This year is going to be quite a challenge. I have to train for and finish (survive!) four 100 mile events between now and the final race in October. Any one of those events is quite an endurance test and requires a solid training block to prepare the body and mind for the rigours of moving for upwards of 24 hours. Four of them is a bit nuts.

There hasn’t been a sudden start to the training as such, it’s more of a continuation, a building on last year’s base. Having said that, I think we can take the recovery from Arc 50 as the beginning of this mega-block.

I had a full week off after Arc 50. No running and no gym either. Nuffink. I did hit the trails the following Sunday for a stroll with my better half, just to get the legs moving again.

The following week I was back on it, although Shelley, my coach, had me starting gently. Nothing too long or strenuous, just easy time on feet, finishing with a 90 minute run out on local trails. I was still feeling Arc 50 in my legs and it felt quite tough. Back in the gym too, getting it done. I’m part way through the second 8 week block of a detailed weight training plan. I’m finding that the existence of a plan that I’ve spent time compiling is an excellent way of holding myself accountable. Each week, each session, there are specific reps to be done, specific weights to move, and if I don’t do them I’ll mess up the plan.

We had a family trip to Dubai in mid February. Fortunately it isn’t too hot there yet, a quite manageable 15-20°c until 9am when it does start to heat up. I was also lucky to have access to the gym on our host’s compound. This had everything I needed, although not always in the weight combinations I needed. For the most part I erred on the side of increasing weight even if the plan didn’t demand it. I surprised myself by being able to easily manage the increase which led me to adjust up the weights more than I originally expected in the following weeks. Whilst in Dubai, my nephew tempted me into joining him for a half marathon race in a neighbouring Emirate. The Ras-al-Khaimah Half was duly undertaken. I wasn’t totally sure how to handle it. My training plan had prescribed a 90 minute easy run, so I was definitely going to be over budget on time. In the end, I decided that while I wasn’t sufficiently race tuned for a PB attempt, I could afford to see if I could split the difference between an easy effort and pb pace, aiming to sneak in under 1h50.

Fun was had, I finished in 1h48 with no harm done. In the pre-ultra era, half marathon was my preferred race distance so it made a nice change to have a bit of a blast out on a flat road race.

In the last full week of the month, things are picking up a little distance-wise, with the first 50k week since Arc 50.

Tuesday’s run was an interval training session, four 6 minute efforts with 3 minutes rest. I have a love-hate relationship with speedwork. They always seem a bit daunting, lurking there in the plan, but in the doing I quite enjoy them. This time around I was able to maintain a 4:30 pace, ish, for each of the four intervals.

The final run of the week was a recce, the second half of the Hundred Hills 50k course, a race I’ll be tackling in mid-March. It was good to get back out in the Chilterns. I have to remind myself every now and then just how lucky I am to have such a dense network of footpaths and bridleways on my doorstep, and through lovely countryside too.

The month ended with an easy hour. This was my first opportunity to practice some new form cues after the workshop I attended on the 26th. I can’t claim to have been totally successful with this, I found my default posture and lumbering approach creeping in quite a few times. The trick to it is going to be ingraining the new ideas till they become my new default, concentrating on a couple of aspects at a time. That will take a good few months, I think.

The volume increases next month, with a few big days out at the weekends and at least one substantial back to back. All of a sudden, there’s only about 9 weeks left till the first 100. Gulp.

I’ll be back in a few weeks with a race report from Hundred Hills.