Executing the plan (training)
Initially, it seemed easy enough to follow. 5 runs a week, 2 rest days, 2 hard weeks and 1 easy week. A combination of hills, speed and distance. I also planned a few races as well to test out my fitness and gear. The hard graft was to be done through the winter months, so I signed up for the first fling training weekend in November 16. What better way to learn than with like-minded people who have been to where I want to be? The plan was to run from Tyndrum to Beinglas Farm and back again, which was around 24 miles. It was a cold day and there was plenty of ice and snow on the ground. I had all my kit and food required, or so I thought. We set off at a gentle pace, talking away and aside from the snow; my feet were really feeling it. I was wearing Salomon Speed Cross 4 SG. They were not suitable for somebody my weight on this terrain. I could feel every stone and bump under my feet. I managed to get to 9 miles and felt that was enough for me. I turned back and plodded to Tyndrum.
A group of people had arrived back at the ‘By the way’ lodges. This is where I learned two things that would help me no end in my quest! 1) Malcolm, who recommended I buy a pair of Hoka Mafate Speed 2 for running. 2) Tailwind Berry flavour Nutrition fuel. I placed my orders and never looked back. The shoes are amazing for me, cushioned and grippy, the Tailwind gives me that prolonged boost and keeps me alert. I swear by them now.
I really wanted the Fling to be my first ultra, but listening to others, I was encouraged to try some other events first. So I signed up for the D33 and kielder 50k. Followed by some tough back-to-back sessions. My plan was coming together and I was ticking off the miles. During the week, I wasn’t getting in enough of the tougher miles on the hills, but at the weekend, I was running on the West Highland Way (WHW) and doing all the proper out and back sessions. I ran the Beinglas to Rowardennan section five times either direction pre race. I am sure that could be a form of torture, but I needed to prove to myself that I could do these tough sections, especially since people kept saying this section was awful.
I won’t bore you with the details, but I ran the D33 and had a wee fall lol and I ran the Kielder 50k. Both races went to plan and I learned plenty. For example, don’t put salt caps in your shorts pocket when it’s raining, as they will dissolve (oops) and I learned not to be too consumed by finishing quickly, as time on your feet can be more beneficial when your real aim is a longer race. I tried a few different snack types and used my tried and tested Tailwind. I finished each race and felt I had plenty left in me, so I took that as a real positive that my training had gone to plan.
After 720 miles of running from my plan, it was time to taper.