very conscious of the time for reaching the top of the hill on each lap and then getting back to the start. Apart from a...

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16 weeks, 71 miles and a new interim goal for the next 7 days

This week was going well up until this morning. I had covered 48 miles and was quite looking forward to only having to cover 3 laps of the 7.5 mile route to get back above 70 again this week.

I have remained in an auto pilot mode recently of wearing a base layer top, running shirt and waterproof jacket regardless of the weather. This morning was the first time in ages I actually felt warm! Although the first lap was quite settled and it was just getting light on account of the clocks changing, my 2nd and 3rd laps were very sluggish and it was purely a stubborn mindset that I wasn’t going to slow too much that got me through it.

The midweek and Saturday sessions included 2 laps of the 5.4 mile route followed by 5 laps of the 7.5 miler. My 2nd 7.5 mile run on Saturday evening was 100% so that I didn’t have to get up at 4am with the clocks going forward an hour last night.
I was also...

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17 weeks, 74 miles and a reminder about the power of just showing up

I wrote last week about being able to let my mind wander for most of that weeks running, like a balloon on a string. For the past 7 days I have had to run mostly with no metaphorical balloon or string!

I did 8 laps of the 5.4 mile route between Tuesday and Saturday morning. These included a cement legged effort where someone sped past me in the opposite direction in a suit using both crutches and several where I was persevering in horrific driving rain and snow. The highlight was definitely managing a coffee fuelled 7:30 min-mile outing. About half an hour before I’d made a large coffee in which I’d used 2 nespresso pods in one cup and more Black Forest syrup than someone my age should admit to! My first 2 miles were around 6:40 pace then I hung on for dear life for the last 3 miles!

My long run today was very difficult to not chicken out of or shorten. Weather reports were...

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18 weeks, 73 miles and a brief return to night running

I am pleased to manage to stay above 70 miles again this week. My aim was to have a couple of longer midweek runs and manage at least 30 today. It was quite relaxing being able to settle into a running pace and not have to look out for ice like last week.

I started the week with 7.5 miles on Tuesday evening and followed this up with 2 separate 6.5 mile runs on Thursday evening. I had taken my backpack with water bladder out for both of Thursday’s efforts and carried 750ml of Hoegaarden belgian white beer. It is very rewarding being able to drink cold beer through a straw positioned on your shoulder with only a couple of miles left.

I repeated the 7.5 mile route on Friday night then twice more starting at 4am yesterday morning. I was quite pleased I could get through the morning effort with rain and darkness taking up the vast majority of it. Listening to podcasts has been a real boost...

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19 weeks, 71 miles, 8 training runs and a penchant for 2 a day efforts

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I was quite worried at the start of this week about how the weather would affect my target mileage for the week. This was based on the ‘Beast from the East’ influx of snow and if it would result in icy roads. Running on settled snow and when it is falling doesn’t phase me, one bad fall on ice could mean a few lost weeks of training that I can’t afford to lose.

I started the week on Wednesday morning with 5.4 miles in falling snow which was quite enjoyable as I knew I was running in conditions that will most likely be worse than anything I’ll face in races this year. The amount of snow that had fallen on my head was quite impressive

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I managed two laps of 7.5 miles each day for the next 3 days. My working week was luckily affected by the weather and I got to work from home on Thursday which made fitting in both efforts before and after work easier. I then headed out again before...

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20 weeks, 60 miles and my first attempt at running in the woods in 2018

I had a week of annual leave this week and was adamant that it had to include at least 2 runs in the woods regardless of how muddy or waterlogged it was and a long training run of 30 miles as a minimum. To start the week, I chickened out of heading into the woods on Wednesday morning and settled for the usual 7.5 mile route. In keeping with my habit of not making a habit of chickening out of things, I did a 8.3 mile route in the woods on Thursday and Friday mornings. The first of these was abhorrently difficult and I felt I had to watch my step a lot more closely than when I had ran in the same woods last year. After the first mile I didn’t really make an effort to avoid puddles on Thursday’s outing and found that once I went into a mindset where slipping didn’t bother me as long as I didn’t fall, the elevation and terrain was less of an issue I had to focus on. “Luckily” it was very...

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