Here we go again

This time last year I started training for a 50 mile ultra marathon, the North Downs Way 50. The 20 week plan saw me increase my weekly runs to 5 with 2 of these back to back long runs at the weekend. I didn’t really know how I would cope with the training but it saw me through to a sub-12 hour finish.

One year on and I’ve put a new plan together. Still 5 runs a week with back to back long runs but this time rather than steady runs I’m trying a new approach based around the Maffetone Method. Heart rate based training will be the focus for the first couple of months, with some speed work once a week in the second half of the training programme:

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I guess we will see how it goes.

Maybe this year I will even manage to stick to the plan and do some cross training (yoga and kettlebells in this case) this year…

There’s only one way to find out.

Time to run long and longer and up and down again, and again, and again.

Let’s do this.

It’s ultra time again.

Time for a change

At last.

Following my operation and recovery, which included a 2 week break from work and a great deal of fatigue, I’ve been back running for the last 3 weeks. No training plan. No Maffetone Method constant focus upon heart rate. Just running by feel and enjoying it. The main focus has been in gradually building up my running mileage again and trying to increase my cadence (leg speed). So far so good.

Tonight I decided to go for an interval run after listening to a recent episode of a Marathon Talk where Martin Yelling discussed his favourite running session:

6 x 3 minute intervals
6 x 90 second recovery

What the heck! I’ve been following the Maffetone Method for months and this has involved lots and lots of slow running to increase aerobic capacity and build endurance. I definitely feel that this approach has begun to improve my endurance and even found my pace increasing as the weeks progressed, although still a lot slower than I was running earlier in the year when training for the NDW50. However, a fast/slow/fast etc run was just what the doctor ordered. It was great to blow away the cobwebs and feel a bit of speed again. The last time I did a speed work session was in July, before I started Maffetone Method training. I did a 5 minute warm up and cool down (brisk walking) alongside the interval session.

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Time for a change? I think so.

Initial thoughts for NDW50 training plan for the 2015 #projectultra are:

Maffetone Method is working

My focus will remain heart rate based/focused training runs to build endurance. I may review and revise the target heart rate but stay true to the overall idea to help build and then improve upon my aerobic base. I remain convinced that running long needs endurance and a solid aerobic foundation to draw upon.

Hills are my friends

I did a lot of hilly runs in 2013 and these definitely helped me with both NDW50 and the very hilly Clarendon Marathon. I need to continue building hills into the long trail runs, exploring some new routes and the South Downs Way in particular, but also include some hill repeats within the weekday runs.

Intervals for one

Once a week I plan to run an interval session like the one above. I figure as long as the majority of my weekly runs are heart rate focused that one speed work session will complement that and help me to feel better about my running. Sometimes the long slow runs get a bit repetitive.

A healthy dose of yoga can’t hurt (probably)

I tried yoga for the first time this week. Okay, so it was only 15 minutes or so of 5 different poses via a YouTube video but it made me realise that I am so much less flexible, stable and controlled than I could be. A couple of yoga sessions a week, even if only 15-30 minutes, should make a real difference to my core stability and flexibility and improve my posture and running.

Quality matters – runs, recovery, refuelling

Remaining focused during my runs on maintaining good form (the Chi Running approach is my favoured one at present) and getting enough sleep should help my running. I’ve cut bread out of my diet and feel much better as a result. Now I need to work on my willpower and try not to succumb to the lure of the tasty, sugary sweets and chocolate so regularly. I managed this well before my operation but have been enjoying the sugary ride too much of late.

Time for a change.

It’s all about the journey. Learn. Adapt. Improve (hopefully). Repeat.

Before then though, I’m just going to keep running for fun until the end of the year. No plan. No pressure. No problem!

This weekend the fun really will begin with another Santa Run in Southsea with my 9 year old son, my (soon to be triathlete) brother Greg and his 19 year old son, and my running buddy Phil and his 9 year old daughter. Bring on the Santa Run fun.

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