TRANSVULCANIA 2019 – Debats and Garrivier win! – Race Summary

Petter Engdahl came of age today as he pushed a relentless pace right from the gun at the 2019 Transvulcania. The only runner brave enough to follow was Ruy Ueda and the duo pushed together over much of the volcano sections all the way to El Pilar.

Behind, runners lined up to chase including Thibaut Garrivier, Marco De Gasperi, Dmitry Mityaev, Jon Albon and a who’s who of top-talent.

Engdahl looked calm and relaxed and considering this is only his second year in skyrunning and his longest race so far, he was brave to take on the front. It was expected that Ueda and De Gasperi would push and test him. However, no! Both dropped before 30km leaving the young gun out front being chased by Garrivier and Mityaev.

At Rouques de los Muchachos, the 18km drop to Tazacorte beach is a formidable descent not only for the legs and lungs but also the mind. Engdahl found the pressure to intense and relinquished his lead, firstly to Garrivier and then Mityaev.

From the beach, as the runners ran through a slot canyon, the writing was on the wall. Garrivier had extended a lead of 5-minutes to the Russian and equally, Mityaev had extended a lead of 5-minutes over Engdahl. It remained that way to the line with Garrivier taking a great win in 7:11:04 ahead of Mityaev 7:14:23 and Engdahl 7:21:28. The UK’s Jon Albon moved up from outside the top-10 to place 4th and Diego Pazos was 5th.

Anne-Lise Rousset dictated the pace in the women’s race and over the opening 18km she looked strong. Behind, pre-race favourite, Ragna Debats fresh from victory at Marathon des Sables pushed but looked to be playing a waiting game. Behind, Megan Kimmel followed along with Kristin Berglund and Ekaterina Mityaeva.

The heat and the pace took its toll and as Rousset slowed, Debats turned up the gears and applied the pressure, no doubt the sandy terrain and heat feeling ‘normal’ after her Moroccan adventure.

The speed increased and Debats took an incredible victory in 8:09:25 dominating the race. Rousset held on for 2nd, no doubt the course and conditions hurting everyone and Kimmel rounded out the top-3, their times 8:25:11 and 8:35:03. Russian Mityaeva placed 4th and Berglund 5th.

Men:

1. Thibaut Garrivier (FRA) Hoka One One – 7:11:04

2. Dmitry Mityaev (RUS) Adidas Terrex – 7:14:23

3. Petter Engdahl (SWE) Salomon Running – 7:21:28

4. Jonathan Albon (GBR) Gore / VJ Shoes – 7:36:34

5. Diego Pazos (SWI) Compressport – 7:41:48

Women:

1. Ragna Debats (NED) Merrell – 8:09:25

2. Anne-Lise Rousset (FRA) Oxsitis-Odlo – 8:25:11

3. Megan Kimmel (USA) Salomon Running – 8:35:03

4. Ekaterina Mityaeva (RUS) Adidas Terrex – 8:53:02

5. Kristin Berglund (AUS) Salomon Running – 8:58:10

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THE LONG RUN

Runners all over the world, week in and week out add ‘A Long Run’ to their training. One question that I am often asked is, ‘How long should my long run be?’
Now of course, there is no one answer and before you can even begin to answer that question, you need to ask two important questions:
  1. What am I training for? (This will usually be a race or target event)
  1. What date is the event in question 1?
When you know the answers to 1 and 2, you can start to formulate a plan and this then will begin to give a better understanding to ‘the long run’ question. It is also very important to consider experience and running history.
If you are used to running 5km and 10km events, a long run for you may well be 75-90 minutes. If you are a marathon runner, your long run will typically be 21/22 miles or 3 to 3.5-hours. If you are running an ultra, mmmmm, well, this is where it gets tricky.
WHY DO WE RUN LONG?
In summary, we put an emphasis on three key points:
Efficiency to use fat as a fuel.
Muscular and physical adaptation.
Mental strength.
If you never run for more than one hour in training, then three hours on your feet just feels like a really long time so you need to adapt for the challenge ahead both from a physical and mental perspective.
Have you had sore legs from running?
We have all been there, it comes from running fast and hard and building up lactic acid or it comes from running long and fatigue. Muscle soreness will come for everyone, however, we can train to reduce the impact or delay the process. This why we ‘train,’ we train to get better! Progressively running longer with recovery periods allows our muscles to adapt to the stress and become stronger. The term DOMS refers to the ‘Delayed Onset of Muscle Soreness’. You may well feel muscle pain during a training event or race but it’s usually in the 24/48/72-hour period after that the soreness really kicks in. By running long in training we adapt to delay or reduce the DOMS.
You need fuel to do anything, even a shopping trip. Our bodies can only store so much carbohydrate and once those stores are used up we have only two options left: top them up or slow down and maybe even stop if they have got very low. As an endurance athlete we need to tap into our almost unlimited fat stores. We do this by ‘teaching our body’ to use fat as a fuel in the long run. The more efficient you become at this, the longer you can run and the longer you can maintain a pace. Ultimately it means the whole race/training experience will be better and more enjoyable.
THE RUN
Let us be clear here, running longer requires a slower pace, especially if we want to ‘turn on’ fat burning. Think of long runs in terms of time and not distance. Distance adds some confusion and also as runners we get stressed and worried by mileage and minute per mile pace. Mileage does not always tell us the full story too… Time on feet takes into consideration the terrain we are running on, for example in three hours on the road you may well cover 20-miles, but on the trails or in the mountains you may only cover 12-miles.
This brings in another very important and key point, make long runs specific and in line with your objectives. No point doing three hours on the road if you are doing a 50 mile mountain race with 4000m of vertical gain.
Slow down! Many runners run the long run too hard which impacts on the following days’ training and it also impacts on the long run session. Maybe use a heart rate monitor or GPS to keep on top of this and don’t worry about walking. Walking is a key element in completing ultra distance events. I am a huge fan of RPE – Rate of Perceived Exertion. Long runs (mostly, there are exception) should feel easy and on a scale of 1-10, that means a 5.
HOW LONG SHOULD THE LONG RUN BE?
Short distance runners often run over distance in training. Think about it, a 10km runner may run a long slow half marathon to build endurance. A half marathon runner may run a long and slow steady 16 miles in preparation for a fast race.
This all falls apart when we go to the marathon and beyond. How often have you heard in marathon training that the long run should be 21/22 miles or 3 hours and 30 minutes in preparation for a race.
So how do you run long in ultra training?
Long runs and adapting for an endurance run such as an ultra comes from not one run but a combination of all runs. It’s about your accumulative run history. They all add up to make you an endurance machine.
First and foremost, consistency is key and long runs should be progressive and based on ability and experience. A long run should test you but not break you.
Let’s use a 12-week scenario based on a runner who can currently run two hours in a long run. I am not looking at base training here, but the specifics of a long run and how to make the long run longer. I’m a big fan of building over three weeks and recovering for one week, I call this 3/1.
Example:
Month 1
Week 1 – Sunday 2:30hrs
Week 2 – Sunday 2:45hrs
Week 3 – Sunday 3:00hrs
Week 4 – Sunday 2:00hrs
Month 2
Week 1 – Sunday 2:45hrs
Week 2 – Wednesday 90min / Sunday 3:00hrs
Week 3 – Wednesday 90min/ Sunday 3:15hrs
Week 4 – Sunday 2:30hrs
Month 3
Week 1 – Wednesday 90min/ Sunday 3:00hrs
Week 2 – Wednesday 1:45hrs/ Sunday 3:30hrs
Week 3 – Wednesday 2:00hrs/ Sunday 4:00hrs
Week 4 – Wednesday 60min/ Sunday 3:00hrsh
The above scenario provides a structured example on how to build up from running two hours comfortably to four hours. But remember the above scenario is 12 weeks with over 37 hours of running, just in the long runs! That is huge and a great place to start for any endurance challenge.
BUT MY RACE IS 50 MILES?
As mentioned above, it’s not wise or sensible to run too long in anyone session (for most people, there are always exceptions.) But the 12-week plan above on a 3/1 scenario shows you how it’s possible to build time and confidence. As you gain more experience you can look at doing back-to-back sessions and plan long training weekends all as part of a long term plan. Ultimately though, running too long in terms of distance or time is something that should be very carefully planned.
For example:
Month 3
Week 1 – Wednesday 90min/ Saturday 2:00hrs & Sunday 3:00hrs
Week 2 – Wednesday 1:45hrs/ Saturday 90 mins & Sunday 3:30hrs
Week 3 – Wednesday 2:00hrs/ Saturday 3:00hrs & Sunday 4:00hrs
Week 4 – Wednesday 60min/ Sunday 3:00hrs
You will always here about runners who can do 200 mile weeks or 50-mile training runs; they are exceptions and not the norm. Don’t be lulled into a false sense of security and don’t feel inadequate, we are all individuals and this is maybe the most important aspect.
Training should be about preparing you to tackle the challenge, but it will never FULLY prepare you. There’s always going to be a bit of extra and a bit of unknown on the day of the event…
Surely that’s why you’ve entered the race or event?

Why not join our TRAINING CAMP with 2x MDS champion, Elisabet Barnes, on the stunning island of Lanzarote? Information HERE

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NOW AVAILABLE, RUNNING BEYOND IN PAPERBACK

Running Beyond Paperback

SCOTT KINABALU RC 2.0 – FIRST LOOK

The all new SCOTT Kinabalu RC 2.0 is built for SPEED.

Run faster on rolling trails, forests and parks with Its innovative traction design.

Hybrid TractionKinetic FoamInternal Fit System

Get ya sunglasses out, the new SCOTT KINABALU RC 2.0 is here! Boy are these shoes bright. Of course, the colour will divide opinion, some will love the look, and some will hate, they well be a Marmite shoe, but ultimately for me, it’s only a colour. Any good trail shoe should be covered in mud in a couple of runs, and then the shoe really takes on character.

Scott since 2012 have really made huge progress with their run shoes, in particular, the biggest transformations have come in the last 4-years with the ever-changing development of the ‘Kinabalu’ shoe.

This development has also gone in line with the ‘Black and Yellow’ apparel look and the ‘Traction Matters’ tagline.

I have to say, the ‘look’ of Scott on the trail is one of the best in my opinion. It’s classy, desirable and completely identifiable – I see black and yellow, and I know it is Scott. 

The latest addition the line-up is the SCOTT KINABALU RC 2.0.

It’s easy to see the development of ‘this’ model if one looks at the last 2-years of Scott’s shoe development. The ‘RC’ shoe concept has become hugely popular and I have to say, this latest incarnation really is a highlight. 

The RC range is roughly broken down to four categories:

  • Mountain Speed
  • Mountain Ultra
  • Trail Speed
  • Road Speed

THE SHOE

Bold, brash and loud, Scott are making a statement here and quite simply, this shoe will be immediately identifiable on the trail. There is no hiding. If you are going to stand out like this, you better have the ‘goods’ to back up the looks. The SCOTT KINABALU RC 2.0 does not disappoint.

Scott have not always made the lightest shoes; this shoe is a welcome departure weighing 260g for a UK9.5. Sizing is true to size, to clarify, I always use UK9.5 and this should allow a thumb nail of space above my big toe – the RC 2.0 is perfect. 

The toe box has room and allows toe splay without compromising foot hold, this is particularly noticeable when running technical trail.

The outsole has the now classic RC look which was specifically developed by Scott and their athletes. The outsole has lugs that designed for trail running be that on dirt trail, single-track, gravel, grass or rock in dry and wet conditions. However, the outsole is not aggressive enough for muddy conditions.

The upper is seamless and is noticeably a departure from other RC editions that Scott have produced. The upper is lighter with more breathability. There is reinforced section to add structure to the shoe and allow a firm hold. The toe box has a good bumper for rocky and gnarly conditions and will provide adequate protection in most scenarios. The heel box is cushioned, holds the foot well. The tongue is ‘free’ and does not have a sock-liner fit. That is a disappointment for me – Integrated tongues nearly always provide me with a much better feeling and more secure hold. Having said this, the RC 2.0 holds my foot really well. Lacing is pretty standard, nothing new here and no real surprises. The cushioning of the shoe is notable. I really feel comfort in these shoes without losing feel for the ground and the shoes have ‘life,’ something that was missing at times in previous Scott shoes. Drop is 3mm so designed for an efficient runner.

In a nutshell, this is Scott’s best shoe so far. 

IN USE 

The shoe has speed written all over it, but it is not at the expense of comfort. It’s a trail shoe that would work amazingly well on any run when conditions are not too muddy. The outsole has grip but it’s classic ‘trail grip’ and not UK mud grip – for example.

RC 2.0 will also be a fantastic mountain running shoe, especially in skyrunning (for example) when the transition from trail and rock is constant and of course, snow or ice may make an appearance.

One noticeable feature was how well the RC 2.0 feels on the road. It’s too early to say what impact on the outsole road running would have, but in regard to comfort, I had no issues. I am sure Scott would not recommend the RC 2.0 as a road running shoe, but ‘road sections’ can appear in any run, it’s good to know that comfort is there. The Kinetic Foam kicks in here.

There is little not to like about the RC 2.0 and for sure, I would say that past Scott RC users are going to love this shoe – it’s a lighter, faster, cushioned and more responsive shoe than previous incarnations. If you are a Salomon Sense fan and are looking for a change, I would immediately recommend trying out the Kinabalu RC 2.0. The Salomon and Scott have very different feels, but I draw comparisons. Notably, those who wanted to use a ‘Sense’ but found them too narrow will be pleased with the RC 2.0’s wider toe box.

Scott say, “We recommend it for any sort of speed workouts, fast running sessions, and non-technical mountain races up to marathon distance.”

HOW DO THEY FEEL

Well, light! That was my first reaction, particularly after testing and using previous Scott shoes. I was immediately impressed by the feel the shoes gave, even on a first run. I had a cushioned ride but still with a real feel for the ground. The grip is spot on in wet and dry conditions. I had no issues at all other than being caught on a very muddy steep hill after heavy rain, then, I was sliding all over the place. No surprise really as the lugs are just not long enough.

There are little negatives with the RC 2.0, but I did have two points of question. The lacing holes for me feel as though they could have been spaced better? I actually think an additional eyelet would have been beneficial. It’s a personal thing. Also, on my right foot I found that I constantly had a slight tight spot when I tied my laces. I tried many configurations and options but could not eradicate it? I didn’t have this with my left foot, so, I should add here that this maybe more to do with my right foot than the shoe. Just worth noting. 

CONCLUSION

This is Scott’s best shoe so far in my opinion. I have seen and witnessed the evolution of ‘Kinabalu’ and ‘RC’ over the past years and although they always came close to greatness, there was always just a little missing. With the RC 2.0 the main points of: 

  • Comfort
  • Lightness
  • Traction
  • Feel

Are all there and I can ask no more from a shoe.

This is a fast shoe and depending on the runner and ability, the RC 2.0 is great for a 5km blast, a classic technical skyrunning race or a trail race.

“We  started 4 years ago up high in the mountains, designing shoes to move fast over technical terrain, and the Supertrac RC was born. Then we stayed on the same mountainous environment but to run at a slower pace and for much longer. The Supertrac Ultra RC was created to deliver more comfort, protection and cushioning than its older sister. This year, we’re coming down from our mountains with the same approach. Start with a shoe designed to make you tackle more rolling and hard packed trails at faster speed. Whether it’s on flatter terrain or for mountain running races where trails are often mixed with road, Sierre Zinal being the perfect illustration of that hybrid terrain, the Kinabalu RC 2.0 will deliver.”

It’s a really versatile shoe and one thing is for sure, with that flu yellow look, it’s going to be really easy to see who is using the Kinabalu RC 2.0 in 2019 and beyond!

Do you want to be one of the lucky 10 people to win a pair of these mysterious yellow shoes?
Check out this page: https://www.scott-sports.com/kinabalu-rc

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TRAINING FOR… with DAN LAWSON

Dan Lawson is a respected runner who resides in Brighton, UK. For many, he became ‘known’ after his incredible run at the ‘Gran Union Canal Race’ in 2015 when he won with a new CR of 22-hours 15-minutes.

Later that same year, Dan went to the iconic ‘Spartathlon’ and placed 2ndin 23:53:32.

The stage was set, and Dan Lawson became the UK’s most prolific and respected long-distance runner. He has run in a GB vest and in 2016 he won the IAU 24hr race with an astounding 261.843km covered.

Dan’s Running CV (HERE) is incredible. Most recently he sat an FKT (Fastest Known Time) with Robbie Britton running ‘The Jordan Trail’ in 9-days 10-hours and 17-minutes.

Passionate about the environment, Dan has started a project called ReRun (here) which extends the life of running clothes… “We looked at ideas on how we could reduce the waste in the running community. The idea of ReRun was born, to try and prolong the life of running clothes and equipment and save them from landfill. Extending the life of clothes by just nine months of active use would reduce carbon, water and waste footprints by around 20-30% each.”

In 2019, Dan will toe the line of the Ultra Tour Monte Rosa (here) participating in the 4-day event over 170-km.

“Running brings me peace. I feel so grateful to commune with nature each day and spend time in stillness. Being an Ultra Runner I am part of an adventurous and warm community with whom I can enjoy the most breathtaking and awe-inspiring places in the world.”

 

Training for…

A series of new articles brought to you by the multi-stage and ultra-running specialist store, myRaceKit, http://www.myracekit.com

JORDAN FKT

I caught up with Dan in Brighton at his ReRun office. Dan as usual was calm, relaxed and clad head to toe in ‘used’ apparel. Even his shoes had been pieced together to arguably produce something more aesthetically pleasing the original.

With the initial chat and banter over, I asked how the Jordan FKT had come about?

“Originally, it was like Robbie’s adventure… We were planning to go to Lake Baikal in Siberia, which is a frozen lake, the biggest bit of freshwater in the world. That was the plan. Robbie was going to go with another runner, and he asked me if I was willing to go with him, and I was like, “What? It sounds amazing. Yes, I really want to go and do that.” That was our plan to go and set the FKT running Lake Baikal, which was about 600-kilometers. We were working towards that until I got a call from Rob, maybe two months before we were supposed to go and he was like, “Dan, I think I’m going to pull the plug on it. I’m a little bit worried about our safety out there.” I think Robbie’s biggest concern was the fact that I don’t like the cold…”

 

“We spent a week or so searching for trails around the world and we found the one in Jordan. It was 600-km and Robbie said, “Well, let’s go there and let’s try and run this trail out there.” I was super happy because I much prefer the sunshine and now all of a sudden, we’d be running through a desert and the sun will be out. There wasn’t really any inspiration. It was kind of we just found that and let’s go and run out there.”

As it so happens, I was in Israel working on Mike Wardian’s FKT as he ran the length of Israel, south to north. So, Dan and Robbie, at times, were almost just a few miles away as we skirted on the Jordan border.

“We were never down at the Dead Sea, but when we were up on the mountains, we could look across and we could see the Dead Sea. When it got to night time, we could see the lights across the Dead Sea in Palestine or Israel. Yes, there were times when we were shouting out to Mike and yourself.”

I know only too well the challenges of an FKT, and I asked Dan about the undertaking.

“I think our biggest challenge was the route and the lack of marking. We were running the Jordan trail and when something is called ‘Jordan trail,’ you expect there to be trail, but they need to rename it the Jordan GPS track and I think that’s a better description of what it was. I think our biggest challenge was just, not even navigating but just navigating this rough ground just getting across it.”

I asked Dan if they were following a GR route or was it like the Israel National Trail, sometimes we had markers and sometimes we didn’t. Dan has a real sense of humor and his response, in many ways, was what I expected.

“It sounds like the same person that marked the Jordan trail came across and marked your trail, as well. It was loosely marked, I think. I think that you encountered the same thing, but on the bits where you’re on a road, markers were everywhere.”

A GPS and mapping are always a good back-up, but even on the Jordan Trail, this was not fool proof.

“We thought we could rely on a GPS, but it was never exact. It would mark a point here and then a point 500 meters away. You can’t see those little turns in between. When we were following his watch, we were just going straight, that was what the watch was telling us to do but of course, we had to encounter cliff edges and drops. It needed to be used in conjunction with mapping – lesson learned!”

A successful FKT comes down to planning and support crew, Dan was followed by a filmmaker and stills photographer. They doubled up as crew. That in itself can bring many complications.

“The tourist board was really cool. They provided us with a four by four and a driver. Then we had Dave and James who were videoing and taking pictures and would meet, at the start, they were probably meeting us every 15, 20k or something like that. As the trail went on, it got more desolate and much harder to get into. They were probably leaving us I think for like 50k we’d meet then we’d run 50k and then we’d meet them and then we’d do a little bit longer.”

50km without support, that is a real long way. I wondered how they managed that?

“There was a couple of times when we ran out of water. There was one time we came up this hill, we we’re so lucky, we came up this hill and there was a road and I don’t know if it’s like you, but so many of the towns feel post-apocalyptic, they were like something out of a video game. Just like a mosque built out of breeze blocks and then a couple of camels and then just a few that just these just box houses, I don’t know, like weird places, but we came up this hill so thirsty and then all of a sudden there was just this, it was like a group of like 20 people on bikes from the lake district. They saved us! 50 k out there can be 10 hours or more. 10, 12 hours. Very difficult to plan for. I don’t eat much when running but one needs to be prepared.”

Knowing what Dan now knows about the Jordan Trail, the pros and cons, I wondered if he thought that it would be possible to go faster?

“Yes, I think we probably could. It was quite hard to move at night because you really had to look at the navigation and the ground was so rough that as soon as you looked at the navigation, you’d just be falling over. We could take a day off. Some nights we were stopping and literally we were driving like an hour and a half, two hours to get to the hotel where we were staying, it would be so much easier to wild camp.”

Ultimately though, it was easy to see that the FKT had been a hugely memorable and enjoyable experience.

“Amazing. Amazing. It was so nice to spend time with Robbie, Dave and James. I mean 10-days close knit in this kind of environment… You’d think that there might be moments when people got a bit stressed, but it was just a really nice experience. I was talking to my wife and she said, don’t call it a holiday because then it sounds like it wasn’t hard, but it does feel a bit like it’s such a great way to spend 10-days doing something you love and in some of the most amazing scenery I’ve ever been in. I’ve been lucky to run in some amazing places around the world, but some of the places just blew me away. I really like it.I think I do prefer that sort of thing to racing, it has a different feel to it.”

In a way, that segways nicely to the Ultra Tour Monte Rosa. Dan Later in 2019 will take on the 170km 4-stage race that in many ways manages to combine some of the Jordan multi-day running experience and combines it into a race format.

ULTRA TOUR MONTE ROSA

“To be brutally honest, I would have preferred to run the 100-mile race, but it is too close to 24-hour championships. It will be quite enjoyable doing the stage race because it gives me a chance to try and move a little bit quicker over that terrain, and then have a little bit of a rest and then go again.”

Dan, in 2018 attempted to set an FKT for the ‘JOGLE’ in the UK, running John O’Groats to Lands end as quickly as possible. He was running 100-miles a day. Ultra Tour Monte Rosa is a technical mountain race in an absolutely stunning part of the world. It’s going to be a different type of experience to say, running around the track for 24 hours or running along a road. It’s probably going to be more like the Jordan trail. It requires a different type of approach. Living in Brighton I wondered how Dan trained?

“Firstly, I’ve got one more race coming up, a six-day race in Hungary, which will be running around and around a kilometer loop for six days. I suppose that’s my first A race of the year. Once that’s done then I start a big training block for UTMR and for the 24-hour. I’m hoping that it will they’ll compliment themselves quite well because the 24-hour training is mind numbing. I spend a lot of time on Brighton Sea front running around a loop, it is maybe like two and a half kmloop, so, I might spend seven, eight hours just running around that loop. There are not many hills around here, so, I’ll be on the South Downs a little bit but they’re not mountains, they’re not even hills, they just slightly undulating.”

I wondered if that lack of specific terrain that directly relates to the challenges of UTMR worried him?

“No, it doesn’t worry me that much. I’ll go up and down steps a bit. The only thing that worries me is I’m not too fast going down. I need to smash my quads before the race, the is key. Downhill does more damage than going up! I can kind of ride that pain with my quads. I can get to the end of a hundred miler with smashed quads, but in a stage race, I mean it’s going be a bit different because it’s four days.”

“Will you use poles?”

“Probably not. The only time I’ve ever used was when I raced in the UTMB, that was a 100-miler, and that was just before the world championships. Well, maybe two months before the world championships last year, the 24-hour World Championships, and my training was just flat. I hadn’t run up a hill or even a slight gradient for, I don’t know, four months or something and then I went to run the UTMB. But I used the poles to come down, not to go up. My legs were trashed. I don’t think I have time to learn to use them correctly, so, I will go without!”

UTMR will give Dan new challenges, he is going to have to have a pack. He is going to need waterproof trousers, waterproof jacket, thermal layer, a tracker, mobile phone. I wondered, does that play with his head, after all, running around a track for 24-hours requires none of this?

“For me, the best run is when the sun’s out and you just have a pair of trainers and a pair of shorts on, and you can just go mad. I love that. A lot of my training is commuting training, running is my form of transport. I maybe clock up 40/45km a day but most of it’s done running to work, running around, so I always have a backpack. Once a week or twice a week I’ll run without a backpack like a longer run and it feels like a real treat.”

Finding that balance between pace and time is interesting in any event. With something like UTMR, Dan has got a specific distance each day to complete, over 4-days and he will be racing. It’s a completely different dynamic because Dan will not only be racing himself, but he will be racing the other competitors. He will need to balance recovery, sleep time how to get back up the next day and race. What type of approach will Dan have at UTMR?

“I’m going to try and run pretty hard each of the four days because I will have recovery time. I mean each one’s like 40K, each of the stages, so you’d like to think you will finish that under seven hours? I don’t know… I want to try and run each one as hard as I can. There’s no excuse really if you’re only running 40km in a day, you’ve really got to push it. Well, I have!”

Dan is an elite athlete, I wondered, what sort of generic advice could he give to people who are going to toe the line.

  • Should they respect the distance?
  • Should they listen to the body?
  • Should they hold back and save something?

“For me, it’s about what you do in that recovery time and it’s how well you recover in those hours that is really important in a multi-day. How well you eat. How well you rest. Whatever things you do to look after your legs and the pain in your legs. How well you can get yourself feeling fresh and bouncy for the next morning. The most important thing is those hours of recovery rather than the hours of running.”

RERUN

Multi-day races always rely on equipment and a list of mandatory kit is essential. At UTMR Dan is going to have a completely different thought process to equipment because he has created RERUN which is recycling run clothing.

“I made a pledge almost a year ago to not buy anything new including running equipment,trainersand clothes. Everything I have at UTMR will be recycled or secondhand and that includes all the mandatory kit. We run a second-hand online running shop so I’m able to purchase stuff that comes through that if required. I can make do on other things; I’ll just borrow if need be. I feel there’s no need to buy new stuff that I might use once, and you might not even use at all because some of the stuff for the mandatory kit list is there for emergencies.”

I stressed the need for the correct equipment and how mandatory equipment is there for safety…

“I don’t like the cold and that it’s really important for me to be warm. I would prefer to be sweating loads than have the chance of being cold. I’ve seen some of the pictures of UTMR and it’s amazing that in one day, how different the weather can be. So yes, I agree. I may recycle but I will have the correct equipment.”

I was looking at racks of T-shirts, tights, run shoes and many of the elements that one sees in a runner’s kit bag. How did ReRun come about?

“It’s our way of trying to create an awareness around the kind of waste that we do produce as runners. You don’t need that much to run. You just need a pair of shoes and some shorts. We spend so much time running in beautiful places it easy to see how running and the environment go hand-in-hand.It’s crazy the amount of pollution, the amount of waste that’s created from fashion. In all the running community it’s amazing the amount of clothes and stuff that we go through on a yearly basis.Our idea was to create an online second-hand running shop. Where we could use it to spread awareness of practices that would help and enhance running as environmentally friendly.When I run across the Downs and I spend two hours away from all of that kind of consumerism and society it makes me realise how lucky I am and how I do not need new apparel to enjoy the freedom of running. Running is our escape, I was guilty, I was a sponsored athlete because of my success. I was sucked into consumerism. I became an advert…I find it so sad sometimes. Hawking this consumerism and saying, look at all this free kit I’ve got, and now you need to go out and buy this kit because I use it.  A year ago, no, maybe two years ago, and we were speaking my wife, we decided not to seek any sponsorship anymore and to try and promote something that we really wanted to promote. Something that felt good to promote. That’s where ReRun came from.”

So, quite simply, in a world of altruism, sponsorship and the age of the ‘influencer,’ Dan turns his back on sponsorship and in his words, ‘Tries to do the right thing!’

“We’ve never really gone out there and promoted ourselves. We’ve never said to people, come and bring your kit here. People have come to us and people like Rebeca at myRaceKit have got in contact with us and said that they like what we are doing, and they want to help. For example, myRaceKit has become a drop-off point for ReRun.”

I wondered what the long-term objective was for Dan? Did he have a dream, an ambition to expand so that one can go into any town and find a ReRun shop?

“That would be the opposite of our dream and our ambition. Our dream and ambition is to not have any second-hand running clothes, because if there’s no second-hand running clothes it means that everybody has what they need and are not over consuming.As you can see, we’re here in our little workshop, and most of the clothes we get are in really good condition because running clothes, and especially the running clothes that cost a bit more are built to last.Outultimate success is that we put ourselves out of business…”

It really makes one think. Just think of all the races that provide a t-shirt in the goody bag. Often, they are cheap, poorly designed and a waste of time. Who wants them?

“It is a great example. They’re cheap technical T-shirts and usually they’re really ugly. They’re plastered in sponsor’s names. I would say 70% of the stuff we’ve got are race T-shirts. We cut them up and make them into half/half T-shirts to give them a new identity. We also started working with local businesses to try to re-brand them for their business but it’s still an issue.”

No goodie bag seems a simple and great way to start. I suggest to Dan; it would be a considerably better option when entering a race to have a set of options. For example:

  • Do you want a T-shirt? Yes? £20
  • Do you want a medal? £5 YES/NO

It becomes much more consumer-led rather than everybody gets a T-shirt.

“We’re happy to see T-shirts. But we want people to actually want them. I still wear and I’m really happy to wear some race T’s because they mean a lot to me. I’d be happy to pay for those T-shirts, but we are just get given them and most throw them away…”

By asking questions on an entry form, one makes a conscious decision. Maybe even race entries can be a little cheaper as there will be no need to subsidize the ‘free’ goodies?

“Ordering a finishers T-shirt takes a bit of time if you really want it, you’ll do it, if you don’t, you won’t do it. Quite simple and immediately we start to reduce waste. Taking plastics and making them into bags or T’s is brilliant but all we are doing is just prolonging the life of that plastic for another two or three years. Taking nets out of the sea and making them into trainers is great, sounds great but all you’re doing is taking that stuff out of the sea for another what? How long do trainers last for? How long are they supposed to last for? Another six months then eventually it’s going to go back into the sea. At ReRun we’re giving clothing another life but it’s still going to be out there as a waste product eventually.”

Brands want us to consume, trainers for example have a ‘life’ that typically is quantified in miles, around 400/500 miles. But Dan is wearing shoes that are pieced together. Are we being manipulated I ask him?

“I haven’t bought into the marketing BS! Running is such a natural, simple movement, why do we need to add technology into it? I know some people say, yes, but we’re running on roads now and impact is greater… I think sometimes we get a little bit too precious with our feet and what we’re supposed to be putting on them. When I was in India, there’s a lot of runners in flip flops. Maybe an extreme point, but you see what I mean!”

ReRun really does make one ask questions. Firstly, better to recycle than throw away. But when purchasing, one should ask, ‘Do I really need it, or am I consuming because I want it?’ So how does one purchase from ReRun?

“Firstly, you have to ask the question, do I really need it? We never ever promote or advertise and try to sell this stuff because we want to make sure that people actually need it. If you really need something, then come have a look at our website.”

And my chat concludes. For the first time in my history, I speak to the businessman who is trying to put himself and wife, out of business.

*****

Training for… A series of new articles brought to you by the multi-stage and ultra-running specialist store, myRaceKit, http://www.myracekit.com

As a footnote, in the words of Dan:

“A T-shirt is nine plastic bottles. It’s made from oil, it’s made from fossil fuel, it’s just exactly the same. Once we win the battle with supermarkets and their plastic waste then we can start focus and the emphasis will come on to clothing. We start to realise that it’s an essential thing. In five years hopefully ReRun won’t be around. The onus is on this, the clothing, the sports companies, and the clothing companies to really find solutions. How difficult can it be? They can take nets out of water, they can turn them into a material they can use in a trainer but then they’re saying they can’t then recycle it back into that raw material so that they can use it again?”

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PYRAMID TRAINING for Marathon des Sables

Marathon des Sables has just finished and now, runners from all over the world are looking ahead to April and the next edition of the race.

It’s daunting and it can be intimidating.

Planning is key. All runner’s need to periodise training so that you get the most from it.

This ‘planning’ often comes in the form of a PYRAMID. The ‘classic’ pyramid training method is well established.

BUT, in this article I want us to look at this pyramid in two ways by looking at two different runners.

Runner 1– Runs regularly but MDS is a new target and pushes the boundaries of what they thought possible.

Runner 2– Has completed MDS and wants to go back and improve.

First of all, both runners need to count back. Let’s assume that training will start in June.

  1. April – MDS race.
  2. March
  3. February
  4. January
  5. December
  6. November
  7. October
  8. September
  9. August
  10. July
  11. June

Counting back, it’s easy to look at the objective in real terms and understand what one needs to achieve.

Depending on experience, how this plan is put together is very much dependent on the individual. However, certain key elements should be present in any training plan and this article is intended to provide the basics from which you can develop a strategy that works for you. I must stress, for you!

RUNNER 1

As stated, runner 1 “Runs regularly but MDS is a new target and pushes the boundaries of what they thought possible.”Therefore, a classic pyramid will be ideal.

See below:

Decide on objectives for the year, decide onCand targets, obviously, the ultimate A is MDS. Put them in a diary and ideally have a wall planner so that you have an overview of the year. It’s easy to see how a year looks on a planner. C should be something that one trains through, can be more challenging and have a taper for, A is very specific such as a training camp.

For example:

  1. April – MDS race – A RACE
  2. March
  3. February
  4. January – A
  5. December
  6. November – B
  7. October
  8. September
  9. August – C
  10. July
  11. June

MDS is a long way, typically 250km sobase training and getting the miles in is key. I have allocated 12 weeks for this in the plan below. Hours of easy miles progressively building up to a target, let’s say a marathon. It is always good to have a goal and a target to aim for. The is a training race/ event and will have no taper, you would race through it as a training long run.

Progressing through the season, this will be ‘the build phase’ so it’s a good idea to place a objective, in this case, November.  The B will allow you to progress to the objective and then the ultimate goal.

You can’t perform well at every event and this is why C,and targets are important. Ultimately, MDS is the one in which you must perform.

As in any plan, flexibility is needed. Nothing is fixed and one must be flexible and listen to one’s body. I recommend building for 3 weeks, recovering on the 4thweek and then building again (see the pyramid above)

  • 12 weeks of base – June/ July/ August
  • 8 weeks – September/ October
  • 6 weeks – November/ December
  • 4 weeks – December
  • 3 weeks – January
  • 3 weeks – Specific phase – February/ March
  • 3 weeks – Preparation phase – March
  • 3 weeks – Taper to event – March/ April
  • RACE

BE SPECIFIC

Marathon des Sables will need you to be specific. For example:

  • You will be carrying a pack that on day-1 of the race will weight at minimum, 8kg.
  • You will be racing in hot conditions.
  • You will be self-sufficient.
  • You will be compromised on calories.
  • You will almost certainly walk more than you anticipate.

The above list goes on and on and as training progresses, you should refer the list and asses importance. For now, I would place the above list in the following priority: walk!

No need to worry about the pack and the self-sufficient element now, the priority is on training.

As training progresses asses, one’s strengths and weaknesses and then adjust the plan.

  • Do you need to work on strength and core?
  • If you have poles, do you know how to use them?
  • Are you recovering?
  • How is your diet?
  • What is my resting heart rate, is it fluctuating?
  • Am I being specific and thinking of the race terrain and simulating it?

And so, on and so on. The above questions are a starting point. Read through the list and add your own questions to appraise what type of runner you are.

As the time progresses, not only will you feel more confident, you will be able to understand what needs to be done to achieve your goal.

RUNNER 2

As stated, runner 2 “Has completed MDS and wants to go back and improve.”

You may say, well, the above pyramid for runner 1 applies here.

Yes and no?

I want to throw a curve ball in here and suggest reversing the pyramid.

For runner 1, the emphasis is building a base and then slowly but surely progressing up the pyramid to the pinnacle, MDS. Speedwork and faster sessions are not as important as building the endurance for the event, speed will form a very small element of training.

But we know that runner 2 already has a good base of fitness. How do we know? Well, they have already completed MDS…

So, if they are going back to the race, almost certainly, they will be looking to progress. So, before planning training, the following should be asked:

  • Did they lack endurance?
  • Did they lack speed?
  • Was strength and core weak?
  • Were they mentally strong?

With answers to the following, one can look at the pyramid in a new way, turn it upside down and instead of putting a priority on long steady sessions early on, they can place a priority on:

  • Strength and core
  • Speedwork
  • The mental approach

Speed training is usually used to add the finishing touches to a solid block of training. But as stated, as an MDS finisher, they already have endurance, so, working on speed now is a great use of time.

  • June, July and August can be used to get faster and stronger with a C target, something like a fast(er) half-marathon or marathon.
  • September and October can be used to add endurance to the speed so that longer sessions can also be faster and at the end, a B target.
  • November, December and January can then be used to add speed to the endurance to complete the event and importantly, the long day. This period can can have an A objective.
  • February is about adding the finishing touches.
  • March about being specific and the tapering.

If you are someone looking to perform and improve, you need to be more self-critical. Plan your training and periodise your training so that you are able to (hopefully) predict good form on 1 or multiple Arace days in a year. This is not easy.

Remember you can only hold form for a limited length of time and if you want to peak, you need to make sure that this planning stage is done early so that you understand what you are trying to achieve. It’s all about stepping stones. And make sure you consider the terrain that the race will take place on.

Finally…

This article is not a hard and fast plan, it’s a guide for you to go away, look at your targets having assessed past targets and hopefully it makes you think about future objectives so that you can plan for a successful, injury free year of running and racing.

Are you runner 1 or runner 2?

There are many more questions to ask and points to consider when planning but these should come after getting the training plan and schedule prepared.

  • Preparing for heat. (Heat chamber)
  • Planning equipment.
  • Working on food for the race.

Fancy an early season multi-day TRAINING CAMP? Join us in Lanzarote with 2x Marathon des Sables champion, Elisabet Barnes HERE

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Ultra Trail Mugello 2019 – Race Summary

Just 1-hour from Florence, the Ultra Trail Mugello is a perfect Spring race that allows one stunning trails with the option, of a short break to explore the majestic sights of Firenze.

The famous Mugello Race Circuit a great short stopping point, and if lucky, you may well find the track has an open day, allowing free access to see bikes scream around the track at high speed. On the back straight, the machines of pure power driven by men of steel can hit almost 400km before the brakes are slammed on reducing the speed to take the tight right hand bend – the drivers almost lying on the ground. It’s a sight to behold.

Over the Passo del Giogo and then a twisty descent to Moscheta and the Badia di Moscheta, the home of the Ultra Trail Mugello. The restaurant here most certainly a reason to visit in its own right, arguably, the best homemade pasta I have tasted with Ragu sauce to die for. Flanked by the Moscheta Abbey, the start and the finish of the 23 and 60km races, this is a stunning location. On site is a ‘Dormire’ providing limited accommodation for those lucky enough to obtain a room. The area has many notable marks in history, the most interesting for me was the inspiration for ‘Dante’ the author, and his book Inferno.

Nestled in a valley, it feels like one is submerged in verdant vegetation, with every shade of green possible.

The ‘Mugello’ team headed by Piero and Giovanni are warm and welcoming, immediately they make you feel at home and it’s easy to see why this race has grown over the years as a kick-start for many a racing year – it feels like home.

Organisation is superb with over 200 staff looking after some 700+ runners. It’s the attention to detail that matters. Everyone is important. A superbly marked route, incredible safety with mountain/ medical teams situated throughout the route; the UTM is a race that immediately makes you feel confident.

Runners arrive in Moscheta on Saturday, the day before the race, and a compulsory briefing by Piero and Giovanni sets the scene for the following day’s 0600 start for the 60km and 0900 start for the 23km.

****

The 60km Race

Course record holder, Luca Carrara of team Salomon dictated the early pace forging ahead with Riccardo Montani and the race favourite, Franco Collè winner of the Tor des Geants 2018. The early hours were shrouded in dense mist and rain, a stark contrast to the previous days glorious sunshine.

The trio worked together for much of the first ⅓ of the race and then Franco made his move. He pushed away looking calm and relaxed and soon opened a 7-minute gap on the two chasers.

Passing through Diacci and the impressive waterfall, the writing was on the wall and the question was now, who would place 2nd and 3rd? 

 

As the rain started to fall hard and ice fell from the sky, Riccardo was laying the foundations for the 2nd rung on the podium as he opened a gap on the course record holder, Luca.

But with 5km to go, disaster struck. Franco was plagued by stomach issues causing intense discomfort. He tried to push on but with the finish so close, he was forced to retire in a medical vehicle. This opened the door for the young Riccardo who elevated the new CR to 5:40 (10 minutes quicker) and obtained the cash price for his efforts. Luca came 2nd in 5:45 and in 3rd, Mirko Cocco.

Cecilia Pedroni of Team Serim ignored the reputation of the 2x UTM winner, Cristiana Follador Team La Sportiva, and started the race from the front. She quickly built a 2-minute lead and one wondered if a new champion was in the making?

With 35km of the route covered, Cristiana’s experience and course knowledge started to show. She had reeled in Cecilia and was now forging ahead of all the women and making an impact on the mens race. By Diaci, the lead was extended to 10-minutes and by the arrival at the monastery, her finish time was 6:58, 18-minutes ahead of Cecilia who ran a solid race for 2nd. Giulia Gallo rounded out the podium in 8:27.

The 23km Race

Gabriele Pace Team Salomon won the race in 2:01 with Jacopo Mantovani in 2:10:19 for 2nd and Gheduzzi 3rd just seconds later. The runners a long way off Marco De Gaperi’s course record of 1:51.

Denisa Dragomir of Team Serim was the pre-race favourite and she did not disappoint completing the distance in 2:12 arriving fourth overall. Local favourite, Geneva Cusseau raced hard, rallied by the competition from Denisa. She crossed the line for 2nd in 2:23, bettering her previous best for the route by a large margin.Giulia Marchesoni was 3rd in 2:28.

The race is included in the Skyrunning Italy series circuit and from a score increased by 25%, the winners are Riccardo Montani and Cristiana Follador.

 

UltraTrail 2019 60KM

1.Cristiana Follador (Team La sportiva) – 6:58:59

2.Cecilia Pedroni  (Team Serim) – 7:18:06

3.Giulia Gallo (Team UTR) – 8:27:22

 

1. Riccardo Montani (Team Salomon) – 5:40:20 (record percorso)

2. Luca Carrara (Team Salomon) – 5:45:45

3. Domenico Giosi (Team Columbia) – 6:11:46

 

Mugello Trail 2019 23 KM

1. Denise Dragomir (Team Serim) – 2:12:07 (record percorso)

2. Ginevra Cusseau (Team Prozis-Mugello Outdoor) – 2:23:14

3. Giulia Marchesoni (Atletica Clarina Trento) – 2:28:52

 

1’ Gabriele Pace (Team Salomon) – 2:01:40

2’ Jacopo Mantovani (Team Sasso Marconi) – 2:10:19

3’ Roberto Gheduzzi (Team Hoka One One) – 2:10:44

 

VIEW THE FULL IMAGE GALLERIES HERE

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Episode 171 – Dan Lawson #training for by MyRaceKit. and Eric Senseman

Episode 171 of Talk Ultra is here… We bring you a full and in-depth interview with Dan Lawson talking about his Jordan FKT, his ReRun Project and ’ Training for…’ UTMR in conjunction with MyRaceKit. We also bring you an interview with Eric Senseman and Elisabet Barnes co-hosts.
*****
Talk Ultra is now on Tunein- just another way to make the show available for those who prefer not to use iTunes – HERE  You can download the Tunein APP HERE
Talk Ultra needs your help! 
We have set up a Patreon page and we are offering some great benefits for Patrons… you can even join us on the show! This is the easiest way to support Talk Ultra and help us continue to create! 
Many thanks to our Patrons who have helped via PATREON
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NEWS
MDS 2019
Read the full story and view the images HERE
*****
TRAINING FOR…
In a series of new podcasts and articles, ’TRAINING FOR…’ will bring you discussion with runners on how they will prepare for their next big adventure.
This is brought to you by myRaceKit – the multi-stage and ultra-running specialist store  www.myracekit.com
Interview with DAN LAWSON
*****
 Interview with ERIC SENSEMAN
*****
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Please support Talk Ultra by becoming a Patron at www.patreon.com/talkultra and THANKS to all our Patrons who support us. Rand Haley and Simon Darmody get a mention on the show here for ‘Becoming 100k Runners’ with a high-tier Patronage.
02:38:40
*****
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UP & COMING RACES go to https://marathons.ahotu.com

Ultra Trail Mugello 2019 Preview

Images ©utm/ studiosisti

This weekend, the Ultra Trail Mugello (here) takes place in Italy, close to the stunning Florence. Three races, a ‘Mini Ultra Trail,’ a 22km ‘Mugello Trail‘ and the main event of the weekend, the 60km ‘Ultra Trail‘ all bring a 100% trail experience to the region.

The 60km event is a toughie with 3200 meters of elevation gain with semi-autonomous nature. It departs from the Badia di Moscheta, Firenzuola (FI) with 13-hours to complete the race. The first runner typically takes 6-hours.

Racing starts for the UTM on Sunday, April 28th at 0600. The last runner will need to be at the finish before 1900hrs.

The Ultra Trail del Mugello was the joint brainchild between ultra running enthusiasts and nature lovers proud of their land, and the Mugello Union of Mountain Municipalities. The Union manages 4 forests encompassing 110,000 hectares total. These parts are part of the patrimony of forests of Tuscany, and Italian region which accounts for 20% of all Italy’s forests.

The Union of Mugello Mountain Municipalities manages districts stretching from the outskirts of Florence to the border of Emilia Romagna and the province of Prato. The great ridgeline of the Apennines crosses each, and they are places rich in history, art and abundant nature. From these lands were born some of the greatest artists such as Giotto and Fra Angelico, and Dante drew inspiration from the lands, where he was exiled from Florence.

With this rich history in mind, a permanent trail was created for anyone who wishes to travel it, even outside of this event.

The host site of the Ultra Trail del Mugello is the Giogo-Casaglia district, which encompasses 6,800 hectares of regional forests. These forests house an explosion of colors and scents, with crystal clear waterfalls; it’s practically a one of a kind natural and wild landscape.

The forest fauna, thanks to regulations protecting these lands, is particularly rich both quantitatively and qualitatively. Home to numerous deer and roe deer, wild boar, skunk, weasel, badger, squirrel and many other fauna, it’s also become home again, since 1988, to a wolf population, thanks to reintroduction efforts to bring the environment back as it was in the past. There are also many birds of prey; in particular, in the Rovigo valley there exist Golden Eagle nesting grounds .

100% Trail is the slogan of the racecourse nestled in the heart of the Florentine Apennines; two races UTM and MT, with respective distances of 60km and 23.5km, and respective elevation gains of 3200m and 1280m.

The race only touches asphalt for 300 meters, whereas the bulk is run on single track, mule trails, and forest roads.

The route passes 7 mountain huts and bivouacs, which during the race will host refueling/refreshment points, as well as be the base of operations for safety personnel.

Ones to watch

60k Women
Cristiana Follador TEAM LA SPORTIVA
Cecilia Pedroni TEAM SERIM
60k Men
Franco Collé TEAM HOKA ONE ONE
Luca Carrara TEAM SALOMON ITALIA
Riccardo Montani TEAM SALOMON ITALIA
Michele Tavernaro TEAM LASPORTIVA
Giulio Piana TEAM MUD & SNOW ASD
Mirko Cocco
Michael Dola TEAM SCOTT ITALY
24k Women
Denisa Dragomir Team Serim
Ginevra Cusseau Prozis Team – MugelloOutdoor ASD
Camilla Magliano Team Salomon Italy
Lara Mustat Team Minerva ASD
Giulia Marchesoni Atletica Clarina Trento
24k Men
Mario Poletti Team Scott Italy
Gabriele Pace Team Salomon Italy
Roberto Gheduzzi Team Hoka One one

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Long Term Goal Setting and Planning for Ultra Running

The Long Term Goal

©iancorless.com_Lanza2016-03044

Recently I have produced several articles that have been created to help runners formulate a plan for a new year of racing and training. The articles have been as follows:

  • Planning a Running and Racing Year HERE
  • To Base Train or not to Base Train HERE
  • Base Training HERE
  • How long should the long run be? HERE
  • In addition, I wrote several articles on walking and how important it is to practice this for:
  • Ultra running HERE
  • Walking with poles HERE
  • Walking efficiency when climbing HERE

Recently I was involved in a series of discussions about the Marathon des Sables. One thing that became very clear is the panic and apprehension many runners feel about a goal that may well be a ‘one-off’ or lifetime goal.

Experienced runners will know how to goal set, they will know how to periodise and plan their training so that they hopefully arrive at a target event in peak form. This was discussed in Planning a Running and Racing Year (HERE). However, goals that go beyond one macrocycle (one year) require a much greater perspective and overview. If you are new to running, well, it can be just terrifying.

A great deal of advice can be extremely counter productive as it makes many runners feel inadequate, inexperienced, lacking confidence and in the worse scenarios even questioning if they should even go ahead with the race.

Let’s be clear. Everyone is an individual, I have yet to find two runners who need the same training plan or structure. However, certain scenarios work for all and it is with this in mind that I am writing this post.

©iancorless.com_Lanza2016-02987

Why not join our Multi-Day Training Camp in Lanzarote with 2x MDS Champion, Elisabet Barnes? Information HERE

Why set a long term goal?

Long term goals provide incredible motivation to step out of the door and to train. You will have heard the saying, ‘if it was easy, everyone would do it!’

To that end, iconic races such as UTMB and Marathon des Sables, are races that for many are the ultimate race, they are races to be built up to and therefore a macrocycle is not enough time to prepare; hence long term goal setting.

Irrespective of experience, two key words come in to play when setting a long term plan: Structured and Progressive.

In this scenario, I am using goal setting for Marathon des Sables.

STRUCTURE

A macrocycle is one training year and this is broken down into mesocycles. It may sound like a fancy word but a mesocycle is a series of blocks of training that make up one macrocycle. For purposes of explanation, let’s assume that you are running the Marathon des Sables which takes place in April 2020.

I always recommend getting a year planner so that you get a big picture of what lies ahead. Fourteen months may seem like a long way off, it is, no need to panic, but also don’t become complacent. What’s important here is experience. I am therefore going to have two runners.

Please Note – This guide below is geared towards someone who aims to run as much as possible at MDS. Very few run all of MDS and most walk considerably more than they think. For me, walking is a key element to a very successful training plan. The structure below still applies, the sessions would adjust accordingly.

Runner A has run a marathon, runs to keep fit and has set the lifetime goal of Marathon des Sables. Priority is completion.

Runner B has been running for years, eats marathons for breakfast, races ultra races regularly and is going to Marathon des Sables as a challenge, to test him or herself and plans to compete over complete.

You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to work out that runner A and runner B need completely different training plans and strategies. Keeping in mind that A has less experience, more insecurities and a great deal of anxiety about the big target, I will talk through the possible planning cycle for A.

Let’s break down the macrocycle. As I said, we have twelve months (+/-) to play with, so a schedule may look like this:

Phase 1: Apr, May with C race objective (half-marathon).

Phase 2: June, July, Aug with B race objective (marathon to 50km).

Phase 3: Sep, Oct, Nov with A race objective (multi-day race)

Phase 4: Dec, Jan with B race objective and/ or specific warm weather training camp.

Phase 5: Feb, Mar.

Phase 6: Apr – A race.

Phase 1

Is all about consistent and regular running based on available time, ability and commitments. Set yourself a C race target for the end of this period. It could be a half marathon. It’s always good to have intermediate targets to work to and we often use C and  B races as stepping stones to an A race, in this scenario, Marathon des Sables.

Be realistic here, it’s important. Ask yourself a couple of key questions:

How many days can I train?

How many hours a week can I train?

We are going to assume that running three/four days is possible every week with a fourth/ fifth day for cross training and strength work. A microcycle (week) in phase 1 may well look like:

  • Tuesday – key day
  • Thursday – key day
  • Saturday – Cross training
  • Sunday – key day

In phase 1 we want to just walk, run or walk/ run and build a base of fitness from which to build. No need to rush in and panic. Be sensible and progressive. A safe way to do this is build for three weeks and on the fourth week rest and recover, Yes, rest and recovery is just as important as running.

Use the 10-20% rule and never add more time than this to each run. An example for the first month may look like:

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Over this phase, you would eventually cap the length of time for the Tuesday and Thursday runs at 60 to 90-minutes and the Sunday run would progress to 3-hours 30-minutes as follows:

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Use this system in phase 1 building week on week over four months to lay a great foundation of progressive miles and time on feet. If you have built progressively, your Sunday long run will have progressed to over three hours which puts you in a great place for a C run target.

A marathon would be a good C target at the end of phase 1. You wouldn’t taper for a race like this, it would be a training run that would be added to your plan.

Phase 2

You have phase 1 under your belt and the confidence of completing a C target. Phase 2 now builds and at the end of this phase you will have a B race target as a goal. This race should be challenging but not so challenging that it becomes intimidating or breaks you. If you ran a half marathon as a C race, then your B race could be a marathon. If your C race was a marathon, then your B race may be a marathon or 50km race if you feel that training is going very well?

It’s also important now to think ahead to Phase 3 and an intermediate A race target that will motivate you and boost your confidence for phase 4, 5 and 6.

Also think about planning and booking heat chamber sessions or equivalent for the final build up phase just before the race; this usually takes place in the final 2-3 weeks and sessions go quickly.

In the UK, a race takes place in November called the Druids. It’s a three day race where runners take on a marathon for three consecutive days. It’s a perfect ‘mini’ Marathon des Sables scenario and a great opportunity to test clothing, pack, fitness and build confidence.

Assuming that four days training are still possible and that you have had no injury issues or problems, we can now progress training building on endurance in the long runs and adding some faster/ strength sessions during the week.

A week may look like this:

  • Tuesday – Hills.
  • Thursday – Speed
  • Saturday – Cross training and strength.
  • Sunday – Long run.

As in phase 1, progression is really important and the plan would actually change and evolve over this period with each month looking different.

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The above plan is a guide and this is where a run coach can step in and provide structure and remove the guess work away from how the plan is put together. It’s all about placing the right emphasis at the right place and at the right time.

You will see how month 3 changes from months 1 and 2 so that it is specific to the B target at the end of this mesocycle.

Phase 3

You have just completed your longest run in a B race, be that 50k, 50m or somewhere in-between and your confidence is sky high. You now have an A race on the horizon (November) that involves three back-to back marathons and suddenly your appreciation of what is required is much clearer. You respect the Marathon des Sables target but now it is less intimidating as you have moved your way up through logical and incremental steps.

Another three month phase of training that allows is to fine tune and hone in on the racing skills required.

As you may expect, phase 3 starts with recovery from your B race target. You will need to cross train or just run easy for 3-4 days. By the time the weekend comes around, you will feel as though recovery is well on the way, don’t rush. Take your time and the following week run easy Tuesday and Thursday for up to 60-minutes and then do 60 and a 90-minute run on Saturday and build on the Sunday run. An example of phase 3 is below. Please remember, YOU are an individual with specific needs and what I provide below is a possible structure leading to an A race in November.

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The A race at the end of November provides a significant marker in your training. The experience will allow you an opportunity to find out what worked, what didn’t work, how your kit worked, what was good, what was bad and so on.

December is now upon you and Phase 4 is an opportunity to look at weaknesses and work on them so that you are in great shape to take on Phase 5 which is the final period before your key race.

1. If you lacked endurance in your November A race, keep working on consistency and build endurance with time on feet.

2. If you lacked speed and want to run faster, December is a perfect opportunity to cut back on distance and long runs and add some speed work.

3. Due to the demands of running with a pack, running long and all the associated fatigue, make sure that you incorporate a strength and core routine to make you a stronger runner. It’s easy to say here, ‘I don’t have the time!” You do, cut down your run time on a Tuesday and Thursday and free up time for strength and core. Maybe you can even find an extra day in your week (Wednesday) to allow you to work on this. Alternatively, work on strength and core at home maybe while watching television? The time is there, you just need to find it and be creative.

4. Practice walking. Effective and fast walking is a key weapon to a successful race in any long ultra or multi-day race.

With a new year coming, April and the heat of the Sahara looms on the horizon. January provides a perfect opportunity for a warm weather training camp just as the weather is wet, miserable and cold in Europe.

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In conjunction with 2015 ladies Marathon des Sables champion Elisabet BARNES, we run a week long camp in Lanzarote that provides the perfect opportunity to test everything in a real situation. We even provide a bivouac experience. You can ready daily posts and view images from the 2016 camp HERE and you can listen to client feedback below:

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Phase 5 is the last phase and ultimately you have 6 weeks to get prepared and ready for your key race. If you attended a training camp you will now have a full appreciation of everything that you need to do. That may be changing kit, more time on feet, looking at nutrition or even a combination of all elements

Now is the time to make sure you have all your admin sorted – insurance, medical, compulsory kit and so on.

Don’t leave anything to chance now. If in doubt about equipment, contact MyRaceKit, they are able to provide expert advice in regard to everything that you will need.

Think about heat and how you will adapt. With luck, back in phase 2 or 3 you will have thought ahead and booked time in a heat chamber. Ideally this will take place in the final 2-3 weeks before the race. No sessions booked? Train in a gym with additional layers, take a sauna, do Bikram Yoga etc

Again, consistency is key here. You have been training for this long term goal for sometime, don’t do anything silly, don’t do a long run that is really long; you up your chances of injury risk. Remember, training is about ALL the sessions you have done and not just one session

Pack weight is a consideration and get it as close to 6.5kg as possible. On day-1, when you add water it will be 8kg. BE CAREFUL training with too much weight, it is a guaranteed route to injury. For sure, do some sessions with weight, be progressive and slowly build up. Just do one session per week in the final phase and only do 1 or 2 sessions with pack at 8kg and do not go too long.

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Phase 6 is race time.

Be organised, be prepared, think of everything and have the race of your life.

It’s in this final phase when you are so close that little things can go wrong. Be prepared as best as you can. You can’t account for the unexpected but reduce chances of anything going wrong by taking no risks.

The information provided above is designed to provide an outline and a guide on how to plan for a long term goal. Although you may be able to take this plan away and use it, please be sensible and assess your own experience, fitness and goals. Importantly, the scenario provided is with a multi-day race in mind, you would need to tweak and adjust this for a single stage race or a mountain ultra for example.

I can’t emphasise enough that we are all individual, so you need to find out what works for you.

Good luck.

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Marathon des Sables 2019 #MDS #MDS2019 – Stage 5 42.2km

Rachid El Morabity and Ragna Debats are the 2019 champions of the iconic Marathon des Sables.

Today. stage 5, ‘The Marathon Stage’ concluded just a short distance away from Tafraout. It was a day that started with cool temperatures as runners climbed the infamous, Djebel Oftal after a 3km warm up.

As the minutes ticked by, the sky cleared, the weather warmed up and the runners were treated to a classic MDS day and a truly beautiful course that provided the best of the Sahara.

Dunes, rocky plateau, salt flats, the oasis of El Maharch, gentle climbs, soft-sand descents and then a run in to the finish backed by a mountain range.

Despite early attacks in the men’s race including his brother Mohamed, Rachid El Morabity once again won the final stage and became the 2019 champion of the MDS once again. He really is the desert king. Mohamed El Morabity placed 2nd overall with Abdelaziz Baghazza completing the podium.

For the women, it may come as no surprise that Ragna Debats made 5 stage wins out of 5 and completely dominated the women’s race.

Credit must go to local runner, Aziza Raji who battled throughout the week to secure a very solid 2nd place for Morocco. Also, Gemma Game from the UK had a tough day-1 but battled and moved her way through the field throughout the week and once again rounded out the podium with 3rd place.

The MDS is all about every single runner and the finish line really does focus and release the emotions as tears flows, cries of joy are heard and the embraces of Patrick Bauer, the race creator, are received. The MDS is truly a magical journey and experience. It is a life -changer for many and I personally have experienced the transformation the desert and this race brings.

The 2019 edition certainly gained additional notoriety from a wonderful dog called Cactus. he joined us on day-2 and went on to complete day-3, 4 and today, day-5. This little dog has captured the hearts and minds of the world, not only in the media. There is a lesson to be learned from Cactus – to live life free and completely. He embraced the true spirit of what MDS stands for without realising it. And, in doing so, he has reconfirmed to all of us that life is for the living. I for one, am truly blessed to have experienced Cactus and all the 800+ plus runners on a truly magical 34th edition of the iconic ~Marathon de Sables.