Sometimes I forget why I do it to myself. I always remember why in the end.
The practice of running over marathon distance seems outlandish to some and completely normal to others. I'm firmly in the latter camp, I'm not sure why you wouldn't want to at least try. That said I'm not the most prolific or proficient at ultrarunning. It's hard to be prolific in a sport that demands so much of your body, especially as you age. The training alone can be a huge time investment. And if you aren't prolific it's hard to become proficient.
Some more specific training for Preseli on a beautiful if cold early spring morning. it was an odd run eventually clocking in at 15 miles. We started early and ran around the village and surrounding area for a few hours as I had agreed a 9.30 start time for training the others if any turned up. Which they didn't - well one did but was late so I wa already gone. I expected that to be fair as a few had let me know in advance but I am determined that I will put in the effort even if others don't. Anyway that just meant I could concentrate on my own training and so after around 8 miles or so I dropped off Murph so I could head for the cliffs to get some hill repeats done. Again I cant trust murph off lead on the cliffs and I cant hold him while using poles so as much as its sad that I can't have him with me he still gets his share of the run before and after.
The repeats went very well, felt really good and there was plenty in the legs. I'm sure it felt better than last time and I increased the number by one at Marcross - just because. The poles are becoming more second nature now, I have also taken them on a couple of long beach walks where I don't actually need them but the practice is paying off. I was scheduled to deadlift that day but common sense kicked in and so I got some benchpressing done instead. And that is progress too as maybe in the past I have blindly stuck to schedules without thinking of the consequences. I was glad I did the following day as my legs were surprisingly trashed for a 15 mile run, hill repeats or not.
So things are going well training wise, I have a few niggles but when don't I? Confidence for Preseli is high. This time I feel like I know I have done the work.
And so here is a video of the day. Warning - it's not exciting, the sound quality is poor at times due to the wind but it has a rogue sheep in it!
I ran my first 32 mile ultra on the South West Coastal path in August 2017. The race report will be in the Blue Green Gold Grey archives if you're really interested. In short it was a long, hot and mostly painful day full of beginner mistakes and lessons learned. Since then I've run more 32 mile races, one in Preseli - which as you may have read is a big focus of mine right now as I failed it last year, only completing the 24 mile course. I've also run a 50 miler around the Epynt way in Mid Wales which is my longest run to date. They have all been learning experiences, including the two I have done in my local area for fun. Each time I learn something new and can apply it the next time out, be it pacing, nutrition, mental toughness or kit selection. There are some things you can't learn from a book or website, you just need to go out there and face up to the fact you will make painful mistakes and then learn how to correct them for next time. If you don't learn from the mistake or embrace failure you won't go far in this sport.
So with that in mind I set out last Friday (24th Feb 2023) with Preseli specific training in mind. After the foot injury sustained in my last fell race at Kymin I'm a few weeks behind where I could be but that's no real issue. With 10 weeks to go to the race I can sort out my final conditioning. And as part of the lessons learned from last years failure I am doing more race specific conditioning meaning hills and longer runs. On Friday I combined the two in order to simulate the first half of Preseli. The idea was to run 10 to 12 miles to simulate the start of the race - Although admittedly Preseli has hills from the get go the two steepest appear around 11 and 13 miles in. I would drop off Murph before heading to the beach where I could do hill repeats in the Cwm (valley) at Monknash and then run over to Marcross and do repeats on the very steep cliffside hill there. This would also provide me ample chance to practice with my poles, test some nutrition and hydration strategies and put hill miles into tired legs. I also filmed parts of it - so you can watch the youtube video below if you're really that interested.
It went well - I confirmed what I could eat and drink on the run, I was happy with the kit and know what i will wear and take with me after a little fine tuning. The poles went really well - They make both climbing and descending so much easier. The two climbs I consider the crux of Preseli should be easier without taking so much out of my legs for the subsequent 20 miles. The run also boosted my confidence and gave me an idea of where i'm at in terms of readiness. I need more long runs and some more hill work would not go amiss although I was really pleased with my climbing and also my mental toughness. Hill repeats wear you down mentally as much as they do physically but i ground them out and took no shortcuts on the day.
Heading out - full of energy!
Daffodils in full bloom
We love forests
Atlantic College Seawall
Tide is In
First hill repeats - 6 times up and down both sides
Happy dog is happy