Martin Slack

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

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Everest Challenge week 1: 18 laps of 5.4 miles and 2160m of ascent


I found this challenge last Tuesday night and immediately started planning out how I could manage this without breaking the social distancing and non essential travel ban in place due to Covid-19. The usual 5.4 mile loop near my house contains 120m of ascent. This meant I would have to cover 74 laps over the course of the month to surpass the elevation of Everest.

My running since completing the Autumn 100 in October hasn’t had the same motivation and despite managing some reasonable individual efforts in training for Lakes Sky Ultra where I managed 1000-1500m of ascent on a few occasions, collectively it was nowhere near the level of commitment I had last year.

Day 1 on Wednesday involved 2 laps, this was reasonably comfortable and I was content with my pace. My legs chafed quite badly on my 4 lap outing on Thursday. It was far hotter than I’m normally happy to run in. I was pleased...

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Post Race Thoughts

I first started training properly towards this race after volunteering on the same weekend last year. I was one of 6 Marshalls at one of the checkpoints from 3:30pm until 5:15am. One of the main things I remember about this time was how steadfast some of the runners were, some were cutting it very close to missing cutoffs towards the end of my shift and simply weren’t going to bow out of the race on their own terms.

I learnt a lot from Lou who seemed to really enjoy the tribal element of lightly abusing people in Bad Boy Running gear (one of their slogans is ‘Fuck You Buddy’), she was very knowledgeable about the course and was able to be a constantly positive influence on the runners. The rest of the team were great as well and we managed to keep each others spirits up despite really bad weather during the night after some pleasant weather earlier in the day before our shift had...

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2 weeks, 51 miles and my first headphone-free week of this year

I spent the first 5 days of this week in Cornwall. I had some difficulty with my Bluetooth headphones and couldn’t get my phone’s wired port to work either so abandoned them for this week.

I repeated the 6 mile run from last Saturday on Monday and then switched to a trail route for the same distance on Wednesday. This was quite good fun and I had to run along a reasonably high verge to avoid some cows. I’d forgotten how quick they can shift so made a urgent scramble up to safety!


I managed to run along some trails to a small village where there was a sign with all of the house names.


I then reverted back to the 6 miles on road on Thursday morning. I was happy that my pace was pretty similar throughout the runs in Cornwall.

My week finished with 2 runs of 8 laps in Wythenshawe Park. The lack of aural entertainment wasn’t as big a deal as I was anticipating it being back on...

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3 weeks, 31 miles and my first Wansfell Mountain Race

My running for this week was considerably less than I expected. I did a lap of 5.4 miles on Tuesday morning and then a 7.5 mile lap on Wednesday. This led nicely into the Wansfell Mountain Race on Thursday evening.

I had left work about 3:45 to head up to the Lake District. Registration was from 5:30pm to 6:15pm and I must have arrived about 6:12! I still had to pay for my parking after the race briefing on my phone before the race start.

It’s safe to say I used up a fair bit of emotional energy on the drive up and I really struggled near the top of the first climb. It’s the sort of ascent I barely get up at the best of times so can’t really blame on a bit of traffic. My Strava breakdown per mile had 888ft of elevation on mile 2!

I was able to follow the headlights in front of me and just about hang on to a group of runners who were all faster than me and more familiar with the...

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5 weeks, 61 miles and a return to backing myself in group settings

One of the things I crave at the end of most days after work is being able to head out for an hour to 90 minutes, not having to talk to anyone and only having a usually mildly humourous podcast for company.

I am quite a confident person most of the time, but this has a habit of shrinking occasionally in large groups. I had volunteered to take part in something at work this week with around 40 others, this was going to bring me back out of my comfort zone, even with only 17 involved in the first session.

I can sit in a group and not contribute with the best of them, luckily the first time I opened my mouth apart from the introductions was something I had thought about several times on my running earlier in the week so could describe it quite coherently. There is an element of the head clearing which running offers that is largely based on going through things for yourself.

I had set...

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4 weeks, 10 training runs and 120 miles

My running for this week has largely been viewed as one collective effort spread out across the 7 days. I have listened to podcasts less and made a conscious effort to not go off too fast at any point. Slowing down when I’ve felt I needed to, has also been important. It’s one thing being able to look back next month on this week being the one where I built up the last bit of endurance to help me finish, it’s quite another if I’m looking back at it as the one that burnt me out!

In terms of sequence, the 7.5 mile laps fell as follows across the week

Monday: 1
Tuesday: 2
Wednesday: 2
Thursday: 2
Friday: 4
Saturday: 4
Sunday: 1

My midweek running has previously maxed out around 52.5/60 miles so being at 82.5 going into the weekend was likely to prove more of an effort. My last 2 laps on Friday were quite uncomfortable and I struggled with the heat.

I have a habit of running on an empty...

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6 weeks, 98 miles and a harsh reintroduction to Autumnal weather

This week was initially going to be my lower mileage one as I had going to the first day of the 4th Ashes test taking up most of Wednesday pencilled into my calendar from November last year.

Unfortunately I used the low mileage ‘out’ a few weeks ago. I did 7.5 miles every morning from Tuesday to Friday including an evening 7. 5 on Thursday and was reasonably comfortable throughout all of that. It was noticeable how much darker it was at 4:30am setting off but I wasn’t uncomfortably cold at any point. This was solely reserved for my day out at the cricket with my dad. I really enjoyed the sport when it wasn’t rained out but I’d completely forgotten about how quickly you get cold being stationary! We managed to tough out the day and left just before 6pm knowing no further play would take place.

This left back to back 30 milers for yesterday and today to get my mileage in for this week...

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7 weeks, 12 training runs and 103 miles

When I first tried to plan out how my training would last over a year towards the Autumn 100, I really wanted to give Paris by Night my best efforts which meant lots of miles in November, I was also aware I needed lots of elevation to manage the Scafell Sky Race, but I knew once both of those were ‘out of the way’, I would need my highest weekly totals to be in the 2 months to 1 month away window.

I have some reservations about attempting to run high mileage for several weeks in a row so this week will have been the first of 3 higher than usual with one reduced week in between. Because I still wanted at least a 3 week taper before the race. It pretty much had to go to plan.

I managed 52.5 midweek miles between Tuesday and Friday consisting of one 7.5 mile lap on Tuesday then two laps the other days.

My weekend plans initially were for back to back 22.5 mile days, I did four laps of...

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8 weeks, 64 miles and 800 miles of driving across 4 days

I made the decision to swap this week with one from a few weeks ahead in my plan. I had originally thought I would run less the week of the 4th Ashes test as I am going to the first day but figured I would lose more time to run this week than that one.

I ran 5.4 miles on Monday and Saturday with a few 7.5 mile runs thrown in between. I had the opportunity to see the Edinburgh Military Tattoo with work on Thursday and stay over into Friday. I then had my cousin Annie’s wedding yesterday so had 200 miles per day of driving for the last 4 days of this week.

I really enjoyed both occasions and got away with watching around 2 hours of cricket on an iPhone yesterday evening at the evening reception. I defended my actions to the bride as bonding with her new cousin in law! She quipped back that she had heard this happened at weddings!

I timed my drive back today so I would get home for the...

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9 weeks, 84 miles and my first Win

The plan for this week initially was to run 75 miles including today’s race and aim for 6-6.5 hours for the 31 miles it covers. Fortunately sometimes prior experiences shape your mindset so it supersedes your initial plans.

After taking Monday off, I did lots of 7.5 mile runs during the week, 2 some days, 1 on others and totalled 53 miles including Saturday morning’s effort. I had my flat as a halfway point when doing multiple laps and was happy enough stopping in for a pint of squash rather than carrying a water bladder.

I had intentionally packed light for today’s race and essentially backed myself to finish on water, cereal bars and salted peanuts. I also had honey peanuts packed as emergency food (these have to be intact unless you have an emergency!).

I started off at a reasonable pace but was quite conscious not to ‘blow up’ too early. I had a nice chat with one of the other...

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