Saturday, 17 July 2010

Final Preparation for the Lakeland 100

Hi, welcome back.

Before I focus on the Lakeland 100 which takes place in exactly seven days time, I will just expand upon one or two aspects I raised in my post last week.  Thanks for the comments that have been left.  It is nice to know that my blog is being read and is getting people to think about their approach to ultra trail running.

With regards to what training is appropriate?  As mentioned last week it relates to the question "What is it that determines the pace I run at during an ultra race?"  I answered this with "I have concluded that it is my mental state during the race that largely determines the pace." With this making direct reference to my "What Determines Performance in Ultra Running? - Part Two" post where I listed those factors that may cause me to get into a negative state of mind.

Looking at these factors, getting the fueling and hydration correct is more trial and error, and gaining experience with what suits you in terms of how much and of what type of fuel/liquid works.  Reducing muscle damage I believe, with some support from the research literature, is related to running economy, rhythm and technique.  Hence why I put so much emphasis on easy paced training.  However, hopefully you took note that I only stated "For the vast majority of your runs, do not train hard!"  As stated within the comments left last week, there is a need to train hard sometimes, although I feel this need is more important for the mental state of mind reason, rather than the physiological fitness reason, as it is your state of mind that causes you to slow down during an ultra race!

In order to run well during an ultra, you must be able to 'handle' the effects of running beyond the usual demands you place on yourself.  These demands may originate as a physical demand, but it is the mental demand that causes you to slow down.  Therefore the need to train hard on occasions is to condition yourself to respond with a positive mental state to the extreme physical demands you are placing on yourself.  William, within the comments of my last post, refers to it as
" in ultras we have to learn to suffer, often for extended periods of time. Luckily for us the ability to suffer is trainable. To practice suffering in training you have to do some hard running and on a regular basis unless you are happy to just coast in races." 

I tend not to use words such as "suffer", as I find it creates a negative state of mind.  I would rather refer to it as "to perform well in ultras we have to learn to experience the pushing of both the body and mind beyond its usual demands.  To learn to experience the joy of running to one's mental and physical limits."  To practice this, it is therefore necessary on occasions to train hard, although, one if they chose to could simply use each race as opportunity to practice this.  After all, actual racing is the best form of training.  This joy of running to one's limits will usually last for a lengthy period of time during an ultra race, so is training hard for 2 minute or even 15 minute repetitions really that appropriate?  It is extended periods of 'joy' that are needed, which are therefore very physically demanding, hence why it is important to do this form of training, or racing, occasionally, in order to remain positive and to avoid over-training.

I think I will leave it there, as I feel like I am going around a bit in circles.  I think my mind is to pre-occupied thinking about next weeks race.

So, now less than seven days to go.  The key thing for me over these last seven days is for me to have total belief in that the preparation I have carried out will allow me to run at the pace I choose to run at.  As mentioned in my Performance Post - Part 2, this deep and inner belief is so important:

"Staying confident in that your preparation has been sufficient for the realistic goal you have set yourself, and feel assured that the fast, but comfortable pace you have started at, is correct. Listen to your own 'deep and inner beliefs', and ignore the comments, views and actions of others if they are in conflict with your well thought out and planned strategies."

So how does one develop this confidence and inner belief?  This is a really difficult question.  Apart from stating that it is something that comes with one's experiences of running/racing, I don't have an answer.  Luckily for me, I have over 32 years of running/racing experiences to help me develop this important confidence/belief.

Much of my preparation consists of looking back at my racing, especially my races in marathons and ultras.  Next weeks race will be my FIFTIETH race of marathon or ultra distance!  Yes, from my first ever marathon at the age of 17, next week will be marthon/ultra race number FIFTY!!!  It is reflecting on these 49 races which I use as part of my pre-race preparation for the Lakeland 100 to develop this absolute total belief that my preparation is right for my well thought out and planned strategies.

Just incase some of you may be interested in my previous 49 marathon/ultra races, here is the complete list!

If you wish to view the list within an excel file click this link. Excel file for list of marathons/ultras

I don't think I will expand upon any of my comments for these races now, otherwise I will be here all night!

Time to sign off with another quote:

"The importance of reflecting upon previous race performances can not be over emphasised.  Reflection is essential in the development of a 'total belief' in ones preparation.  This 'total belief' will significantly enhance the level of performance during ultra running, as it helps tremendously to remain within a positive state of mind."  Stuart Mills, 2010.

Hope to meet many of you next week at the Lakeland 100/50.

To those of you racing next week, all the best with your final preparations,



  1. Have a great race next weekend Stuart. I hope it goes really well. I look forward to reading all about it.

    sent from Heathrow as we wait for our flight to Bangkok!!

  2. Hi Stu, good luck with your race next week, enjoy it and go for it.

    No "quitting" like in Marlborough. As Lance Armstrong once said "pain is temporary, quitting lasts forever". Looking forward to hearing all about it.

  3. Well done champ Stu from your kiwi bruv-in-law