/ Longer ultras for mere mortals

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EuanM - on 12 Jun 2017
I have an entry in the Ultimate Trails 110km in July and for the most part I'm looking forward to the event. Absolutely in it to finish rather than chase a time or specific pace.

The longest ultra race I've done so far is 36.5 miles and the longest training run was about 40 (Braemar - Aviemore circular).

I've been averaging 40-45 miles per week with about 70% of that distance the weekly long run. I know this should be higher but time and recovery time have been in short supply.

My issue is during training the wheels start to come off at about 30 miles. Some of this is fatigue but I definitely don't eat enough on route. I reckon I can push this distance out a bit by walking inclines and taking walking rests on route.

I guess I'm asking on the longer races do (did) you find yourself walking a lot?

As I said, I'm only looking to finish the course and not concerned with trying to achieve a fast time. Just wondering what others experienced as the distance increased.

Thanks
Steff - on 12 Jun 2017
In reply to EuanM:


> I've been averaging 40-45 miles per week with about 70% of that distance the weekly long run. I know this should be higher but time and recovery time have been in short supply.

why do you think this should be higher? If your aim is to finish, you can achieve this on a relatively low mileage, if you train intelligently.

> My issue is during training the wheels start to come off at about 30 miles. Some of this is fatigue but I definitely don't eat enough on route.

Eat more?

> I reckon I can push this distance out a bit by walking inclines and taking walking rests on route.

> I guess I'm asking on the longer races do (did) you find yourself walking a lot?

Yes, the longer the race, the more I walk, especially on the uphills.

> As I said, I'm only looking to finish the course and not concerned with trying to achieve a fast time. Just wondering what others experienced as the distance increased.

On very long runs the wheels will eventually come of. This can be delayed by proper pacing, nutrition and hydration, but essentially in every long ultra there will be bad patches and the ability to just tough it our is what gets your through.
Proper physical training is a base obviously, but proper mental preparedness will make difference. Once the wheels come of, but the so called "second wind" can come and feel great.
Dave Kerr - on 12 Jun 2017
In reply to EuanM:

I think many folks doing ultras go on some sort of walk-run strategy. I tend to do hillier things so one naturally tends to walk on the uphills. If you're on flatter events then some sort of timed rotation seems to work.

One of the tricks with eating is to force yourself to start before you feel you need to. I also try to eat proper food early on as later on I can't stomach much in the way of solids and once I switch to gels etc switching back is difficult.

I find back to back long runs at the weekend really help to build endurance. Oh and start slow!
edhawk21 - on 12 Jun 2017
In reply to EuanM:

I did my first 35 miler the other day but I didn't have too many hills but I still walked them as that my only tactic to get round . thankfully this worked and got round in about 6.47 pretty slow by most but I was happy with that. in terms of longer runs this I'm guessing it would be similar but more exaggerated? so more walking and more eating :p
Ferret on 12 Jun 2017
In reply to EuanM:

Huge mental component for me I think - ones body naturally starts to fatigue close to the end of whatever distance you are doing, no matter what that distance is! So, training run maximums of 30 to 40 miles for me in the run up to my (so far) only 100 miler were fine. I was sh@gged at end of them but was still fine on the day... multiple second winds etc and just accepting that it's a long way. I rarely finish a training run feeling great - happy to complete, satisfied with time yes, had a nice day out running, yes, but rarely feeling super strong and like I could do double or triple.

I also tend to find the day itself easier than on training runs.. a bit of company, checkpoints etc. Eating on events is easier as I can grab flat coke and/or tea with a slug of cold and get plenty fluid on board to wash down whatever I'm eating easily. Lakes 100 I ate a lot of soup and bread plus the fluids above - on a training run I don't have the choice or anything like as much fluid with me so struggle to eat properly. So, that bit depends on the Ultra but one that has well stocked checkpoints every 10 or 12 miles or so can be easier on that regard than a 40 mile self supported jaunt.

Pace as well - I'm the worst at doing my long runs as fast as I reasonably can (and yes, this is why I'm tired at end of them as above), - time and family pressure, things to do, deadlines etc. On the race itself you tend not to have that pressure (bar any cut offs or attempts to hit a certain time) so it's easier to pace gently all the way through rather than head off fast and finish tired. If you can slow yourself down on the day (don't get dragged along by adrenalin and other faster runners) you have a better chance of keeping reserves in the tank for later in the race... reserves that you will be using to push back that time of being knackered to way beyond your normal 'I've done 30 and I'm whacked' stage....
EuanM - on 12 Jun 2017
Good to hear everyone's experience, very helpful.


In reply to Ferret:

This is a really interesting point, when I finished the 40 mile run there was not a chance I could have done another 24. I'm hoping that mentally on the day I just get on with it.

I've yet to experience a second wind but I'm definitely looking forward to it!

Neil Williams - on 12 Jun 2017
In reply to EuanM:

I did Lakes in a Day which I think is quite similar (but about 15 miles shorter) and walked most of the up and loads of the second section. I found a lot of other people were doing so as well, or jogging very slowly. Finished in 20:36, which wasn't the slowest (but was near the bottom) though as a first go I was happy with, going back this year and going to try to get under 18 hrs. (It's *very* hilly!)

I'm signed up for the 55k version of the one you mention, though, which I'm actually more nervous about - being a marathon and a bit I feel under a lot more pressure to run more of it and get a better time!
airborne - on 12 Jun 2017
In reply to EuanM:

Totally agree with Ferret. Always knackered after shorter training runs, but on the day you'll be fine.
Wainers44 - on 13 Jun 2017
In reply to EuanM:

Best of luck with that!

I am doing the 100K "Plague" in August which is a Cornwall Coast Path Ultra with a midnight start.

As per the Ultra Sicky thread I posted, my issue is not being able to eat after 30 ish miles. If I can carry on through that I normally feel really strong.

Let us know how it goes!
Ste Brom - on 13 Jun 2017
In reply to EuanM:

To me, your mileage is fine, but my mental approach is different.
They are walk/eating contests with a bit of fast downhill thrown in, especially when you're down to your last chia seed ball/pork pie and the check point is getting closer. You're no different than a car, keep filling up!

The uphills are walked, the downhills are run, the flats are ambled.
For long mountainous ones, my pace looks like Naismiths on the flat, so that's what I aim for, in relation to completing.

Also, I feel more benefit doing back to back long 'uns in training.
But yeah, sort the nutrition out, in the end you'll look forward to 24 hours of party food and packed lunches. Just like an extended school trip.
yorkshireman - on 13 Jun 2017
In reply to EuanM:

Don't worry about it since it's really only the sharp end of the race that runs significant amounts of long, hilly ultras.

I just had a look on Strava and my average pace for an ultra of around 80km with around 4500m of ascent is about 10min/km. So basically walking pace.

That's not to say I walk the race - I run the downhills (but not too hard) and walk the steep uphills. As others have said though the flats/undulating bits are more of a shuffle. The temptation here is to run too fast since you know you can, but try to avoid that temptation.

What pace are you doing your long runs? If the wheels are coming off are you going out to hard and should try to slower? To be honest I think I've only ever run 30 miles in training a couple of times in 8 years of training (I'll do races and treat them as long training runs sometimes) but I think the focus on huge mileage isn't necessarily the answer to success in a race. If you're running so much you're not getting good recovery that could be counter productive.

The New NickB - on 13 Jun 2017
In reply to EuanM:

I know the UT110 route well. You will be walking quite a bit. There a seven high passes (2000'+) with steep climbs to them. Unless you are Kilian Jornet, the terrain will definitely dictate a fair bit of walking.
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EuanM - on 13 Jun 2017
Really useful to hear everyone's experience! Makes me feel a bit better about taking my time and enjoying the event!


In reply to yorkshireman:

On long runs I'll probably average about 12.5-13 minute miles over hilly but not mountainous terrain. At the weekend I did 18 miles that included 2 munros and that came in about 15 m/m.

I'm not a fast runner in general. My speed work on trails is rarely below 8 m/m.

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