Apr 29 2013

The trials of training off-road

And there’s me thinking that running 100km is all about putting in the distance.

In a way it is, but I can clarify that by saying that running 100km is all about putting in the “relevant” distance.

Having done a 31-mile road run, or a half-distance 50km, last weekend, I was really encouraged with recovering so quickly even after putting in the fastest 3 miles in the final 3 miles. Yes – it really was a pivotal moment emotionally in changing my outlook from “will I finish?” to “what time will I get?”. It was a nice feeling.

But this weekend has thrown up some doubts that I didn’t expect. I should have!  In hindsight, it was so obvious that even somebody who has never run would have spotted it.

I ran a 16-mile route on Saturday with 60% off road and a 24-mile route on Sunday with 90% off road. The stresses and strains that running on uneven ground puts on your lower limbs is much more then I had expected. And even moving to the upper body, I could feel tensions and stresses that I haven’t felt before now.

[Maybe it was the clash with the van that made my legs so unstable in the later stages ;) but I’m not convinced].

There is something intrinsically more satisfying, however, in running a route where you can avoid heavy traffic and absorb yourself into the scenery which you would might prefer if you’re venturing out on a Sunday afternoon walk with the family.

The route is below and demonstrates the winding nature of the beautiful and world-renowned River Thames. The Thames Path runs from mile 7 to mile 21 almost. The initial part of the run covered some of “Shakespeare’s Way” a route that I hadn’t heard of until recently as it happens (probably because it wasn’t around until 2006 ;)).

Between miles 6.5 to 7 and 22 to 24 are the only segments of the route that are on tarmac. So only 2.5 of the 24 miles was on terra firma.

off-road 24

Not only that, when you start to run tracks and footpaths, inevitably from time-to-time you are confronted with obstacles like styles, kissing gates and latch gates where you have to break your stride to continue. Like many others, I seem to find moving at a steady 10min/mile pace relatively comfortable. But walking and stopping and accelerating seem unfeasibly difficult when you are carrying the cumulative fatigue of a ~120 miles in your legs.

I guess I’d better get used to it. Only one more really hard weekend and then the next long run is the 62.2-mile 100km race!


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