Reflect, Recover, Refocus: Navigating a Transition in Training and Upcoming Events.

In the past year, I've participated in several ultra marathons, The Speed Project, and the London Marathon. Now, to prioritise my body's recovery and rejuvenation, I'll be scaling back my training efforts and shifting my focus to new challenges.

Training for ultramarathons is truly remarkable, and upon completing just one, you realise the boundless potential within yourself, knowing that you can conquer anything you set your mind to. The past year has been amazing for mindset growth as I continue to enjoy this running journey and all that it brings.
Ultramarathoning is undeniably tough, yet the community is filled with the most resilient and enjoyable runners I know. Many I only know via their stories shared on Instagram and not always personally. Over the past few weeks, I have been reflecting on how I have tackled those races and what I could do differently. I've come to realise that the issue lies in my own approach to training and running the races. I have become more comfortable in walking up hills instead of running them. Don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with walking up hills but its all part of strenght training and there will be hills that I can run up and should not automatically think that hill = walking. Instead, I need to step up my training with the same dedication and intensity as if I were chasing a specific time goal not just about finishing. Perhaps it's time to set such a goal for myself.

Based on conversations and observations among faster runners, it appears that most competitive ultrarunners incorporate some form of speed work into their training routines. This typically involves a combination of track intervals, mile repeats on trails, and hill repeats.

Over the past year, my long runs have mostly been about "time on feet" which is crucial for building endurance, especially if you are aiming to run longer distances. However, for someone like me who has already completed a 100k run but now striving to increase my speed at such distances, a different approach is needed. This involves not only accumulating more miles but also incorporating structured speed work and strength training to enhance overall performance and efficiency.

Over the next few months, my training will prioritise 5K and 10K distances, with occasional half marathons added in, likely on trail routes.

I will be using the Nike Training app for training plans and workouts. Training Peaks also have a great article on speed work for ultra runners here

It's commonly believed that runners generally slow down when competing in longer distances, particularly in ultramarathons. Personally, I feel that this is true for me as my focus has been on building endurance and strenght and not so much speed. 

Speedwork often carries a negative stigma. That fear of knowing that you are going to push yourself out of your comfort zone or that you may even vomit! While it can be challenging, for those with a particular mindset, it can also be enjoyable. As you progress through the initial 2-3 sessions, the discomfort transforms from negative to positive. Additionally, speedwork offers the bonus of energising you throughout the day. This is the feeling that I look forward to even when the tough gets going I think about how I am going to feel at the end of the session. 

Look no further than Jasmin Paris and how she trained for Barkley Marathon with hill repeats and much more. Read the article here. OK so I am not planning to have such an intense training plan but it shows you that if you want the rewards you have to put in the work. Absolutely inspirational! 

To jumpstart my training and adopt a fresh mindset, I signed up for the Runthrough 10k race in Victoria Park on 05/05/24. It's been a while since I've competed in a 10k, but based on my training runs over the past year, I've seen significant improvement in my 10k pace.

Been a long time since I was at a race with the amazing Hasan and Shakil! 

A beautiful surprise whilst picking up my bib! My daughter Shakira 💕

The plan was to:

- Stick closely to the 60-minute pacer throughout the race.
- Avoid using a run/walk strategy, which I've relied on since returning from injury 18 months ago. While effective for longer distances like the London Marathon in April, I knew pushing for a 60-minute finish would require me to push myself harder.
I was ecstatic to cross the finish line in 58:55. The weather was pleasantly warm at 18 degrees, and I welcomed it wholeheartedly, having eagerly awaited summer. I made sure to fuel properly with Energy Bytes and SaltStick during the race. 
Taking my recent race performance as a starting point and recognising that I can minimise the need for run/walk intervals in shorter races, I've decided to follow a Nike Training plan available for free via the app. I'm eager to see what progress I can make over the next few months using this plan.
Current booked races:

➡️ Wimbledon Half Marathon - May 19th
➡️ Cheltenham Half Marathon - June 16th
➡️ RunThrough Women’s 10k at the Olympic Park powered by StoneX - June 26th

I'm still on the hunt for 10k races in the coming months. If you have any suggestions, I'd love to hear them!

Additionally, I'll be incorporating Mile End Parkrun into my weekly routine for 5k races and continue assessing my progress there. Discover my journey here back in 2021 as I strived for a sub 25-minute 5k, putting in the effort each week with Parkrun as my regular assessment.

Can I get here again? 

I believe so. If I put in the work and refocus my training anything is possible. Watch this space! 😊

I truly admire Jasmin Paris's words as featured in this article by The Guardian newspaper. "I still find it really exciting to push myself, especially when I don’t know whether I can do something,” she says. “It sounds a bit corny, but you also find out more about yourself, when you strip away all the stuff that makes life easier." This is what I am talking about! 

Read the full article here.


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